Bed bugs are now well beyond an emergent concern within the U.S. People now understand that Bed bugs are not only found in poor sanitation environments, but also within upscale homes and hotels. Bed bugs are not discriminating. Bed bugs set up home anywhere there are food sources (people and pets).
The following are a few questions regarding Bed bugs. In addition, questions regarding pets and Bed bugs.
Q: How would one know if Bed bugs are in the house?
A: One clue might be unexplainable, itchy insect bites, but these can resemble other potential insect bites. Reactions to Bed bug bites can vary. Blood spotting on sheets is an early and consistent indication of an infestation. Other evidence includes sightings of actual bugs, molts, fecal spots, or aggregations of all of these.
Bed bugs are sometimes mistaken for cockroaches or ticks. Bed bugs are not capable of flight, but can move fast. Active at night, they tend to hide close to sleeping areas during the day, getting into very tiny crevices. Adult Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color and about the size of an apple seed. Immature Bed bugs are smaller or visible to the naked eye (a more translucent white-yellow).
A Bed bug that has just fed on a person or pet is somewhat torpedo-shaped, and more reddish. Bed bug feces are small, round, black spots.
Evidence can exist in many places, along mattress seams; behind head boards and on bed frames; in ceiling/wall junctions; along baseboards; in the seams of clothing and other personal belongings such as purses; behind pictures; electrical outlets; in curtain seams where they gather at the curtain rod; and behind loose wallpaper or chipped paint. Do not forget to check pet bedding and stuffed toys.
Q: Do Bed bugs carry diseases like fleas or ticks?
A: Bed bugs are annoying and bites can cause skin irritation and itching that, if severe, might require some medical treatment. Bed bugs are pests of significant public health importance and can cause a variety of negative physical health, mental health, and financial consequences.
Q: Can pets carry Bed bugs?
A: Bed bugs do not live on pets or spend as much time on pets as the more common fleas, lice, ticks, and mites. They can bite pets. Bed bugs are efficient hitchhikers, and can be transported via luggage, clothing, bedding, furniture, etc. It is possible that Bed bugs could hitchhike in pet fur, bedding, or clothing.
Q: If Bed bugs are found, what next?
A: Contact a professional pest management service, and let professionals inspect the house and/or work to develop a plan for elimination (do not forget the car). Inform the pest service of pets. “Bug bombs” purchased at the local store will not work against Bed bugs.
Whenever a pesticide is used, always read, understand, and follow label directions. Check the product label to make sure it is labeled for use on Bed bugs. Any EPA authorized pesticide product will have an EPA Registration number on it. Make sure the pesticide has been approved for indoor use.
Q: A pest service has been contacted, so what should one do for pets?
A: In most cases, pet-bedding, clothing, and stuffed toys can be saved. Here are a few tips.
Launder pet bedding in hot temperature (minimum 120 degrees Fahrenheit in wash-water, and the medium/ high or high setting on the dryer). Be careful when transporting bedding to the laundry as well as sorting to avoid further spreading Bed bugs.
If materials (bedding, clothing, etc.) cannot be washed, but can be put in a dryer, then dry at medium to high heat for 10-20 minutes.
If bedding or clothing has tears or holes, consider disposal. Put them in a plastic bag, seal it, and mark it with an obvious sign that it’s infested with bugs.
Q: Are flea and tick preventives effective against Bed bugs?
A: Only products labeled for Bed bugs as a target pest can be used. Unlike fleas and ticks, Bed bugs live in your home, not on your pet. Using an inappropriate pesticide, or using it incorrectly to treat for Bed bugs can be dangerous.
If you’d like to ask your own questions of Dr. Stuart Mitchell be sure to see him at the 2012 New York Pest Expo!