An increasing number of bed bug complaints are being seen in Clermont County. This is not surprising given the flurry of activity around bed bugs in surrounding areas. Immigration, international travel, and restrictions on the use of effective pesticides are suspected in the rising number of bed bug infestations.
Although bed bugs are not known to spread disease from person to person the bites can cause severe reactions. Bed bugs are difficult to treat. Treatment can take several months and be very costly taking an emotional and financial toll on families. Bed bugs can be found anywhere. They are not selective of their habitat only that they like cracks and crevices to hide in and a human host.
Bed bugs are small (about ¼ inch), brown, oval-shaped, flat insects which inhabit human dwellings. They hide during the day and feed on people at night while they are sleeping. Their bite produces white welts which may itch severely. The bugs can be crushed by a sleeper during the night and leave bloodstains on the sheets. If these signs are present the first place to look for the bugs is on the mattress, particularly at the seams.
Bed bugs lay eggs every day (1 to 12) on rough surfaces or in cracks where they stick. The eggs hatch in 6 to 17 days and the nymphs can feed immediately. The nymphs are much smaller and white, but turn red when they’ve had a blood meal. Bed bugs reach maturity after five molts in about 21 days. Adults can live 12 to 18 months without a blood meal.
Bed bugs will hide in every place they can find, behind light switch covers, in electronics, toys, furniture, clothing, picture frames, and knick-knacks. If there is a severe infestation bed bugs may be seen during the day on the walls or ceiling.
Infested items which cannot be treated must be discarded, or sealed in bags and stored 12-18 months until the bed bugs die. Mattresses can be treated with an appropriate pesticide, and then sealed in a plastic mattress bag. Bed bugs can be effectively eliminated from clothing, curtains, and bed linens by washing them in hot water and/or drying for 15 to 30 minutes on the hot setting. Dry clothing should be kept sealed in plastic bags until needed. Upholstered furniture is difficult to treat, and professional steam cleaning may be required.
Without treatment bed bugs will spread to every part of a home, so begin treatment as soon as they are discovered. Hiring a professionally licensed exterminator is strongly recommended. The chemical treatment of a bed bug infestation is best left to a professional exterminator. Only a licensed exterminator has access to the restricted-use pesticides which are most effective. The pesticides available to non-licensed persons will probably not achieve effective control. Also, the indiscriminate use of pesticides can create an environmental hazard, or a health hazard, and can cause pests to develop a resistance to pesticides.
If self-treating, look for a pesticide labeled for use against bedbugs. A pesticide which is not labeled for use against a particular bug will not kill that bug. Insect repellents with DEET will not repel bedbugs. There is currently no known chemical safe for use on humans which will repel bed bugs.
Whether a professional exterminator is hired or not, there are things the occupants should do to control bed bugs. In addition to the things already mentioned, it is important to eliminate clutter. Bed bugs will be difficult or impossible to eradicate if there is clutter such as clothing and toys on the floor. The home should be vacuumed daily, and the bag emptied or discarded (bed bugs can crawl out of the bag). Bed bugs should not be smashed and left on the wall as the bedbug may contain an egg which will hatch. Spraying bed bugs with 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol will kill them on contact. Isopropyl alcohol should only be used for spot treatment to kill single insects. It should not be used for the treatment of furniture or a home. Keep in mind that alcohol is a solvent which may mark furniture finishes.
Bed bugs are brought into a home by several means. An occupant can bring them home on used furniture picked out of dumpsters, or brought from infested homes. They can hitch a ride on clothing, bags, bedding, and toys when visiting an infested home. Visitors who live in an infested home can carry bedbugs to other homes. Bedbugs can travel through the walls from an infested unit in an apartment building to other units.
If bed bugs or other vermin are found in a rental unit the landlord or manager is responsible for hiring an exterminator since an exterminator cannot treat without the owner’s permission. Surrounding units should be checked for bedbugs, and treated if necessary. As a rule, pesticides should not be applied where no pests are found.
If forced to visit a home which is known or suspected to be infested with bed bugs avoid sitting, particularly on upholstered furniture, and especially avoid sleeping in the home. If possible, wear a coverall, and change clothes immediately after leaving the infested home. Bag clothing or other items which may contain bed bugs, and wash or treat as soon as possible.
Bed bug infestations can be costly and are very aggravating. It is best to avoid an infestation. One bed bug or one egg brought home can start an infestation. Carefully check any used furniture brought home. Check mattresses even if they are bought new before bringing them into your home. Be careful who you visit, and who you invite into your home.
For more information on bed bugs please contact us.