BED BUGS (Cimex lectularius)

FACT vs. FICTION

Bed bugs often times strike fear in most people’s heart.  Here are the facts.

Bed bug infestations were common in the USA before World War 2.  Improvements to hygiene and widespread usage of DDT during the 1940’s and 1950’s have nearly caused bed bugs to all but vanish.  After nearly fifty years, the United States has seen a recent re-introduction of bed bug activity, mainly due to increased international travel, immigration, shipment of overseas goods, pest control practices, etc.  Bed bugs have remained prevalent in other parts of the world.  These pests are often found in hotels, motels, health care facilities, dormitories, shelters, schools, movie theaters, laundries/dry cleaners, furniture rental outlets, office buildings, and modes of transport.  Bed bugs can harbor pathogens, however, transmission to humans or animals is considered unlikely.  Though not known to carry diseases, bed bugs can severely reduce quality of life by causing discomfort from skin irritations, sleeplessness, anxiety, and embarrassment.

People often times associate bed bugs with uncleanliness, this is NOT the case! All a bed bug needs is a sufficient place to hide and a warm-blooded host…Bed bugs can hide in many unsuspecting places (besides beds and bed frames), including: Upholstered chairs, sofas, nightstands, dressers, wall hangings, wall outlets, mirrors, edges of carpeting, inside clocks/phones/televisions/smoke detectors, closets, items stored under beds, just about any crack or crevice area, etc.

TREATMENT METHODS:
Bed bugs can often be treated with several types of methods (several methods are often times needed to get an infestation under control), including:  HEPA vacuuming of infested areas, DOA/industry approved chemical treatments, dry steam heat processes, bed mattresses and box springs encased in a protective cover, etc.

PREVENTING INFESTATIONS:
It is often difficult to prevent beg bug infestations in apartments, hotels, and other places where there are ongoing opportunities for the bugs to be re-introduced. Preventative inspection by tenants, in-house personnel, or pest control firms is the best way to uncover infestations in their initial stages when they are easiest to control. Home owners should be very cautious when acquiring used furnishings, especially beds and couches.  All secondhand items should be examined closely before being brought into the home. If an item can be laundered or placed in a dryer, prior to being introduced into a home, the better the chances to reduce a threat of infestation.  When traveling, get into the habit of checking beds for signs of bed bugs. This would entail examining the bed sheets and upper and lower seams of the mattress and box spring, especially along the head of the bed.

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