- BAT BUG MYTHS
- BAT BUG BIOLOGY
- BAT BUG HISTORY
- BAT BUG INFESTATIONS
- BIRD MITES
- BAT BUG LIFE CYCLE
- MIGRATING BAT BUGS
- BAT BUG BITES
- BAT BUG CONTROL PRODUCTS
- ONCE YOU KNOW YOU HAVE BAT BUGS OR BIRD MITES
- BED TREATMENTS
- BED FRAME TREATMENTS
- MATTRESS TREATMENTS
- BAT BUG BIRD MITE AEROSOL
- BAT BUG BIRD MITE SPRAY
- SOLID FLOOR SPRAY
- BAT BUG BIRD MITE CARPET SPRAY
- BAT BUG HOUSE SPRAY
- BAT BUG BIRD MITE ATTIC TREATMENTS
- CONTACT US
Bat bugs are very much visible to the eye. They are large enough to see without any magnification; they can grow up to 1/4 inch long. Young hatch looking much like adults just much smaller. Most species will appear to be a transparent tan or beige color but will quickly turn dark brown, almost black, once they have fed.
Bat bugs have almost a round body though it appears to be more oval upon closer observation. Bat bugs have six legs and are very good walkers. It is important to understand that bat bugs are not invisible. The author has dealt with many people who believe they have an active infestation of bat bugs when no trace of anything can be found. Their infestation is the conclusion based on all the wrong premises; only when specimens which have been properly identified can one be sure bat bugs are the active insect.
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BAT BUG MYTHS
Here are some of the more misleading situations which cause people to erroneously conclude they have bat bugs.
1) Marks have been found on their skin which appear randomly and without any warning. These marks sometimes itch, sometimes form scabs and may linger for several days before healing. Though such marks could indeed be caused by bat bugs one cannot conclude the presence of such marks means bat bugs are to blame. There are far too many other variables all of which can cause a similar skin reaction and not being related to any type of insect at all.
2) A biting sensation which occurs while someone is sleeping or when they are in different parts of the house generally at night. Once the bite is felt no one can ever find the culprit. It mysteriously disappears and is never found. Though bat bugs are nocturnal and they can cause a stinging or pinching sensation when they feed, bat bugs are not fast enough to simply disappear. One would easily find them upon looking at the spot where the discomfort occurred. As soon as the bite is felt, simply look on your skin or immediately adjacent to where the bite occurred and the bat bug will still be present. If your bites are happening after you go to sleep, simply go to bat very early but while it is dark with the intention of “catching one in the act”. As soon as the biting sensation is felt, look to see what caused it. Bat bugs are easy to catch in the act this way and proof positive is needed when addressing such a problem which insures proper treatment. Randomly treating for insects which are not properly identified is a big mistake.
3) Bat bugs live under ones skin so you can’t see them. This is simply not true. Scabies, a true skin condition where the problem is located under ones skin, has nothing to do with bat bugs. Bat bugs will move onto their targets quietly and under the protection of darkness. Once they feed they will leave spending less than 10 minutes on their host at any one time. If you are experiencing a biting sensation throughout the day and are not able to find or see any likely pests which could contribute to such a problem you need to see a dermatologist. In all likelihood, allergens will be to blame for your reactions.
4) Bat bugs are highly mobile and can infest any house or building rapidly. Again, not true or even close to reality. Though bat bugs can travel and will move 5-10 feet easily to get a good meal, they prefer to live immediately adjacent to any good food supply like a bed which has people sleeping. In fact, data suggests that a room which has bat bugs is most likely to be the only room infested in the home. Only when their main source of food disappears will they pack up to move. 5) Bat bugs like to live in mattresses. Though this used to be true many years ago when mattresses were built entirely different, such living patterns do not follow todays infestation characteristics. Since mattresses and box springs are constructed so much better and hold up that much longer, there tends to be very little shelter available in or on a mattress unless linens and sheets are not being used or are not being folder over the mattresses.
These misperceptions along with some others which have been handed down over time has caused the bat bug to be the “likely culprit” when in fact the real problem is some other insect or not an insect at all. Lets review some of the bat bugs basic biology so a better understanding of how it develops, where it comes from and how to control local infestations can be achieved.
