Bedbugs lurk in cracks and crevices and they've been living on human blood for centuries. Though they aren't known to transmit disease or pose any serious medical risk, the stubborn parasites can leave itchy and unsightly bites. However, bedbugs don't always leave marks. The best way to tell if you have a bedbug infestation is to see the live, apple-seed-size critters for yourself. Unfortunately, once bedbugs take up residence in homes and businesses, they can be difficult to exterminate without professional help.
Especially in situations where a large amount of time would be required for a pest management professional to thoroughly inspect a structure, bed bug detecting dogs are sometimes employed. Well-trained and handled dogs can also be of value in structures or units with lesser infestations, i.e., where human inspectors might easily overlook bed bugs because only a few bugs are present.
Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs. Vacuum the room extensively. Use a vacuum hose attachment to thoroughly vacuum cracks and crevices on furniture and along baseboards on the walls. Vacuum along baseboards, 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). 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 vacuum by scraping the end of the vacuum attachment over the infested areas to pull out the bed bugs. Caution: It is not good to use a bristle attachment, because you may transfer bed bugs to other areas since they cling to the brush. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bags after you are finished in an outdoor trashcan.
It often seems that bed bugs arise from nowhere. The bugs are efficient hitchhikers and are usually transported into dwellings on luggage, clothing, beds, furniture, and other items. This is a particular risk for hotels and apartments, where turnover of occupants is constant. Bed bugs are small and agile, escaping detection after crawling into suitcases, backpacks and belongings. Acquiring secondhand beds, couches and furniture is another way that the bugs are transported into buildings. Bed bugs also can be carried in on one’s clothing, shoes or wheelchair. Once bed bugs are introduced, they can crawl from room to room or floor to floor. They can also be transported throughout buildings on people and their belongings.
Avoiding bed bugs is most challenging in hotels, apartment buildings, and other places where there are many people, high turnover and ongoing opportunities for introduction of the pests. Periodic, preventive inspection by tenants, housekeeping/maintenance staff, or pest control firms is the best way to detect infestations in their initial stages when they are easiest to control. Visual inspections can be supplemented by using various monitoring devices to capture and reveal bed bugs that may have been overlooked by occupants.
If you arrive home and discover that you have brought some unwanted guests home with you, immediately notify the hotel of your discovery. Having a possible infestation in hotels and motels can be a public relations nightmare for the owners. Politely ask them to pay for any and all costs incurred to rid your clothing and home of a possible new infestation.
Bedbugs are parasitic arthropods from the family Cimicidae. They are typically less than 1 cm in length and reddish brown in color. Bedbugs can be found in furniture, floorboards, peeling paint, or other small spaces, most commonly in areas of clutter. These insects come out at night in search of prey upon which to feed, with peak feeding times just before dawn. Bedbugs are typically attracted to body heat, carbon dioxide, vibration, sweat, and odor. The image of a Cimex lectularius is shown courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
One bed bug will usually take more than one bite. Once a bed bug inserts its mouthparts and finds a suitable blood vessel, it will begin feeding. However, finding the right blood vessel may take more than one injection into the skin. In addition, bed bugs are very sensitive to movement by the host they are feeding on. Therefore, if a sleeping person moves, a feeding bed bug will probably withdraw its mouthparts and begin its search for a blood meal on another part of the body. It’s important to remember that the number of bites a person receives is not indicative of the number of bed bugs that feed on that person.
A few decades ago, bedbugs were somewhat of a novelty in developed countries. But since the early 2000s, infestations have become more common in places like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A 2013 study in the journal Nature Scientific Reports suggested that bedbugs have evolved ways to resist insecticides.
When bed bugs are suspected, sleeping and resting places should be thoroughly inspected. Check all possible hiding places, mindful that bed bugs, especially the young nymphs and eggs, can fit into very tiny cracks and crevices. Don’t overlook places where pets rest, and where bats or birds have entered structures. In these instances, bat or bird bugs, not bed bugs, may be present. If bats or birds are a source of infestation, they should be excluded from the premises. Note that bats and most bird species are protected by law and should not be killed. Contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for guidelines on bat or bird exclusion and removal.
* Typically used for control of wood-destroying organisms, true fumigation of structures is occasionally performed for bed bug control. Fumigating a structure involves “tenting” it, i.e., draping and sealing it with tarps so that the fumigant, a poisonous gas, can be applied into and contained within the structure where it penetrates the contents and kills all pests within. Like whole-room heat treatments, fumigation has no lasting effect (it leaves no pesticide residue), is labor-intensive, and can damage contents. It is also more expensive, especially in northern states where fumigations are done less frequently. The advantage of fumigation over heat treatment may be that fumigation is more likely to kill all the pests within a structure.
Monitor Bed Bug movement with Traps. Bed Bug traps don't work to control bed bugs - they only monitor bed bug movement. Try using Catchmaster 288i Professional Bug Traps by placing them against walls, behind furniture, sticking them under bedframes (yes they work upside down), and anywhere you think bed bugs could be crawling to get back to the bed. Inspect these traps every few days. If you capture bed bugs, then you may have to retreat and do this entire procedure over again. If the traps are empty, then pat yourself on the back for a job well done, but don't think that bed bugs are gone forever. They could be walking around the trap or just waiting for the comforter to hit floor before they climb back into bed!
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.
Bed bugs were mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 BC, and were later mentioned by Aristotle. Pliny's Natural History, first published circa AD 77 in Rome, claimed bed bugs had medicinal value in treating ailments such as snake bites and ear infections. (Belief in the medicinal use of bed bugs persisted until at least the 18th century, when Guettard recommended their use in the treatment of hysteria.)