Have you had to deal with bedbugs yet, if you have you are not alone. Bedbugs are parasitic insects that are part of the cimicid family which means that they feed solely on blood. Back in the 1940’s bedbugs are pretty much eradicated in the United States but in the past 10 to 15 years they are on the resurgence. Some say that the resurgence is due to pesticide resistance and others say that since the government has put bans on certain pesticides this is the reason for the increased population of bedbugs. The third popular belief is that due to more international travel this has brought these nasty creatures back to the United States. For whatever reason these bugs are here and getting more difficult to get control of.
Characteristic of bedbugs
I have been in the pest prevention business for over 20 years, in the past 5 to 10 years here in Central Florida we have been at war with these blood sucking creatures and we are losing the battle. Bedbugs are small, roundish, and brownish reddish in color. The adults have a flat body about the size of eraser head on a pencil but after feeding on a blood meal their bodies will swell up and turn almost red in color. Some people think that bedbugs fly, these tiny bugs do not fly but they hitch hike and travel from place to place in people clothing, purses, diaper bags, and etc. Female bedbugs lay hundreds of egg over the life span of the female, these eggs are so small they look like a speck of dust. After the egg hatches the babies are so tiny that you need to have a good magnification lens in order to see them. Under good conditions the baby bedbugs can mature in about a month.
Where to find bedbugs in your home.
If you suspect that you have these insects in your home the first place you will want to investigate is the bedroom. Take the bed completely apart and search ever little crack and crevice of the mattress, box spring, headboard, bed rails, sheets, pillows and if you have carpet in the room pull back the edge of the carpet and look under the carpet around the tack strip. You must use a powerful flashlight preferably a very bright LED flashlight and a hand magnifying lens, these bugs are so small and they love to hide during the day. Over time they will scatter from the bedroom to other places in the house like the living room or family room or anyplace that is dark and safe for them.
What to look for.
When inspecting for bedbugs some of the signs that you look for are;
- live bed bugs
- eggs or eggshells
- dark reddish shots on sheets or pillow cases this would be from the bedbug excrement
- blood stains also on your sheets or pillows
- dark brown to black spots from the bedbug fecal droppings
- Foul musty odor that is put off by the bedbugs.
When searching to see if you have bedbugs knowing the habits of these insects will help you to find them if they are in your home. Knowing a few things like when do they feed, where they live and how they multiply will help in identifying if and where you have bedbugs. Here are some of their habits.
- Feed on blood of a host, usually a human but may feed on the blood of a animal.
- Mainly feed at night
- Travel only 5 to 15 feet from their nesting site called a harborage.
- Female bedbugs lay 200 to 500 eggs during their life cycle
- Bedbugs can live and be active in environments that are as low as 45 degrees but will die when their body temperature reaches over 1113 degrees.
- They like to hide in tight places like bed frames, door jams, closets, chairs, under carpet, behind pictures, inside cabinets, almost anyplace that is dark tight and safe.
How to protect yourself
I have learnt over the years to be very cautious when I enter and leave a home that is infested with bedbugs. Here are some things that I do to make sure that I do not bring these insects into my home and these are the same recommendations that I give when I talk to community managers about keeping bedbugs out of their apartments.
- Never bring in used furniture into your home that you do not know the family from where it came from first hand. Purchasing used items from people and second hand stores is very dangerous.
- If you purchase clothing second hand or if you feel you have been in a home that has bedbugs my recommendation is to put the clothing in the dryer as soon as you walk in the door of your home and run the dryer on high heat for an hour.
- If you purchase anything at a garage sale go through the stuff with a fine tooth comb.
- If you travel, before bringing your suitcases into the motel / hotel room make sure you inspect the room from top to bottom, the bed, and any drawers and closet for bedbugs.
- If you are moving into a rental please meet with the property manager and get a bedbug free certificate guaranteeing that the rental is free of bed bugs.
Bedbugs have been around for a very long time, here in the United States we are starting a new war with these little blood sucking insects. In my experience I have found no preventative way to keep them out of your bed except by being extremely careful and constantly inspecting what you bring into the home for any signs of bedbug activity. If you are trying to battle these pest on your own, I would say don’t waste your money or your time on trying to eradicate these insects from your home on your own. Call a professional, I have been treating and at war with these insects and I will admit it is extremely difficult even for us professionals to rid the home of these bugs. The internet is full of “Do It Yourself” ways to try and get rid of these bugs, but as a professional I will say they are some of the hardest insects to get out of a home.