Latin name Cimex lectularius is a cryptic, nocturnal, blood-sucking pest. The description alone conjures up images from a horror film. They are skilled hitchhikers and can easily be picked up from just about any public place. These pests are very, very difficult to control with Do-It-Yourself measures.
They wreak havoc on homeowners when an infestation has set in and although they do not transmit disease victims report:
Once a widespread problem back in the 1930s and 1940s they were all but eradicated due to the pesticide DDT which has since been banned. But from about the mid-1990s, bed bugs have made a comeback. Experts attribute this comeback to two major factors: the increase in international travel to areas where bed bugs were never completely eradicated and the banning of strong pesticides like DDT that had a longer lasting effect than today’s pesticides approved for use.
Bed bugs range in size and color depending on their age. A mature bed bug is small, oval in shape, red to brown in color (depending on their latest blood meal) and extremely small about ¼ inch in length or about the size of an apple seed. Nymphs or young are born as sticky white eggs extremely small in size but visible to the naked eye. Adults can be difficult to see even when an infestation is present because they are nocturnal, hide in the smallest of cracks and crevices around a home and are so tiny.
Bed bugs do not discriminate. We have treated infestations in low income housing as well as five-star hotels. Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and when you come into contact with them whether on an overnight stay in a hotel, in a cab, movie theatre or by brushing up against a person who has bed bugs they will stow away in your clothing, luggage or other belongings. You may also bring bed bugs home in used or rented furniture that was already infested. You may be at higher risk of an infestation if you travel often (especially internationally), have a student that lives away at school and returns home, bring used furniture into the home or have a lot of house guests. If you live in a multi-unit housing facility with shared walls you can even become infested from a neighboring unit that has an infestation. Bed bugs can easily slip through cracks and crevices in walls and flooring.
Bed bugs will typically hide near sleeping areas like the mattress, box spring, bedding, bed frame, headboard, baseboard, night stand, electrical outlet cover, phone jacks, picture frames, peeling wallpaper, couch, recliner, any small crack or crevice and near where people sleep or rest making it difficult to get rid of bed bugs.
Because bed bugs are so small and because of their cryptic nature and tendency to hide during daylight hours it can be difficult to spot actual bed bugs to confirm an infestation. Infestations are best confirmed by a pest professional. Some signs that you may have a bed bug infestation include:
If you suspect that you have bed bugs contact a pest professional immediately to have a bed bug inspection of your residence. Bed bugs are not a do-it-yourself pest. In fact, according to the National Pest Management Association bed bugs are THE most difficult pest to control. Controlling bed bugs often requires heat treatment and pesticides, neither of which an untrained homeowner should attempt to handle on their own. Bed bugs reproduce rapidly. The longer you delay in calling in a professional the more widespread the infestation will become. The larger the infestation, the longer it will take to control and more difficult it will be. Things not to do if you suspect you have a bed bug infestation:
There are precautions that you can take against bed bugs. Consider these bed bug prevention tips the next time you are traveling: