Sleep Tight: A Complete Guide to the Impact, Identification, and Treatment of Bed Bugs
In their bid to survive, bed bugs wait until humans and animals are sleeping, then come out to suckle their blood. Like mosquitoes, these pests use an elongated proboscis to pierce the skin and gather their blood meal. They need to feed weekly to grow through the stages of life and lay eggs.
Since they have low mobility, these critters lie in wait where people and pets spend the most time resting. This means they may be lurking within the folds of fabric on mattresses, couches, and other pieces of furniture throughout the house. Worse yet, they are far too easy to bring home accidentally and twice as hard to eliminate.
With the right approach, it is possible to reduce the risk of bringing home bed bugs — and eliminate them from the home if the unthinkable occurs. Get started by learning everything you can about the impact, identification, and treatment of bed bugs with this guide.
Table of Contents
- What are Bed Bugs?
- Signs and Symptoms of an Infestation
- How to Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs into Your Home
- How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Your Own
- Prepare the Room for Bed Bug Treatment
- Identify and Fix the Cracks and Crevices in Your Home
- Treat Your Mattress with a Chemical Spray
- Use a Concentrated Insecticide in the Room
- Use a Bed Bug Aerosol Spray
- Use Bed Bug Dust to Create a Long-Lasting Barrier
- Kill Live and Active Bed Bugs
- Additional Methods
- Contacting a Professional
- Pesticides to Control Bed Bugs
- Common Myths About Bed Bugs
What are Bed Bugs?
Shaped much like a tick, bed bugs are small, brown insects that do not have any wings. They can only crawl around their environment, often using furniture to reach their food sources. Since they cannot move very quickly, they burrow into furniture fabric during the daytime hours.
Despite living in close proximity to humans, these bugs stay hidden from view, even as household members actively search for them. Thankfully, a clear understanding of their appearance, life cycle, feeding habits, and favorite hiding places can help in finding and eradicating these troublesome critters.
As an insect, bed bugs have six legs and body that is divided into three sections with a distinguishable head, abdomen, and thorax. They also have a single pair of antennae and compound eyes, like a housefly, but much smaller.
Adult bed bugs are usually between four and five millimeters long. Their round bodies grow to about three millimeters in width, creating their oval shape. They are typically flat and have a low profile, unless they have recently eaten—bed bugs engorge themselves with blood, and their bodies expand like a balloon to hold it. While moving through the five nymph stages to adulthood, they are much smaller yet still have the same general oval shape and appearance. They do move from a translucent tan color to dark brown as they molt through the life stages.
Although they look like young cockroaches and carpet beetles, bed bugs do not move in the same way. Instead, their movements mimic that of an ant, allowing them to scurry along both horizontal and vertical surfaces with ease. They can move just as quickly as ants, too, despite their less-than-aerodynamic appearance.
Life Cycle and Feeding Habits
Bed bugs produce eggs that have to incubate for six to ten days before hatching. Each female tends to lay up to three to eight eggs a week, equaling hundreds of eggs laid in a lifetime. Since females produce eggs each day, new nymphs hatch daily as well, keeping the colony thriving.
As nymphs hatch, they are only 1/16th of an inch long and nearly impossible to see with the naked eye. They start to feed immediately after hatching to obtain the energy needed for their first molt. Upon consuming enough blood meals, the nymph enters its first molt and sheds its exoskeleton in full. It will need to feed again and regain its energy to molt again.
Bed bugs go through the molting process five times in total to reach the adult stage, needing to feed between each transition. As long as they can find ample food sources, these bugs can reach adulthood in just five weeks. When temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, their growth and egg-laying rate accelerates considerably. After becoming an adult, most of these bugs live for about three to four months. Through adulthood, they work all the while on populating the colony with up to 500 more bed bugs apiece. Using bed bug traps can help reduce an infestation.
