Protecting your home against bed bugs
Bed bugs travel by hitchhiking. They can move around very easily from one infested location to find a new home by traveling on furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, and clothing.
It’s important to know what bed bugs look like and where to find them so that you can easily identify the signs before you find yourself with an infestation.
What do bed bugs look like?
- Bed bugs are brown, oval in shape, flat, and wingless. They are approximately 1/4″ to 3/8″ long.
- After the bug has taken a blood meal, its color will change from brown to purplish-red. Also after feeding, it is larger and more cigar-shaped making it appear like a different insect.
- Young bed bugs are much smaller (1/16” or 1.6 mm when they first hatch) and nearly colorless except after feeding.
Some facts about bed bugs:
Bed bugs need at least one blood meal before the individual bug can develop to the next of the six life stages.
- They can feed more than once.
- Each stage also requires the molting of skin.
- To continue to mate and produce eggs, both males and females must feed at least once every 14 days.
- Each female may lay 1 to 3 eggs per day and 200-500 eggs per her lifetime (6-12 months but could be longer).
- Egg-to-egg life cycle may take four to five weeks under favorable conditions.
- Appear to prefer to feed on humans, but will feed on other mammals and birds as well.
- Will readily travel 5-20 feet from established hiding places (called harborage) to feed on a host.
- Even though they are primarily active at night, if hungry they will seek hosts in full daylight.
- Feeding can take 3-12 minutes.
- The rusty or tarry spots found on bed sheets or in bug hiding places are because 20% of the time adults and large nymphs will void remains of earlier blood meals while still feeding.
- Bed bugs can survive and remain active at temperatures as low as 7°C (46°F), but they die when their body temperatures reaches 45°C (113°F).To kill bed bugs with heat, the room must be even hotter to ensure sustained heat reaches the bugs no matter where they are hiding.
This small list of precautions can help save your home from an infestation.
- Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bugs including; fecal matter, empty casings, eggs, or live bed bugs before bringing them home.
- If your traveling, before unpacking your bags; place luggage in the bathroom of the hotel room while doing a complete visual inspection of room. Typically the bathroom is tiled and light in color so bed bugs would be easily spotted. The bathroom is also an unlikely place for bed bugs to hide.
- Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs to eliminate many hiding spots. Check the encasement regularly for holes.
- Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
Vacuum frequently to remove any successful hitchhikers. This includes all cracks, crevices, and furniture.
- Be vigilant when using shared laundry facilities. Transport items to be washed in plastic bags or bins (if you have an active infestation, use a new bag for the journey home).
- If you live in a multi-family home, try to isolate your unit by:
Installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors to discourage movement into hallways.
Sealing cracks and crevices around baseboards, light sockets, etc., to discourage movement through wall voids.
- When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard.
If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs:
- In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains.
- In drawer joints.
- In electrical receptacles and appliances.
- Under loose wall paper and wall hangings.
- At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.
Even in the head of a screw.
Since bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card, they can squeeze into really small hiding spots. If a crack will hold a credit card, it could hide a bed bug.
If you suspect that you have a bed bug infestation, call us right away to schedule an inspection.