BAT BUG BIOLOGY
Bat bugs are in the family of cimicidae which are insects that have short forewings, oval to round body shapes and a flat profile. They are parasites of mammals and birds and though generally animal specific, bat bugs will feed on any animal that can provide a blood meal when faced with limited selections. There are over 100 species around the world with over 15 existing in the continent of North America. It is easy to identify a bat bug but very hard to determine just which species it may be.
Of all the pests mankind has had to endure over time, bat bugs might very well be the most hated and disgusting. Unlike the flea or mosquito which feed for a very short amount of time, the bat bug tends to suck blood for 3-5 minutes and in some cases over 15 minutes during it’s meals. This in of itself makes people queasy when thinking about bat bugs possibly feeding on them but when combined with the fact that bat bugs are nocturnal and only take advantage of us when we are most vulnerable – asleep – bat bugs evoke a feeling of gross hatred.
BAT BUG HISTORY
Bat bugs have been pests to man for as long as there is a recorded history but seem to have disappeared after World War II. For some reason they have been found in ever increasing numbers starting in the early 90′s and some theories suggest the increase in world travel has lead to this trend. Regardless of why, bat bugs are still very much an active parasite to man and they show intention of going away any time soon.
BAT BUG INFESTATIONS
The most common infestation today occurs in some type of hotel or motel. These establishments house world travelers which bring the bat bugs with them. Once unpacked, clothing and sleep linens shed eggs, young or adults which are always looking for a good place to live. It only takes one female which has fed to start a local infestation. Once the visitor is gone the pregnant female gets busy laying eggs which in turn hatch and allow an infestation to get established.
The second most common type of infestation occurs in homes where bats or birds have been roosting. Bats have a species which are specific to them and will coexist where bats roost. Since bats have been moving into the attics of homes as well as eaves, gable vents and behind shutters so too have these bat bugs. The bat bugs will live off the bats as long as they are present. Since bats migrate depending on temperature and food supplies, so to must the bat bugs forage for food when local colonies of bats are gone. Most species can exist several months without eating but extended periods without food will cause an exodus which may or may not be random. One thing is for sure: bat bugs will readily find their way into homes and onto people. Once in the home and having found a host on which to live, bat bugs will become established the same way as bat bugs.
Bird mites become people pests in much the same way. Barnyard swallows seem to be the most likely bird to cause this problem. Innocent nests are formed under eaves, around soffits and down chimneys which in turn hatch young birds which bird bugs feed upon. Once the birds mature and leave the nest the bird bugs are forced to migrate in search of food. This, much like the migrating bat bugs, leads them inside bedrooms and ultimately to the people who sleep there. Once the new host is found populations are able to grow and thrive. Fortunately the treatments that control bat bugs will work on bird mites too.
BAT BUG LIFE CYCLE
Understanding where bat bugs may have originated from will help shine some light on your problem but their biology is even more important when treating local infestations.
As stated above, females are able to start the egg laying process once they have fed. They will generally lay 3-6 eggs a day. Eggs are carefully placed in cracks, crevices and other well protected sites surrounding the main location of food. This is critical when dealing with local populations and will be explained why later in this article. The female lays her eggs with a glue like secretion which enables her to fasten them securely in concealed areas where they will remain protected and steadfast until they hatch.
Females will be able to lay eggs following blood meals and with good luck will be able to lay several hundred eggs over her life. Most adults will die in less than a year; they can live longer than a year without a meal if conditions are right so infestations generally take time to develop and to control.
Eggs will hatch 1-2 weeks after being laid. They hatch looking like miniature versions of adults. They will want to feed immediately and every meal will enable them to shed their skin, completing an “instar” and reach reproducing adulthood after 5 such instars. Under good conditions this development, from egg to adult, will be complete in less than three months. This means 3-4 generations can develop every year so population levels can get quite high in a year.
Large infestations will acquire a “buggy” smell which has been described as something obnoxiously sweet. Some people have likened it to raspberries but at this time it has not been determined if the odor is from the conditions of the home, the blood excrement from the bat bugs having fed or from scent glands on the bat bugs themselves. Having been in many homes with active infestations, the author is able to determine when he enters a structure which has bat bug activity. However, just what causes the odor is still not clear.
