Q: Bed bugs have received a lot of press; are they really a serious problem?

A: In the pest control community, the general consensus is that bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to control. The problem in our area is getting very serious in hotels, motels, and multi-unit housing. In single-family homes we’ve been lucky—to date there have been few problems. But with the ease and frequency of traveling to all parts of the world, it may just be a matter of time before bed bugs become a problem in single-family residences as well.

Q: How can I avoid a problem with them?

A: Bed bugs will not invade your home from outdoors. For you to get them, they must be brought into your home in bedding or clothing from an infested home or hotel room. Bed bugs usually live in bedding or in mattresses and feed on sleeping victims at night.

If you spend the night away from home and experience mysterious bites, you may want to be careful with your luggage and clothing when you return home. Wash clothes immediately in hot water and dry on the highest heat setting. Dry cleaning is another option. Don’t bring luggage into your bedroom until it has been aired out or sanitized.

Q: How would I know if I was bitten by them?

A: Bed bugs usually bite you at night when you are asleep. They often bite you where your body is in contact with the bed or where clothing fits tight, like around your waist. Individual reactions vary, but bites may become large red welts that can itch, last for weeks and be very uncomfortable. Bites around the ankles are more typical of fleas, but bites on your body between your shoulders and behind your knees could be bed bugs. Persons with bed bugs in their bed usually find small spots of blood on their sheets. Strip your bed and look at the mattress or box spring, paying close attention to seams. If you see blood spots or even some bugs, you have a problem. Ideally, you should try to collect a bug in a Ziploc bag or other container to show your pest control technician.

Q: What do they look like?

A: Mature bed bugs average about 3/16” long. Their body is oval and flattened and they are tan in color. Immature bed bugs may be much smaller and will be mixed in with mature ones.

Q: How do you control them?

A: Bedding should be washed and dried on the highest heat settings. There are various methods of treatment for mattresses and box springs, including spot treatment with specially-labeled insecticides, installation of encasements (special envelopes made especially for this), etc. Occasionally the best option is to throw infested items away. In heavier infestations, bed bugs will spread throughout the bedroom or closets into other rooms. Bed bugs can live for long periods without feeding and may hide in inaccessible wall voids or other hard to reach hiding places.

Q: If I think I have bed bugs, what should I do?

A: If you suspect you may have an infestation, contact us. An inspection must be performed before any treatment decisions are made. Inspections or treatments should only be done by certified pest control technicians due to the complexities and difficulties that a bed bug infestation presents.