Lies you’ve been told about bed bugs

There is a lot of misinformation about bed bug treatment out there. We tackled this topic earlier in the month but there is also a lot of misinformation out there about bed bugs themselves. Many people do not have a clear understanding of what bed bugs look like, how they behave and what their bites are like.

Though bed bugs have been in the news a lot in recent years, there’s a surprising amount of misinformation floating around about these blood-sucking ectoparasites. How much do you know about bed bugs?

1. If you wake up with bug bites, you must have bed bugs.
With so much news about bed bug infestations, you might immediately think bed bugs are the culprit if you wake up with mysterious bites on your skin. Don’t panic! First of all, quite a few other arthropods could be the cause of your bite marks, including fleas, mites, or even bat bugs. Also, many medical conditions cause symptoms that look similar to bug bites. If the marks persist but you don’t find signs of an infestation, it might be worth a trip to your doctor.

2. I’m the only one in my house with bug bites, so they can’t be from bed bugs.
If you’re the only one in your household waking up with bites, that doesn’t exclude bed bugs as the cause. People react to bed bug bites differently, just as they do with mosquito bites or other insect bites.

It’s really a matter of how your body reacts to the bed bug saliva when you’re bitten. Two people can sleep on the same bed bug infested mattress, and one can wake up without any signs of being bitten while the other is covered in bite marks.

3. Bed bugs are so tiny, you can’t see them with the naked eye.
It’s true that bed bugs are pretty small insects, but they aren’t microscopic. If you know where to look for them, you can definitely see them without the aid of a magnifier. The bed bug nymph is roughly the size of a poppy seed, and grows larger from there. Bed bug adults measure a bit larger than 1/8th of an inch, or about the size of an apple seed or a lentil. The eggs, which are just the size of a pinhead, will be harder to see without magnification.

4. Bed bugs live in dirty houses. If I keep my home clean, I can’t get bed bugs.
Bed bugs don’t care how neat and tidy your house is, nor do they care if you’re the best housekeeper on the block. As long as you have blood pumping through your veins to provide them with a meal, bed bugs will happily take up residence in your home. The same rule holds true for hotels and resorts. Whether or not a hotel might have bed bugs has nothing to do with how clean or dirty the establishment is. Even a five-star resort can host bed bugs. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that clutter can make it much more difficult to get rid of bed bugs once they’re in your home, because they’ll have lots of places to hide.

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Do summer months mean more bed bugs?

Many people have heard that summer months mean that bed bugs are more active and they may not be entirely wrong. With increased heat come better temperatures for bed bugs to live in, making it easier for them to reproduce and continually infest more homes, but is this true? Check out this study from ActiveGuard.

Some experts believe that bed bugs are more active in the summer months. With summer being prime vacation time that certainly presents the opportunity for increased travel. Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers and increased travel undoubtedly offers heightened opportunities to transport and pickup bed bugs. But aside from the frequent travel scenario, is there really a relationship between the speed of bed bug development and the warmer temperatures during the summer months?

From a scientific perspective we know that the time required for bed bugs to develop from egg-to-egg is typically in the range of 1.5 to 2 months. Temperature has a major effect on development time where 80° F results in a development time that is approximately 1 month whereas at 64° F development slows to 4 months. So, indeed there is a relationship between increased temperature and egg development which will result in higher bed bug populations.

While temperature is important, the availability of a host for feeding between each developmental instar (stage) is also required to sustain the speed of development. An increase in travel and relocation offers more hosts available for feeding during the busy summer travel season.

Noting a national survey conducted in 2012, Pest Management Professional (PMP) firms reported that they believed that they received more calls for bed bug control in the summer, which parallels the same results from a similar 2010 survey.  During the summer months, both travel and relocation increases the probability of encountering bed bugs.  The ambient temperature of many summertime dwellings also tends to be higher which results in a faster development time for bed bugs and additional spreading of the bed bug population among surrounding areas.

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Bed bug treatment myths you have to stop believing

One of the largest reasons that the bed bug epidemic continues to proliferate is the rise and spread of misinformation regarding how to handle an infestation. Improper treatment of the problem is what allows bed bugs to continue on their quest to infest every home. Here are the myths that somehow still survive.

