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Is That A Bug In My Bed? BED BUGS!

Is That A Bug In My Bed? BED BUGS!

Bed bugs have a long and unsavory history, dating back to ancient Rome. At that time and to this day, the technical name for the common bed bug is cimex lecturlarius- cimex meaning ‘bug’ and lecturlarius, which refers to a couch or bed. Experts believe the recent increase in bed bugs in the U.S. may be due to more travel, lack of knowledge about preventing infestations, increased resistance of bed bugs to pesticides, and ineffective pest control practices.

Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed. They are long and brown, with a flat, oval-shaped body. If recently fed, they can appear balloon-like, reddish-brown, and more elongated. Young bed bugs, called nymphs, are smaller, translucent or whitish-yellow in color, and nearly invisible to the naked eye if not recently fed. The eggs of a bed bug are the size of a pinhead, pearl-white in color, and marked by an spot on their back if more than five days old.

Bed bugs prefer to feed during the night on exposed body parts, such as the face, neck, arms, legs, and shoulders. Because their bites are painless, you may not be aware there is a problem until symptoms appear. The result is itchy bumps in an irregular line pattern, which can be a similar appearance to other types of bug bites. These symptoms may appear hours to days after being bitten. Unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread disease. If you believe you have been bitten by bed bugs, follow-up with your provider for treatment specific to your needs. 

To help identify a bed bug infestation, look for signs when cleaning or changing bedding:

·         Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed

·         Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug feces (poop) that may bleed on fabric like a marker would

·         Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger

When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams, and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard. If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs:

·         In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains

·         In drawer joints

·         In electrical receptacles and appliances

·         Under loose wall paper and wall hangings

·         At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet

·         In the head of a screw

The feeding habits of a bed bug:

·         Prefer to feed on humans, but will feed on other mammals and birds as well

·         Will readily travel 5-20 feet from established hiding places to feed on a host

·         Even though they are primarily active at night, if hungry, they will seek hosts in full daylight

·         Feeding can take 3-12 minutes

·         The rusty or tarry spots found on bed sheets or in bed bug hiding places are because 20% of the time adults and large nymphs will urinate remains of earlier blood meals while still feeding

The life stages of a bed bug:

·         Need at least one blood meal before they can develop to the next of their 6 life stages

·         They can feed more than once

·         To continue to mate and produce eggs, both males and females must feed at least once every 14 days

·         Each female may lay 1 to 3 eggs per day and 200-500 eggs per her lifetime (about 6-12 months)

·         Egg-to-egg life cycle may take 4 to 5 weeks

To get rid of bed bugs:

·         Reduce clutter

·         Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs, which eliminates many hiding spots. A light color of encasement makes bed bugs easier to see

·         Make your bed an island

·         Heat treat clothing, bedding, and other items that can withstand a hot dryer (household dryer at high heat for 30 minutes), which will kill bed bugs and eggs

·         Heat infested articles that can't go in a clothes dryer and/or areas to at least 120 ºF for 90 minutes. This is often done using a heat-generating device or in a specially constructed heating unit, some of which are portable

·         Consult a pesticide treatment professional

Preventing bed bugs:

·         Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches before bringing them home

·         Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs and eliminates many hiding spots

·         Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places

·         Vacuum frequently

·         Be vigilant when using shared laundry facilities

·         Check boxes that are delivered to you

When traveling:

·         Check the bed, nightstand, and upholstered furniture

·         Keep your luggage away from the bed

·         Use the luggage rack

·         Unpack your suitcase outside and wash your clothes immediately; run your dryer on high heat

·         Vacuum your luggage

For more information on bed bugs, visit the Environmental Protection Agency @ https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs


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