Bed Bug Removal
If you notice even a minor Bed Bug problem in your home, it’s time to act on it. Harmless as they may seem, just one fertile female Bed Bug found on your property can start a huge infestation. These insects can produce multiple eggs every day and hundreds of babies in their lifetime.They will ruin your furniture, take over your expensive mattresses and leave bloodstains on your linens.
While there are no proven cases yet that these insects transfer the diseases they carry to humans, they’re still considered parasites and their bites cause so much discomfort and itchiness. Better to call Watchdog exterminators as soon as you see early signs of bed bugs infestation to keep your home free from harm and destruction.
- What do bed bugs look like?
- When are bed bugs active and feeding?
- How long do bed bugs live?
- Where do bed bugs come from?
- How do you get bed bugs? How do they spread?
- What do bed bug bites look like?
What do bed bugs look like?
Bed bugs are quite tiny. Their eggs are only about a little larger than a speck of dust. Nymphs or immature bed bugs are not much bigger at about 0.09 inches or 2.5mm, and they’re also a whitish yellow too so that doesn’t help with easily spotting them. They do however feed and would have a hint of red after.
Adult bed bugs are a slightly different story. They are bigger at about 0.18 inches or 4.5mm, or generally about the size of a small apple seed. They are a tan or brown color, and are reddish-brown after feeding so they’re easier to spot.
Nymphs and adult bed bugs have a flat oval-shaped body prior to feeding. After feeding, they would appear inflated.
They have 6 legs like other insects (3 pairs of jointed legs), 2 eyes, 2 antennae, and adult bed bugs have short, gold colored hair that may give them a striped appearance. They also have wing pads or vestiges of wings, but these do not fully develop and they’re not able to fly.
Bed bugs may often be mistaken for other small bugs like spider bat bugs, beetles, carpet beetles, cockroach nymphs, and booklice to name a few.
An important thing to note is that because of their size, their reclusive and mostly nocturnal nature, you won’t easily spot them – you will spot signs of bed bugs much easier.
When are bed bugs active and feeding?
They’re mostly active at night and are generally considered nocturnal, but not exclusively so. They may feed during the day if they’re hungry and have access to a host.
They have piercing, sucking mouth parts or a sharp proboscis that they insert into their host’s skin and feed on blood for about 3 to 9 minutes. They typically feed on human blood, but will consume other mammal’s or bird’s blood too. When feeding on humans, they typically pierce exposed skin such as arms, legs, neck, etc.
After they’ve fed, they tuck their feeding tube under their body. Adult bed bugs significantly increase in size after feeding, by about 50% in length and 200% in body weight. They also change in color from reddish brown to a brighter red.
Each adult bed bug typically feed every 3 to 7 days, though they could feed as often as once per day – if you have a lot of bed bugs, this means you’ll likely get bitten every night.
Bed bugs can live without food for several months, so they can stay in one place for quite some time without a host – once a host arrives, bed bugs can easily start thriving again.
Nymphs or immature bed bugs once hatched need to feed to molt to become adult bed bugs, and molt 5 times before they do feeding between each molt. Without a blood host, nymphs only live for several weeks.
How long do bed bugs live?
After mating, female bed bugs lay small, white oval eggs along cracks and crevices to hide and protect them. These eggs are only a little larger than a speck of dust, or 1/16 of an inch. Each female bed bug can lay as many as 200 to 350 eggs in her lifetime.
These eggs generally take 6 to 17 day to hatch, and once they do, they can immediately start feeding. In fact, they need to feed often to grow into adult bed bugs, shedding their outer exoskeleton or molting 5 times to do so and feeding between each molt.
Once they become adult bed bugs, they live for about 10 months to a year in regular, temperate conditions.
Bed bugs need to regularly feed to reproduce and lay eggs. You may be able to spot these eggs along the seams and tufts of mattresses, pillows, cushions, and on box springs and headboards. They will look like very small and pale poppy seeds.
They may also lay these eggs beneath loose wallpaper near beds or in the corners of night tables, desks, dressers, and in drawers, ideally near a food source. They can fit in any gap or opening as thin as a business card.
Where do bed bugs come from?
Bed bugs are found all over the world. In the United States during the 1930s, only about 30% of households had bed bugs. While the rate of infestation decreased during the 1930s and 1980s, these numbers have significantly increased since then.
1 out of 5 Americans now have experienced bed bugs or know someone who has. This significant increase is thought to be due to greater foreign travel and increased immigration between developed and developing countries, a more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings between homes, and a greater focus on other pests that resulted in the neglect of bed bug control. They have also become more resistant to pesticides since the 1930s.
Cimicidae, the ancestor of modern bed bugs, first emerged approximately 115 million years ago. A variety of these evolved to feed on bats, and then on humans and bats, and it’s these bed bugs that were thought to have originated from the Middle East in caves that were inhabited by humans and bats alike. Since then, they have proliferated and spread by hitching rides with a person’s clothes, bags, and luggage. Cross infestations regularly occur between traveling people, animals, and inanimate objects where bed bugs can latch on to, awaiting a new host and home.