Hopefully, you’ll never be cursed with a bed bug infestation, so you’ll never have to think about any of this. There are a lot of articles about bed bug treatment online these days, much of it good information, and some of it misinformation. Should you ever find yourself battling bed bugs, make sure you know the myths and misconceptions about bed bug treatment. Knowing what works and what doesn’t will save you time, money, and aggravation.

1. We should bring back DDT to get rid of bed bugs for good.
Oh, for a cheap and easy solution to the bed bug problem. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for bed bugs. Set aside the environmental and health impacts of DDT for a moment, and let’s look at how DDT works. DDT acts by binding to the sodium pores of cells, allowing sodium to flood the cells and causing the nervous system to misfire. Today, the pesticides of choice for bed bugs are pyrethrums, but bed bugs are quickly developing resistance to this class of pesticides.

Do you know how pyrethrums work? They bind to the sodium pores of cells – just like DDT. Bed bugs with the genetic mutation that makes them invincible to pyrethrums will be just as resistant to treatment with DDT.

2. You can treat bed bugs yourself by using bug bombs.
Bug bombs, or total room defoggers, release a pesticide into the air in your home. Most bug bombs do contain pyrethrin, a chemical used to treat bed bugs, so you might think this product is an effective way to eliminate a bed bug infestation. Not so. First of all, bed bugs (and other crawling insects) typically flee when the pesticide is released, heading for cover in the deepest, most inaccessible crevices of your home. Second, effective bed bug treatment requires directed applications in all the places where bed bugs hide – behind molding and casework, inside electrical boxes, or inside mattresses, for example. A bug bomb will not reach these areas adequately to kill all the bed bugs in your home. In fact, a bug bomb is one of the least effective treatments you can use for any insect problem.

3. If you have bed bugs, you have to throw away your mattress, couch, and other furniture or you will never get rid of them.
This one falls into the “It Depends” category. In some cases, you may need to discard heavily infested furniture items to win the war. If your mattress is torn or separated at the seams, bed bugs have probably moved inside, making treatment near impossible. But even in that case, a good quality mattress encasement can often be used as a barrier to trap them inside the mattress for good. If a pest control company can fumigate your home (which is costly and not always an option), there’s a good chance your furniture can be saved. With persistent inspections of your furniture, lots of vacuuming, and targeted treatments by a professional exterminator, you have a good chance of keeping your couch and other upholstered items. So don’t put your furniture on the curb at the first sign of bed bugs!

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Why is it so difficult to get rid of bed bugs?

Bed bugs are not only a big problem but they are a problem that’s not easy to solve. Once you have bed bugs, it is crucial to handle the situation properly. If an infestation is not handled correctly, it will only grow as bed bugs have become painfully clever to ensure their continued survival. So let us answer the question, why are they so hard to get rid of?

Question: Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eliminate once they’ve established themselves in a dwelling, and they’re on the rise everywhere. What makes it so hard to get rid of bed bugs?

Answer:

First of all, bed bugs are small, flat, and adept at squeezing themselves into tiny spaces. They can hide in places we’d never think of looking for them, like behind loose wallpaper or under electrical switch plates. To successfully eliminate an infestation, you’ve got to find and kill every viable bed bug, which is not an easy task.

Second, bed bugs multiply quickly. A single female can lay 500 eggs during her life, and within a few months her offspring can reproduce as well. A few individuals introduced to a new environment can increase exponentially. Depending on conditions, bed bugs can produce 3 or 4 generations in one year. Additionally, bed bugs reproduce most quickly in temperatures between 70*deg; and 82*deg; F, right in the range where most people keep their thermostats.

Bed bugs can go a remarkably long time without feeding, should no host be present to provide them with needed blood meals. Scientists have documented adult bed bugs living up to 550 days without eating, and nymphs may last for months. So simply leaving an infested dwelling unoccupied for a few months in hopes of starving them out will do nothing to discourage the little freeloaders.

Just to make their extermination more difficult, bed bugs can sense chemical odors, and may avoid areas where cleaning agents or even pesticides have been applied. Some scientists believe bed bugs have developed a resistance to certain insecticides as well.

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