4200 Dundee Road, Winter Haven, Florida 33884

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on blood. The term is used loosely to refer to any species of the genus Cimex, and even more loosely to refer to any member of the family Cimicidae(cimicids). The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, is the most infamous species of the family and prefers to feed on human blood. The name of the "bed bug" is derived from the insect's preferred habitat near beds or other areas where people sleep. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal and are capable of feeding on their hosts without being noticed. This is because before the bed bug takes a blood meal, it releases an anticoagulant into the blood stream, thinning the blood, and making its host unable to detect them. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Diesase Control and Precention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all consider bed bugs a public health pest. However, unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known to trasmit or spread disease. They can however cause other public health problems, so its important to pay attention to preventing and controlling bed bugs. Experts believe the recent increase in bed bug population is due to more travel, lack of knowledge about preventing infestations, increased resistance of bed bugs to available pesticides, and ineffective pest control practices.

How Do You Identify Bed Bugs and Infestation?

The most common indicator of bed bugs is the bites left by them. However, this is a poor indentification technique as the cluster of red bites left behind resemble the bites of other bugs such as mosquitos or spiders, rashes(eczema or fungal infections), or even hives. Some people do not react to the bites at all! A more accurate way to indentify an infestation is to look for the physical signs. For example, spots on bedding are one of the earliest and most accurate signs of bed bugs.

When cleaning bed sheets at home or when staying away from home look for the following:

*Dark spots, which are bed bug excrement and/or dotted lines of blood on sheets or fabrics 

*Eggs and eggshells which are tiny (about 1mm) and white

*skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger

*Live bed bugs

*Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or matresses from bed bugs being smashed

The following photos show examples of bed bugs and "infestation":

When bed bugs have plenty of available blood sources, they also have a shorter lifespan. Bed bugs who feed regularly have a lifespan of ten months, while those without adequate feeding can live a little more than a year. If a blood host is available, bedbugs can live to see three generations of offspring ready willing and hungry to prey on their human hosts.

Female bed bugs deposit three to eight eggs at a time. A total of 300-500 eggs can be produced by a single bug. Their eggs are 1mm long and curved. They are often deposited in clusters(as show in the above photo) and attached to cracks, crevices or rough surfaces near adult harborages with a sticky epoxy-like substance.

Eggs typically hatch in a week to 12 days. The freshly hatched nymph is beige-colored before feeding, and then turns a redish color after getting a blood meal(see above photo).There are 5 nymphal stages for bed bugs to reach maturity, which usually takes about 32-48 days. Adult bed bugs can survive for up to seven months without blood and have been known to live in empty buildings for up to one year. The following illustration shows the life cycle of the bed bug:

What do you do if you have an infestation?

*Reduce clutter to make inspection easier. Be careful in removal of any items in other areas where you may transfer bed bugs. All items should leave the home in a sealed plastic bag, be thoroughly inspected and cleaned, then brought back into the home ONLY after the home has been completely cleaned and chemically treated for bed bugs. 

*Personal items, garments, bed linens, pillows, stuffed animals, soft toys, blankets, should be removed in a plastic bag and dried in the dryer on HIGH HEAT for at least 15 minutes per medium load.

*If you dismantle the bed frames, you may expose additional bedbug hiding sites. Bed bugs will hide in small cracks, seams, curtains, nail holes in the wall, base boards, almost anywhere they can hide, they will go. It is imperative that every hole is plugged, every piece of furniture is dismantled and turned upside down for a full inspection and treatment.

*Remove drawers from desks and dressers and turn furniture over, if possible, to inspect and clean all hiding spots. All furniture should be pulled away from the walls.

*Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric to expose bed bugs.If the fabric is torn ( possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Bed Bug Certified Encasements. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring with these encasements. Keep them on for a year.

*Thoroughly clean the infested rooms .Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs.

*Vacuum in the bed bug affected areas with a vacuum attachment. Vacuum along baseboards, nearby furniture, bed stands, rails, headboards, foot boards,bed seams, tufts, buttons, edges of the bedding as well as the edges of the carpets(particularly along the tack strips) are key areas to vacuum. A good vacuum cleaning job may remove particles from cracks and crevices to encourage greater insecticide penetration. Bed bugs cling tightly to surfaces, so it is best to repeat the vacuuming by scraping the end of the vacuum attachment over the infested areas to pull them up. It would not be good to use a bristle attachment because you may transfer bed bugs to other areas in the brush. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bag IMMEDIATELY afterward. If you have a bagless vacuum, dismantle the vacuum and clean it thoroughly with hot water before reassembly and bringing it back into your home.

*Call a professional pest control operator. Bed bugs can be killed with insecticide directly sprayed on the adults and also by a dust insecticide. However the eggs are not affected by the chemicals. The only thing that will kill the eggs is high temperature heat. Without heat, the cleaning and insectide treatment will need to continue approximately every 12 days until all eggs have hatched and bed bugs are exterminated. 90% of homeowners who attempt to rid their homes of a bed bug infestation without the help of a professional pest control company fail. This is largely due to the consistancy required by the home owner to completely eradicate the problem.

While bed bugs do not transmit diseases, they do cause a great emotional and mental stress, and a great physical annoyance. Bed bugs do not care if your home is spotlessly clean or if it is dirty(although they can hide in clutter). Bed bugs are a growing concern of many families and for good reason. A few Bed bugs brought into a home can quickly become thousands, causing suffering, embarrassment and even fear. If you think you may have a bed bug infestation, please use the techniques mentioned above to do a preliminary inspection of your home. Then call us and let one of our experienced pest control technicians help you get your bed bug problem under control.



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