"Don't let the bed bugs bite." You likely heard that phrase when you were a kid, and you might have told your own children the same thing. It can seem like just a cute saying until you experience bed bugs yourself for real. An infestation is a miserable experience that leaves you sleep-deprived and often covered with itchy welts. That's why routinely looking for early signs of bed bugs and having a professional deal with them right away is so important.
Bed bugs used to be a problem only in developing countries, but in the past few years these annoying pests have traveled throughout both the United States and Canada as well as in Europe. They can hop from a hotel bed to your suitcase or other items, so you end up carrying them home or to another hotel without even realizing it.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny parasitic insects with the Latin name Cimex lectularius. They can range from 1 millimeter long to as large as 7 mm, about the size of Lincoln's head on a penny. Wingless and reddish-brown, these insects drink the blood of animals such as humans and other mammals or birds while they sleep. A bed bug is shaped like a flat disk when it hasn't eaten. A few hours after it has gorged on blood, it swells in size and looks bright red. Then after a few days, it flattens out again.
Bed bugs typically hide in bedrooms or other places where people sleep. You can come across infestations on cruise ships and dorm rooms as well as on trains and buses. Bed bugs scurry from the light and tend to hide in mattresses and box springs. You can also find them lurking in crevices and cracks as well as behind wallpaper or any clutter around the bed. They'll even hide on headboards and dresser tables.
Although bed bugs can travel up to 100 feet in a single night, they usually hide within a few feet of the bed.
What Are Some Early Signs of Bed Bugs?
If you're worried that you may have an infestation, you can look for these early signs of bed bugs.
1. Bite Marks on Your Body
When bed bugs bite you, they inject both an anesthetic and an anticoagulant into your bloodstream. You never even realize you're being bitten, and the bite marks don't show up for hours or even days later. Sometimes you go to bed feeling fine and then wake the following morning with itchy marks on your body.
When it does appear, a bed bug bite will resemble a mosquito or other insect bite. It will be red and swollen, and it could also itch, just like a mosquito bite. The bites will either be in random spots or in a straight line on your body. Bed bugs typically bite your neck and face as well as your hands and any other part of your body that's exposed in the night.
Keep in mind that you may be one of those fortunate few who don't have a reaction to bed bug bites. To keep your bedbug problem from becoming a major infestation, regularly look for these other early signs of bed bugs.
2. Bed Bug Exoskeletons on Your Mattress
Another sign of bed bugs is tiny exoskeletons on your mattress or box springs. Like all insects, bed bugs have their skeleton on the outside of their skin and molt it periodically when growing.
When bed bugs become adults, they lay approximately five eggs a day. These eggs are about the size of the head of a pin and are pearly white in color. After five days, the eggs develop eyespots. They hatch within four to 12 days.
After a bed bug egg hatches, the nymph, whitish-yellow in color, takes a blood meal and turns red as it grows. As it gets bigger, it sheds its exoskeleton, molting into an older stage of a bed bug larva. Bed bugs go through five nymphal stages before they finally become adult bed bugs. In the process, they shed plenty of exoskeletons that you may find the remains of.
3. Bed Bugs Hiding on Your Mattress or Box Springs
Bed bugs hide from the light, so look for them near the edge of your mattress. You can usually find them sitting along the ribbing line, so inspect the top of the ribbing for early signs of bed bugs. They can also lurk in the corners and underneath the patches on your mattress.
While bed bugs can be on your mattress, their favorite place to hide is in the box springs. Stand your box springs up so that the underside is facing you. Take a flashlight and go about the perimeter of the box spring. Bed bugs will scurry from the light.
Examine where the mattress's dust cloth is stapled to the frame. That's a common area where bed bugs like to hide underneath. These insects will also get behind the plastic corner pieces of your box springs. Check all the way around the perimeter for bed bugs. You can also take the dust cloth off and inspect the wood frame underneath.
Keep in mind that mattresses and box springs are heavy, so get help if you're not strong enough to lift these yourself.
4. Black or Rusty-Colored Spots
More early signs of bed bugs to look for in addition to the insects themselves are their excretions. Because bed bugs live on a diet of blood, they have to excrete what's undigested. It comes out in a semi-liquid form that you can easily see.
Bed bugs feed every five or so days, so look for small spots that are black or rusty brown. They'll be about the size of a pinpoint and will have a smooth feel to them. You may find these spots everywhere you would find the bedbugs themselves.