How do you get bed bugs? How do they spread?
If you’ve been exposed to a place that has bed bugs, you potentially (and likely) carry them to new, uninfected places. These may be from a hotel room, airplane seat, taxi seat, or any other such similar scenario. They may also be found in cinemas, restaurants, essentially anywhere there’s a high traffic of people. If you buy secondhand furniture, you may also be bringing bed bugs into your home.
Some common scenarios where bed bugs spread are:
- Cross infestation between people or animals, where one is infested and comes in contact with the uninfested
- Infested items, particularly furniture such as beds and couches, or clothing and backpacks brought into a home or place of business
- Proximity between an infested dwelling and another dwelling that hasn’t been infested yet, such as apartments connected by vents and ducts in an apartment building
- A person or place coming into contact with an infested animal, either domesticated or wild such as birds or bats.
Contrary to popular belief, a bed bug infestation is rarely caused by a lack of hygiene. A bed bug won’t care if you have excellent personal hygiene – they’ll still latch on to you. Bed bugs can be found in clean environments as well as unclean environments, though you can mitigate their spread easier when your home is clean.
What do bed bug bites look like?
For some people, bed bug bites may not leave a mark – and may not even be itchy. For most people though, bed bug bites will produce some degree of discomfort and would present in a number of ways.
Bed bug bites may look like the following:
- Raised itchy bumps with a clear center
- Raised itchy bumps with a dark center that is surrounded by a lighter, swollen area
- Small red bumps surrounded by hives
- Small red bumps surrounded by blisters
- Welts or small red bumps in a line
- Welts or small red bumps in a zigzag pattern
- Papular eruptions or areas of skin, flat or raised, that may be inflamed
These markings typically present in exposed areas during sleeping, such as hands, arms, shoulders, legs, neck and face.
Most people won’t feel being bitten (which may be for around 3 to 9 minutes as the bed bug feeds), and will only feel the discomfort after. Inflammation and irritation typically present immediately after being bitten, though for some these develop or progress over a number of days.
For your cats or dogs, you may be able to tell if they’ve been bitten by bed bugs if you find tiny red bumps on their belly and limbs. Because of their hair or fur, these bites may be difficult to spot.
BED BUGS DO NOT SPREAD DISEASE
BED BUG EGGS ARE ALMOST TOO SMALL TO SEE
BED BUGS HAVE EXTREMELY SHARP INSTINCTS
BED BUG ARE MOST ACTIVE AT NIGHT
BED BUGS CAN LIVE IN CLOTHES
Check out our blog entries on bed bugs here.
- What do bed bug bites feel like?
- How do you know if you have bed bugs?
- Where do bed bugs hide?
- What kills bed bugs and bed bug eggs?
- Do animals or other insects eat bed bugs?
- How to get rid of bed bugs yourself?
What do bed bug bites feel like?
Most people won’t feel being bitten because the bed bug’s mouth parts actually inject saliva that contains anticoagulants (so your blood flows freely) and anesthetic (which is a numbing chemical). You will likely feel the effects of the bite only after the bug has finished feeding and has made a quick getaway.
Bed bug bites typically produce some degree of discomfort with itchiness and inflammation. They may be itchy to very itchy, or may even be a painful, burning sensation.
In such cases, clean the bite area with soap and water. You can then relieve the area with over-the-counter medicine such as hydrocortisone, which you can also buy online. Anti-itch creams and antihistamines are also effective.
Most wounds heal on their own within days or several days. If these symptoms persist, consult with a medical professional.
In more extreme cases, symptoms present as the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swollen tongue
- Irregular heartbeat.
If you feel any of these more extreme symptoms, get in touch with a medical professional for advice or medical assistance.
Note however that for some people, bed bug bites produce no discomfort at all.
If you have bed bugs, you may also suffer from sleep deprivation which may lead to an overall decreased wellbeing. You’ll also have an increased risk of infection due to the skin’s surface being compromised by bed bug bites.
How do you know if you have bed bugs?
Bed bug eggs, nymphs, or adults are all very small. Nymphs and adult bed bugs are also mostly active only during the night, and have a reclusive nature. You’ll have an easier time looking for signs of bed bugs rather than the actual bed bugs themselves, unless it’s a bad infestation and you’ve found their nesting area.
Some signs that you have bed bugs may be the following:
- Small blood stains that look like rust spots on your bed sheets and pillowcases
- Small dark brown stains (similar to blood stains) that are bed bug feces
- Very small discarded egg shells
- Small, discarded skins from when they molt
If you do find a small bug on your bed, it’s important that you recognize it so you can properly address any issue.
Nymphs or young bed bug common characteristics include:
- An oval-shaped body
- A length of 0.19 inches to 0.27 inches, or 5mm to 7mm, or generally about the size of an apple seed
- Light-brown to tan in color, reddish-brown to bright red after feeding
- Short yellow hairs that may give them a segmented look
Contrary to what many people believe, bed bugs are found in clean and unclean environments alike, though of course their population is curbed when an area is often cleaned.
