Prior to the widespread use of synthetic insecticides, this small, brown blood-sucking bug was perhaps the most unwanted pest in America. The insidious bed bug was loathed even more than the cockroach. Although the bug’s impact was greatly reduced by insecticides during the 1940s and 1950s, it remained an occasional invader of homes, hotels and shelters. Pest management professionals now agree that bed bugs have become the most difficult pest to control.
Apply as a coarse, low-pressure spray to harborage areas including crevices, baseboards, loose plaster, behind bed frames and headboards, beneath beds and furniture, and to bedsprings and bed frames. After removal of bed linens, apply Transport Mikron to mattress and boxsprings. Apply to tufts, edges, seams and folds (do not spray clothes or bed linens). Your may apply it to furniture, but not to areas where there is direct access to seating or arm placements. Infested bed linens should not be treated, but should be removed, placed in sealed plastic bags, and taken for laundering and drying at high temperatures.
Insecticides are an effective way to eradicate bed bugs, but not the only way. If you or someone in your house is highly sensitive to chemicals, or you’re just not crazy about the idea of spraying chemicals where you sleep, kill the little blood suckers with heat. Temperatures above 120 degrees F kill all stages of bed bugs. Steamers can be used to treat all the same areas where you would have sprayed contact killers. Steamers like the one shown at (top) cost about $150 and are good for many other projects like removing wallpaper, cleaning tile, removing labels, cleaning engine parts and removing wrinkles from fabric.
Adult bed bugs are about 3/16” long and reddish-brown, with oval-shaped, flattened bodies. They are sometimes mistaken for ticks, cockroaches, carpet beetles or other household insects. The immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs do not fly, and they don’t jump like fleas do ― but they can crawl rapidly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces. Adult females lay their eggs in secluded places, depositing 1, 2 or more eggs per day, potentially hundreds during their lifetime. The eggs are tiny (about the size of a dust spec), whitish and hard to see without magnification, especially on light-colored surfaces. When first laid, the eggs are sticky, causing them to adhere to surfaces. At room temperatures, bed bug eggs hatch in about a week. Newly emerged nymphs are straw-colored and no bigger than a pinhead.
What’s the best way to get rid of bed bugs? Stop feeding them. To prevent those unwanted dinner guests, isolate your mattress from the rest of the room. Start by pulling the bed away from the wall and away from other furniture like nightstands and chairs. Remove box spring skirting that hangs down to the floor. Oversize blankets that drape to the floor can also act as a ladder for the little buggers.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Because their bodies are flat, they can hide under the smallest spots like the border of beds, under the mattress, edges of carpets, couches, cracks in the walls and ceilings, in your pillows, under your bed sheets, behind electrical plugs and wall sockets, in your cupboards and dressers, or under furniture. In fact, bed bugs prefer any fabric materials. They can travel pretty good distances, too. Expect them to be able to be found anywhere in the room.
Reactions to bed bug bites vary among individuals. Many persons show no signs of bites. Others don’t realize they’ve been bitten until redness and swelling appear around the bite, sometimes with intense itching. Some exhibit inflamed swollen spots that may occur in linear series or have a rash-like appearance. Such bite marks, when they appear, may not show for several days after the person is bitten.