Look for the excretion stains in these areas:
The fecal matter can also look like mold, so study it carefully.
5. A Musty, Sometimes Sweet Odor
Bed bugs send signals to each other by producing pheromones. These special chemicals have a sweet smell similar to raspberries or almonds that is often overpowered by other unpleasant bed bug smells such as fecal matter and other dead bed bugs. Add in their shed exoskeletons, and you get a musty smell that’s a lot like moldy laundry or dirty shoes.
Be aware that by the time you can smell the bed bugs, you have a serious infestation on your hands, and you’ll probably be able to see the bed bugs as well as smell them.
6. Insomnia or Anxiety
When you sleep in an area that's infested with bed bugs, you can suffer from stress and paranoia as well as lose sleep. Live with bed bugs long enough and you can develop insomnia. That’s why it’s crucial to regularly inspect for signs of bed bugs and take care of the problem right away.
What Should I Do if I See Early Signs of Bed Bugs?
Contact an exterminator as soon as you see early signs of bed bugs. The longer you wait, the greater the infestation will become and the more miserable you will be.
1. Remove and Wash the Bedding
Strip your bed and then wash your sheets and blankets in hot water. Then dry them individually in a hot dryer for a full cycle. The heat will kill both the bed bugs and their eggs.
2. Ask the Exterminator How To Prepare for Spraying
The exterminator may ask you to remove the bedding and lay both the mattress and box springs upright against the wall. They may also want you to take everything out of your closets and dresser drawers as well as remove items around or under the bed.
It's better to wait until the exterminator arrives and then move such items. Bed bugs scurry away from the light and will hide elsewhere. A bed bug infestation is a bit like a crime scene. You don't want to touch anything until the professionals arrive.
3. If You Empty Drawers, Wash Everything and Put Them in Plastic Bags
If the exterminator asks you to remove items from your drawers, be sure to wash everything in hot water and run those items through a hot dryer. Afterward, you can place your clothing in bags that seal. You won't be able to suffocate bed bugs, but you can protect your clean clothes from other bugs jumping on.
Once My Home Is Treated, How Can I Keep Bed Bugs From Coming Back?
You typically pick up bed bugs by visiting a hotel or other place where many people sleep at different times. It doesn't matter how nice the hotel is; you are always at risk of encountering bed bugs. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent bringing these travelers home with you.
1. Buy a Light-Colored, Hard-Shell Suitcase
It's difficult to spot tiny dark bed bugs on black luggage, so go for a lighter-colored or white suitcase so you can easily see these insects and their eggs. Get a hard-sided suitcase. It will have fewer folds and crevices where bed bugs can hide as opposed to a fabric bag.
2. Bring an LED Flashlight With You
When you first arrive at your hotel room, do an inspection for early signs of bed bugs. These pests scatter in the light, so turn off all of the lights and use your flashlight instead. Take off the bedcover and blankets as well as the sheets. Then, using your flashlight, inspect the corners of the mattress as well as the box springs. Also, check all outlets and furniture screws. Of course you can't take the dust cloth off of the hotel's box springs, but you can inspect it around the perimeter.
If you see anything scurrying away, it could be a bed bug infestation. Immediately contact the front desk and ask to switch rooms.
3. Travel With a Large Plastic Bag
When you travel on either an airplane or a bus, your luggage gets stowed away along with other bags. Bed bugs can easily hop from other people's bags onto yours, so protect your suitcase by enclosing it in either a garbage bag that you can tie up or a giant Ziploc storage bag. If you do seal your suitcase in a garbage bag, be sure to label it so no one mistakes it for garbage and throws it away.
4. Bring Smaller Plastic Bags as Well
Be sure to protect your smaller items as well as your clothing by sealing them in smaller sealable plastic bags. That way, bed bugs won't hop onto your personal items should you set them on the bed or a dresser.
5. Sleep in Long Pants and a Long-Sleeved Shirt
Bed bugs tend to only bite exposed flesh, so weather permitting, cover up your arms and legs by wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Protect your face from getting bitten by wearing a scarf on your head.
6. Pack Only Machine-Washable Clothing
Make sure you only pack clothing you can run through the hot cycle of a washing machine and through a hot dryer. As soon as you get home from a trip, unpack all of your clothing and wash them right away to kill any bed bugs that might have hopped on.
