- BED BUG BIOLOGY
- BED BUG MISPERCEPTIONS
- BED BUG HISTORY
- BED BUG INFESTATIONS
- BED BUG ODOR
- BED BUG PROBLEM IN HOTEL
- HOW TO TREAT BED BUG BITES
- BED BUG TRAPS
- BED BUG SPRAYING AND CONTROL
- BED BUG AEROSOL
- BED BUG READY TO USE SPRAY
- BED BUG LAUNDRY DETERGENT
- BED BUG DUST
- BED BUGS ON THE WALLS
- BED BUG LIQUID SPRAY
- BED BUG ATTIC TREATMENTS
- BEST EQUIPMENT FOR ATTIC TREATING
- BED BUG INSPECTIONS AND FOLLOWUP
- CONTACT US
BED BUG BIOLOGY
Bed 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. Bed bugs have almost a round body though it appears to be more oval upon closer observation. Bed bugs have six legs and are very good walkers.
It is important to understand that bed bugs are very much visible to the ey. The author has dealt with many people who believe they have an active infestation of bed 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 bed bugs are the active insect.
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BED BUG MISPERCEPTIONS
Here are some of the more misleading situations which cause people to erroneously conclude they have bed bugs.
- 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 bed bugs one cannot conclude the presence of such marks means bed 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.
- 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 bed bugs are nocturnal and they can cause a stinging or pinching sensation when they feed, bed 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 bed bug will still be present. If your bites are happening after you go to sleep, simply go to bed 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. bed 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.
- Bed 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 bed bugs. Bed 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.
- Bed bugs are highly mobile and can infest any house or building rapidly. Again, not true or even close to reality. Though bed 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 bed 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.
- Bed 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 bed 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 bed bugs basic biology so a better understanding of how it develops, where it comes from and how to control local infestations can be achieved.
Bed 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, bed 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 bed bug but very hard to determine just which species it may be.
BED BUG HISTORY
Of all the pests mankind has had to endure over time, bed 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 bed 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 bed bugs possibly feeding on them but when combined with the fact that bed bugs are nocturnal and only take advantage of us when we are most vulnerable – asleep – bed bugs evoke a feeling of gross hatred.
Bed 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, bed bugs are still very much an active parasite to man and they show intention of going away any time soon. This video shows a bed bug feeding and why it’s so easy to dislike this pest. The action is sped up for the purpose of showing what they look like after they feed but it’s easy to see why they’re hard to find until they feed.
BED BUG INFESTATIONS
The most common infestation today occurs in some type of hotel or motel. These establishments house world travelers which bring the bed 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 bed bugs.
Bird bugs 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.
HOW TO GET BED BUGS
Understanding where bed 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 gluelike 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 adult bed bugs 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.
BED BUG ODOR
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 bed bugs having fed or from scent glands on the bed bugs themselves. Having been in many homes with active infestations, the author is able to determine when he enters a structure which has bed bug activity. However, just what causes the odor is still not clear.
BED BUG PROBLEM IN HOTEL
One of the common ways bed bugs find their way into our homes is by hitching a ride in luggage and clothing we take with us during vacations. A single female brought home is able to cause quite a problem in few months. In fact many of these problems can be avoided by doing a little bed bug control when you first arrive. The first thing you should do any time you travel to a suspect hotel or motel is set out some BED BUG FIRST RESPONSE TRAPS. These work amazingly well and will catch bed bugs within hours. Bring some with you when traveling and set them up immediately when you check into your hotel room to see if it’s bed bug infested.
And if you’re still unsure and feel like doing a little spraying, bring some BED BUG RID with you during the trip. This product is an all natural product using ingredients that are federally exempt from needing a registration number because everything it has is very safe to use around people and pets. Bed Bug Rid can be applied directly to the mattress, carpeting, the bed frame, sheets, etc. and it comes in a handy travel size that’s small enough for your carry on luggage when traveling by air plane.
Before checkout, be sure to spray your luggage and any items that you pack. Bed Bug Rid will control all stages of bed bugs so even if mistakenly carry home some eggs, the treatment will handle this kind of problem.