Only growing up to five millimeters long, thousands of bed bugs can live simultaneously on any one piece of furniture. Furthermore, they have a flat profile that allows them to fit into tiny crevices, such as between the piping edge on mattresses and box springs. They can also be found along the
- Inside edges of dresser drawers
- Seams of couches, chairs, and stools
- Inner case of electronics and appliances
- Edges of the drywall between the walls and the ceiling
- Stitching on curtains, bedding, and other fabric items
- Inner surfaces of suitcases and other pieces of luggage
- Baseboard edges and within the carpet fibers
These bugs also like to hang out in less obvious places, such as behind loose wallpaper and within electrical outlets. Although bed bugs like dirty and clean spaces equally, clutter can worsen the problem by making it harder to detect their presence in a timely manner. Without immediately containing the infestation, these bugs will quickly spread throughout the room, and then the entire house and beyond.
As they hitch a ride on the clothing and belonging of household members, these bugs can end up in personal vehicles and on public transportation lines. They can then spread through the community, infesting private and public spaces alike, including hotel rooms.
Signs and Symptoms of an Infestation
Bed bugs are not active during the day, which often keeps them from being detected at a glance. Instead, they hide away and stay still, waiting for household members to fall asleep. Once everyone drifts off for the night, the bed bugs scurry out and attempt to get their fill. Since they are only active at night, bed bugs often go undetected for far too long, causing a serious infestation of the home.
Even if the bugs themselves hide away, signs of their presence still exist, as long as you know what to look for. Bed bugs leave visible sign of their presence through their waste products, for example. After feeding, they leave feces behind in the form of tiny black specks. Similar in the appearance to mold and mildew spots, these specks cover the bugs’ living space.
As they feed, bed bugs can cause people to suffer physical and mental health effects. Impacting everything from the skin to moods, these insects can wreak havoc on the body, causing many frustrating symptoms.
As bed bugs use their proboscis to puncture the skin and collect blood, their presence leaves a mark and comes with the risk of an allergic reaction. Their bites often cause a welt to form as the body reacts to the insect’s saliva.
Although not all people experience a reaction, bed bug bites often looks raised and swollen. And they are usually light red with a dark spot right in the middle where the proboscis entered the skin. In sensitive individuals, a serious allergic reaction can occur, causing excessive swelling and redness.
The bites often appear as clusters in areas where the skin was exposed through the night. They can appear anywhere on the body, but most often show up on the chest, neck, arms, and legs.
Oddly enough, bed bug bites frequently appear in a straight line or zig-zag pattern. The welts might feel itchy or cause a burning sensation to move through the affected area. If scratching the welts breaks the skin, a serious infection could develop, causing additional symptoms.
Because bed bugs are hard to detect and even more challenging to eliminate from the home, the mere threat of their presence can cause psychological problems. Anxiety about finding, eliminating, and preventing infestations can quickly arise as bed bugs invade the home.
When people are unsuccessful at eliminating the bugs, anxiety levels can even start to mimic the symptoms of PTSD. Along with the anxious thoughts and feelings, these individuals may experience hypervigilance, difficulty focusing, restlessness, and even obsessive thoughts.
Even after bed bug extermination attempts finally work, anxiety can prevail as the threat of bringing home bed bugs always lingers. Many people have a hard time engaging in their normal activities, such as using public transit to get to work or run errands, as a result.
Eradicating bed bugs at the first sign of their presence is the only way to prevent mental and physical health effects from occurring. With the continued presence of these bugs in the home, they only serve to cause more and more problems as their numbers multiply.
How to Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs into Your Home
When it comes to keeping homes bed bug free, prevention is crucial. By keeping preventative tactics in mind, it is possible to avoid surfaces that are most likely to harbor these critters. And the best part is that prevention is possible without giving up all your favorite activities.
Staying at hotels, traveling in rental cars, and visiting community spaces can all remain on the itinerary, as long as everyone:
- Quickly checks seating surfaces for bed bug waste before sitting down
- Stores their coat, hat, and other belongings separately from other people’s items
- Wash clothing items worn in shared public spaces after returning home
Properly maintaining the home also lowers the risk of getting infested with bed bugs. Always keep clutter to a minimum, for example, as that reduces the available hiding spaces. Also, vacuum the floors and furniture daily to pick up any stray bed bugs and their eggs. That way, even if someone comes into contact with bed bugs, they do not develop a full infestation at home.
