Bedbug bites may go unnoticed or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other types of rash or skin conditions, since the signs of bedbug bites are difficult to distinguish from other bites or skin conditions. Bedbugs also have glands whose secretions may leave musty odors, and they also may leave dark fecal spots on bed sheets and around places where they hide (in crevices or protected areas around the bed or anywhere in the room).
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
But the bites will look different from person to person, and some people won’t develop any reaction whatsoever. “The same bedbug could bite two different people and one could have no reaction at all and the other can have an extreme reaction with a swollen arm or itchy rash,” says Eric Braun, a board-certified entomologist and business manager for the national pest control company Rentokil Steritech, who is based in Redding, Pennsylvania. Some people end up developing a rash that looks like eczema. (5)
Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on our blood, typically at night, while we are sleeping. Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 of an inch long, have flat, rusty-red-colored oval bodies, and look like an apple seed. They feed for about 3-10 minutes and their bodies swell and become bright red. During the bed bug life cycle, a female can lay 200-400 eggs depending on food supply and temperature. Bed bugs don't fly, but can quickly walk across floors, walls, and other surfaces.
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When you finish, throw out the vacuum bag to avoid spreading the bugs. If you use a shop vacuum or bagless vacuum, dump the contents you’ve collected into a bag, tie it up, and throw it out. And treat the filter and the inside of the canister with contact spray insecticide. Flat surfaces like walls and dresser tops can be wiped with alcohol. Wipe a small inconspicuous area first to see if the alcohol will damage the paint or finish.
When professionals need to treat an infestation, they don’t reach for rubbing alcohol or cedar oil or a blow dryer. They use a proven treatment process that involves a combination of proven products to get the job done. It’s not about whether or not a certain item can kill bed bugs, it’s about whether that item is the ideal part of a treatment that will actually get rid of an infestation. After all, your shoe would have a 100% kill rate on any bed bugs you smack with it – that doesn’t mean you can expect to be bed bug free after a diligent afternoon of shoe-wielding.
Check to see if you can identify the rust-colored fecal stains, egg cases, and shed skins (exuviae) in crevices and cracks on or near beds. A sweet, musty odor is sometimes present. You should also look at other areas such as under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in couches and other furniture, in bedsprings and under mattresses, and even in articles of clothing. While fecal stains and skin casts suggest that bedbugs have been present, these do not confirm that the infestation is still active. Observing the bedbugs themselves is definitive confirmation that an area is infested. You may require professional assistance from a pest-control company in determining whether your home has a bed bug problem.
You can check bedding, mattresses, furniture, and crevices in walls for bed bug infestation. Do your inspection just before dawn, which is when they are the most active. The bugs will be larger and slower after feeding. Bedbugs will quickly flee from light, so live bugs are best located in the folds and seams of mattresses and sheets. Bedbugs are about the size of an apple seed, about 1/4 inch long. They change from light brown to purple-red after feeding. You may also see their eggs, which are about the same size as the adults. The eggs will often be in seams, cracks, or crevices.
We recommend spraying Steri-Fab in areas where live bed bugs are visible. Steri-Fab combines a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide and isopropyl alcohol to kill bed bugs fast on contact. Steri-Fab also acts as a sanitizer. Steri-Fab does not leave any residual, meaning it can be applied virtually anywhere. Simply shake well, then apply to desired treatment areas. Insect mortality is imminent, generally within 10 minutes of spraying.
The bites themselves don't usually pose any major health risk since bedbugs are not known to spread diseases, but an allergic reaction to the bites may require medical attention, CDC officials say. There have also been some strange cases linked to bedbug infestations. Researchers reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2009 that they treated a 60-year-old man for anemia caused by blood loss from bedbug bites. Another study published in 1991 in the Journal of the Egyptian Society of Parasitology found that people with asthma might be more susceptible to allergic reactions from bedbug bites.
Bed bugs are attracted to their hosts primarily by carbon dioxide, secondarily by warmth, and also by certain chemicals. Cimex lectularius only feeds every five to seven days, which suggests that it does not spend the majority of its life searching for a host. When a bed bug is starved, it leaves its shelter and searches for a host. It returns to its shelter after successful feeding or if it encounters exposure to light. Cimex lectularius aggregate under all life stages and mating conditions. Bed bugs may choose to aggregate because of predation, resistance to desiccation, and more opportunities to find a mate. Airborne pheromones are responsible for aggregations.
