BED BUGS Q. What are bed bugs? Q. Where do bed bugs live? Q. How do I get bed bugs? Q. How do I prevent infestation? Q. I think I have bed bugs, what do I do?
Q. What are bed bugs? A. The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, is a small, brownish, flattened insect that feeds solely on the blood of animals. Adult beg bugs are approximately 3/16-inch long (slightly smaller than an apple seed) and reddish brown with oval, flattened bodies. They can sometimes be mistaken for ticks or cockroaches. The babies (nymphs) resemble adult bed bugs, but are smaller and lighter in color. Eggs are whitish and not much bigger than dust specs. Bed bugs do not fly, but can crawl swiftly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces.
Q. Where do bed bugs live? A. Their name is actually deceiving because bed bugs can live in almost any crevice of any household item. Sofas, chairs, nightstands and dressers, along the edge of baseboards and wall-to-wall carpeting, cracks in wood molding, ceiling-wall junctures, behind wall-mounted picture frames, clocks, phones…anywhere that has a dark, protected location, a bed bug can set up its home. Bed bugs tend to congregate and it is typical to find many in the same location. Bed bugs may occur in all sorts of places besides hotels, homes and apartments. Recent press reports show they are also infesting such places as clothing stores, movie theatres, hospitals, schools and office buildings. In mattresses, they tend to congregate along the seams and edges. They also hide in box springs, bed frames and headboards.
Q. How do I get bed bugs? A. These pesky critters are quite efficient hitchhikers. They usually are transported into dwellings on luggage, clothing, beds and furniture. Since bed bugs are so small, it’s difficult to detect them after they’ve hitched a ride in your luggage or household items.
Q. How do I prevent infestation? A. The following precautions can help prevent bed bugs from entering your home: Do not bring curb side items (especially beds and sofas) indoors as these may harbouring bed bugs. If you are travelling, make it a habit to inspect your bed for bed bugs before unpacking. Remove sheets, blankets, etc. and examine the seams of the mattress and upper edge of the box spring for any signs of bed bugs or their droppings which appear as darkish spotting or staining. The seams and corners at the head of the bed (the pillow end) are especially critical. Although bed bugs often reside behind hotel head boards, these can be heavy and difficult to remove except by trained individuals. Avoid storing your luggage on the floor or bed. Bed bugs are less likely to infest suitcases and other belongings if placed on a table top, luggage stand or other hard surface. When returning home from travel, put all your laundry immediately into the washer or dryer on warm or hot cycle. Either method is effective at killing bed bugs and their eggs. It may also be prudent to store your suitcase in the garage, basement, etc., rather than in living areas of your home. These precautions are especially important, upon returning home, should you experience bites or suspicious itchy welts during you travels. Some travel sites are now offering advisories on which hotels have reportedly had incidents involving bed bugs. While many of such reports are unconfirmed, they can provide guidance to concerned travelers.
Q. I think I have bed bugs, what do I do? A. Bed bug extermination can be difficult, especially when the problem is allowed to persist. During the beginning stages of an infestation, bed bugs tend to congregate in beds and sleeping areas. If the infestation grows and spreads beyond your bed, eradicating them can be more difficult. If you get bed bugs, it’s prudent to hire a professional exterminator. Professional exterminators know what to look for and have the necessary tools for managing the problem. Bedding and garments will need to be bagged and laundered at a minimum of 120 °F. Alternatively, you can place clothing, toys, backpacks, shoes, etc. in a dryer set at medium-high heat for 10-20 minutes. The heat will kill all stages of bed bugs, including eggs. If items can’t be laundered and/or run through a clothes dryer, you may be able to disinfect them in trash bags placed outdoors in a hot, sunny location or inside a closed vehicle for at least a day. The internal temperature must reach at least 120 degrees or higher in order to be effective, so if you try this, the fewer items in the bag, the better, so that the heat can penetrate to wherever the bed bugs may be hiding. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to throw out heavily infested items, but it’s best to consult with a professional before doing so. Mattresses and box springs can often be protected in zippered encasements rather than having to be discarded.