Bed Bugs: A common problem that no one wants to talk about
Published 4:09 p.m. Friday, May 8, 2020
Photo by PestWorld.org Bed bugs can hide in unusual places, like this velcro, or behind wall hangings, in lampshades, or in used furniture or stuffed animals.
Nobody wants to talk about bed bugs.
But these tiny pests have been around for thousands of years, and they’re far more common than the average person might realize. They carry a stigma of poverty and poor hygiene, but is that really the case?
The National Pest Management Association released statistics on bed bugs from their annual survey in 2018, which showed that 97% of pest controllers had treated bed bugs in the previous year. Almost all reports came from people who didn’t know the pests they were fighting were bed bugs – most thought they were fleas or roaches.
Most bed bug complaints are made during the summer months or during the travel season of the year. The bugs are mainly found in single-family houses, apartment buildings and hotels/motels. They are also commonly found in nursing homes, day care centers, offices, college dormitories, hospitals, and on public transportation.
Bites are the most commonly reported sign of an infestation.
“Although some people develop an immediate skin reaction to bites, others may take two or three days to show obvious symptoms, or symptoms at all,” the report’s summary reads, “meaning people may be as aware of a bed bug problem as possible.” could not have been aware of a full-blown infestation has taken root.”
Bed bugs are most commonly found in bedsteads and sofas, but can also be found on stuffed animals, wheelchairs, airplanes, school buses, handbags, and bedside lamps — anywhere they can take shelter in tiny crevices or invisible areas to sleep in while in the city Staying close to a food source.
Signs of bed bugs in the home—aside from seeing the actual bugs—are usually small brown or black spots on bedding or other surfaces.
What are bed bugs?
They are small, flat, oval, and wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals such as humans, bats, birds, and pets. The Cimex lectularius — “couch” or “bed bug” — has been associated with humans for thousands of years.
Adult bed bugs resemble unfed ticks or small cockroaches, although there are many different versions. Bed bugs live six to twelve months and can survive for long periods without feeding. They possess stinky glands and give off an odor, especially when crushed.
can they make you sick
Bed bug bites usually go unnoticed, although some experience allergic reactions to the bites’ saliva—much like mosquitoes—and develop itchy welts or blisters. These reactions usually go away on their own and require little treatment other than an antiseptic or antibiotic cream or lotion. There is no evidence that the bites can transmit diseases.
How do I get rid of them?
Keeping bugs out of a home can be difficult, especially if residents travel frequently or have guests over frequently. Bugs can also get into the home with used items, such as furniture or goods purchased at a flea market or thrift store.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service recommends that after travel, all clothing items from your luggage be washed in hot water and dried on high heat if materials permit, or skip the washer for “clean” clothes and go straight to the dryer. If possible, seal luggage in plastic bags between uses. We also advise against buying a used mattress.
If bed bugs are suspected in a hotel/motel room, management should be notified immediately. The infestation can also be reported to local or state health departments. When found in a household, over-the-counter pesticides may not be the best option. Not many insecticides are labeled specifically for bed bugs, and things can get worse if bed bugs are only partially treated.
As with most other pest infestations, hiring a knowledgeable professional pest controller is probably your best option.
More bed bug facts
• One in five Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows personally that someone has encountered bed bugs in their home or hotel.
• Those who have encountered bed bugs usually live in urban areas and often rent houses or travel.
• Bed bugs are found in all 50 states. 20% of pest reports occur in the South, 20% in the Midwest, 19% in the West, and 17% in the Northeast.
• Most Americans have misconceptions about bed bugs – that they transmit diseases, that they are mostly found in low-income households, or that they are only found in dirty homes. Bed bugs are found in homes of families of all income levels and are found in both unsanitary and sanitary conditions.
• Bed bugs can survive in temperatures ranging from just above freezing to as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Bed bugs can feed on blood for 5 to 10 minutes and consume up to seven times their own weight—equivalent to an average-sized human male drinking 120 gallons of fluid.
Homeowners should not neglect taking care of a pest problem for fear that a pest control expert will mistake them for poor cleaning habits. Experts know how difficult it is to prevent and control an infestation.
Lincoln County’s renewal agents are Rebecca Bates, Renewal Agent IV; LaToya Denise Evans, Extension Agent III; and Jennifer Kelly Williams, Extension Agent II. Debbie Corley and Glenda Delores Kees are clerks.
For more information about the MSU Extension Service, or for more information about roaches and other pests—and tips on how to control them—visit the Mississippi State University Extension Service website at extension.msstate.edu.