The Common Bed Bug is a parasitic insect. It is usually found in mattresses and feeds on human blood during the night. Bed Bugs are one of the earlier referenced “pests” on record having first been mentioned in 400 BC. We now know that the Common Bed Bug has been a human parasite for thousands of years. From about 77AD and into the 18th Century many people thought Bed Bugs had medicinal purposes. They were used to treat snake bites during early Roman times.
Bed Bugs are a unique parasite. They differ from fleas, mosquitoes, etc . in that both male and females, in all stages of life – feed exclusively on blood. They have been known to carry 28 different human diseases, but as of yet they have not been known to infect humans. They prefer to feed every 4-5 days but are able to survive for several months without a blood meal. In very cool temperatures, they have been known to survive over a year without feeding. They typically will consume 2 – 5 times their body weight in blood and the feeding time up to ten minutes. Once the feeding is complete they quickly return to their hiding place. Bed Bugs cannot fly or jump but are able to walk 4 feet per minute. Bed Bugs are nocturnal but have been known to feed during the day if this is the only time a host is available.
Common Bed Bugs can detect humans from up to 5 feet away. They recognize the carbon dioxide from breathing and body heat. They can recognize a temperature change of 1 degree and are attracted to temperatures up to 109 degrees. They prefer to feed on exposed skin so they are usually found around the neck, arms, face etc. They are often undiscovered for a period of time because people simply believe that they have a blemish, a skin rash or some allergic reaction to laundry detergent, soap, etc. Many times the skin reaction may take several weeks to develop, if at all. Unfortunately, this often times leads to the infestation being can be quite large before it is recognized. A female Bed Bug can lay up to 200-500 eggs in her 10 month lifetime.
The Common Bed Bug is an oval, flattened, wingless insect that is brown in color. After feeding it becomes purplish-red and its shape becomes larger and cigar shaped. They typically cluster together in a common harborage area such as: mattress, drapery, furniture seams, under baseboards on carpet, in electronic devices, in wooden furniture at the joints etc. It is very common to find dried bloody fecal material in these harborage areas. These harborage areas are most often around the sleeping areas of people.
Bed Bugs are usually transported via luggage, brief cases, pocket books, etc. and are found throughout most of the world. They have been reported in office buildings, movie theaters, cargo and passenger trains, air planes, rental cars and of course hotels. Bed Bug cases are surging in the developed world. This is primarily a result of increased international travel and the absence of long lasting pesticides in agricultural production (cotton, wool, etc.)
The two most effective methods of controlling the Common Bed Bug are heat treatment and traditional insecticide. The heat method works by raising the temperature of the infested area to above 115 degrees for longer than 7 minutes. Unfortunately this leaves no residual and if any survive the area can become infested again. The traditional insecticide method involves treating all of the hiding places. It is important to note that Bed Bugs will leave the treated area (both heat and insecticide) and it is therefore important to treat adjacent rooms as well. Control is rarely achieved by novices and “do it yourselfers” . It is usually necessary to hire a professional exterminator with specific training in Common Bed Bug control. On September 30, 2011 the Augusta Chronicle reported that “there were 111 cases of people getting sick in amateur attempts to combat a resurgence in the Bed Bug population”. Horne’s Pest Control has a tenured staff with several years of experience and specific training from courses offered by schools such as Clemson and Purdue University.
Check out this article from the Augusta Chronicle featuring Horne’s Pest Control regarding Do-It-Yourself bed bug extermination and the dangers to your health:
Check out this story covered by WRDW featuring Horne’s Pest Control on a bed bug infestation in a local hotel in the CSRA: