Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of. Early detection is critical for bed bug control. A minor infestation can be an inconvenience but it is much less expensive and easier to treat than a widespread infestation. Minor infestations can be difficult to find and correctly diagnose, however. Other insects like carpet beetles are often mistaken for bed bugs. Misidentification or delay in detection can allow the bed bugs more time to spread and proliferate. How do you find bed bugs? Where can bed bugs hide?
The first step in finding bed bugs is properly identifying them. Adult bed bugs are brown or reddish-brown with flat, oval-shaped bodies that are about 1/4″ to 5/8″ long. Their flat body shape allows them to hide in cracks and crevices. Bed bugs become swollen and engorged after feeding. They are found throughout the United States.
Learning and understanding the habits and behavior of bed bugs can also help identify an infestation early. Bed bugs like to travel and are notoriously good hitchhikers. Bed bugs usually emerge at night in search of their blood meal but will feed during the day if necessary. While bed bugs are most commonly known for feeding on humans, they will also feed on other mammals and birds too. They usually hide near their food source.
Knowing and recognizing the signs of a bed bug infestation is key to identifying them early and getting rid of them quickly. Some common signs of bed bugs include:
- Rust or red-colored stains on sheets and mattresses (this is caused by the bed bugs being crushed)
- Dark spots about the size of a period (.) (these are bed bug feces)
- Tiny eggs or eggshells shed by growing bed bug nymphs
- Live bed bugs
- Bites on areas of the skin that are exposed during sleep
Once you know the signs to look for, the next step is to thoroughly inspect any areas that could potentially harbor bed bugs. Bed bugs are found in every place humans gather including homes, hotels, schools, offices, stores, and public transportation. They like to use their flat shape to hide in cracks and crevices close to humans. They can fit in any opening the width of a credit card. When checking for bed bugs, use a flashlight and magnifying glass to thoroughly check the following areas:
- In the seams of chairs and couches and in between cushions
- In the folds of curtains
- In drawer joints
- In electrical outlets and appliances
- Under loose wallpaper and behind wall hangings
- At the junction of walls and ceilings
- In the heads of screws
- On mattresses and box springs, especially along seams and edges
- Along the bed frame
- In cracks in plaster and wallpaper seams
- In luggage or boxes stored in infested rooms
- In objects on nightstands including clocks and magazines or books
- In crevices of smoke detectors and phones
- In door hinges and window and door moldings
Bed bugs can be extremely difficult to get rid of. If you spot signs of a bed bug infestation, contact a licensed pest control company who can positively identify the bed bugs and use professional grade techniques and products to eliminate the infestation. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help prevent bed bugs in the first place.
- Reduce clutter in your home.
- Vacuum suitcases when returning from a trip.
- Routinely check linens and mattresses for signs of bed bugs.
- Make sure to also regularly check areas where your pets sleep for signs of bed bugs.
- Bring a large trash bag to store your suitcase in during travel.
- Bring a small flashlight and magnifying glass with you when traveling to help inspect your accommodations.
- Thoroughly inspect any used furniture before bringing them into your home.
- Check the Bed Bug Registry for your travel accommodations to see if they have any recent reports of bed bugs.
- Immediately wash your clothes in hot water and dry them on high heat after returning from travel.
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From college students making their way home for summer to little ones heading off to summer camp and family vacations, this is the time when bed bugs thrive and look to take over your home by any means necessary. Follow these tips to keep your home protected from from a bed bug invasion:
- When coming back home, leave bags in the garage/driveway, and take clothes to your laundry to be laundered on high heat immediately.
- Avoid unpacking clothing items during your hotel stay. Pack a large trash bag and store your suitcase in it for the duration.
- Before settling in, check pillows, mattresses, headboards, and box springs for signs of bed bugs. The most common, recognizable sign of bed bugs is small, rust colored spots.
- Always check the Bed Bug Registry. This resource is a website dedicated documenting bed bug activity across the U.S. for hotels and other travel accommodations.
Bed bug infestations are no small concern as it takes a very intense treatment. If you return from traveling and find that you may have a bed bug infestation, call your licensed pest control company as soon as possible.
Just as the weather changes with the seasons, pest activity shifts to usher in new groups of active pests. Let’s take a look at what pests are active in your area and some tips to keep them away.
The humidity and moisture that come with early summer is what helps to increase subterranean termite activity. “Swarm season” is in full effect, and this can present a problem for your home.
- Avoid water accumulation around your home, specifically around the foundation.
- Invest in a moisture-reducing program to help reduce humidity in your home’s crawl space.
Summer is the biggest travel time for many. College students are coming back home, and family vacations are planned. This increases the chances of having an incident with bed bugs, and a bed bug infestation is no easy battle.
- When returning from vacation, leave suitcases in the garage or driveway. Remove clothing and take immediately to your laundry room to be washed in warm water.
- Consider packing a large garbage bag to place your suitcase in while on vacation.
- Do not unpack your clothing and place them in the hotel drawers as these can be hiding places for bed bugs.
As the summer weather starts to rev up, American cockroach activity will skyrocket. While they live outdoors, if they find themselves low on food or if the weather experiences a drastic change (extreme heat or excessive rain), they will try move indoors.
- Put dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher or wash them immediately after using them instead of leaving them in the sink overnight.
- Make sure to eliminate any sources of standing water around your home.
Pest infestation can be costly and a major hassle. Contact a professional pest control company like Northwest for a free pest control estimate to protect your home from pests year-round.