MIGRATING BAT BUGS
Bat bugs find their way into homes by hitching a ride in luggage and clothing during vacations. A single female brought home is able to cause quite a problem in few months. Since bat bugs and bird bugs are just as likely to move inside following the migration of their original host, infestations by these species can be quite abrupt and generally appear out of nowhere.
BAT BUG BITES
Hosts, the people being bitten during the night, may or not have adverse reactions to the bite. The bite itself is not really a bite; it is more of a puncture. The bat bug is armed with a needle like tube which bends in a couple of places. This tube is pushed into the hosts skin and blood is extracted. During this process some saliva from the bat bug will pass into the host. The bat bug will grab the hosts skin using it front legs for leverage. All of these factors could lead to some sensation on the hosts skin.
Clearly the most common way people find out they have a problem is because the bite is leaving a mark or some other skin discomfort leading to further investigation. However, it is estimated that as many as 50% of people who are bit have no reaction so it would reason to say that many infestations of bat bugs are able to exist for many months if not years before someone learns of their presence. People who have reactions are generally reacting to the insects saliva. Such reactions include an itching sensation, a burning feeling, swelling, red marks much like a flea bite and described most commonly as a welt.
BIRD MITE AND BAT BUG BITE OINTMENT
If you are having skin conditions which are similar, you cannot conclude that you have an active bat bug infestation. One thing you can do though is treat your skin with BITE OINTMENT. This soothing material takes the itch away, relieves burning and swelling and seems to help the skin to heal.
However, as hard as it might be to imagine, not only do many people not have any reaction to the bite at all but there are people who have the ability to build an immunity quite quickly to the bite. This trait regarding bat bugs makes diagnosing the problem difficult. Clearly a lack of reaction or no reaction at all could mean host and bat bug could coexist for long periods of time without any indication of the infestation. This means that that people who don’t have any reaction to bites are more likely to have active infestations which go longer without being identified.
Conversely, people who have strong reactions or over reactions are most likely to be blaming bat bugs for their skin conditions when in fact their reaction is simply a symptom of some other allergen – not bat bugs at all! This point must not be swept under the carpet and disregarded quickly. Active levels of bat bugs are easy to discover once they are suspected. If you inspect the key areas surrounding the bat in which bat bugs are feeding you will quickly find where they live.
If you have some type of skin reaction or rash and suspect bat bugs, it is important that no conclusion is made until such time that specimens are found. In other words, you cannot conclude you have bat bugs based on some type of “feeling” or “bite”. This scenario has played itself out too many times and the problem is simple: when treatments are done for bat bugs and they don’t exist, the skin conditions will never go away. This is because the skin conditions are not related to bat bugs so treatments for bat bugs turns out to be a waste of time. Pest control companies that haphazardously apply any chemical because their customer “has something” are making a big mistake. Under such pretense nothing will be resolved. Only when specimens are found and hiding locations identified can treatments be done.
BAT BUG CONTROL PRODUCTS
At this time the author believes he has done a good job explaining what you need to know about bat bugs to help determine whether or not you have an active infestation. Some of you reading this already know you have them and are anxious to learn how to control infestations. Others are not quite sure at this point so more work and inspections may be needed. Some of you are simply fascinated by this pest and are reading simply for information. How to treat infestations will be explained shortly; for those of you not sure whether or not you have bat bugs here is what you must do.
First, place out some GLUEBOARD MONITORS. If you have some type of pest biting you during the night some will undoubtedly find their way to the trap and get stuck in the glue. Once caught, you will be able to get a positive identification allowing for proper treatment of the problem. Since there are many other insects which could be the real culprit, the use of the trap will help to identify any of them allowing for proper treatment regardless of what you have.
Trapper Monitor: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/glue/trapper-insect-glue-boards
Now if it turns out you actually have fleas, ants, flies, mosquitoes or any other pest, simply go back to our huge on line article archive section which will have an in depth article detailing what you need to do.
ONCE YOU KNOW YOU HAVE BAT BUGS OR BIRD MITES
Now that you have concluded without a doubt that you have bat bugs, you will have to treat the problem depending on treatment sites. There are several products which should be used and their use as well as where you use them will depend primarily on surfaces being treated.
