In recent years bed bugs have made a resurgence throughout the United States. Based on reports from local health departments and pest control operators, bedbug infestations have been found in hotels, nursing homes, public housing, apartment complexes, moving vans, jails, furniture rental stores, dormitories and other multi-unit dwellings as well as in single-family homes.
The common bed bug is found worldwide. Infestations are common in the developing world, occurring in settings of unsanitary living conditions and severe crowding. In recent years, bed bugs have also made a comeback in the U.S. They areincreasingly being encountered in homes, apartments, hotels, motels, dormitories, shelters and modes of transport.
Bedbugs are reddish-brown insects with flat, oval bodies. The common bed bug, Cimexlectularius, is the species most adapted to living with humans.They are approximately¼” long. They swell and turn dark brown after feeding on blood. The eggs are white and about 1mm long.
Like mosquitoes, they bite and feed on the blood of mammals. They prefer humans but will feed on mice, rats, and other animals. They come out to feed only at night or in the dark. They bite while people sleep, disrupting their rest.
Duringt he day, bedbugs hide in narrow spaces such as the seams of mattresses, cracks in walls, floors and ceilings, behind wallpaper, under rugs, inside baseboards or electrical boxes.
Although many people are not affected by them, bedbug bites can cause itching, swelling, and inflammation.
Bed bugs can spread by hiding in the luggage of travelers or in moving trucks. They can hide in used furniture, especially older pieces that have small cracks. In a building, they can spread from room to room or apartment to apartment. They are more often found in densely populated neighborhoods.
Bedbugs are not known carriers or transmitters of diseases to humans. They cannot fly or leap from one person to another.
- A single, pregnant female bed bug can start an infestation.
- Bed bugs hate light, so if you can’t change rooms, sleep with the light on.
- Bed bugs can go months without food.
- Bed bugs can survive 120°F temperature for several days.
- Bed bugs can survive freezing temperatures for several weeks.
- Bed bug eggs are very sticky and difficult to remove, making them efficient hitchhikers.
Several different kinds of insects resemble bed bugs, so any bugs found in your home should be carefully compared to pictures to confirm their identify. A pestcontrol expert or entomologist can also accurately identify the insects you collect.
Once you have confirmed the presence of bed bugs, devise a plan to rid them from your home. There are several things you can do to rid bed bugs from your home:
- Reduce clutter to reduce hiding spaces for bed bugs.
- Thoroughly clean all rooms.
- Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs.
- Dismantle bed frames to find hiding places.
- Remove drawers from furniture and turn furniture over, if possible.
- Use a powerful vacuum to remove bed bugs from cracks and crevices.
- Seal used vacuum bags in a plastic bag and place in the outside trash.
- Steam clean carpets to kill bugs and eggs that the vacuum missed.
- Encase mattresses and box springs within special mattress bags.
- Seal any holes in mattress bags with permanent tape.
- Pull bed frame away from the wall.
- Tuck in sheets and blankets so they don’t touch the floor.
- Place the bed frame legs into dishes or cups of mineral oil (bed bugs cannot crawl up slick surfaces).
- Caulk and seal all holes where pipes and wires penetrate walls and the floor.
- Fill cracks around baseboards and cove molding.
- Clean behind picture frames, switch plates and outlets, and inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detectors.
- Infested bedding and garments must be bagged and washed in a minimum temperature of 120°F and dried in a machine dryer set on hot for at least one hour.
- Individual items can be wrapped in plastic and placed in a hot, sunny location for at least a few days or in cold temperature (below 32°F) for at least two weeks.
- Contact a pest control company.
- Verify the company has experience with bed bugs.
- Ask for references of customers who had bed bug infestations.
- Insecticides must be applied in all cracks and crevices where the bugs are discovered or tend to hide.
Bedbugs come out at night and hide in the presence of light. Their size and shape make it easy for them to hide:
- In the folds and creases of bed linens
- In seams and tufts of mattresses and box springs
- Within pleats of curtains
- Beneath loose areas of wallpaper
- In corners of desks and dressers
- Within spaces of wicker furniture
- In laundry
- In the space between the carpet and baseboard
Bedbugs are efficient hitchhikers and are usually transported home on luggage, clothing, beds, furniture, etc. Travelers returning from countries where bedbugs are common bring bed bugs home in their luggage or clothes. Buying secondhand furniture is another way bed bugs can enter your home. The cleanliness of the dwelling has little to do with the level of bed bug infestation. Bed bugs will thrive in any location where there are warm-blooded hosts and plenty of hiding places.
The adult bed bug is reddish-brown in color. It is approximately ¼” inch (4-5mm) long and has a flat, oval shaped body. The juvenile stages (known as nymphs) look similar in appearance to the adults but are smaller and often more transparent. Bed bugs can live on average for 6-12 months. Females lay 1-5 small eggs (1mm) per day in cracks, crevices and on rough surfaces mostly intheir harborages. Eggs usually hatch in 6-17 days depending on temperature, butit can be much longer in cooler conditions.
Bedbug complaints are on an increase for a wide range of issues. Complaints that are coming into the health department vary from tenants, friends, family members, and healthcare workers.This increase can be related tomany problems or combinations of problems like:
- The bug is developing an increased resistance to the pyrethoid group of pesticides (the only group of pesticides permitted to be used inside of the homes).
- The ability of the bug to migrate by using object to human, human to object, and human to human contact. This is greatly enhanced by the bug going virtually undetected because of their size, color, stage of growth and ability to hide.
- The bed bug’s ability to feed on approximately 35% of the population while going undetected because of the lack of any reaction to the bug bites.
- Complications created with the question of responsibility (i.e. landlord verses tenant).
- The inability of the landlord / owner / tenant to pay for treatment and the persistence needed to abate the infestation.
Current public health nuisance requirements requested by the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department, to maintain compliance, are to determine the magnitude and the location of all the bedbug infestations, treat and abate all bedbug infestations through legal licensed pest management professionals, develop a bedbug management plan, and provide the health department with periodic progress reports.
Based on current trends, the near future holds a continued increase of the problem if left unchecked and spreading throughout our environment which will include daycare (adult and child), schools, and public health facilities like hospitals and offices. We are seeing an increase in complaints from smaller multifamily housing units, homeless shelters, and the inability of people to receive the help they need to correct the problem.