Bed Bug Crash Course for College-Bound Students

CollegeBedBugs

Sending a child off to college this fall? Arm him or her with information about preventing and responding to bed bug infestations.

 

It’s true—college dorms and student apartments are not immune from bed bug infestations, reports Washington Post columnist Jennifer LaRue Huget. But forewarned is forearmed; a little prevention—and a lesson in what to do if the worst happens—can help keep bed bugs from ruining your child’s college experience, here in our Sacramento pest control region or anywhere in the country.

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Bed Bugs and Your Pets

Bed bugs as you already know are really harmful for humans—and in fact humans are bed bugs’ favorite snack! Although bed bugs prefer human blood, they will feast on other warm-blooded animals if no human hosts are readily available, including mice, rats, bats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and birds, especially chickens and swallows. Although pets such as dogs and cats are not usually affected by bed bugs, when it does occur it’s a miserable situation for the animal.

Bed bugs have the same effects on pets as they do on humans. Pets may have the same skin allergies and reactions to bed bugs as humans do: itchiness, scratching, and hair loss. Pets can become anemic and less active, giving the bed bugs a more stable place to feed.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of a bed bug infestation affecting your pets is that the animals can’t tell you how they feel about it. Check your pets for irritable skin and/or infection from scratching or biting at their skin. And don’t hesitate to contact our experienced team of Sacramento pest control professionals and bed bug experts at contact@earthguardpest.com or 916-457-7605 for  questions or to schedule a free inspection of your home or business.

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Video Report from EPA National Bed Bug Summit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosted its second annual bedbug summit in Washington, DC, last week, bringing hundreds of scientists, government officials and pest control experts to the capital for a two-day conference on combating bed bugs. Reports from the conference and information about a national bed bug strategy will be available within a few weeks on the EPA Website at  www.epa.gov .

Meantime the stars of the show–the bugs themselves–are featured in this summit video!

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1 in 5 Americans Affected or Knows Someone Affected by Bed Bugs

Bed Bug Photo Courtesy of National Pest Management Associaiton

Bed Bug Photo Courtesy of National Pest Management Associaiton

One in five people in the United States has experienced a bed bug infestation or knows someone who has, according to a new National Pest Management Association survey. A majority of the 504 adults surveyed said they are concerned about bed bugs, with 78 percent expressing concern about infested hotels. Read more here. Don’t hesitate to contact our experienced team of Sacramento pest control professionals and bed bug experts at contact@earthguardpest.com or 916-457-7605  if you have questions or want to schedule a free inspection of your home or business.

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US grapples with bedbugs, misuse of pesticides

The Associated Press article explains why, if you have bed bugs, its important to call a professional:

http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-health/20100830/US.Bedbug.Conundrum/

For more about these tiny blood suckers, see our blog.

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Bed Bugs Pose Irritating Pest Control Problem

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are once again a problem in the United States, around the world—and even in Sacramento—a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

Bed bugs were seemingly eradicated in the United States and much of the rest of the world back in the 1940s, largely due to the widespread use of the pesticide DDT.  Use of DDT was banned in the United States in 1971, and later in the rest of the world, due to environmental and health concerns. The resurgence of bedbugs has been attributed in part to the ban on DDT, to increased global travel, and to the possibility that the insects have developed resistance to pesticides. Increased use of baits to control insect infestations, which results in less pesticide residue, and the use of very targeted insecticides—both mainstays of modern integrated pest management methods—may also be contributing to the bed bug problem.

Whatever the reason, there has been a 71% increase in reports of bed bugs since 2001, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). The problem has become so serious that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has included research into prevention and treatment of bed bug infestations in its Healthy Homes Strategic Plan (www.hud.gov/healthyhomes).

Bed bugs have been known at least since the 1700s in Jamaica and are believed to have been transported to the United States by European colonists. Although they thrive in crowded and cluttered conditions, which give them lots of hiding places close to the humans they feed upon, bed bugs don’t discriminate between clean and dirty environments. “The cleanest living area can have a very large infestation, and improving sanitation alone will not eliminate an established bed bug population…,” said Dr. Harold Harlan, a former career bug expert for the military in a recent MSNBC interview. “Almost anyone is at risk of having an infestation if bed bugs are brought into their home.”

Bed bugs can be brought into your home from hotels, theaters, even public transportation. They are nocturnal, typically active after midnight into the early morning hours. Flat and brown and about the size and shape of an apple seed, they hide in the tiniest of cracks and crevices, usually near where their human hosts sleep. Check for brownish stains or black specks in the seams of mattresses and behind bed headboards.