Who Should I Call if I See Early Signs of Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are a nuisance that can hinder your ability to have a good night’s sleep. It’s vital that you get those bugs treated as quickly as possible so they don’t spread. If you see early signs of bed bugs in your bedroom or another part of your home, act right away. Contact us, and we’ll take care of those nasty insects quickly and efficiently.
Did you know the chances of bringing bed bugs into your home are higher if you travel? However, your plans shouldn't be put off just because bed bugs can quickly hide and spread. Don't wake up to swollen, itchy bites and the fear that blood-sucking insects are crawling around in your bed. Avoid bed bug infestations by checking for bed bug eggs at home and while you travel.
How To Identify Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are insects that feed on the blood of mammals, including humans. They prefer to emerge past midnight when their prey is asleep, the better to go undetected. Unfortunately, neither daylight nor artificial light prevents bed bugs from emerging to sneak a snack if they're hungry.
Many people develop a swollen red mark on their skin from a bed bug bite, but others show no symptoms of being bitten. A bed bug infestation is challenging to confirm based on bite characteristics alone because skin conditions such as eczema or mosquito bites can mimic bed bug bites.
The best way to find out if you have a bed bug problem is to find and examine the culprit. The main physical characteristics of bed bugs include:
These parasitic insects must feed every two weeks to reproduce but can stay alive for a year or more without feeding as they wait to mate. This endurance is a large part of why bed bug problems can be difficult to eradicate on your own. Enlist the expertise of a licensed pest control company to verify the nature of the infestation and resolve it quickly and competently.
Identifying Bed Bug Eggs
One bed bug colony can double in approximately two weeks due to rapid growth and reproduction rates. It also takes just over a month for a bed bug to achieve reproductive capabilities, and female bed bugs can lay over one hundred eggs during their year-long lifetime.
The eggs of bed bugs are a milky white color and are difficult to detect with the naked eye due to their tiny size, no bigger than the eye of a needle. Eggs older than five days have an eyespot and are closer to hatching.
When you're traveling, always check the following items in your hotel room for bed bug eggs:
The presence of bed bug eggs indicates an active infestation and that they're feeding on you, your family or your pets. It's critical to catch bug eggs before they hatch and worsen an infestation.
How To Recognize Bed Bug Look-Alikes
Some insects resembling bed bugs are harmless, while others carry potential hazards. Among the most common pests mistaken for bed bugs are:
While bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases, other common pests do. Watch out for the following bed bug look-alikes.
Pre-adult cockroaches called cockroach nymphs possess similar coloring and shape to bed bugs. Cockroaches eventually grow to become much larger than bed bugs, however. They can spread disease-causing microorganisms through food exposed to their feces and vomit.
Ticks consume the blood of humans and animals like bed bugs do. However, they feed for hours rather than minutes and are more likely to be discovered latched onto the skin of animals and humans. Bed bugs and ticks share similar coloring and shape, but ticks are usually smaller. Ticks can also transmit diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease to humans.
Fleas suck blood like bed bugs, though they usually prefer animal blood to human blood. When fleas aren't actively feeding, you can find them lounging in pet beds, bedding or toys. Fleas are different from bed bugs due to their smaller size and long back legs, enabling them to jump far distances. These parasitic insects can transmit dangerous diseases such as typhoid and plague.
A licensed pest control agency can handle an infestation best, whether you suspect you have bed bug eggs or some other pest. They have the knowledge and experience to correctly identify the bug species and form a treatment plan to evict your unwanted guests.
How To Spot a Bed Bug Problem
Bed bugs inhabit dimly lit, compact spaces close to animals, regardless of living conditions. Their small size enables them to hide and travel without being immediately detected. If left untreated, bed bugs spread when people move contaminated furniture, baggage or clothing, eventually settling throughout entire houses, hotels and apartment complexes. Here are some ways to look for bed bug infestations at home or while you travel.
Look for Adult Bed Bugs
In addition to eggs, bed bugs leave behind other signs that they've made themselves at home. Check for these signs when you change bedding at home or first thing after entering a hotel room:
The high blood content of bed bug waste gives it a rusty brown color. Bed bugs shed their waste and their skins as they feed and grow. The sweet, musty smell is the product of pheromones released by the bed bugs and usually indicates a worse infestation.
