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Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know about Bed Bugs

January 7th, 2019

If you think your home might have bed bugs—or you just want to make sure your home never gets them—it's important to have all the facts. There's a lot of misinformation online, but you can trust that Scherzinger Pest Control will tell you what you need to know. We've been doing pest control in family homes and businesses for more than 80 years!

Consider this your go-to reference guide for everything you need to know about bed bugs—from the basics to more in-depth information.

Let's get started.

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that feed on human blood. They're parasitic, but unlike other parasites—like ticks, lice, and scabies—they don't stay attached to the host. Instead, they feed and then retreat back into their hiding place where they live.

Bed bugs are mainly nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night.

What do bed bugs look like?

Adult bed bugs are about the size and shape of an apple seed: they have a smaller head, a flat, oval-shaped body, six legs, and two antennae. They are reddish brown in color. As they feed, their body swells and gets darker in color.

Most articles online talk about adult bed bugs: what they look like, how to find them, etc. That's because nymphs, or newly hatched bed bugs, are about the size of the head of a pin and whitish in color. This makes them very difficult to see.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Given that bed bugs bite, you might be wondering if they spread disease. The good news is that bed bugs—unlike mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects—do not spread disease.

Bites from bed bugs can cause small, itchy marks or even no reaction at all. Severe allergic reactions to bed bugs are possible, but rare.

Unfortunately, because bed bug bites don't look much different than any other bug bite, it's hard to tell from bite marks alone if you have bed bugs.

Where do bed bugs come from?

We'll answer this question with a question: where does any bug come from? If it seems like you've heard a lot about bed bugs all of a sudden, that's because they're making a comeback after years of dying out.

The fact is that bed bugs have been a problem in human homes for as long as written history (and probably before). Decades ago in the U.S., people used DDT to get rid of bed bugs—and it was very effective, almost eradicating the bugs. However, DDT has been banned worldwide after it was found to have negative effects on human health and the environment.

Today, the pesticides available are not as good as DDT was at killing bed bugs. (That's one reason why we prefer our signature Heatigation℠ technique.) In addition, increased travel has spread bed bugs across the world (and especially in Cincinnati). That means more bed bugs.

Where do bed bugs live?

Bed bugs can live anywhere that people congregate (since humans are their food source).

Bed bugs prefer areas where people rest (sitting or lying down) for extended period of time. Because bed bugs tend to be nocturnal, that means that bed bugs are most likely found in places where people sleep: family homes, hotels, hospitals, college dorms, nursing homes, shelters, etc. They are also often found in places where people spend long hours sitting, like airplanes, airports, and train and bus stations.

Bed bugs have been found in other places—like shopping malls, libraries, gyms, and schools. The good news is that these types of places don't typically have large infestations, since people don't sit or sleep there. So how do bed bugs get there? Well, bed bugs are good at hitchhiking, so many public places aren't bed bug homes as much as they are way-stations: bed bugs travel in on one person and out on another.

Where do bed bugs hide?

Bed bugs like to hide within several feet of their food source, which usually means the furniture a person sits or sleeps on (bed frames, mattresses, box springs, couches, etc.). However, those aren't the only places bed bugs will hide.

Bed bugs can also be found hiding in headboards, nightstands, dressers, end tables, and other furniture near the bed or couch, as well as behind baseboards and wallpaper. They can be found under rugs and in the seams of carpet, in closets and on luggage racks. Bed bugs are also found in some strange and surprising places, like picture frames, electrical outlets, electronics, toys, and cars.

Bed bugs are not usually found in kitchens, bathrooms, or other places far away from sleeping/lounging areas; however, they can be found in those places if the infestation is large enough. Simply put, when there are so many bed bugs that the usual hiding places won't fit them all, they will hide throughout the house.

How do you find bed bugs?

Bed bugs are hard to find, since they are nocturnal and hide during the day. This means that your first sign of bed bugs might be what they leave behind:

  • Dark spots on bedding much like the dot of a bleeding marker, which is their excrement (this is the earliest, most accurate sign of their presence)
  • Rusty or reddish stains on sheets or mattresses, caused when bed bugs are crushed
  • Eggs or eggshells, which are white, very tiny and resemble a speck of dust
  • Skin casings that are shed as the bed bugs mature

If you want to check for evidence of bed bugs in your home, we recommend looking at the seams of your mattress, your headboard, and your nightstand. To catch a glimpse of live bed bugs, try using a flashlight: at night (or when the room is dark), don't turn on the overhead light; instead, turn on the flashlight and aim it at common bed bug hiding places.

How do you get rid of bed bugs?

Bed bugs are hardy pests: they can survive for about a year without a meal, and they can survive between temperatures between 0 and 125 degrees. You can't kill the pests with a bug spray that you buy at the store, and home remedies (like diatomaceous earth) don't really work to get rid of infestations, because there are always more bugs hiding and reproducing elsewhere in the house.

So how do you get rid of bed bugs?

Eliminating a bed bug infestation requires a multi-pronged approach that includes the following:

  • Cleaning your home of clutter (reducing the places bed bugs have to hide)
  • Washing and drying clothes, blankets, bedspreads, and pillowcases in hot water and drying them on high heat for 30 minutes.
  • Vacuum carpets and seal and throw away the bags in an outside trash can.

Some homeowners choose to go the DIY route when getting rid of bed bugs. If you choose to do so, we recommend you proceed with caution. We do not recommend foggers, as they do not reach all crevices where bed bugs are hiding and can cause fire and explosions when used improperly. Discard any items that you can't treat (or, alternatively, store them in sealed plastic bags for 1+ years outside the home). Finally, do not use rubbing alcohol or untested remedies purchased online.

Because bed bugs are so difficult to get rid of, we recommend getting help from a professional pest control company. A pest expert can help you identify and locate the bed bugs in your home and can give you a treatment plan to get rid of the bugs permanently.

Call Us Today

Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We've been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Authored By: Eric Scherzinger

Quality ProNational Pest Management AssociationOPMABetter Business BureauAngies List Super Service Award

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