Although bed bugs do harbor germs that can make humans sick, there is no evidence anyone has ever become ill as a result of bed bug bites. However, their bites often cause a red rash or welts, and some people who are especially sensitive may have serious allergic reactions.

As the bed bug population continues to explode, scientists and pest control experts are focusing on the biology and habits of these distasteful pests. A recent article by leading pest control industry publication PCT Magazine reported on a fascinating three-year scientific study of bed bugs in a high-rise apartment building in Indiana. Using interceptors, or traps, the scientists learned, among other things, that the bugs spread from one apartment to another by simply walking out the front door and down the hall to the next apartment.

For more information about bed bugs, see our December article, or call our office, 916-457-7605, to speak with one of our trained pest control professionals.

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Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

“Nighty-night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” When I was a child, I’d hear that affectionate bedtime tease from an older person once in a while. But never did I see a bed bug in the flesh, and for a long time I thought bed bugs were just make-believe, like the boogie man or the monster under the bed.

But as a grownup and owner of a Sacramento pest control company, I now know bed bugs do indeed exist. Practically unheard of when I was a kid, bed bug infestations have become increasingly common in the United States since the 1980s, likely as a result of increased global travel and trade, changes in available pesticides and possibly pesticide resistance. Once associated with crowded, deteriorated housing conditions, bed bugs infestations in the finest hotels have made recent headlines.

Whatever the reason for their resurgence, bed bug infestations are difficult to treat and exceptionally easy to transmit to other locations.

Bed bugs are widespread in temperate climates, most commonly in North America, Europe and Central Asia. The most common bed bug species in California is Cimex lectularius, an oval-shaped, reddish-brown insect, about one-fifth inch long, with a pyramid-shaped head. Female bed bugs lay 200 to 500 white eggs in small clusters of 10 to 50, affixed to rough surfaces like paper or wood by a white sticky coating and not generally visible to the naked eye. Often the egg shells remain in place after the bugs have hatched. During daylight hours, bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices behind headboards, under loose wallpaper and in seams of mattresses, usually not more than a few feet away from a bed and their night-time food source—you!

Bed bugs go through five nymph stages before they reach adulthood, and must take a blood meal at each stage before molting to the next stage. The life cycle may take up to four months, depending on room temperature and access to food. Bed bugs typically live six months to a year, and adults can live for a year or more without feeding.

Although bed bugs can feed on rodents or birds, their optimal food source is humans. At night, they are attracted to the warm bodies of their sleeping food sources, puncturing the skin, and feeding for five to 10 minutes until engorged. Usually the victim sleeps through the pinprick bite, not realizing he or she has been bitten until the next morning. Saliva secreted by the bed bug may cause itchy red welts and in some cases more severe allergic reactions. The only way to know the bite is from a bed bug rather than a mosquito or spider is to find evidence of a bed bug infestation.

Although there is not hard scientific evidence that bed bugs transmit diseases to humans, older scientific literature associated bed bugs with such diseases as tuberculosis, smallpox and plague. Recent studies indicate that while the bugs do indeed ingest disease germs from humans, they do not replicate or transmit the germs back to humans.

Adult bed bugs and clusters of the lighter-colored nymphs are visible to the naked eye, but because they hide so well, it usually takes a thorough inspection to spot them. Since bed bugs are almost always found near a bed, start by checking mattress seams, box springs, head boards and bed frames. They also leave tiny, dark-red fecal stains and shed skins that are sometimes easier to spot than the insects themselves. They have stink glands, and you may notice a strong, rotten meat smell where there is a heavy infestation.

Bed bugs are great travelers, and you may inadvertently bring them home in luggage or packages, from hotels, movie theaters, and bus or train seats. If your holiday plans include travel, whether you’re staying at a 5-star hotel or a roadside inn, a good rule of thumb is to leave your bags at the door of your room, pull up the bedding and check the mattress seams and surrounding nooks and crannies for any sign of these unwelcome occupants—before you start unpacking.

Eliminating bed bugs is time- and labor-intensive. Pesticide treatment must be coupled with thorough steam cleaning, vacuuming, washing of bedding in hot water, sealing up hiding places, and ongoing monitoring of the affected areas. Over-the-counter chemicals are less effective in field tests, and the most effective pesticides for use on bed bugs must be applied by licensed pest control professionals.

To read more about bed bugs and other pest control and environmental issues, visit my blog at http://earthguard.com/blog.

For more detailed info about bed bugs, try these excellent sources of information:

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7454.html

http://www.pctonline.com/Article.aspx?article_id=37351

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