Traveling and Bed Bugs
Special care needs to be taken while traveling, however, since people treat their hotel room like their own home. Sleeping on the hotel bed, putting clothes in the drawers, and even lounging around the room all give bed bugs more than enough time to hop on for a ride. Although bed bugs could lurk in the corners of nearly any hotel room, the risks of encountering them is quite low. But still, it pays to be vigilant and look around before committing to the given room and hotel in general.
To reduce your risk of bringing home these bugs from your hotel, remember to:
- Inspect the bed, furniture, and other items for the presence of bed bugs
- Avoid putting away your clothing in the provided dresser drawers
- Place your suitcase on the counter or the luggage rack rather than the floor
Also, remember to clean all your clothing and luggage upon returning home just in case you encountered bed bugs without knowing it. It is necessary to use 120 degree Fahrenheit water to kill the eggs, so check the hot water heater before starting the cleaning efforts.
Bed Bugs on Used Furniture
Bed bugs do not always hitch a ride on people. Sometimes, they come into the home on used furniture. And the furniture pieces do not even have to look dirty or buggy to carry these insects. Bed bugs are just as likely to be on clean furniture as they are dirty items. Therefore, it is always wise to check used furniture you purchase not once or twice, but three times, before bringing anything home.
Look along the seams and between the folds of fabric at various points, checking for specks of insect waste. Also, scrape the edge of a credit card along the flat surfaces of the furniture piece and scoop anything that was dislodged onto a white sheet of paper. If any bed bug nymphs, eggs, or waste exists on that surface, you will immediately see it on the paper.
After performing these checks without spotting any signs of bed bugs, is likely safe to bring home the used furniture and use like normal. For a little extra security, treat the furniture with the preferred dust, spray, or other pesticide product before bringing the furniture inside the home.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Your Own
Bed bug infestations can quickly get out of hand, which is why it is so important to treat them at the first sign of a problem. If initial inspections only reveal bed bugs in a small area, then home treatment may be possible, but you must act fast.
Otherwise, the bed bugs could start to multiply by the dozens, then by the hundreds each day, as females ramp up their egg production. If this happens too quickly, and the house becomes severely infested, then a professional must come in to remedy the problem.
Take an honest look around to determine if the issue requires help from a professional. If it looks manageable enough without professional assistance, quickly attempt to eradicate the bugs with the following steps.
Prepare the Room for Bed Bug Treatment
Since bed bugs are challenging to remove, the household must make great strides in preparing the home for treatment to achieve the best results. To prepare the home, make sure to follow these steps:
- Wash all bedding, clothing, and other linens in hot water, and then dry on high heat
- Place all linens in garbage bags and securely tie the ends together
- Clean out all the items in the closets throughout the home
- Unplug TVs, video game systems, and all other electronics
- Move all furniture at least two feet from the walls
- Stand the mattress and box spring against the wall
- Open sleeper sofas and recliners to allow for the treatment of their inner surfaces
Upon completing these steps, the home is ready for the bed bug treatment process. These steps open up many of the hiding areas they favor, making it easier to remove the adults, nymphs, and eggs in one fell swoop.
Identify and Fix the Cracks and Crevices in Your Home
Bed bugs will often attempt to escape treatment by traveling through the floors, walls, and ceiling structures. They make their way to those areas by moving through the cracks and crevices throughout the home.
These open areas may also let other pests inside as well, such as:
Thankfully, the cracks and crevices can simply be filled up to eliminate these entry points. Even without a bed bug problem, deferred maintenance like this should be taken care of sooner rather than later.
Depending on their shape and depth, they may require a patch of steel wool to firmly block access. The steel wool also helps deter other critters, especially ones that attempt to chew their way inside. In other areas, fill up the crevices with caulk instead to create a tough barrier.