The first area which should be addressed is the bed itself. Bat bugs usually do not nest on beds anymore unless they are made of wood and have a lot of cracks and crevices for concealment. And if you suspect you have some living on or in the mattress, treat it with some BED BUG RID. This product is labeled for use on mattresses and works well on mites and anything else that might be living in the mattress.
BED FRAME TREATMENTS
The cracks and crevices of the bed frame are in fact the more common nest site where these bugs like to nest. Anywhere the supporting side rails attach to the head or foot board is usually a joint and these are key locations. There could also be seams where supports for the box spring are mounted to the side railings. Head boards could have inlaid wood or moldings which are loose. Bat bugs will readily crawl into such seams. To properly inspect these areas, first remove all blankets, comforters, sheets and linens. All these areas could be sprayed with Bed Bug Rid but a better way to treatment is use DRIONE DUST and a HAND DUSTER. This will prove to last a lot longer and get much better coverage into all the nooks and cracks where these pests like to hide.
Next, take the top mattress off inspecting it for any rips where they might be hiding. Bat bugs like to hide under the buttons which many mattresses have. Don’t expect to find much on the top mattress; if the bat bugs have nested on either mattress it is usually the box spring which they prefer to call home. Turn the box spring over and look carefully for any rips in the fabric which would allow them to enter and hide amongst the frame of the box spring. This is a common hiding place and presents the most likely place you will find them on either of the mattresses.
While you have all of the bed taken apart, it is important that you give it a good vacuum before you treat and put it back together. Next, spray it down with some BED BUG RID. Remember, the eggs are usually well hidden and even a strong vacuum is not likely to dislodge them from their grip but the Bed Bug Rid will take care of any that might be hiding.
Now if you find any evidence of bat bugs in the mattress or the bed frame, you should resign yourself to treating it at least three times over the next month.
Now if you prefer not to spray a liquid on the mattress, then the LICE/BEDBUG KILLER is a good option. It uses pyrethrin as the active but it also has Permethrin. Though the pyrethrin will dissipate quickly, the Permethrin will last for awhile providing 1-2 weeks of residual.
Which ever you choose to use, expect to make a few applications to break the cycle and remember that it will take time for all developing stages to fully mature and get exposed to your applications. The good thing about these materials is that they are safe for these areas and easy to apply. And while the bed is apart, be sure to wash all the sheets and linens with hot water and KLEEN FREE. This enzyme based detergent does a great job of removing insects and their sheddings. Since these shedding can cause a lot of allergic reactions to occur, keeping your linens and sheets clean is helpful.
BAT BUG BIRD MITE AEROSOL
Since bat bugs and bird mites are most likely to be living in areas immediately adjacent to the bed, you will need to do more than treat just mattresses and bed frames. The next place to inspect and treat will be the floor moldings around the room. Bat bugs love to crawl under the moldings living between the carpet and the wood.
They will also get into electric outlets, under switch plate covers and behind both paneling and wall paper. Treat all of these areas with DRIONE DUST using a HAND DUSTER. Drione is odorless, kills quickly and will last a year or more. This is very important when treating bat bugs and one thorough treatment of these areas will usually knock most of the population out. Be sure to take all dressers and night tables apart as well. Remove each drawer, empty the drawers contents and then inspect all sides paying particular attention to seams and cracks. If bat bugs are found, use the Drione to treat.
If no activity is found, use PT-565 XLO AEROSOL and spray the area lightly. Now inspect any other furniture in the room. This includes desks, chairs, armoire, etc. Once inspected, treat with Drione if you find activity; use the PT-565 if nothing is noticed but you just want to make sure you didn’t miss any. Don’t forget to look high while inspecting. If the room has crown molding, be sure to inspect and treat accordingly. Bat bugs do not like to be high or low; they will nest at any level.
Don’t forget pictures, tapestries or anything else which is mounted on the wall. Anything with seams, cracks or crevices present prime nesting areas. Picture frames are classic locations as is heating and air ducts. Light fixtures can be a problem along with standing lights. The bottom line is that you need to treat any location with Drione if you find activity; PT565XLO or Lice/Bedbug Killer if you as much as suspect activity.
BAT BUG BIRD MITE SPRAY
The above treatment should be done in any room throughout the home where activity is thought to exist. In most cases, the bugs will only be in one or two bedrooms. Rarely do they make it to every room which has people; in most cases they stay where they find a good food supply and populations will grow over time but never leave unless their host leaves. In addition to all the cracks and crevice treatments which need to be done as listed above, it is important to inspect the floor of any room with activity.
