Night Night, Sleep Tight…..

Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite!

It seems like we have a bedbug epidemic in the U.S. as well as a great increase of bedbugs in Connecticut. Although the exact reason eludes us at the moment I believe we can attribute much of it to a lack of widespread public knowledge and awareness. It is my hope to shed some light on the topic and give some tips for identifying and preventing a bedbug infestation.

Bedbugs are parasitic insects that feed exclusively on blood. Cimex lectularius is the best known as it prefers to feed on human blood. The name comes from their preferred habitat: inside warm houses near or inside beds, couches, mattresses, box springs, headboards, bedding, or other sleep areas. They hide in tight spaces such as under platform frame slats, between boards on a frame, under meshing of box springs and couches along the frame, around screw heads attached to frame, and any other tight areas they can fit in. Bedbugs are mainly active at night, but not exclusively.

One common misconception is that only “dirty people” end up with a bedbug infestation. This is far from true. I had a customer with a bedbug infestation whose house was spotless of dirt, dust, grime, and clutter. Bedbugs don’t discriminate, they will BUG anyone they can. Bedbugs are attracted to warmth and blood of the host which they find via carbon dioxide breathed out during sleep. Clutter does however offers more hiding spots, so neatness will help but not stop a bedbug infestation.

Bedbug Reproduction:

The average female bedbug will lay approx. one to seven eggs a day after a blood meal. With access to regular meals the female will lay anywhere from 200 to 250 eggs during her lifetime. Due to the hazards involved in the mating process, a female bedbug is more likely to travel away from the males and to an area where she can guarantee a meal. While traveling to protect themselves from continued mating a pregnant female can “hitchhike” and start an infestation of more than 5,000 bedbugs within a six-month period. Eggs take approximately six to seventeen days to hatch a nymph which is not able to reproduce until it has fully matured. Depending on the temperature an egg can hatch and become a mature bedbug in as little as three weeks in warmer temperatures. Nymphs begin feeding as soon as they hatch. Bedbugs are survivors, they can go months to a year without a meal.

Bedbug Health Concerns:

Few adverse health effects may result from a bedbug bite such as skin rashes, allergic reactions, and psychological effects. There is no evidence of bedbugs transmitting any pathogens to a human host.

Bedbugs A Brief History:

Bedbugs have been known as human parasites for thousands of years. In the 1940s, they were mostly eradicated with DDT and Malathion. Bedbugs have increased in prevalence since the mid 1990’s, most likely due to pesticide resistance, governmental bans on certain effective yet ecologically damaging pesticides, and an increase in international travel. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) there has been a 70% increase in bedbug reports from 2000 to 2005. A lack of public awareness, has enabled this insect to move very efficiently from one dwelling to another and has helped with their rapid increase throughout the country. Bedbugs are great at hitch hiking they travel from an infested area to a new site via furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, and clothing, once introduced into a new environment they can spread from infested locations to un-infested areas quickly. To spread an infestation all someone has to do is to spend a night in a bedbug infested environment and there is a good chance that they will take bedbugs with them to their next destination.

Tips For Bedbug Prevention:

  • Reduce clutter. By doing so you provide fewer areas for bedbugs to hide
  • While out, keep your belongings separate from other people’s belongings
  • At a hotel, prior to bringing in your belongings check the luggage rack, bed, box spring, and bed frame for signs of an infestation
  • After travel, empty your suitcase directly into the wash and dry on high heat for an hour
  • Check and store luggage away from your bed in a basement or garage
  • Check secondhand furniture before you accept them into your home
  • Use a white or light colored non-plastic encasement on your mattress and box spring, this will make it easy to spot any signs of an infestation
  • Vacuum frequently to remove any possible hitchhikers
  • Most important is DO NOT try to deal with an infestation with DIY methods. Get a professional immediately to come inspect, detect, evaluate, and put a plan in place to eliminate the infestation