With steel wool and caulk filling up these access points, bed bugs will have to stay put, allowing the treatment process to work properly. The home treatment process can then commence without worry about wasting time from insects escaping the area.
Treat Your Mattress with a Chemical Spray
With the mattress and box spring up against the wall, their surfaces will be a cinch to treat. But first, find an EPA-registered chemical spray listed as safe to use on bedding. Carefully read the label to find out how to properly use the spray to remove bed bugs. Also, wear protective goggles, gloves, and a respirator before applying the chemical pesticide to the mattress and box spring. Before applying any chemical treatment to the home, make sure all family members and pets will be out during the application and for several hours afterward.
While watching for evidence of bed bugs, spray down the entire surface of the mattress and box spring. Focus on the areas where there are obvious signs of waste or actual bed bugs, like around the piping on the edges.
Take the time to look for rips in the fabric throughout this process. If the fabric has any tears, then it may be impossible to remove the bed bugs completely as they likely set up camp inside. If not, continue following the pesticide instructions to fully treat the mattress and box spring.
Use a Concentrated Insecticide in the Room
Through the application of a concentrated insecticide, the chemicals stick around to kill the bed bugs for the long-term. When properly applied, they do not usually pose a threat to humans or animals, with the exception of those who have sensitivities.
Find where to spray by using knowledge of these insects’ favorite hiding areas. Spray around the baseboards and near the edge where the ceiling meets the walls, for example. Also, apply the concentrated insecticide to bed frames, couches, chairs, footrests, and blinds.
Upon finding any areas with live bed bugs, use sticky tape to pick up the adults, nymphs, and eggs. Then, place the infested tape in a garbage bag and tie it up tight. Place the garbage bag in an outside can to prevent the bugs from escaping back into the home. Continue in this manner until all surfaces in the home are treated with concentrated bed bug spray.
Use a Bed Bug Aerosol Spray
For those who remain unsatisfied with their progress up to this point or would like a little extra protection from future infestations, there are bed bug aerosol sprays on the market that may help. Aerosol insecticide products treat these insects’ favorite hiding spaces, making the area uninhabitable for those critters.
In addition to eliminating bed bugs, these sprays get rid of other insects such as dust mites, lice, fleas, and ticks.
Bed bug aerosol spray is water-based, so it can be used on all types of surfaces, including mattresses and other fabric-covered items. For best results, spray this product along all edges of the room, focusing on where the ceiling and floor meets the walls.
Then, spray the rest of the surfaces in the home to kill any remaining bed bugs on contact and create a residual barrier. This barrier will kill bed bugs as they hatch from any lingering eggs and prevent pests from living on the treated surfaces.
Use Bed Bug Dust to Create a Long-Lasting Barrier
To create an even longer-lasting barrier, generously apply bed bug dust, also known as bed bug powder, around the home. Depending on the strength and brand, this type of insecticide can potentially work for up to 10 years after the first application and kills far more than bed bugs. It also works on insects such as:
- Pantry beetles
Like the chemical sprays and aerosol products, have everyone leave the house during the dust application process. Apply about two ounces for every 100 square feet to fully treat the home. Ensure the dust product applies evenly by using a bellows or bulb to distribute the powder.
It is also possible to apply the dust as a liquid spray by mixing one pound of powder insecticide with one gallon of water. Apply at a rate of one quart per 250 square feet of space for best results. No matter what way it is applied, bed bug dust does not stain the surface nor give off a bad odor.
Kill Live and Active Bed Bugs
Even after going through the home, top to bottom, treating every area for bed bugs, there is still the chance of finding live and active bugs hiding. If this occurs, they must be eradicated immediately or they will produce hundreds more in days. Therefore, it is important to keep checking the house for live and active bed bugs well after completing the treatment process.
Thoroughly scour their favorite hiding spaces, looking for not only visible bugs, but their waste as well. Since eggs can hatch daily, check every day for the first couple weeks. Then, check weekly for several more months or until you feel confident the bug infestation has finally ended for good.
