What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are parasites which feed on the Blood of people and often their pets. They tend to live in areas where people sleep or spend time such as bedrooms and living rooms. Hungry bugs will venture out from their hiding places in search of exposed skin to feed. Once they find a good feeding site, they will eat quickly (usually just 2-5 minutes) before scampering back to their hiding places. Very often bites occur on the head, neck, arms, and legs as they are commonly exposed, but they will feed nearly anywhere. More often than not, bed bugs will go unnoticed for a fair amount of time since they choose to feed at times when they are least likely to be seen.
Not all people react to bedbug bites in the same way. Some people have almost no reaction at all while others may get enlarged red bumps around the bite area. Many times, the bites are mistaken for bites from other pests such as fleas, spiders etc. or even an allergic reaction to something that someone may have come in contact with.
While bed bugs are considered a health pest by the CDC, they are not known to carry or transmit diseases to people.
What Do They Look Like?
Adult bed bugs are approximately 1/4” to 3/8” long, Oval shaped, brown, flat, and wingless. They somewhat resemble a wood tick. After a meal their color can change from brown to a purplish red color, also increasing in size which may cause them to look like other insects. Young bed bugs may be less than 1/16” when they first hatch and nearly colorless until they feed.
Common signs of bedbug activity include small fecal deposits in feeding areas and near hiding places. Castings (shed exoskeletons) left behind as they grow and mature and possibly eggs deposited in cracks and crevices or behind picture frames. If you suspect any possible bed bug activity, it is best to have someone experienced come do an inspection. Many infestations are misdiagnosed and get worse before proper treatment can be applied.
Life Cycle and Lifestyle
Bed bugs are generally active at night, hiding during the daytime hours. They tend to hide in clusters in cracks, crevices, voids, seams in mattresses and furniture, behind pictures, in luggage, clutter, etc. Occasionally lone bed bugs are found hiding in smaller places.
Female bed bugs will lay 200-250 eggs in their lifetime. Eggs take approximately 6-10 days to hatch and newly emerged nymphs will seek out a meal immediately. Immature nymphs will molt 5 times as they grow before reaching adulthood at which time they are sexually mature. They need to feed at least once between each molt to survive, however they may feed as often as once per day. Often there will be multiple generations per year and all life cycle stages will be found in breeding populations. Immature bedbugs may go a few months without feeding while adults can survive more than a year without meals
Why heat treatment over chemical options?
The most effective means of controlling and eliminating bed bugs is thermal treatment. Specialized equipment is used by trained professionals to safely increase the temperature of an infested area to level high enough (around 135 degrees) for extended periods of time which not only kill bed bugs, but their eggs as well. It is 100% chemical free meaning there will be no toxic residue left behind and no worries about what your family and pets may be exposed to. Thermal treatments also help kill bed bugs which may be in wall voids and areas difficult or impossible to access with chemical treatments. Bed bugs have shown to develop tolerances to certain chemicals and chemical families which allows them to survive even direct contact with many chemical treatment options (especially pyrethroids). This has forced applicators to use more toxic products in an attempt to find an effective solution. Many areas such as drawers, pantries, storage areas, inside of mattresses and box springs as well as furniture are difficult if not impossible to treat with chemical sprays. Missing a single location where bed bugs harbor can mean reinfestation in a short period of time. Thermal treatments are simply more thorough.