Insecticide Application This is the most common way to get rid of bedbugs, Lazarus says. Oftentimes, the professional will use several different products to effectively treat the area, though it may take a few rounds to ensure removal. “The advantage to this method is that the residual insecticide will continue to offer protection for a period of time,” Lazarus says. “The biggest drawback is that the preparation for service is time-consuming and must be repeated prior to each service.”
Although most furnishings need not be discarded, in some cases this may be necessary. This is especially true of heavily infested beds, sofas and recliners where bugs and eggs often reside in hard-to-reach places. Consequently, pest control firms may recommend such items be discarded, especially when in poor condition. When infested items are discarded, bagging or wrapping them prevents dislodgement of bugs en route to the trash.
Human infestation with bedbugs, lice, and mites are common causes of dermatologic symptoms. Although these organisms thrive in conditions of overcrowding and decreased sanitation, Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds may be at risk for infestation. Clinicians must maintain high suspicion in the appropriate set of clinical circumstances to identify and treat infestations, as they can cause substantial dermatologic and psychological discomfort for patients. Images courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You’ll likely only see them in their hiding spots or crawling across the floor since, unlike other insects, bedbugs cannot fly or jump. Durham says to check along the edges of your mattress. You may see the exoskeletons that bedbugs have shed as they matured, or you may notice a musty smell, both of which indicate there could be bedbugs in the area. It can also be helpful to check your bed with a flashlight during the middle of the night (since these crawlers tend to be more active at night.)
Just to be clear, you can kill bed bugs with heat. It’s just a matter of using the right equipment. A high-pressure steamer is the weapon of choice for killing bed bugs on contact, since their steam can surpass 200 degrees, and can penetrate deep into soft materials like mattresses and upholstered furniture. You can also use a steamer on more than just clothes or other fabrics; a steamer can kill bed bugs hiding along baseboards, floorboards, window sills, door frames, and the edges of the carpet.
Bed bugs could be hiding in all sorts of tight spaces in your room, like wood cracks, inside books and furniture, and along the baseboards and the edges of the carpet. In this step, we’re going to clean, vacuum, and steam those areas that bed bugs are likely to be. This will cut down on the bed bug population while making it harder for survivors to hide.
Bed bug infestations are primarily the result of two species of insects from genus Cimex: Cimex lectularius (the common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus. These insects feed exclusively on blood and may survive a year without eating. Adult Cimex are light brown to reddish-brown, flat, oval, and have no hind wings. The front wings are vestigial and reduced to pad-like structures. Adults grow to 4–5 mm (0.16–0.20 in) long and 1.5–3 mm (0.059–0.118 in) wide.
You are now ready to inspect other items and put these into the clean zone. As you continue to move things into the clean zone, more of the room will open and you can expand this clean zone. Using this method means you will not have to move furniture and items more than twice. This will allow you to concentrate on searching for bed bugs, rather than moving furniture.
Bed bugs are very resilient. Nymphs and adults can persist months without feeding which is unusual for most insects. The ability to survive without a blood meal is longer at cooler temperatures ― potentially up to a year or longer at 55°F or less. In temperature-controlled buildings, a more typical duration is about 2 to 6 months. Consequently, it is usually impractical to leave buildings unoccupied in hopes of ‘starving out’ an infestation. When infested dwellings such as apartments are vacated, bed bugs often disperse to nearby units, or reduce their activity until the unit is reoccupied.
Pyrethroid sprays are among the stronger and longer-lasting pesticides, but most bed bugs are resistant to these sprays to some degree. Special care should be taken when using pyrethroid sprays, especially when children are present. Only use pyrethroids in places indicated on the label. Do not spray electrical outlets with any type of liquid spray. Spraying should be done when children are not present, and all label directions followed carefully.
Bedbugs live in any articles of furniture, clothing, or bedding, so they or their eggs may be present in used furniture or clothing. They spread by crawling and may contaminate multiple rooms in a home or even multiple dwellings in apartment buildings. They may also hide in boxes, suitcases, or other items that are moved from residence to residence or from a hotel to home. Bedbugs can live on clothing from home infestations and may be spread by a person unknowingly wearing infested clothing.