Where do bed bugs hide?
Bed bugs aren’t social creatures like ants, so while they tend to rest and hide together, it wouldn’t be uncommon to find a bed bug by itself (though this certainly doesn’t mean a group or groups of other bed bugs are not in the area).
Some common resting places for bed bugs are as follows:
- Mattresses (especially along linings)
- Cracks and gaps along your bedframe where they can stay hidden
- Furniture adjacent to your bed
- Upholstered furniture
- Carpets and rugs
- Wall hangings
- Peeling wallpaper
- Gaps along baseboards
While bed bugs prefer fabric, they may also be found in cabinets or other such flat surfaces. Depending on the level of infestation, they may even be found in picture frames, switch plates and electrical receptacles – virtually anywhere inside a home, vehicle, or shelter they can hide in.
Though bed bugs prefer to be near a source of food, they can travel up to 20 feet from their food source to their resting areas. They do not have actual nests like a lot of other insects, and instead tend to hide together as a group.
Female bed bugs tend to leave her current group after she’s mated multiple times. They also tend to lay their eggs where they rest, so a new group could start with this lone female.
What kills bed bugs and bed bug eggs?
Bed bugs can often be killed by the following:
- Spraying insecticide directly on the bed bugs or their hiding areas
- Direct contact with rubbing alcohol
- Baking soda
- Hot water
- High heat – from steam cleaning, using a blow dryer, or a dryer may kill bed bugs
When dealing with fabric, wash them in hot water and use the highest setting possible on your dryer that won’t damage your clothes and items. They may also be killed from steam cleaning, or by using a blow dryer in its highest heat setting and targeting it at specific locations for an extended period of time.
While these targeted attacks may kill bed bugs, it won’t solve an infestation problem since due to their small and reclusive nature there will likely be other bed bugs you missed. The key to eliminating bed bugs is by isolating targeted locations and items, killing the bed bugs, and repeating the process until you’ve gone through each spot and item in your dwelling area.
Remember, bed bugs can hide virtually anywhere inside your home and can travel up to 20 feet from their hiding spots to their food source so you’ll need to look beyond the immediate resting spaces.
Do animals or other insects eat bed bugs?
Yes. Bed bugs are very small from a human perspective, but for a lot of other insects, they’re a great meal. They aren’t able to defend themselves against their predators, but instead find excellent hiding areas to survive.
Some of their predators include:
- Some types of ants
- Some types of spiders
A great bed bug predator would be Pharaoh ants – they’re omnivores that also love to eat bed bugs, they’re common in households, are primarily nocturnal (when bed bugs mostly are), and are small enough to fit through cracks and gaps that bed bugs may be hiding in.
Cockroaches are also great bed bug predators – they’re also prevalent in American households, are active at night, and have a very broad diet which includes bed bugs whenever they can find it. However, bed bugs are incredibly good at hiding in very tight spaces – very small cracks and gaps that not even cockroaches can get to. If bed bugs need to travel to get to their food source, i.e. if they rest and hide away from your bed and need to travel to get to you, then cockroaches will be able to get to them during their transit.
In case you thought harboring these other pests would be a good idea to eliminate a bed bug problem, know that predation has a minimal effect on bed bug population numbers since they breed and grow up extremely quickly. If anything, having bed bugs in your dwelling may only serve as a food source for other insects, whose own populations may rise while bed bugs remain thriving.
How to get rid of bed bugs yourself?
- Wash all clothes and bedding in hot water, and set your dryer to the highest possible setting (without damaging the fabric)
- Scrub mattress with a stiff brush to dislodge bed bugs
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area thoroughly. Immediately dispose the vacuum cleaner bag outdoors
- Encase mattress and box springs with a zippered cover to make sure any remaining bed bugs don’t escape. Bed bugs can live for months without feeding, so keep it covered for at least a year
- Repair cracks along your walls
- Glue down any peeling wallpaper
- Get rid of clutter around your bed
The key to eliminating bed bugs is by thoroughly cleaning each location not only where you think they are, but also the surrounding areas, and the areas they’ll cross when in transit from a food source to their hiding area.
You have to isolate each location and infected item, clean it, and repeat the process as often as possible until you’re sure you’ve gotten all of them. Otherwise, they’ll just reproduce and spread again – something that is a very common problem with homeowners doing their own pest control. Remember, bed bugs produce at a rapid rate, with female bed bugs giving birth to as many as 350 eggs during her lifetime.
Step 4. If all else fails, call Watchdog Pest Control to know the best solution depending on the severity of bed bug infestation. We guarantee a quick and effective bed bug control to keep your home free from irritating pests.
- We inspect your home thoroughly to find bed bugs, which can be found in a number of places – your mattress, bed frame, carpet, curtains, wall hangings, cushions, furniture, even in appliances and electrical receptacles.
- We identify and provide accurate treatment that will rid your house of bed bugs regardless of where they hide.
- Our staff will provide you with expert advice to help make sure these bugs don’t return.
- We follow up with you and your property and provide treatment as necessary to make sure you stay free from bed bugs.