Some bed bugs have developed pesticide resistance, rendering some treatments less effective. Avoid uncertainty by consulting a licensed pest control company. They are best equipped to eliminate any level of bed bug infestation.
How To Eliminate Bed Bug Eggs and Adults
Don't hesitate to hire a licensed pest control company to handle an infestation. It may seem tempting to save money by taking care of a pest problem yourself. However, inexperienced attempts to get rid of pests often cost more time and hassle due to incomplete eradication and spreading of the pest. Contact Bug Ninja Pest Control to eliminate pests at any stage of life, including bed bug eggs.
It's hard to believe that the tiny bed bug, only about the size of an apple seed, can damage the U.S. hotel industry worth $176 billion a year, but such is the case. All it takes is for a guest to mention bed bugs in a travel website review. A recent survey discovered that 56 percent of respondents would be very unlikely to choose that hotel, a serious problem in a business that relies heavily upon online reviews and word of mouth.
By including New Orleans pest control in a program of integrated pest management, hotels can reduce the odds that bed bugs will become a serious problem. The four steps to effective integrated pest management are prevention, identification, implementation, and monitoring.
Bed bugs are expert hitchhikers. They enter hotels attached to guests' clothing and suitcases. These insects can also arrive uninvited with employees and contract workers, or as stowaways on delivery boxes. This means vigilance is key to preventing a bed bug outbreak. Hotels can take the following precautions:
A survey from the University of Kentucky found that only 30 percent of respondents could correctly identify a bed bug silhouette. This has two implications. One is that hotel guests might see a different bug and mistake it for a bed bug, thus raising a false alarm that nevertheless affects hotel business. The other is that hotel employees might not recognize that a room has a bed bug problem.
For proper identification, it's a good idea to hire professional New Orleans pest control. Not only will experts check for signs of current infestation, but they can also train hotel staff in various bed bug warning signs to watch for, such as excrement stains and pheromone odors. Housekeeping should perform a thorough room inspection with each cleaning.
The regular implementation of bed bug control methods is a crucial component of integrated pest management. There is a great deal of debate about how long bed bugs can live without feeding, with estimates ranging from 20 to 400 days depending upon room temperature and other factors. The potential length of this lifespan indicates the need for consistent control methods once a bed bug infestation has been confirmed.
While bed bugs can be tough to beat, there are some successful elimination methods that can be applied:
Once hotels have eradicated bed bugs, careful monitoring is a must to ensure they don’t return. Continuing inspections by hotel staff as well as regular visits from pest control experts should be a part of every hotelier's maintenance routine. Include these areas in a bed bug check-up plan:
By finding signs of infestation before it spreads to adjacent rooms, hotels can control an outbreak and the negative publicity associated with it.
The Impact of an Infestation
Bed bugs have a bad reputation that can tarnish a brand very quickly. The previously mentioned survey from the University of Kentucky asked respondents about their response if they found bed bugs in their room. 73 percent reported they would leave the hotel, while 38 percent said they would avoid lodging with that brand in the future. Clearly these are numbers that can't be ignored.
Of even greater concern was the survey finding that 47 percent of respondents would publish their experience on social media. In this way reports of bed bugs spread like wildfire and do a great deal of damage. Hotel management needs to develop an appropriate response to customers' bed bug complaints and queries.
Listening to customers' concerns and adequately addressing them goes a long way towards mitigating negative bed bug publicity. The survey revealed that 80 percent of hotel guests would like management to disclose previous bed bug occurrences. This indicates that clientele want to be informed that measures have been taken to prevent a repeat incident.
The Assistance of Professional Services
Hotels can rely upon New Orleans pest control to help them maintain an environment free of bed bugs. Depending upon the nature of the problem, the professionals may recommend one of several methods to eliminate these pests:
When it comes to the hospitality industry, bed bugs are bad for business. With New Orleans pest control, hotels can prevent outbreaks that lead to negative publicity, a tarnished brand, and reduced business.
Almost everyone has heard nightmare stories about bed bugs. These minuscule insects can cause uncomfortable skin welts and even ruin furniture. Take the time to educate yourself on these tiny foes, however, and you might not find them so scary. Baton Rouge pest control experts have been eradicating bed bugs for a long time and have tried and true methods for making sure they won't return to your home or commercial property. Check out these five facts about bed bugs to prepare if you ever spot one crawling around.
