Should I worry about a tick bite? Ticks are parasites that feed on blood, and although their bites are harmless they can still transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Learn what ticks are and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a bite. This MNT Knowledge Center article also explains how to prevent tick bites. Read now
After bedbugs find a food source, they bite down with their mouths and inject anticoagulant and anesthetic compounds into the skin. Depending on the species, these parasites feed on the host blood via 1 of 2 mechanisms. Vessel feeders directly insert their mouthparts into superficial capillaries, whereas pool feeders damage the superficial tissue and feed on the accumulated blood. As bedbugs feed, their color may change as they swell with the host blood, as shown in this picture of a larval bedbug feeding on a volunteer host. Image courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Select and use insecticides safely. There are no magic sprays that kill bed bugs very well. Most commercial insecticides will kill bed bugs if applied carefully and directly to the insects and their hiding places. An exception is “Bug bombs”, or aerosol foggers. Foggers are mostly ineffective in controlling bed bugs. Because bed bugs hide in crevices and voids where aerosols do not penetrate, they are able to avoid contact with these insecticides. Their use is not recommended. Some of the products you may find helpful include:
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.
Pull carpet edges back from walls. Being careful, take a pair pliers and gently grab the corners of the carpet and pull the carpet back about 1 foot. Do this one wall at time during treatment. After treatment as described below, replace the carpet and tuck under the baseboards. If you do this 1 wall at time you will not usually need to re-stretch the carpet.
Vinegar can kill bed bugs if it comes into direct contact with them and it may help repel them from areas where it is sprayed. However, vinegar cannot be your only defense against bedbugs. For one, vinegar only works if you can see the bugs, and often they will hide or even just be too small to see easily. Second, vinegar will not kill bedbug eggs, which means that vinegar alone will never stop an infestation. Vinegar also needs to be reapplied frequently to have any effectiveness.
Some preparation is still required (e.g. removal of heat-sensitive items such as aerosol cans, indoor plants and medications), but it is seldom necessary to bag, launder and/or hot dry bedding and clothing since these items will be heated along with other furnishings. Another advantage of heat treatment is that infestations can often be eliminated in one day, rather than over multiple days or weeks. Conversely, heat treatment alone has no lasting (residual) effect should bed bugs be reintroduced into the dwelling. Consequently, some companies recommend concurrently applying residual insecticides. To further minimize reintroduction, occupants are advised to take as few belongings as possible with them while the heat treatment is in progress.
Everything you need to know about fleabites Fleas reproduce quickly and can live in fabrics and carpets. Their bites are itchy and painful, and they can transfer disease to humans. Fleabites tend to be very small, with central red spots, and they often appear in clusters. Here, learn to identify fleabites, treat them, and rid the home of these pesky parasites. Read now
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.
A flashlight: Bed bugs hide in dark areas and in cracks and crevices. Bed bugs are a dark red to brown color, but they can be light brown if they haven’t been feeding. This makes it very hard to see them. When hunting for bed bugs hold your flashlight parallel to the surface being inspected, this will cause eggs and small bed bugs to cast a shadow, making them easier to find.
Bed bugs occur in all regions of the globe. Rates of infestations are relatively common, following an increase since the 1990s. The exact causes of this increase is unclear; with proposals including greater travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings, a greater focus on control of other pests, and increasing resistance to pesticides. Bed bugs have been known human parasites for thousands of years.
Although bedbugs are generally nocturnal, they're like humans—if they're hungry, they'll get up and get something to eat. "If you go away to visit a friend for a week and you come back and sit down on the couch, even though it's daytime the bedbugs will come looking for you," Schal says. Keeping a light on, then, unfortunately does not keep these tiny vampires away.
Visit your doctor. You can also see a doctor for diagnosis if you do not find signs of bedbugs in your bed and cannot identify the source of the bites or rash. However, there is a very good chance that your physician will not be able to firmly diagnose that you have been bitten by a bedbug because the symptoms look so similar to those that result from other insect bites and skin conditions. Nevertheless, you may feel comforted by going to see your doctor, who can confirm for you that bedbugs pose little physical threat to humans.
Once Step 2B is complete and the insecticide mixture is dry, you can follow up with a bed bug aerosol spray. Bed bug aerosol sprays are insecticides that have fine particles that get deep into cracks and crevices. By using both a liquid concentrate insecticide mixture and an aerosol spray, you can treat bed bugs that may have built up a resistance to one product but not the other.
To use sprays effectively to eliminate all traces of bed bugs, you need to know the signs of a bed bug infestation. The first sign that you may have bedbugs are some itchy bite marks on your skin when you wake up in the morning. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the bites from bed bugs cause red itchy bumps on the skin.3 You can learn about their other signs and symptoms in my articles on what do bed bug bites look like.
It should also be noted that pest management professionals are subject to state regulation, licensing and regulation, while bed bug dog teams are typically unregulated. In Illinois, for example, bed bug detection dogs are regarded as inspection tools, not devices that facilitate the application of pesticides. A few private organizations certify dogs and their handlers as bed bug detectors, holding them to certain standards before awarding certification. But at present, these organizations, like dogs and handlers, are not subject to regulations that govern those who apply pesticides to control bed bugs. Nevertheless, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends that bed bug detection teams be independently certified and adhere to the minimum standards found in the NPMA’s Best Management Practices for Bed Bugs (see RESOURCES for more info).
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.