Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed exclusively on the blood of a host and primarily at night. They are drawn to carbon dioxide, warmth and moisture. When they are done feeding they will return to where they live, close to the host. This can be in the surroundings near a bed, couch, coat and even luggage. Usually bed bugs congregate and communicate with one another using pheromones.
Bed bugs have been around for thousands of years and had been nearly nonexistent in first world countries until infestations resurfaced near the mid-to-late 1990’s. This could have been cause by bed bugs becoming more resistant to existing pesticides, the EPA’s reluctance to approve the use of newer products that are more effective and the increase in international travels over the years.
Bed bugs have a light or reddish-brown coloring, younger bed bugs will be more transparent-brown. Adult bed bugs will range from 4 – 5 mm long and 1.5 – 3 mm wide. The presence of bed bugs will also give off a smell similar to rotting raspberries and they will give off a distinct odor if crushed.
A big problem with bed bugs is the fact that they can survive in a range of conditions. They can live in a range of temperatures that include all normal temperatures that a home is usually kept at. They can also survive for days at temperatures outside their ideal range. In certain cool conditions they are even able to survive a full year without eating.
The mouths of a bed bug will saw through the hosts skin and their saliva contains anticoagulants and painkillers. These bites will result in rashes, bumps and allergic reactions – all uncomfortable. However, there has been no evidence that bed bugs transmit pathogens or other human diseases.
Treatment consists of pesticide and non-pesticide approaches:
Thoroughly cleaning and vacuuming the living areas that may be uncertain. Washing or steaming of clothing and materials near the infestation. Also, there may be a need to wrap mattresses, heat-treat or replace furniture.
There are currently 300 products registered that all are associated with seven chemical classes that are available for treating bed bugs. However, the more effective chemicals are only approved for commercial use or for the exterior of buildings. This is due to the unknow effects these chemicals could have on children and the EPA’s lack of approval. The problem is that bed bugs have and are becoming more resistant to many of the chemicals used today. This is why it is important to take swift and aggressive action if you suspect an infestation.
Bed Bugs can commonly be mistaken for other insects and the bites and/or rashes can be mistaken for other conditions. It is very important to take quick action if you suspect that you might have a problem. Many people are embarrassed to admit that they are faced with a bed bug infestation due to the past association with poor or third world countries. However, today this is a problem that is affecting everyone across the board and easily transmitted from person to household and vice versa. If you think that you could have a bed bug problem call a professional immediately to address this situation.