Of course, after traveling or simply spending time in public places, there is always a risk of bringing bed bugs home again. So, make it a routine to check every so often to detect bed bugs before they make themselves cozy.
Although they are quite effective, purpose-made bed bug insecticides are not the only way to stop these critters from infesting the home. Household steamers, laundry appliances, and even the freezer can put in the work needed to get rid of these pests.
Since bed bugs and their eggs cannot survive temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, steamers are an effective way to kill these insects. The only trick is ensuring that the steam comes into direct contact with the bugs and their eggs. Otherwise, they could escape, unharmed, keeping the cycle going.
For similar reasons, the washer and dryer can both help control bed bug infestations. Wash all linens using hot water, and then dry on high heat to kill the insect eggs, nymphs, and adults. After they are dry, place all the items in a garbage bag and seal it tightly until the whole house is treated. For even more peace of mind, place those bags in a storage unit while you treat the house.
For things that will not tolerate cleaning with hot water, use the freezer instead. Place the items in a bag before freezing and after verifying the ultra-low temperatures will not ruin their materials. Items that are typically okay in the freezer include:
- Picture frames
Use a thermometer to bring the freezer down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and then place the bagged items inside. Leave there for at least four days. If you are apprehensive about putting bagged items in your own freezer, professionals like Titan Containers recommend using their system that freezes at the -40°F to -22°F range.
If the bed bug infestation occurs while outside temperatures are below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, placing the items outside could kill the pests. But this will only work if the items stay outside in sub-zero temperatures for at least four days straight.
Despite your best efforts, bed bug infestations can persist, coming back stronger than ever just when you thought it was over. For that reason, once these pests enter the house, repeat treatments will become a way of life for a long time afterward. By repeatedly treating the house, any newly hatched bed bugs will be removed before they can cycle through the life stages. That way, they will not lay any eggs of their own, helping to eventually fully eradicate the pests from the home.
If that process does not work, then the only way to proceed is with help from a professional. They will create a whole house treatment plan and can often help treat challenging items.
Contacting a Professional
Pest control experts are well-versed in completely eliminating bed bugs and other critters from residences. They also have access to better tools and products than consumers usually do, making their treatments much more effective.
Other reasons to hire a professional include:
- In-depth knowledge of where bed bugs hide for their full elimination the first time around
- Safe application techniques help reduce risk of harm to family members and pets
- Having a professional handle the problem saves household members lots of time
- Access to personalized advice on treating belongings infested with bed bugs
- Professionals can spot and identify other pests on the property before problems arise
- Quick resolution of the pest problem that keeps bed bugs from infesting the entire house
Many pest control experts guarantee the treatments will work — or they repeat the treatments until they do. So, even though it costs more, hiring a professional provides the most value for the money, as DIY bed bug treatments do not come with a guarantee.
Experts skilled in pest management know just how fast an infestation can occur. For that reason, they provide prompt service and support at their client’s first call. Homeowners just have to let the pest control company know about the signs of infestation and they will schedule a visit.
With a trip to the home, pest control experts can verify the infestation exists and accurately identify the bugs in question. They can then use that information to build a treatment plan for the entire inside of the house. Although not required for bed bugs, some pests even require treatment of the yard as well.
Pest control professionals use heat treatments, insecticides, or both to treat their clients’ homes for bed bugs. Between these two treatments, infestation levels plummet, leaving the home bug free.
Professional heat treatments take advantage of the fact that even bed bug eggs cannot withstand temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Pest control experts complete this treatment using a standalone heating unit positioned in the center of the house. For that reason, all people and pets must stay out of the home during the treatment process. But they can return right after temperatures come back down to a comfortable range. Any items that might suffer damage from 150 degree temperatures should also be removed from the home.
