Nobody wants to talk about bed bugs.
But these tiny pests have been around for thousands of years, and they are far more common than the average person might know. They have a stigma of poverty and poor hygiene, but is that really the case?
The National Pest Management Association released statistics on bed bugs from its annual survey in 2018, which found 97% of pest control professionals treated bed bugs in the previous year. Almost all of the reports were from people who didn’t know the pests they were fighting were bed bugs – most thought they were fleas or cockroaches.
Most bed bug complaints are made during the summer months or times of the year when travel is increasing. The errors mainly occur in single-family houses, apartment buildings and hotels / motels. They are also commonly found in nursing homes, daycare centers, offices, student dormitories, hospitals, and on public transportation.
Bites are the most commonly reported sign of an infestation.
“Although some people develop a skin reaction to bites immediately, it can take two or three days for others to show obvious symptoms or symptoms at all,” the report’s abstract reads – A blown infestation has taken root. “
Bed bugs are most commonly found in bed frames and sofas, but can also be found in stuffed toys, wheelchairs, airplanes, school buses, purses, and bedside lamps – anywhere they can take shelter in tiny crevices or invisible areas while staying close to a source of food.
Signs of household bed bugs – aside from seeing the actual insects – 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 are similar to unlined ticks or small cockroaches, although there are many different versions. Bed bugs live six to 12 months and can survive for long periods without feeding. They have stink glands and give off an odor, especially when crushed.
Can they make you sick
Bed bug bites usually go unnoticed, although some – much like mosquitoes – have allergic reactions to saliva from the bites and may develop itchy welts or blisters. These reactions usually resolve 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 disease.
How do I get rid of them?
It can be difficult to keep the insects out of an apartment, especially if residents travel frequently or have frequent guests. Bugs can also get into the home on used items such as furniture or goods purchased from a yard sale or thrift store.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service recommends washing all of the clothes in your luggage in hot water after your trip and drying them on high heat if materials allow, or skipping the washer for “clean” clothes and going straight to the dryer . If possible, seal luggage in plastic bags between uses. It is also not advisable to buy a used mattress.
If bed bugs are suspected in a hotel / motel room, management should be notified immediately. Infestation can also be reported to local or state health departments. Over-the-counter pesticides may not be the best option when found in a budget. Not many insecticides are specifically labeled for bed bugs, and things can get worse if bed bugs are only partially treated.
As with most other pest infestations, contacting a knowledgeable professional pest controller is likely the best option.
More facts about bed bugs
• One in five Americans has had bed bugs at home or knows personally that someone has run into bed bugs at home or in a hotel.
• Those who have encountered bed bugs typically live in urban areas and rent houses or travel frequently.
• Bed bugs are found in all 50 states. Twenty percent of pest reports are in the South, 20 percent in the Midwest, 19 percent in the West and 17 percent in the Northeast.
• Most Americans have misconceptions about bed bugs – that they transmit disease, that they are mostly found in lower-income households, or that they are only found in filthy houses. Bed bugs are found in homes of families of all income levels and are found in both unsanitary and hygienic conditions.
• Bed bugs can survive in temperatures ranging from just above freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Bed bugs can draw blood for 5 to 10 minutes and ingest seven times their own weight – the equivalent of an average-sized male who drinks 120 gallons of fluid.
Homeowners shouldn’t neglect to attend to a pest problem and fear that a pest control expert will mistake them for bad cleaning habits. The experts know how difficult it is to prevent and control infestations.
The Lincoln County’s renewal agents are Rebecca Bates, Renewal Agent IV; LaToya Denise Evans, Renewal Agent III; and Jennifer Kelly Williams, Extension Agent II. Debbie Corley and Glenda Delores Kees are office workers.
For more information about the MSU Extension Service, or more information about cockroaches and other pests, and tips on how to control these cockroaches, visit the Mississippi State University Extension Service website at extension.msstate.edu.