Bedbugs get their name because they like to live and feed in beds.
Color: Mahogany to rusty brown; red after a blood meal
Shape: Flat; broad oval
Although bedbugs can dine on any warm-blooded animal, they primarily dine on humans. Bedbugs do not transmit diseases, but their bites can become red, itchy welts.
Vacuum suitcases after returning from a vacation. Check your bedsheets for tell-tale blood spots. Bedbugs are elusive creatures, so it is imperative to seek professional pest control to address an infestation.
This insect has a famous history as a bloodsucker and is named due to its tendency to feed on a bed’s occupants at night. The bed bug primarily attacks humans but can feed on any warm blooded animal such as birds, mice, and pets. The bed bug is found worldwide and probably came to the US from Europe in the 17th century. Bed bugs are mentioned, for example, in medieval European texts and in classical Greek writings back to the time of Aristotle.
Bed Bugs at one time were not as severe as a pest as in the past, due to insecticides and increased sanitation. However, due to the increased use of baits rather than insecticide sprays for ant and cockroach control in the past decade, bed bug infestations have increased. Currently this insect can be a pest wherever sanitary conditions are poor, or if there are birds or mammals nesting on or near a house.
International travel and commerce are thought to facilitate the spread of these insect hitchhikers, because eggs, young, and adult bed bugs are readily transported in luggage, clothing, bedding, and furniture
There are several species of bed bugs, all of which are pests of humans and domestic animals. The Common Bed Bug prefers a human host.
Bed bugs are small, brownish, flattened insects that feed solely on the blood of animals. The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, is the species most adapted to living with humans. It has done so since ancient times.
Bed bugs are active mainly at night. During the daytime, they prefer to hide close to where people sleep. Their flattened bodies enable them to fit into tiny crevices – especially those associated with mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards. Bed bugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but do tend to congregate in habitual hiding places. Characteristically these areas are marked by dark spotting and staining, which is the dried excrement of the bugs. Also present will be eggs and eggshells, molted skins of maturing nymphs, and the bugs themselves.
Another likely sign of bed bugs is rusty or reddish spots of blood on bed sheets or mattresses. Heavy infestations are sometimes accompanied by a “buggy” or sweetish odor, although such smells are not always apparent.
Bed bugs prefer to hide close to where they feed. However if necessary, they will crawl more than 100 feet to obtain a blood meal. Initial infestations tend to be around beds, but the bugs eventually may become scattered throughout a room, occupying any crevice or protected location. They also can spread to adjacent rooms or apartments
Where They Hide:
Bed bugs can live in almost any crevice or protected location. The most common place to find them is the bed. Bed bugs often hide within seams, tufts, and crevices of the mattress, box spring, bed frame and headboard.
A thorough inspection requires dismantling the bed and standing the components on edge. Things to look for are the bugs themselves, and the light-brown, molted skins of the nymphs. Dark spots of dried bed bug excrement are often present along mattress seams or wherever the bugs have resided. Oftentimes the gauze fabric underlying the box spring must be removed to gain access for inspection and possible treatment. Successful treatment of mattresses and box springs is difficult, however, and infested components may need to be discarded. Cracks and crevices of bed frames should be examined, especially if the frame is wood. (Bed bugs have an affinity for wood and fabric more so than metal or plastic). Headboards secured to walls should also be removed and inspected. In hotels and motels, the area behind the headboard is often the first place that the bugs become established. Bed bugs also hide among items stored under beds
Many areas besides beds, however, can harbor bed bugs. Nightstands and dressers should be emptied and examined inside and out, then tipped over to inspect the woodwork underneath. Oftentimes the bugs will be hiding in cracks, corners, and recesses.
Other common places to find bed bugs include: along and under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting (especially behind beds and furniture); cracks in wood molding; ceiling-wall junctures; behind wall-mounts, picture frames, switch plates and outlets; under loose wallpaper; amongst clothing stored in closets; and inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detectors.
The challenge is to find and treat all places where bugs and eggs may be present. Bed bugs tend to congregate in certain areas, but it is common to find an individual or some eggs scattered here and there. Persistence and a bright flashlight are requisites for success. Inspectors sometimes also inject a pyrethrum-based, “flushing agent” into crevices to help reveal where bugs may be hiding. A thorough treatment of a home, hotel, or apartment may take up to several hours.
The first step of control is to have a professional thoroughly inspect the area. This inspection is required to determine the places where the bed bugs are living. Once the inspection is complete, the pest control professional will determine the proper type of control technique; treat the area and most likely return for a follow up inspection.
Bed bugs are challenging pests to control. They hide in many tiny places, so inspections and treatments must be thorough. In most cases, it will be prudent to enlist the services of a professional pest control firm. Experienced companies know where to look for bed bugs, and have an assortment of management tools at their disposal. Owners and occupants will need to assist the professional in important ways. Affording access for inspection and treatment is essential, and excess clutter should be removed. In some cases, infested mattresses and box springs will need to be discarded. Since bed bugs can disperse throughout a building, it also may be necessary to inspect adjoining rooms and apartments.
Bites and Concerns:
Bed bugs usually bite people at night while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin with an elongated beak through which they withdraw blood. Engorgement takes about three to 10 minutes, yet the person seldom knows they are being bitten. Symptoms thereafter vary with the individual. Some people develop an itchy welt or localized swelling, while others have little or no reaction. Unlike fleabites that occur mainly around the ankles, bed bugs feed on any bare skin exposed while sleeping (face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, etc.). The welts and itching are often attributed to other causes such as mosquitoes. For these reasons, infestations may go a long time unnoticed, and can become quite large before being detected. Conversely, it is important to recognize that not all bites or bite-like reactions are due to bed bugs. Confirmation requires finding and identifying the bugs, themselves. (Other possible sources of irritation are discussed in University of Kentucky entomology fact sheet ENT-58: Invisible Itches: Insect and Non-Insect Causes).
A common concern with bed bugs is whether they transmit diseases. Although bed bugs can harbor pathogens in their bodies, transmission to humans is considered highly unlikely. For this reason, they are not considered a serious disease threat. Their medical significance is mainly limited to the itching and inflammation from their bites. The usual treatment prescribed is topical application of antiseptic or antibiotic creams or lotions to prevent infection.