With everyone out of the house, pest control professionals can do the following:
- Set up the heating unit in a central location
- Place thermometers in every single room, including all hallways
- Turn up the heat and leave the home
- Monitor the thermometer readings
Even though high temperatures can kill bed bugs immediately, the heat treatment will likely continue for up to eight hours total, depending on the severity of the infestation. Throughout that process, these experts carefully watch the thermometer readings to verify every corner of the home is getting hot enough to exterminate the bugs.
Afterward, all belongings removed from the home prior to the heat treatment must be treated before returning. Use a spray insecticide, bed bug dust, or ask the pest control professional for recommendations.
Instead of heat treatments, pest control experts can apply effective insecticides to eliminate bed bug adults, nymphs, and eggs in the home. As is recommended for DIY treatments, three distinct pesticide products come into play during professional treatments. The difference is that their products are guaranteed professional grade, meaning they tend to work a whole lot better than their commercial variants.
The first kills bugs on contact to get rid of most of the living insects. Then, they apply two different residual products in aerosol and dust form. Pest control professionals typically use the aerosol product before the dust, applying it to all indoor surfaces, including:
- Inside desk drawers
- Along the baseboards
- Under the countertops
Then, they use the dust to get deep inside the cracks and crevices missed by the aerosol spray. Typically, they spread the dust between the seams on wood floors, around electrical outlets, and other tight spaces. Together, these two products actively kill bed bugs as they hatch or move across the treated surface.
As with heat treatments, all household members and pets must stay out of the home during the treatment process. The pest control professional will let everyone know when it is safe to enter, which is typically after the sprayed areas have fully dried.
Pesticides to Control Bed Bugs
Within these sprays and powders are up to seven different types of pesticides designed to kill bed bugs and similar pests. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved more than 300 products that contain these seven effective pest control agents.
Most are available on the commercial market, though some are for professional use only. Pest control experts receive specialized training to learn how to safely use these controlled products in residential and commercial buildings.
When treating a building repeatedly, as is often required for heavy bed bug infestations, it is important to vary the types of pesticides used. Each type works in a different way to kill the insects and their eggs. Without varying the chemicals, insects may develop resistance to the treatments.
So, whether you choose DIY methods or acquire professional assistance, learn how each pesticide works. With that knowledge, you can appropriately vary the chemicals as needed to prevent resistance — or simply better understand the approach your pest control expert uses.
Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids
By far the most popular pesticide for indoor pest problems, pyrethrins and pyrethroids work by exciting the insect’s nervous system. While pyrethrins are naturally found in Chrysanthemum flowers, pyrethroids are manmade to mimic those compounds. A combination of six distinct chemicals, these compounds start working as soon as bed bugs and other pests ingest them or simply come into contact with the residue.
Since this is often the first line of defense against bed bugs, many have developed resistance to these chemicals. When resistant to pyrethrins and pyrethroids, pests will not die from exposure. Instead, the chemicals act as an irritant, driving them out of one hiding place and into another. As a result, many pest control professionals will pair pyrethrins with other products, increasing the effectiveness of the treatment. If that does not work, then they will move onto another type of pesticide altogether.
On the other side of the pest control spectrum are desiccants. Made from sharp, dry fragments of material, the desiccants actively suck the moisture out of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die. There are many different types of materials that work for this purpose, such as:
- Boric acid
- Diatomaceous earth
- Silica gel
Direct contact with any of these substances causes bed bugs to lose the protective waxy layer on their shell.
After that, the desiccants can simply absorb moisture from the insect’s body, causing them to die a short while later. As this process relies on a physical mechanism, it is not possible for bed bugs to develop a resistance. This means that desiccants can be used repeatedly to control pest infestations without risk of it losing effectiveness. If the desiccant powders get wet, however, they will stop working, so they can only be applied in areas that stay dry at all times.
As with pyrethrins, biochemicals come from plant sources, including fungi. Cold pressed neem oil is the most popular option due to its relative ease of availability. This oil comes from the neem, or Indian lilac, tree that grows only in tropical regions.
