Bed Bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that grow to the size of an apple seed. They live off the blood of animals or humans. Their bodies swell and become reddish after feeding. Unlike some parasites, such as fleas or lice, bed bugs do not live on their hosts, and will only visit hosts to feed.
Although bed bugs are not known to spread disease, it is possible for them to carry parasites. They are mostly active at night and usually feed weekly. Bed bugs cannot fly, but can travel quickly.
Lifespan of a Bed Bug
Bed bug nymphs (babies) are about 1 to 4 millimetres long and yellow-white in color. Nymphs shed their skins five times before reaching maturity, and require blood before shedding.
Bed bugs can fully develop in a month, and can produce 3 or more times per year. A female bed bug can lay about 500 eggs in their lifetime. Most bed bugs live 4 to 6 months, but some may live up to a year.
Signs of Bed Bug Bites
A bed bug bite usually causes itchy red bumps or flat welts on the skin. Bed bugs tend to bite exposed parts of the body not covered by clothes such as the face, neck, arms, and hands. The bites take 1 to 2 weeks to go away.
Look out for the following signs of infection in and around the seams, crevices, folds, trim of bed frames and cracks:
- Dark spotting and staining on your sheets, pillow, mattress, bed frame, carpets, clothing, and other items that come in close contact with your body.
- Staining from insect feces and blood.
- Molted skins and eggshells where bed bugs hide.
- An offensive, sweet, musty odour.
If you suspect there is an infestation, check all luggage, clothing, beds, and couches. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces.
Bed bugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but do tend to live in groups. Their hiding places are mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards. This will give them easy access to people at night.
How to Treat Bed Bugs
Getting rid of bed bugs completely can take weeks to months, depending on the extent of the infestation.
When treating bed bugs on your own, you may risk irritating them further. It is important to not dispose of, or release any items from the infected area. Instead, you should take steps in “quarantining” the affected area.
Bed bugs treatment will depend on a number of things:
- How many bed bugs you have
- How much clutter is available for hiding places
- Whether your neighbors have bed bugs
Heat treatments involve a qualified exterminator raising the temperature in your home with special equipment to kill the bed bugs. Bed bugs and eggs die within 90 minutes at 118°F (48°C), or immediately at 122°F (50°C).
Usually, items treated with temperature treatments do not require an insecticide treatment. Speak with an exterminator to decide what is the best course for your infestation.
During a heat treatment, the air temperature in the room will rise between 135°F (57.2°C) and 145°F (62.7 °C). The exterminator then will place thermometers throughout the home to make sure the temperatures have been reached, and will watch closely to ensure the area is hot enough to kill the bed bugs.
Heat treatments typically take between 6 to 8 hours depending on the area being treated.
During the heat treatment, remove pets and heat sensitive items that may melt or be damaged at high temperatures. Make sure you discuss what other steps must be taken before treatment begins.
Insecticide treatments that are conducted thoroughly and correctly by a qualified exterminator can be a very effective way of controlling bed bugs. An exterminator may use several insecticides to achieve the best result.
An exterminator may suggest other services such as heat treatments, steam applications, or freezing infected items in addition to the chemical treatment.
A thorough insecticide treatment may involve 2 to 3 visits from an exterminator to ensure the infected area has been effectively treated. An insecticide treatment typically takes about 30 minutes to 2 hours per room depending on size and condition of the room.
Once the treatment is complete, you should wait until all the insecticides have dried before reentering your home, or until the exterminator says it is safe.
Controlling bed bugs with insecticides is a challenging and time consuming process that requires expertise. A license to apply certain insecticides in many states; do not attempt to use chemical treatments on your own without consulting an exterminator.
If you feel a chemical treatment is the best treatment, talk to a qualified exterminator today by calling Pest Brigade at (833) 431-0401.