SOLID FLOOR SPRAY
Tile and linoleum floors will not pose any problem but hardwoods can. The seam, cracks and gaps in the floor present a wonderful nest location for bed bugs and they will readily take up residence if such an opportunity presents itself. Be sure to vacuum any seams in hardwood floors thoroughly and treat with Drione if you suspect bed bugs were active there.
BAT BUG BIRD MITE CARPET SPRAY
If your floor is carpeted, eggs will readily be laid in the nap of the carpet down where fibers attach to the backing. This placement makes it impossible to vacuum them out so your best bet is to treat the carpet much like you would if you were treating for fleas. Use ONSLAUGHT which is both odorless and effective on bed bugs. Apply it with a PUMP SPRAYER and spray one gallon of material to every 500-1000 sq/ft of carpet depending largely on the thickness of the carpet. Onslaught provides a good residual and will last 1-2 months. This residual provides good protection and insures you have something working for some time on hatching eggs.
Pump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/good/pump-sprayers
For extra protection, you should add some GENTROL juvenile growth regulator. This material has been available for roach control for over 20 years and just recently had Bed Bugs listed on it’s labeling. When added to the tank with Onslaught, you will be treating both live adult Bed Bugs as well as their eggs. The Gentrol will remain active much longer then just the Onslaught alone. This extra long protection insures you will have something applied and ready to control and prevent any eggs from developing into reproducing adults.
Since Gentrol only needs to be added to the tank mix with the Onslaught and is sprayed at the same time, using both together makes a lot of sense. Now if you are opting for the Aerosol materials listed earlier in this article, then the GENTROL AEROSOL may be better suited for your needs.
BAT BUG HOUSE SPRAY
Now that the living area of the home has been thoroughly treated you may need to turn your attention to other parts of the home. If the infestation has been determined to have come from someone traveling and bringing the bugs home with them your ordeal should be over. However, be sure the infestation was not the result of bird or bat bugs which migrated from the attic, siding or soffit area of your home.
If you had a bat infestation or bird nests on your structure in the past year, your home could require further treatments. Even though the inside populations may have formed based on migrating bed bugs from the outside, it is not likely all moved inside. There are always some which will lay dormant waiting for the bats to return or new birds to move into vacated nests. Any areas you know about must be treated. If these areas are outside the home under soffits, you can use the Cyfluthrin and Pump Sprayer to saturate siding, cracks and crevices. This treatment should be done only if the area is too high to reach with a ladder. If you are able to climb up to the exact location where the bats or birds were roosting, you will be able to do a much better treatment using the Hand Duster listed above and treating with DELTA DUST. Like the Drione, Delta Dust will last a long time insuring hatching eggs will die. Delta Dust is needed outside or in other moist areas because it will hold up to moisture. Drione will not. Once the outside has been properly dusted and/or sprayed, consider treating the attic. In most cases, bat or bird bugs which forage inside pass through attics. Though many of them find their way into living areas, many will become dormant in attics. This is particularly true in attics where bats have been roosting or when the infested rooms are located upstairs just below the attic.
BAT BUG BIRD MITE ATTIC TREATMENTS
Treating the attic is both easy to do and long lasting so don’t ignore it hoping nothing is there. Use the DELTA DUST and apply it over the insulation with a DUSTIN MIZER. This dust blower will allow you to treat the entire attic quickly and completely without much effort. Most attics can be dusted in 5-10 minutes. Delta Dust is the best material for the job since it will hold up to moisture and works well on bed bugs.
Now that you have properly treated the rooms where you have identified the main activity, the next thing to do is to observe and inspect the results of your treatment. There should be a marked decrease in night time foraging by the bugs. Within a week or two there should be no activity. Don’t be surprised if you have to treat a few times with either aerosol; these products don’t last as long and generally must be applied several times to get the best results. The dust and liquid treatments will last the longest and as long as you are thorough with your coverage you should expect to keep treated areas bug free for a month or more at a time. Don’t stop inspecting for the first few months since this is the most likely time for them to return. After that you can rest assured you have probably solved the problem.
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