A once almost eradicated bug infestation after World War II has re-emerged again on the scene. These small dark brown dorsally flattened bugs with 3 pairs of legs are ¼ inches long. They darken in color to a dark chestnut brown after feeding and lighten in color when they have not fed for a period of time. They are a nocturnal creature and biting occurs at night. Most commonly infected places are the mattress, box spring, carpets, baseboards, and upholstered furniture if there is an adequate supply of available hosts within 4.9 feet of the predator. They can hide in gaps, seams, cracks, corners and survive months without a meal. Symptoms of attacks may not show or can result in itchy blotches and white swelling on human skin. These bed bugs feed exclusively on blood and can be seen with the naked eye. They carry no disease and they do not fly or jump just crawl. They do not bother with pets.
Bed bugs have been around since the time of the caveman but the increase in bed bug numbers has been brought on by domestic and global travel. They are found in hotels and often pass on to clothing and luggage. Another factor contributing to increased bed bug activity is the use of second hand goods and the movement of furniture and linens. Other factors are changes in pest control procedures and a general lack of knowledge.
Most people have lived for long periods of time and were not aware they had bed bugs. Getting bed bugs is not necessarily something to blame on a person. Anyone can pick up a bed bug. Bed bugs can be picked up on a backpack or purse during a visitation to an infected home or business. Even city buses and senior buses now report problems with bed bugs. Bed bugs can also make their way through walls or doorways from one apartment to another. One can look for live bed bugs with a flashlight and inspecting the bedding sheets, mattress and box spring to look for droppings or the live bugs. One cannot be 100% sure if there are bed bugs unless you have a professional do an inspection.
Bed bugs are easiest to control when treated early before they spread. Some pesticides have not been as effective with bed bugs in the past as they have developed a resistance. For persons living in an apartment complex or condominium, the landlord or property manager needs to be notified.
There are several treatments: The conventional treatment consists of 3 treatments over a 4- 6-week period. Treatments are scheduled 10-14 days apart to coincide with bed bug reproduction and incubation. There should be professional inspections following treatments.
The second treatment is the bed bug heat treatment: This is a “Green” option limited or chemical free process. Rentokil as it is called can eliminate all stages of bed bugs and render a property usable within 12-24 hours. This is a forced hot air technology to obtain quick reliable and effective results. Ambient room temperatures are adjusted throughout the service to achieve mortality of the bed bugs any of the life stages of bed bugs including the eggs. The heat is pressurized into all small cracks and crevices. Furniture is arranged and high temperature fans are used to maximize hot air circulation. Remote thermometers are uses to verify that critical temperatures are achieved. Before the heat treatment is begun there are some preparation requirements that the experts will provide instructions for the apartment dwellers or home owners. The bed linens, towels and blankets can be washed and dried in a conventional washer and drier.
Some important things for professionals to consider when entering peoples’ homes:
- Never assume that because a place looks clean and the person is tidy and neat in appearance, that there are not bed bugs. People many times do not know they have them.
- When you visit persons on a business basis, do no sit where they sleep or where there is a sleeper couch or on upholstered furniture.
- Avoid placing your briefcase or purse near these types of furniture or place them in a plastic tote box or bag. Leave your coat in the car. Put your clothing you wore in a plastic bag before entering your home and put on a change of clothing and throw the clothes that were in the plastic bag in the washing machine.
- Most bed bugs do not come out during the day but if you see them or if there is a report that they have been seen, make sure the homeowner reports it to the property manager or has a professional inspection which is cost free.