Bed Bugs Are Spreading Fast
There is a Bed Bug crisis spreading across the U.S. and Maine is no exception. Despite the fact that sanitation has little or nothing to do with Bed Bugs, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family.
Do not confuse Bed Bugs with Dust Mites. Dust Mites are microscopic, but Bed Bug adults, although flat as a business card before feeding, are about the size of a Lady Bug. Unless a mattress is torn, they are too large to pass through the fabric. Their eggs are white and the size of a speck of dust. Hatchlings are about the same size, but they bite just like an adult. Check under the beading and seems of your mattress and box spring, and in the cracks & crevices of the headboard and bed frame for clusters of Bed Bugs and their shed skins. Their droppings are small black spots that look like mold on the fabric.
A person can bite many times while they sleep and not awaken because a Bed Bug’s saliva contains a topical anesthetic. The red marks and itching are an allergic reaction to the saliva. It is estimated that up to 40% of the population are not allergic and will have no visible reaction to the bites! To put it into perspective, a Bed Bug bite is less of a health risk than a Mosquito bite, because Mosquitoes are known to transmit diseases, while Bed Bugs are not. They come out of hiding in the bed to feed, sucking a host’s blood for 3 to 15 minutes, then retreat back into hiding in cracks and crevices.
Bed Bugs do not normally travel on people because they lack the appendages to hold on to skin or hair. They normally hide in luggage, backpacks, handbags, etc. All it takes is one pregnant female in your luggage to infest your whole house. Once impregnated, a female Bed Bug is pregnant for life and will lay 3 to 5 eggs every day! These eggs hatch within 1 or 2 weeks and are procreating within 3 or 4 weeks after that.
How do these pests get into your home in the first place? Very often they will hitchhike in one’s luggage as they return from a trip, or in the luggage of an overnight visitor. Used furniture, especially bedroom furniture is a common source of the infestation. If you are traveling, here are some practical steps you can take to avoid Bed Bugs:
Do not put your luggage on a hotel bed but use the luggage rack, especially a metal one as Bed Bugs have a natural aversion to metal. Or put your luggage in the bathroom until you can inspect the bed.
Take off the bed covers and check the seams for Bed Bugs, their shed skins, or their droppings (remember these may look like mold).
If you find evidence of Bed Bugs, do not let a hotel move you to an adjoining room, as they often migrate to other rooms through the walls.
If you suspect Bed Bugs in your home, preserve a specimen and call your local pest control company for positive identification. The best way to collect a specimen is to dab the suspect insect with a wet bar of soap. This will immobilize the bug, yet not crush it so it can be identified.
If you have Bed Bugs in your home, be wary of home remedies or self-treatments. These are the most difficult pests for even professionals to eradicate. Chances are, self-treatment will only make them spread to other rooms or deep into your walls, making a pest control professional’s job much more difficult.