BED BUGS BROUGHT HOME ARE HUNGRY FOR BLOOD
Since bed bugs, bat bugs and bird bugs need to feed every day, infestations by these species can be quite abrupt and generally appear out of nowhere. Hosts, the people being bitten during the night, may or not have adverse reactions to the bite so in some cases the problem goes on for months until it’s identified. The bite itself is not really a bite; it is more of a puncture. The bed 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 bed bug will pass into the host. The bed 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 bed 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.
HOW TO TREAT BED BUG BITES
Please remember that even if you are having skin conditions which are similar, you cannot conclude that you have an active bed bug infestation. However, one thing you can do 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, not only do many people not have any reaction to the bite at all but people who have some type of reaction are able to build an immunity quite quickly. This trait regarding bed bugs makes diagnosing the problem difficult. Clearly a lack of reaction or no reaction at all could mean host and bed 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 bed bugs for their skin conditions when in fact their reaction is simply a symptom of some other allergen – not bed bugs at all! This point must not be swept under the carpet and disregarded quickly. Active levels of bed bugs are easy to discover once they are suspected. If you inspect the key areas surrounding the bed in which bed bugs are feeding you will quickly find where they live. If you have some type of skin reaction or rash and suspect bed bugs, it is important that no conclusion is made until such time that specimens are found. In other words, you cannot conclude you have bed 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 bed bugs and they don’t exist, the skin conditions will never go away. This is because the skin conditions are not related to bed bugs so treatments for bed 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.
BED BUG TRAPS
At this time the author believes he has done a good job explaining what you need to know about bed 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 bed bugs here is what you must do.
First, get some FIRST RESPONSE BED BUG MONITOR TRAPS installed. These monitors are generally used by people staying in hotels and want to know if the room in which they’re sleeping has bed bugs. Each pack comes with two glueboards, two hand warmers, two CO2 generators and bed bug pheromone lure.
They also work as traps and should be placed alongside the bed’s head board once they’re set up and activated. The CO2 generator and hand warmer attractants are only good for 24 hours so these traps are not a practical way to control a current infestation. But they’ll catch bed bugs within hours and can alert you to an existing problem so you can stay clear of the infestation and intiate treatments. They’ll also catch a wide range of other “pests” so pay attention to what you find stuck in the glue.
If you want something more permanent, the FIRST RESPONSE BED BUG ELECTRIC TRAP will last indefinitely. This unit is powered by electricity and should be set up under beds, couches and other areas where bed bugs are thought to be nesting and/or active. Remember, bed bugs are most active at night so be sure to leave the trap alone during this time. Inspect it daily, anytime in mid to late morning, and keep record of what it catches so you can tell if you have a problem that’s almost over or one that’s developing for the worse.
Electric Bed Bug Trap: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/electric/first-response-bed-bug-trap.html
BED BUG SPRAYING AND CONTROL
Now that you have concluded without a doubt that you have bed 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.
Bed bugs usually do not nest on beds anymore unless they are made of wood and have a lot of cracks and crevices for concealment. These cracks and crevices are most common where head and foot boards attach to side railings. 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. Bed bugs will readily crawl into such seams. To properly inspect these areas, first remove all blankets, comforters, sheets and linens. Next, take the top mattress off inspecting it for any rips where they might be hiding. Bed bugs like to hide under the buttons which many mattresses have. Don’t expect to find much on the top mattress; if the bed 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. Remember, the eggs are usually well hidden and even a strong vacuum is not likely to dislodge them from their grip. If you find any evidence of bed bugs in the mattress or the bed frame, you should resign yourself to treating it at least three times over the next month. There are two reasons for this.
First, there is no product which can kill every egg that might be hiding. This means eggs which are missed during the treatment will probably hatch in 1-2 weeks. Followup treatments insures these new young are not able to establish themselves.
Secondly, even if you do a great job both treating and vacuuming, it is very likely more eggs will be laid in the week following your initial treatment by females that are missed during the rest of the treatment in the home. There are several products that can be used on beds, mattresses and furniture quite effectively but we’ve narrowed the list to the most effective. Though similar, there are some differences which may make the use of one better suited for your application.
BED BUG AEROSOL
PT565XLO is a pyrethrin based product which is very safe for use around people and pets. It can be sprayed over the surfaces of the bed and mattresses as well as into cracks and crevices where the young and adults are hiding. This product is derived from the chrysanthemum plant and is very safe but provides no real residual. This means it is active when you spray and will kill on contact but within a few hours is gone.
