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Bed Bugs & Other Pests

In order to deal with bed bugs effectively, we must be able to recognize bed bugs, the early signs of infestation, and how we can best protect ourselves and our families. 

 

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are oval, wingless insects that reach about ¼ inch in length.  They have flat bodies that are reddish-brown in color. They may sometimes be mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. They do not develop wings and cannot fly. Bed bugs can survive for many months without feeding. Click Here! for a bed bugs fact sheet.

 

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Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs can live in any area of the home and can reside in tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses, box springs, and bed frames.

Other sites where bed bugs often reside include curtains, the corners inside dressers and other furniture, cracks in wallpaper (particularly near the bed), and inside the spaces of wicker furniture.

Bed bugs easily hitchhike in secondhand furniture, travelers’ luggage, clothing, mattresses, and bedding. In multi-unit housing, eradication can be more difficult if bed bug infestations are not adequately treated. Bed bug infestations occur in all 50 states.

 

What are the symptoms of bed bug bites?

Fortunately, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease. However, they do bite and suck blood from humans, and can affect mental health in the form of anxiety, paranoia, or loss of sleep. The bed bug bite resembles those of many other kinds of blood feeding insects such as mosquitoes and fleas. Reactions vary and can include itching and swelling. If scratched, the bite areas can become inflamed or infected.

Bed bugs are most active at night, especially between the hours of midnight and 3:00 AM. They bite exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. Bed bug bites may go unnoticed or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other skin conditions.

Bed bugs also leave characteristic dark brown or reddish fecal spots on bed linens, mattresses or walls near the bed. They have glands that emit an odor that has been described as musty raspberry or coriander-like that may be noticeable in heavy infestations.

 

Should you seek medical advice?

Bites affect individuals differently based on sensitivity levels. Speak to your doctor about antiseptic creams or lotions and/or antihistamines. If you experience allergic reactions or severe skin reactions to your bed bug bites, contact your doctor about treatment.

 

Are bed bugs a public health issue?
Although, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, they have a large (and potentially severe) impact on our social, mental, emotional, and physical health. In 2009, the CDC, USDA, and EPA jointly declared bed bugs a public health pest, recognizing the significant health impact of the pest.

 

How do I get rid of bed bugs?

Getting rid of bed bugs is not an easy process. It usually requires treatment by a professional control company. However, there is action you can take:

  • Try not to panic, but take action as soon as possible. There are ways to control and kill bed bugs; however, in most situations the elimination of bed bugs almost always requires professional help. However, even a professional company will need your help in eliminating bed bugs. Here’s what you can do:
  • Notify your landlord or housing manager. If you suspect bed bugs in a place you are renting notify the housing manager as soon as possible.
  • Inspect surfaces and remove visible bed bugs. Look in the seams of mattresses, box springs, cracks and crevices of walls, floors and furniture for bugs, blood stains, droppings, and eggs. Generally, start to inspect the area around your bed and 10-20 feet around where you sleep.BB
  • Removal by vacuum. This is a removal technique for bed bugs but does carry risk of infesting the vacuum. When you are done vacuuming empty the bag into a trash bag, tie it and discard outside in a trash container or dumpster. If you have a bagless vacuum, empty the contents into a trash bag and tie it shut. Then wash the canister to remove remaining eggs or bed bugs.
  • Wash bed linens. Even if you don’t see bed bugs on them wash sheets, pillow cases, blankets and bed skirts and put them in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes.
  • Cover mattresses and box springs. Using specialized encasements designed for bed bugs on your mattresses and box springs will create a barrier from bed bugs and bed bug movement.
  • Eliminate clutter. Do your best to eliminate clutter as it provides more area for bed bugs to hide and/or lay eggs.
  • Do not store things under the bed. Move items stored under the bed and move the bed away from walls and furniture if possible.
  • Don’t change where you sleep or leave your home. Bed bugs are attracted to human scent. This can cause the infestation to spread to a different part of the home or someone else’s home, further complicating the issue.
  • It’s not necessarily the best option to throw away your infested items. As an immediate reaction one may throw out their mattress or other infested furniture/item. If items are carried throughout the house or building this can complicate the problem and spread the infestation as bed bugs may fall off the infested item(s). However, if an item is in poor condition and heavily infested, discarding the item may be the appropriate action. If you do discard the item, secure in plastic wrapping and label with a sign “infested with bed bugs”.

 

How do I prevent bed bugs?

Recognition and avoidance of a bed bug infestation may prevent bed bugs from being introduced into your home.

When traveling and staying in a motel or hotel: pull back the bedspread, sheets and mattress pad to examine the mattress for signs of bed bug infestation. If you suspect bed bugs are present, contact the hotel staff.

At home, if you suspect the possibility of bed bug exposure, launder clothing as soon as it is brought back into the home. Inspect and thoroughly vacuum suitcases.  Keep debris removed from around the home. Repair cracks in walls and caulk windows and doors.

If you purchase used furniture, carefully examine it before bringing it home.

Be aware that bed bugs may already be present in vacant rental housing units.

 

There is a large amount of mixed information regarding bed bugs and bed bug treatment due to the difficulty of this pest. The Bed Bug Myths and Misconceptions handout is designed to clear up the many misunderstandings around bed bugs.

For more information or if you think you’ve been exposed to an infestation, contact Jenna at 641-421-9339 or jwillems@cghealth.com

 

Other Pest Information & Resources

Ants:

Cockroaches:

Rodents:

Termites:

 

Pest Control Tips & Pesticide Information:

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