Bed bugs are perhaps the most feared pest infestation ever. This parasitic insect is found around the world, and especially likes to wreak havoc in large cities across the UK. But beware, bed bugs can be found anywhere humans live.
Human blood attracts bed bugs, causing them to enter our homes and share our living space! Due to the intrinsic and mysterious hiding nature of this pest, a bed bug problem is best addressed by a professional pest control company.
Are you currently battling a bed bug infestation? Perhaps you have discovered tiny insects crawling around your bed and need verification of the species? Do you need help in figuring out where to begin when treating bed bugs?
At Malum Southern Pest Control, we have years of experience in eradicating this difficult pest with our integrated pest management team. In this guide, we will answer all of these questions and provide you with a bed bug overview.
Bed Bug Behaviour Explained
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are a small, elusive insect that is reddish-brown in colour and around the size of a grain of rice. The bugs have six legs, no wings, two prominent black eyes, ridges across their shell, and a small beak apparatus at the end of the mouth for piercing skin and extracting blood meals.
These insects do not live outdoors, in fact, the pests spend their entire lives inside of homes, businesses, and anywhere people regularly congregate. The bed bug is elusive and goes to great lengths to prevent being seen out in the open and discovered.
Bed bugs are primarily nocturnal and prefer dark areas where humans sleep, since this allows the pests to come out and feed on human blood while the host is asleep. However, bed bugs can adapt and will mimic their hosts sleeping patterns – so if someone works shifts and snoozes all day then this is when a bed bug will feed!
The bugs will build their nest in hidden spaces near human sleeping spots, such as underneath bed frames, the underside of a mattress, nightstands, and even in wall cracks near a bed.
This pest lives on human blood and needs it to reproduce. After mating, and once engorged with blood, a female bed bug will lay eggs in the hiding spot that hatch into nymphs just 10 days later. Nymphs molt (shed skins) 5 times before reaching adulthood, with each molt requiring a blood meal.
Bed bugs can live between 1-2 years in total, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency can even go upwards of 16 months without feeding.
How Do Bed Bugs Travel?
So how do bed bugs get inside our homes in the first place? People are usually never aware that they are bringing bed bugs into their safe space. These insects have sticky, clingy bodies, and use their legs and beak to attach to shoes, socks, clothes, handbags, and other personal belongings.
People also bring them home from hotel rooms, where the bugs can hide in the baggage rack to creep inside of your luggage.
Buying used furniture is also a common travel spot since the bugs will never have to worry about being exposed. If you ever acquire or purchase used furniture, always thoroughly inspect the inner compartments of the furniture for signs of bugs.
And don’t forget that if you invite guests around, they may be bringing company!
What Causes a Bed Bug Infestation?
After moving around your home, which is now the bugs’ new home too, these parasites will start to seek out body warmth and carbon dioxide emissions from breathing in order to find your sleep spot.
A male and female almost always travel together, and once they locate a sleep spot, the bugs will feed and then find a dark and undisturbed area near or on the bed to nest, providing easy access to their host.
The bugs will mate and females will begin to rapidly lay eggs continuously. Because bed bugs are so secretive, this cycle will build and build for days, weeks, and even months before people typically discover these pests.
People typically come across a bed bug problem by noticing dark blood stains or rusty spots (fecal matter) on their bedding sheets, detecting bed bug bites or by finding live bugs when changing sheets or cleaning the area. Waking in the middle of the night, they may also find the bugs crawling on or near them.
The longer the insects are left undisturbed and avoid detection, the larger the infestation becomes.
If your worst nightmare has come true and you have discovered some unwanted visitors roaming around your home, then contact Malum today!
How Large Can Bed Bug Infestations Become?
If you have more than one family member, then the colony can grow so big that the bugs will begin to venture out to feed on others in your household.
