What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are insects of the Order Hemiptera and Family Cimicidae, which has over 90 species around the world. Bed bugs and their relatives are wingless, blood-feeding parasites of animals. The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is a pest of humans this species has recently become a problem in the United States and countries all over the world.
Bed bugs have three basic life stages; egg, nymph, and adult. They begin as a very small but visible egg, hatch to become a first instar nymph or juvenile, which is 1 millimeter long or about the size of a poppy seed. There are five juvenile stages, which feed on blood, molt and grow over time. The adult is about the size of an apple seed. Bed bugs tend to gather together in hidden and undisturbed places where a person sleeps, or sits for an extended period of time. They are usually found in the bed, along the seams and sides of the mattress and box spring, the headboard, and bed frame, creating clusters of live bed bugs, shed skins, dark-colored fecal spots, and eggs. In heavily infested locations bed bugs can be found anywhere in the room. As bed bugs grow they shed their amber-colored, transparent skins, leaving behind what look like hollow bed bugs.
A fecal spot, the result of bed bug digestion, may look like a brownish-black bump on a hard surface, or a dark stain (like a magic marker dot) on fabric. Eggs are cemented to fabric, wood, paper, and most other surfaces as the female hides or wanders in search of a host.
How can we get rid of them?
Pesticides alone, or the use of any single method, will not eliminate bed bugs. A strategy that includes a number of methods is absolutely necessary, especially in multiple unit facilities like apartments, dormitories and hotels. The following are needed for effective bed bug control:
- Cooperation of landlord, management, and resident to focus on the problem
- Accurate identification to be sure it is a bed bug and not another pest
- Identification of the source (especially if bed bugs are moving from an adjacent room or apartment unit)
- Thorough inspection of the facility and identification of all possible hiding spots
- Cleaning and organization of the living area
- Reducing clutter in the home
- Bagging and removal of bedding and clothing from the affected area
- Washing sheets and blankets and drying on HOT setting
- Encasing the mattress and box spring in a zippered encasement
- Washing or treating the headboard and bed frame
- Cleaning and removing bed bugs from other items
- Isolating the cleaned (bed bug free) items until bed bugs are gone
- Careful and targeted use of insecticides, following label instructions
- Inspection and treatment of all surrounding adjacent units
- Establishing monitoring devices and controls to determine extent of infestation and effectiveness of treatment
- Follow up inspections and all other procedures as needed (there should be at least one follow up inspection 3 weeks after initial treatment)