Bed bugs are making a comeback in the United States in a big way. You hear about major infestations popping up every day in homes, hotels and college campuses.Here is what you need to know about bed bugs.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed exclusively on the blood of mammals. They get the name bed bugs or bedbugs because of the fact that they like to live in houses and particularly in beds. Adult bed bugs are reddish brown in color and can grow to 4 to 5 millimeters in length.
Bedbugs are primarily nocturnal feeders and are attracted to their prey from carbon dioxide emissions. When they feed, they inject two hollow tube like projections into the skin. One tube will release anticoagulants and anesthetics to keep the blood flowing and the other will withdraw blood. After feeding for only a few minutes, it will retreat back to its hiding spot. They do not need to feed every day. Once every five days will usually suffice although they can go up to a year without feeding.
How do you tell if you have a bed bug infestation?
Because of the fact that bedbugs are nocturnal, they can be hard to detect. The easiest way to tell their presence is the bite marks that they leave on their victims. Another indicator is blood stains and fecal matter left on bedding. If you think that you have a bed bug problem you should call a trained professional for confirmation. They can use detection devices that emit carbon dioxide and heat or even dogs trained to smell the insects.
How do you treat a bed bug infestation?
There are a couple ways to treat a bed bug infestation. You can go with a chemical treatment or a heat treatment.
Traditionally, the most common approach to bed bug infestations has been to use pesticides. Deltamethrin is one common pesticide used to treat bed bugs but they have begun to develop a resistance to this chemical and other pesticides. Because of this resistance, it commonly takes two or three applications to eradicate a bed bug population.
An increasingly popular method of eradicating bed bug infestations it through heat. It has been proven that temperatures over 113 degrees can kill both adult bed bugs and eggs. At these temperatures, adults and nymphs will die in as little as 15 minutes and eggs will die in about an hour. By maintaining temperatures in a home in excess of 113 degrees for several hours, you can neutralize an entire bed bug population very quickly. The advantage of a heat treatment is that in most cases, it works the first time and does not require a second treatment.