This is when multiple rooms start to become infested. Additionally, bed bugs will also move to nearby furniture near the sleep spot, and even build an infestation behind walls and the ceiling inside electrical outlets, within upholstered surfaces, behind picture frames, and even curtains.
If you fail to notice the warning signs, your entire home can become overrun within 6 months to a year.
How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Essentially, getting rid of bed bugs requires comprehensive and effective treatments that target resistance to the infested areas. But there is a large amount of work that has to be done for an infestation.
At Malum we can talk you through the process and assist you in preparing your home for professional bed bug treatment.
Because bed bugs hide so well and are so small, the entire home needs to undergo a rigorous prep work process.
It could be easy to say that the insects are just in the infested room, but due to their nomadic behaviour, you cannot be sure that these insects have not wandered into other areas of your home. Bed bugs also have the ability to travel through walls, so it is not uncommon for entire apartment blocks to become infested.
We suggest that you begin with your clothes and soft furnishings. All linen and fabrics inside the home need to be washed on high heat settings as only extremely hot temperatures can kill bed bugs and their eggs instantly.
Once laundered, you should place fabrics in a sealed plastic bag to prevent bed bugs from crawling inside. Make sure you clean all kids soft toys as well, since bed bugs have been known to infest these items.
If your home is cluttered, we recommend that you inspect all miscellaneous items for bugs. You should then store these items outside the home until the bugs have been eradicated. Vacuum floors regularly and be sure to remove the vacuum bag and dispose of it outside.
It is important not to have guests over until your home is free of bugs. Wash all daily clothes you wear immediately after use and seal the items back up again.
Treating and Protecting Your Bed
Your bedroom may be the ground zero for the bed bug colony, and this requires a great deal of work. To begin with you should strip the bed and wash all bedding.
Next, you will need to encase the mattress and box spring with encasements, which we can provide for you. These encasements will trap the living insects inside and prevent the insects’ beaks from piercing through the material to feed while you sleep. After at least 16 months, all bed bugs encased inside will be dead from starvation.
This can easily take care of mattresses and box springs, but at Malum we also treat the bed frame to remove bed bugs and any headboard or footboard that can also house the bugs. Hopefully, the colony is completely inside of the box spring, but you can never be sure.
As a final precaution you should pull your bed at least three feet from the wall and place interceptors on the bed legs to trap insects that may try to crawl onto the bed. We can show you how to correctly apply these.
Common Treatments Used
Using DIY methods and products to treat bed bugs is not recommended since these insects are incredibly hard to eradicate and frequently evolve to resist over-the-counter products.
At Malum we use a variety of different treatments to kill bed bugs, depending on the severity of the infestation.
Bed bug treatment with heat is one of the most effective methods that we use, and these are often used in conjunction with powerful insecticides.
Alongside our bed bug treatment, we also provide pest awareness training to individuals and members of staff, in order to help improve their knowledge of what to look for and best practice procedures.
Why do bed bug bites itch?
Bed bugs have an itchy bite due to the neurotoxin they inject into a host when they are feeding. This toxin is a numbing agent and is meant to prevent the host from waking as the insects draw blood.
Do I need to treat electronics for bed bugs?
Typically, these insects will infest the mattress or box springs of the bed, but there have been cases of this pest hiding in alarm clocks, radios, even televisions, and other electronics. If this is the case, these products can be treated with poison strips and sealed into airtight containers for a few days to a week.
Do bed bugs come back after treatment?
A standard, professional treatment can typically eradicate the insects within a few weeks. But bed bugs can return if they are brought back into the home, and if treatments are not effective. This is why it is important to contact a professional pest control company as they can ensure that no where has been missed.
Why Contact Malum?
When it comes to bed bugs in homes, every single bug has to be destroyed to prevent future infestations.
At Malum we pride ourselves on providing the very best integrated pest management approach. We look at every challenge from outside the box to give you the very best immediate and long-term solution. Through experience, we can provide a guaranteed and professional service.
Contact us today.