As the old nursery rhymes go, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” but what happens when you do actually find a bed bug bite after sleeping in your own bed? Bed bugs are tricky pests to deal with from a pest control perspective because of their size and unique behaviors. Although they haven’t been linked to transmitting diseases to their human host, they are definitely not the pest you want to find in your home.
What are Bed Bugs: Bites, Appearance and Behaviors
Bed bugs are small, from as little to one millimeter during their early immature stages and reaching no more than ¼ of an inch as adults. These creepy insects feed exclusively on blood, requiring it for both development and reproduction. While they feed primarily on the blood of humans, they can feed on the blood from a wide variety of animals. Their bite can cause itchy red welts, however some people have little to no reaction at all after being bitten.
Since bed bugs are nocturnal, they will appear during the dark, nighttime hours when they leave their secretive hiding places to feed off of their host. Their bites are typically painless, so the sleeping victim is usually unaware the tiny insects are feeding on them as they sleep. Once they are fully engorged with blood, they will once again return to their hiding places where they often remain undetected. They typically reside within close range to the sleeping areas but have been shown in research to travel several feet to locate a host.
Bed bugs go through five stages before becoming an adult and during most of those stages the bugs are often very difficult to see due to their small size. Also, an adult female can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime, so bed bug infestations can quickly become very problematic if not properly addressed.
Evidence of Bed Bugs in Your Home
The most reliable source for confirming a bed bug infestation within your apartment is by contacting a pest control professional but there are a few key signs of their activity within your home.
- Going to bed and waking with bites, welts or rashes. Bite marks may appear in a rows and clusters.
- Dark spotting or blood droplets on mattresses, pillows or bedding. These are waste products bed bugs excrete while digesting a blood-meal.
- Visible observation of eggs, molted insect skin, or the insect. The failure to locate an insect does not indicate they are not present. Adult bed bugs are difficult to locate, and immature bed bugs can be difficult to see due to their size.
What Should I Do If I Have Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are not a pest that you should try to control on your own. Attempting to resolves the issue yourself as improper treatment could spread the problem throughout and increase costs to eliminate the problem. If you live in an apartment complex and suspect you have bed bugs you should immediately contact your landlord so they can notify the pest control company in charge of the complex.
You should AVOID discarding bedding and mattresses. This is not a solution and can spread the infestation throughout the house, and any new furniture can quickly become infested.
According to No Escape Pest Control, homeowners can take a few steps on their own to remove bed bugs although it isn’t recommended.
They can use a vacuum but that has a crack and crevice attachment to remove bugs from the mattress, box spring and bed frame. As soon as they are done, the vacuum bag should be sealed in a plastic garbage bag and disposed of in an outdoor trash receptacle.
Residents can also purchase bed bug proof encasements that can be used to encase both the mattress and box spring in order to salvage beds that are infested. Once encased, any bed bugs that were not removed by the vacuum will become trapped inside where they will starve and eventually die.
No Escape Pest Control suggests isolated the bed, making it difficult for bed bugs to feed on people while they sleep. Isolating the bed can be done easily. Interceptor traps, like BlackOut® bed bug interceptors, can be purchased and installed under the legs of the bed as well as under the legs of upholstered furniture. The traps will capture bed bugs attempting to climb the legs of the bedframe. Next, pull the bed away from the wall several inches and tuck in the bed sheets.
Why Can’t No Escape Pest Control Treat My Apartment?
Apartments and multi-family housings can present a very difficult situation when it comes to treating for bed bugs as opposed to single-family homes.
With many apartment complexes, there is a contracted pest control company who is in charge of all pest related problems, including bed bugs. Unfortunately, if the apartment complex does not already have a contract with No Escape Pest Control, we cannot provide service for individual tenants without authorization to do so from the property’s owner.
While a property owner may grant permission to have an individual resident contract directly with an outside pest control firm, like No Escape Pest Control, they are unlikely to grant access to all of the neighboring units as well, which is an important part of an effective bed bug management program. Research has shown that bed bugs can spread to neighboring and adjacent units.
Since the independent pest control company that you contacted is not likely to be granted access to inspect neighboring units, the bed bug problem you are facing may never be completely eliminated if it isn’t the source of the problem.
If your apartment currently has a bed bug problem, you’ll need to contact your landlord or property manager to request a bed bug treatment service from the contracted pest control company.
What if My Landlord Won’t Pay For My Bed Bug Treatments?
If a landlord is unresponsive to request for treatments, you can reach out to your local Department of Health to get a response for treatment.