Until rather recently, we haven’t heard much about bedbugs. In fact they were nearly eradicated almost 50 years ago during the WWII era. Your grandparents may have recited the old nursery rhyme: “Go to bed, sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
And you would say... really? “Is there such a thing as a bedbug? What are they that I have to worry about them biting me in my warm bed? Isn’t this just a myth?""
Hardly! When DDT reigned supreme, this topic pretty much came to an end. Well, we don’t employ these insecticides. In fact, we’ve done away with a lot of routine spraying in businesses, homes and schools. Now they have mounted a serious comeback over the last 10 years or so. Increased use of baits for insect and cockroach control is also a factor in their widespread appearance in hotels & multi-family housing. But the rise of international travel seems to be one of the biggest reasons.
The bedbug (family Cimicidae: cimex lectuarius) is now being seen throughout Ohio, including Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Mansfield and elsewhere. Long associated with poor housekeeping, the reason for an infestation may not be lack of cleanliness. The common bedbug hitchhikes in luggage, bedding, beds, clothing and furniture. Public places such as theaters, buses, trains, cruise ships, dormitories, shelters and changing rooms in clothing stores can harbor these creatures. Shopping at second hand stores, and purchasing used furniture, box springs and mattresses and even the moving van itself can have them.
What do they look like? Well, they are tiny reddish brown insects 1/5” (or 5 mm) as adults, or even smaller in the nymphal stage. They are blood thirsty little critters, and need a blood meal an average of 45 times to reach maturity. Their eggs are almost clear to light colored and are almost impossible to see. They will feed on humans, cats, dogs and there is a version that feeds off bats... called a “bat bug.”
The female bedbug deposits eggs in batches of 10 to 50. A total of 200 to 500 eggs are laid, at a rate of three eggs a day. In about 10 days, if conditions are warm and suitable, they hatch. One to two months later, they can become fertile egg laying adults, and start the process all over again. The adults live an average of 10 months. The adults are capable of withstanding starvation from 80 to 140 days. In unheated buildings without food, they can actually live a year or longer. Nymphs and adults feed generally during the night when the host is asleep. They engorge themselves with blood in three to 10 minutes and their bites are generally painless.
They hide in the smallest of cracks, near their hosts. Sites include bed frames, box springs, mattresses and nightstands. But once established, they can occupy almost any area in the bedroom. Including waterbeds, electronics, computers, headboards, under carpet, inside electrical outlets, dropped ceilings, behind wallpaper and paneling, pictures and furnishings.
As with other blood-sucking species, the bites of bedbugs can produce a range of reactions in humans. From vidtually no reaction at all to welts and local inflammation and red splotches on the skin. Bedbugs have not been known to transmit pathogens, so they are not considered vectors of disease. However repeated bites can cause great anguish and interrupted sleep. In lab studies, the hemoglobin count has been reduced in some when large populations of bedbugs are present.
So, how do I know if I have bedbugs? If you are getting mysterious welts on your body, or see blood stains on your sheets, or fecal spots that look like pepper marks, or experience a characteristic pungent odor, you may have bedbugs. Inspect your bed frame, box spring and mattress with a flashlight. Consider encasing your mattress and box spring with a bedbug proof protective encasement.
Keep clutter under your bed to a minimum, since they can hide in boxes, shoes, and other items stored under a bed. Watch out for them when traveling. Inspect your room before unpacking if staying at a hotel. Check under the mattress and box spring near the headboard for live bedbugs, fecal droppings or blood spots. If you suspect your room may be infested, ask for another room. Let the hotel manager know if you find them.
While on a cruise recently, I made a thorough check of my cabin and my daughter’s before unpacking our suitcases. It’s a good idea to travel with a small container of bedbug spray to use before repacking your suitcase.
Avoid bedbug-infested materials. Do not scavenge for mattresses, beds, bed frames, headboards, or other discarded furniture, especially upholstered furniture. We have seen them hiding in the undersides of these items. If in doubt, have them treated by a professional before placing them inside your home.
Get a professional pest control service to treat your house at the earliest stage in detection. Don’t wait to treat for bedbugs. The jobs are quite labor intensive and can be costly.
This information was provided as a public service by Dale T. Arvay, President/CEO of Bainbridge/SPS Pest Control Inc. Close article...