Now that the holidays and spring break are over, travel season is slowing down; but that doesn’t mean that bed bug season is too. Bed bugs are active year-round. Even though you may not be travelling, guests coming to your home can bring bed bugs in too. Bed bugs are nuisance pests that are extremely difficult to get rid of. They are notorious hitchhikers, most commonly catching a ride on bags, purses, luggage, and wheelchairs, but they can also be found on clothing. Anyone can bring bed bugs into your home – an unexpected house guest, your spouse returning from an out of town work trip, or even your child coming home for a visit from college. Once bed bugs have gotten into your home, professional bed bug control is your best option to get rid of them. However, there are things you can do to help keep guests from bringing these pests into your home.
- Don’t put any guests’ coats or bags on the bed. Instead, clean out your front closet and use it to store coats and bags. Make sure to vacuum it immediately after your guests leave.
- If there isn’t ample closet space for your guests, place a sheet under the stored bags and coats and once the guests leave, put the sheet in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes.
- Ask your visitors to immediately change into clean clothes when they enter the house.
- Launder all of their clothing on their arrival.
- Store their suitcases and bags in a plastic bag or box that can be sealed.
- Wipe their shoes down with a damp cloth with hot water or place them in the dryer if possible.
- Encase mattresses on guest beds with bed bug encasements.
- If your guests are sleeping on the couch, place a sheet over it and launder it immediately after your guests leave. Vacuum the couch, as well.
- Ask your guests to remove their shoes and keep them on a plastic mat by the door. Once they leave, clean the mat thoroughly.
- Use slipcovers on all of your furniture and launder them on high heat immediately after your guests leave.
- If your guests bring gifts, launder or clean anything that can be washed; wipe down wood or plastic items with a damp cloth.
- Bag, seal, and dispose of any packing boxes or wrapping paper immediately.
- Report any known cases of bed bugs to the bed bug registry.
- Call a pest control professional if you suspect you have a bed bug problem.
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With the increase in travel during the upcoming Spring Break season, the incidence of bed bugs will be on the rise. Bed bugs are difficult to get rid of; notorious hitchhikers that can travel with ease from place to place. They also don’t discriminate – bed bugs have been reported in accommodations ranging from 1 star motels to 5 star luxury resorts and everywhere in between, and have been reported around the world. Most home bed bug infestations occur after travel or are brought in by guests. So what can you do to make sure these pests don’t arrive uninvited after your spring break travels?
Do Your Homework
There are several resources out there that provide reports of bed bug infestations at hotels and other lodging facilities. The Bed Bug Registry is a free public database of user-submitted bed bug reports from across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Established in 2006, the Bed Bug Registry has mapped more than 12,000 hotels based on over 20,000 reports from travelers. Other user-generated sites like TripAdvisor also offer reviews that include bed bug reports.
Know What To Look For
Bed bugs are small, only about 4 to 5 mm in size. They are the size of a standard pearl. They have flat, oval-shaped bodies that are red or brown in color. Before traveling, download the EPA’s wallet-sized bed bug identification card for reference.
Check Your Accommodations
Where do you look for bed bugs? Bed bugs are excellent hiders. They are nocturnal so finding them during the day can be a challenge. Always check your room thoroughly before unloading your luggage. Bed bugs are usually found within 20 feet of a host (usually a bed). Bed bugs are commonly found in the seams of mattresses, in the cracks of headboards, in baseboards, and in the folds of upholstered furniture. They can also be found in drawers and closets and even in the fabric of luggage rack straps. Be sure to check each of these places thoroughly and use a flashlight if possible. Leave your luggage outside the door while you check for bed bugs. Be sure to also check the sheets and mattress for small brown spots sometimes tinged with blood. This is a tell-tale sign of a bed bug problem.
Know What To Do
If you find evidence of bed bugs in your room, notify the front desk and hotel manager immediately. Request to be transferred to another room that is not above, below, or adjacent to the infested room as bed bugs can travel through cracks in the ceiling, walls, and floor. If you aren’t comfortable, request a refund and find other accommodations. Request that the hotel launder your clothes immediately. Place all your garments in a sealed bag and put them in the dryer again when you get home. Steam your luggage, as well.
Prevention Is Key
One way to avoid bed bugs is to take steps to prevent them in the first place. Pack a large trash bag with your luggage and store your luggage in it while in the room. Don’t leave any clothes, purses, or computer bags on upholstered furniture in your room. Keep all bags closed when not in use. Double check your bags and clothing before you repack. Once you return home, immediately unpack your dirty clothes directly into the washer and then dry them on high heat. Store your suitcases away from any living areas such as in the garage or the basement.
Call A Professional
Bed bugs can be extremely difficult to get rid of. If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough inspection and the appropriate treatment plan for your situation.
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The time for holiday travel is quickly approaching. The panic, the shopping, and the cooking are all becoming a reality once again and you don’t have time for much else. The last thing you need to add to your ever growing holiday to-do list is a bed bug infestation. The best thing you can do is arm yourself with knowledge to be ahead of the game and use the proven tricks below when returning from your travels!
Things to Know:
- Bed bugs are tricky. They are elusive and great at hiding during the day.
- They have a method to their madness. Their bites leave behind patterns and clusters. While disturbing, this helps identify an infestation.
- Bed bugs are commonly misidentified pests. They are often mistaken for fleas or cockroaches.
- They can live for several months without a meal; on top of that, they can survive freezing temperatures of up to -122 degrees.
- Bed bugs can be found in hotels, homes, schools, offices, retail stores, and even public transportation. Their favorite hiding places are baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, and the crevices of furniture.
When travelling back home from your holiday visits, leave suitcases in a garage or driveway and take clothing straight to the laundry room to be washed in warm water. This is especially important for college students coming home for winter break.
Bed bug infestations are very serious and require a thorough inspection and intense treatment. If you suspect that you have an issue with bed bugs, call a licensed bed bug specialist immediately.