1. They Reproduce Quickly
Bed bugs spread like wildfire. Just a few can reproduce into hundreds, making it impossible to inhabit a space. Two of the most common ways these insects spread are traveling and secondhand furniture. If you ever plan to stay in a hotel, be careful. Bed bugs tend to harbor in hotels, especially pet-friendly ones. They can attach to clothing or luggage, and thus are transported to your car or living space. Similarly, secondhand furniture should be scrubbed clean before being moved into a property. It's best to avoid purchasing used fabric couches, chairs or mattresses since bed bugs are especially partial to making these objects their home. It's impossible to predict how quickly an infestation can spread. Depending on access to food, female bugs can lay up to 500 eggs in two months, so it is vital you contact a pest control service as soon as you notice anything.
2. They Spread From Room to Room
Bed bugs are nocturnal travelers. They can spread to several rooms through cavity walls, ceilings, partition walls, cables, pipework, open doors and corridors. Because of their small size, they can easily fit in cracks by laying down flat and slowly crawling through. If an infestation is at a high level, they're especially partial to gravitating to food sources to complete their life cycle and reproduce. Attempting to prevent migration by sealing cracks is often not enough to eradicate them. Only a pest control company has the proper equipment and chemicals for effective bed bug treatment.
3. They Feed on Blood
Unfortunately, one of the major nutrition sources for bed bugs is blood. Many first realize they have an infestation when they wake up to itchy sores on their body. If you have pets, they can also be victims of bed bugs. Some people get allergic reactions to the bites, while others need to see a doctor because the sores begin to bleed from too much scratching. To prevent a lot of frustration, it's best to recruit a pest control company to make sure every last bug is eliminated.
4. They Live Up To One Year
Given female bed bugs' propensity to reproduce, many people are discouraged to hear that the average lifespan of a bug is one year. They reproduce through a process called "traumatic insemination" during which the male forcibly breaks a female's abdomen and inserts sperm. Once hatched, young bugs go through five growth stages before shedding their skin and becoming full-fledged adults. All the while, they feed off blood to survive. After feeding, a bed bug can grow to almost half its size. Only a pest control expert can determine how bad an infestation is and the most appropriate treatment.
5. They're Attracted to Certain Environments
Bed bugs thrive in certain environments. They tend to congregate in areas with little light. They enjoy red or black colors because they reassemble the colors of the bugs themselves, and hence give off a feeling that they're aggregating in herds. They tend to avoid green or yellow because they resemble light. There's little that you can do to prevent an infestation, however. Changing your wallpaper to yellow, for example, or putting more lamps in a room won't be a good deterrent. Consult with a bed bug pest control expert to discover the most effective removal method.
How To Remove Bed Bugs
Pest control professionals have several ways to tackle a bed bug infestation. Before deciding which method to use, they must carefully examine your property to determine the scope of the outbreak. It's useful to educate yourself about the different techniques so you know what to expect if you ever have to call the pros.
1. Heat Treatment
Since heat kills bed bugs, professionals sometimes opt to raise the temperature in infested rooms for roughly six to eight hours. Bed bugs and their eggs die in an hour and a half at 118°F and immediately at 122°F. The process usually involves careful monitoring of thermometers to make sure the correct temperature is reached. Keep in mind that the high temperature may affect items such as plants, food or art. Before a pest control expert begins a heat treatment, remove these sensitive possessions, if necessary.
Spraying insecticide takes less time than a heat treatment and can also be highly effective. Only a licensed pest control expert can decide which insecticide to use in your residence or business. There are many different brands to choose from, and three major categories of products:
● Fast-acting for surfaces people frequently touch, such as sofas or countertops
● Residual for underneath and inside furniture as well as cracks or crevices
● Dust for small spaces such as electrical outlets and baseboards
It's rare for all the pests to be killed in the first insecticide bed bug treatment. Usually, exterminators visit two or three times. They might also give you directions on how to prepare for a treatment. Follow these tips closely; otherwise, you might jeopardize the efficacy of the insecticide. You also shouldn't enter the rooms that are being treated before the experts say that's it's alright. Breathing in harmful chemicals is a health risk, and it should be the goal of every quality crew to put your safety first.
Hopefully, learning about these pests can aid in dispelling the myth that all is lost if they ever enter your property. Pest control experts have a wealth of knowledge about these insects and understand exactly what to do to keep them at bay.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.