Bed Bugs, also known as Cimex Lectularis, chinch bugs, or the modern plague have resurfaced and have established their prominence at the top of pest control lists in the new millennium. They have invaded numerous large cities such as New York and Chicago; inhabit hotels, motels, apartments, public spaces and homes at rapid rates. We have had a 30+ year bed bug free period, due to extensive treatments with DDT dating back to the 1980s. Bed bugs have since built immunity to the now banned insecticide only to increase in number and to return with a vengeance and spread throughout our communities. This recent spike is partially attributed to lack of public awareness and increased worldwide travel. We at Connex Environmental Inc. receive tons of calls every day and you would be surprised how uninformed people really are when it comes to bed bugs.
Bed Bugs are oval in shape and have a flat body structure, which enables them to nest in small cracks and crevices. They are about 5-9 mm in length and are similar in appearance to a tick. When bed bugs first hatch, they are nearly transparent and about 1 to 2 mm. Bed bugs are parasites that feed on the blood of humans and in some cases animals. Bed bugs require their victims’ blood in order to grow and to reproduce. Upon feeding a bed bug’s nearly transparent appearance initially changes to medium brown similar to the color of cockroaches and can gradually progress to a purplish-red color. The most recognizable sign of bed bug activity are the bites, which generally can be found in clusters particularly in the body’s mid section and on the arms and legs. On occasion they can bite the face and neck as well. Other warning signs of bed bug activity in an area cast bed bug skeletal shells left after transitioning from one growth stage to the next, unexplainable small blood spots found on bed sheets and pillows, and the grouping of dark fecal spots – a by-product of digested blood from their victims and their eggs which are almost transparent.
Bed bugs are largely nocturnal. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for them to feast on victims in broad daylight. It’s not the light that they are afraid of but it’s the carbon dioxide you expel as you breathe out that attracts them. The female bugs lay eggs mostly inside cracks and crevices. One female can lay about 200-250 eggs in her lifetime. Hatching of the eggs takes between one week to ten days. The newly hatched babies or nymphs go through five identified growth stages referred to as “molting,” before reaching full maturity. Molting is the shedding of the exoskeleton to allow growth. Adult bed bugs have an average life span of eleven months.
Bed bugs usually co-exist in clusters and can largely be spotted in areas such as mattresses seams and on pillows, crevices of box springs, bed frames and other furniture pieces such as couches and chairs. Other prime areas are linen closets, picture and artwork frames, base boards and door posts. While bedrooms are the most common areas that bed bugs are found in, other rooms around the house are not off-limits, particularly those additional spots inside the home, office or other spaces where people spend long periods of time.
Frequent travelers are a high-risk group when it comes to exposure to bed bugs, due to the recent spike in bed bug activity found in hotels on planes and other high-human traffic areas. It is recommended to personally inspect mattresses, pillows, chairs and couches, and luggage pieces at the start and end of a hotel stay. High-end hotels and other luxury spots are not immune to this epidemic, as bed bugs do not distinguish between posh and poor or between clean and sanitary and cluttered and filthy.
It is highly recommended that you seek out help from a professional pest control company. As is usually done with other pests, but particularly in the case of bed bugs, extermination procedures for these pesky, determined bugs consist of detailed inspections and treatment cycles as needed. For bed bug extermination to be successful, it is extremely important to closely follow the exterminator’s instructions related to pre and post-treatment of the affected space. Treatment methods consist of inspections followed by either all chemical or part hot steam/part chemical extermination treatments. The chemicals used for extermination are almost completely “green.” In addition, completely “green” treatment methods are also available by request. However, it does take a little longer to abade the bed bug problem by way of the green approach, unlike the regular treatment for which the results are largely immediate. The products used by professional exterminators are not available over the counter, as administering them requires special equipment and training.