Bed bugs have been around for a very long time. A recent resurgence has made them a media focus and quite the hot topic lately. Don’t tune out the news just because of all the hype – bed bugs really are a problem and they’re increasingly being spotted here in Mid-Missouri. What are bed bugs, anyway? Many people think that bed bugs can’t be seen by the human eye; but that’s not the case at all. They’re actually about the size of an apple seed. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, and are mostly active at night. Although they can sometimes be found in electrical outlets and other sneaky places, they are mostly like to hide in crevices close to where people sleep. When their victims are at rest, bed bugs will come out of hiding. First, they inject a saliva secretion that contains an anesthetic and blood thinner so you don’t feel them bite. Next, they engorge themselves with blood from people or pets for up to ten minutes. And finally, the bed bug will retreat to reproduce and molt. A single female bed bug can produce up to 50 adults in one 30-day cycle! Where do bed bugs come from? The bed bug problem is definitely worse as you get nearer to the East Coast, but the bugs are literally hitchhiking their way to mid Missouri. They make their way on luggage, furniture, clothing and even people. Bed bugs have been found in homes, hotels, apartments, health care facilities, dorms, schools, busses and other public places – it’s easy to see why stopping the spread is so tricky! Yuck! Let’s talk prevention. One of the most disturbing things is that it’s just so hard keep them out of your home once they’ve hitched a ride in. Homeowners and businesses can practice a few key preventative measures to keep an invasion at bay:
- Don’t take used or curbside items. Bed bugs can live for up to 18 months without feeding, so it’s best not to take a chance on items that could be infected.
- Treat with heat before you know. Smaller items you’re unsure of introducing into the home (clothing, toys, backpacks, shoes, etc.) can be placed in the clothes dryer on a medium-high setting for 20 minutes. The heat will likely kill all stages of bed bug that may be hiding out.
- Inspect hotel bedding. Take just a few minutes to survey key spots on bedding when you’re staying away from home. Check for dark spotting or staining, eggs and eggshells, and for the bugs themselves. Prime locations for bed bugs to hide out are mattress seams and tags, as well as ledges or creases around headboard areas.
- Take care when you return home. To be safe after traveling, wash and dry (in the dryer on medium-high setting) all clothing when you get back from a trip. Be sure to seal up luggage tightly in a trash bag and leave stored in a garage or basement.
Keep practicing good prevention, and later in the month we’ll discuss what to do if the bed bugs start to bite! Or if this blog has made you a little itchy and you just gotta know if bed bugs are in your home, you can contact us today for an inspection.