BED BUG READY TO USE SPRAY
These are liquid products pre mixed and ready to be applied. One of the more commonly used is STERIFAB. This has long been a staple bed bug and germ product used by hospitals and institutions where a product is needed for both fast and safe results. Like PT565, Sterifab won’t provide any residual. However, it’s quick drying and treated surfaces are safe to the touch as soon as the treatment dries. This makes Sterifab an excellent choice for sensitive areas. And it’s ready to spray; no mixing involved.
For travel, bring along the small sized BED BUG RID. As explained above, Bed Bug Rid works incredibly well on bed bugs and yet very safe to use making it ideal for travel during a business trip or vacation. It even works on german roaches so it’s versatile. Since hotels and motels are known to have bed bug issues, you may opt to treat your room when first arriving just to be sure. Obviously treat the mattress but don’t forget the bed frame.
Another ready to use spray that’s slightly stronger than Bed Bug Rid is BEDBUG KILLER RTS It comes in a 6 oz spray bottle, is ready to spray but uses an active known as Deltamethrin. That means it has a residual action which might last 2 or more weeks. And since it’s water based and in such a small size, some people prefer this for travel.
BED BUG LAUNDRY DETERGENT
If you’ll be traveling awhile, bring some KLEEN FREE. laundry detergent designed specifically for lice and bed bugs. 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, sheets and clothing clean can be helpful when trying to avoid bring home any unwanted guests.
BED BUG DUST
If you’ve got bed bugs in the home and the problem is thought to have been active for some time, you’ll need to treat more than just the mattresses and bed frames. The next place to inspect and treat will be the floor moldings around the room. Bed 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 bed 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 bed bugs are found, use the Drione to treat. If no activity is found, use the PT565XLO and spray lightly. The 565 will flush any out into the open so it’s a good to use as an inspecting tool for areas where you think there could be a problem yet one is not easy to see.
Now inspect any other furniture in the room. Common nest sites will be desks, chairs, armoire, etc. Once inspected, treat with Drione if you find activity; use the PT565XLO if none is noticed but you want to be sure you didn’t miss anything.
BED BUGS ON THE WALLS
Don’t forget to look high while inspecting. If the room has crown molding, be sure to inspect and treat accordingly. Bed bugs can 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.
BED BUG LIQUID SPRAY
The above treatment should be done in any room throughout the home where activity is thought to exist. In most cases, the bed 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. Even though this is true, it’s still important to inspect the entire floor of any ouse which has bed bug activity.
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. If your floor is carpeted, eggs will readily be laid in the nap of the carpet down where fibers attach to the backing.
This design makes it near to impossible to vacuum them all out so your best bet is to treat the carpet much like you would if you were treating for fleas. Use the active known as 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. Exact coverage will depend largely on the thickness of the carpet.
Onslaught provides a good residual and will last 1-2 months. This residual provides bed bug protection and insures you have something working for some time on hatching eggs. For extra protection, you should add the newly labeled 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.
On a special note, if you are opting for the aerosol materials listed above, be sure to use some GENTROL AEROSOL for equal results.
BED BUG ATTIC TREATMENTS
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 then the treatment suggestions listed above should handle your problem. But if you had a bat infestation or some bird nests on your structure in the past year, your home could require further treatments.
So if even if the inside populations formed from migrating bed bugs from the outside, it is not likely all the bugs moved into your home. There are always some which will lay dormant waiting for the bats to return or new birds to move into vacated nests. Any such areas you know about must be treated. If these areas are outside the home under soffits, you can use the Onslaught 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. But the Delta Dust is best used outside or in other moist areas because it will hold up to moisture where the Drione will not.
BEST EQUIPMENT FOR ATTIC TREATING
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 forage to the attic and wall spaces where they can lay dormant. This is particularly true in attics where bats have been roosting or when the infested rooms are located upstairs just below the attic. 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.
BED BUG INSPECTIONS AND FOLLOWUP
Now that you have properly treated the rooms where you’ve 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 bed 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 have a short residual and need to 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 bedbug 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’ve solved the problem.
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