Cimex lectularius (L.)
Bed bugs, are parasitic insects of the cimicid family that feed exclusively on blood. Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug, prefers to feed on human blood.
Bed bugs have been known as human parasites for thousands of years. At a point in the early 1940s, they were mostly eradicated in the developed world, but have increased in prevalence since 1995, likely due to pesticide resistance, governmental bans on effective pesticides, and international travel. Because infestation of human habitats has begun to increase, bed bug bites and related conditions have been on the rise as well.
The name "bed bug" derives from the preferred habitat of Cimex lectularius: warm houses and especially near or inside beds and bedding or other sleep areas. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal. They usually feed on their hosts without being noticed. A number of adverse health effects may result from bed bug bites, including skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. Bed bugs are not known to transmit any pathogens as disease vectors. Certain signs and symptoms suggest the presence of bed bugs; finding the adult insects confirms the diagnosis.
Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 inch long and reddish brown, with oval, flattened bodies. The immatures (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are smaller and somewhat lighter in color. Newly hatched nymphs are no bigger than a pinhead.
Bed bugs are wingless with oval-shaped bodies, six legs and light brown in color. They change to rust–red after a meal of blood. Bed bugs do not fly, but can move quickly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces
Bed Bugs are nocturnal and in the daytime they prefer to hide close to where they feed. However if necessary, they will crawl several feet to obtain a blood meal. Initial infestations tend to be around beds, but the bugs eventually may become scattered throughout a room, occupying any crevice or protected location. They also can spread to adjacent rooms or apartments. They can be found on mattresses, particularly along the seams. They can be found in bedding such as sheets and blankets, beneath loosened edges of wallpaper, between the cracks of wooden floors and in wall cracks or crevices. They are often found in/on furniture, particularly in seams and cracks, behind paintings on the wall or in the cracks of the frames of pictures either hanging on the wall or sitting on the nightstand beside the bed. They are also found underneath carpeting and in items stored under the bed as well as the bed frame itself. They have been found in crown molding and in fixtures on the ceiling. Basically any tiny crack or crevice is a possible place for them to be found during the daytime. A likely sign of bed bugs, aside from actually seeing them, are rusty or reddish spots of blood on bed sheets, mattresses, or walls. Heavy infestations may have a musty or "buggy" smell, but the odor is seldom apparent and should not be relied upon for detection.
Bed Bugs have a complex life-cycle involving many stages of development. As they grow, they molt (shed their skin) five times before reaching maturity and each molting requires a blood meal prior to. The nymphs have the ability to survive without feeding for months at a time. The adults can survive more than a year without a meal. Under favorable conditions complete development can take as little as a month and can produce 3 or more generations a year. The female can lay as many as 5 a day and 500 a year.
Causes of Infestations:
Bedbugs often hide in luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. They are most often found in dwellings with a high rate of occupant turnover such as hotels, motels, hostels, shelters and apartment complexes but can be brought into your home after visiting one of these places. In general, any household can be invaded by bedbugs, but high standards of hygiene can discourage bedbugs from spreading widely throughout a home.
Bites and Concerns:
Bed bugs genrally feed at night while you are sleeping. Engorgement takes about three to 10 minutes, yet the person seldom knows they are being bitten. Symptoms thereafter vary with the individual. Many people develop an itchy red welt or localized swelling, which sometimes appears a day or so after the bite. Others have little or no reaction. Unlike fleabites, which occur mainly around the ankles, bed bugs feed on any bare skin exposed while sleeping (face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, etc.). The welts and itching are often attributed to other causes such as mosquitoes or spiders. For these reasons, infestations may go a long time unnoticed, and can become quite large before being detected. The possibility of bed bugs increases if the affected individual has been traveling, or had acquired used beds or furnishings before symptoms started to appear. Bed bugs also are suspect if you wake up with itchy bites you did not have when you went to sleep. Conversely, it is important to recognize that not all bites or bite-like reactions are due to bed bugs. Confirmation requires finding and identifying the bugs themselves, which often requires the help of a professional. A common concern with bed bugs is whether they transmit diseases. Although bed bugs can harbor pathogens in their bodies, transmission to humans is highly unlikely. For this reason, they are not considered a serious disease threat. Their medical significance is mainly limited to the itching and inflammation from their bites. Antihistamines and corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce allergic reactions, and antiseptic or antibiotic ointments to prevent infection. Infestations also may cause anxiety, embarrassment, and loss of sleep.
Bed bugs are difficult to control. They can hide in many places throughout the room, so inspections and treatments must be very thorough and are time consuming. It is highly recommended to hire a professional if you are having bed bug problems. Professionals know where to look and have the means to get them where they hide. Working together with these professionals is very important. Access to the areas they like to hide is essential. In some cases, infested mattresses and box springs will need to be removed and properly disposed of. Since bed bugs can disperse throughout a building, it is also necessary to inspect adjoining rooms and/or apartments.
Once it is determined you have bed bugs and you hire someone to control them there are several steps you must take to assist them and make the control more effective. Infested bedding and clothing should be washed in hot water. (120°F or higher), or disposed of since these items cannot be treated with insecticides. Items that cannot be washed in a machine can sometimes be de-infested in a clothes dryer on high heat for several minutes. Ideally, all closets and dressers should be emptied, the clothing placed into black bags and placed in a hot, sunny location for at least a few days (120°F minimum temperature should be monitored). Anything stored under the bed should be removed and placed outside if possible. Placing infested items into another room might risk infesting that one too. Bedbugs can also be controlled by exposing them to cold temperatures below 32° F, for at least two weeks.
Attempts to control them by controlling the temperature in your home will not work. Thoroughly vacuuming the room(s) infested can help remove some of the bugs before treatment with insecticides and the vacuum bags should be placed inside a sealed garbage bag and disposed of. Steam cleaning the carpets can also help remove the bugs and their eggs. Once you have a professional working for you they will work with you to assure both sides take the necessary steps to get control and prevent re-occurring infestations. Although they appear to be on the rise again here in the united states they are still remain rare in comparison to other pests we encounter. Educating yourself about them can help prevent infestations as well as recognition of them prompting a call to your local pest control company before it gets out of hand.
If you suspect you may have Bed Bugs, give Fowler and Sons a call or stop by with a sample to confirm its identity. We can set up a no cost, no obligation inspection to determine what you may have and advise you of the trseatment options.