When used for bed bugs, cold pressed neem oil works by blocking production of the molting hormone. The insects stay trapped in their current nymph stage and remain unable to produce eggs throughout their life cycle. Although this pesticide does not directly kill these pests, it does halt their life cycle and prevent the infestation from spreading.
Researchers at Penn State University have created another biochemical bed bug control product, called Aprehend. Only available to licensed pest control professionals, this product comes from the Beauveria bassiana fungus, which causes the insects to develop white muscardine disease. After contracting this condition, the nymph and adult bed bugs within seven days.
Made from compounds produced by microbes, pyrroles can help control the spread of bed bugs. But there is only one such product, Chlorfenapyr, approved by the EPA for the treatment of bed bugs. This product works by halting energy production at the cellular level.
Bed bugs only have to come into brief contact with these compounds to suffer their effects. As they are ingested, the chemical compounds shift into a powerful insecticide. Once this happens, the insects will usually start to die off within 48 hours. Since bed bugs can become resistant to this type of pesticide, always use it with another backup method to ensure full treatment of the home.
Made from synthetic nicotine, neonicotinoids act on the nervous system of bed bugs, causing cell death. As the nicotine compounds bind to the nerve receptors, they overexcite the system and inactivate the cells. Like biochemicals, neonicotinoids work fairly quickly in killing insect infestations.
Since this pesticide works differently than many of the others, it is a popular backup option when using products prone to resistance. There are even some pest control products available containing both neonicotinoids and pyrethroids. Pairing this pesticide with others is a wise choice since it is possible for bed bugs to become resistant to neonicotinoids as well.
Since bed bugs go through a lengthy life cycle before laying eggs, insect-growth regulators can easily wipe out their numbers in just a couple weeks. One form of this pesticide overwhelms the insect’s system with growth hormones common in earliest nymph stages. Their system then cannot complete the molting process, effectively trapping the bugs at that stage. Without completing all five growth stages, they cannot reach adulthood and start laying eggs.
Another form prevents the bed bugs from developing its exoskeleton after molting. Without this protective structure, the insects start to die within just a couple days. Insect-growth regulators work best when paired with other pesticides, such as desiccants. This provides immediate removal of the bed bugs and residual control to prevent the newly hatched insects from growing, thriving, and reproducing.
Common Myths About Bed Bugs
With their ability to stay hidden from view, and infest a house in no time flat, bed bugs have developed quite the reputation over the years. Myths abound as a result, making it difficult to sort out accurate information about these insects.
For example, many people believe that bed bugs can fly and jump to their hearts’ content. The truth is that bed bugs are no more mobile than an ant, though that does mean they have excellent climbing abilities. Many people also believe that bed bugs can spread disease, much like ticks spread Lyme disease. Thankfully, that is also not true.
Furthermore, although bed bugs prefer to hide away in dark corners, sleeping with the light on does little to deter them from feeding at night. They use their ability to detect CO2 levels to tell when people are sleeping. Once the CO2 levels change, these insects come out, ready to enjoy their blood meal.
Bed bug bites bring up a lot of myths as well. Some claim that a lack of bites means there are no bed bugs, but that is not true. Bed bugs do not bite everyone, and their bites do not always cause redness and swelling. The bites can even take up to 14 days to cause a reaction, leaving people mystified about their cause.
While they do not cause any major health problems, bed bugs pose a real threat to the household. They are difficult to remove and seem to spread across every surface imaginable, including inside the walls. These insects end up deep inside furniture and other fabric surfaces within just a short time of falling prey to an infestation.
Therefore, the threat of bed bugs should always be taken seriously. If bugs do end up inside the home, do not let them take over. Treat the area promptly and with the most effective methods possible to keep them at bay.
- US Environmental Protection Agency https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/
- Government of Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/pest-control-tips/bedbugs-what-are-they.html
- Cornell: https://nysipm.cornell.edu/whats-bugging-you/bed-bugs/bed-bug-faqs/
- Orkin: https://www.orkin.com/other/bed-bugs
- Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bedbugs/symptoms-causes/syc-20370001