Bed Bugs

Detecting and Preventing Bed Bugs

Bed bugs arrive at your door with humans or on human belongings. The most common method of bringing bed bugs into your home is through traveling. Many hotels and motels are now experiencing bed bug problems. Guests can bring them into your home. Another way bed bugs are coming into homes is through personal contact. Three of our recent bed bug jobs were thought to have originated from sleepovers with other children.

A feeding bedbug nymph

Another infestation started because an infested used bed was brought into a home. And another had bed bugs arrive with a new mattress, probably delivered in an infested delivery van. Additionally, some furniture rental companies have rented out bed bug infested furniture.

All of these situations could have either been prevented or at least minimized by thorough inspections or some simple, very effective control measures. The best prevention is to stop them at the door, before they get in your house.  The next best prevention method is early detection.

Bed bug life cycle: 1. All stages, from nymphs to adults are similar in appearance, they are just different sizes; 2. All stages feed on blood; 3. The eggs hatch about 4-12 days after being laid; 4. Under ideal conditions (70-80 ºF), bedbugs can mature in about a month; 5. A mature, mated female can lay an average of 5-7 eggs per week and survive from 6-12 months. That’s a lot of bed bugs!

Visual inspections:
  All stages of bed bugs, from eggs to adults, and their fecal material are visible to the naked eye.  A bed bug adult is about 3/16”long, oval-shaped and dark reddish-brown in color. People often mis-identify them as ticks or beetles.

Some people, though not most of us, will react to bed bug bites.  If someone experiences “mystery bites”– bites without a known source, you can determine if the bites are from bed bugs with a thorough inspection of his/her sleeping area. Bedbugs hide along the seams of mattresses, in crack and crevices, and in other small places close to the sleeping area of the person. Fecal smears should also be visible if bed bugs are present. Visual inspections are also important when traveling.

Some websites recommend vacuuming as a control measure. While a  hand-held vacuum is a tool which is used during inspections and treatments for us,  vacuuming a room  has limited value.  The reason vacuuming doesn’t work is because bed bugs seek harbourage in tight spots, cracks and crevices—not out in the open, which are very difficult to vacuum. Also bed bug eggs are attached to the substrate with a sticky substance which makes them difficult to dislodge. We use a hand-held vacuum during an inspection to remove any bed bugs that we dislodge.  We also have it ready for any bed bugs that come out of hiding spots during a treatment.

When traveling:
 Keep your clothing in your suitcase or bag on a luggage rack with metal legs, or hang them up rather than putting them in the dressers provided,. This helps prevent bedbugs from getting into your clothes. Inspect your beds, including the headboards for bed bugs and other bed bug evidence. A few of my colleagues have found bed bugs in their rooms while attending seminars about bed bug detection and prevention. No one is immune to bed bugs.

When you arrive home: Your washer and dryer are your first line of defense.  All your belongings should start here. Dirty clothes should be washed immediately.  Store all of your clothes in plastic bags until they are laundered– don’t put them on the counter or the floor. This can allow the bed bugs to infest your laundry room, which could then allow them to spread throughout your house. Put all unworn clothes (or newly purchased items) in the dryer for at least 30 minutes on the medium temperature setting. A temperature of 120 ºF for 15 minutes will kill all stages of bedbugs from eggs to adults. Finally, thoroughly inspect your luggage for bed bugs or bed bug evidence. Store your luggage in your garage or other outside storage areas. Keeping luggage in your closet isn’t a good idea from a bed bug control standpoint.

And at home: If you suspect that you have a bed bug infestation, a thorough inspection of the suspect area should be done. Bed bug nymphs and adults hide in tight spots usually within 5 feet of their food sources—sleeping humans.  This may also be the time to call in a pest management professional. Don’t move anything out of the area until it has been thoroughly inspected. Infested mattresses and box springs do not have to be discarded. Many can be treated successfully and enclosed in bed bug control covers which are very effective in controlling bed bugs on mattresses and box springs if properly installed and maintained.

Another way bed bugs are coming into homes is through sleep-overs with friends.  If your child goes to a house that has a bed bug infestation, he or she could bring bed bugs back home with them. One way to prevent this from happening is by drying (see above recommendation) any clothes, stuffed animals, sleeping bags, pillows etc. that come back from that house as soon as they arrive in your home.  Don’t put those articles away without first drying them. This same method can be used if children are coming to your house for a sleep-over. Dry the articles brought with other children as soon as they arrive in your house. This may sound drastic, but in this case– an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Final thought: Bed bug treatment is not a do-it-yourself job. They are very difficult to control. Infestations are best treated by professionals with training and specialized equipment. A word of caution: many pesticides, products, remedies and information found on the internet aren’t effective against bedbugs, and may cause you additional problems and unnecessary costs.

We’re not immune to bed bugs here in Central Oregon. We have numerous inspection tools and control products available, including a Cryonite machine which kills bedbugs with dry ice. This machine allows us to treat beds in rest homes, hospitals, retirement facilities and any other facilities where the application of pesticides is a concern for the residents.

Please contact Alpine Pest Management at 541-389-4942 if you need more information or have a bed bug infestation.