Bed Bugs 101

Bed bugs are small, wingless parasitic insects that feed exclusively on blood. Yuck! While eggs and nymphs (bed bugs that have not yet fully matured) are tiny—about half the size of a grain of rice—adults can grow to be the size of an apple seed. Although bed bugs have existed in the United States since settlers first arrived from Europe, they became a major problem in the mid-1900s. As pesticides grew in popularity to treat household pests, bed bugs grew resistant to them. In fact, bed bugs tend to develop more resistance to chemicals than any other pest, making them even harder to get rid of.

Pain & Prevention

Although you may not be able to totally eliminate any chance of bringing bed bugs into your home, there are things you can do to help. Maintain a clean, uncluttered home. Launder dirty or worn clothes regularly and put them away as soon as they’re clean. Regularly wash bed linens, vacuum floors, and clean couch cushions. When staying at a hotel or someone else’s house, check around sleeping areas—such as the seams of the mattress, box springs, and headboards—for black spots, shed skins, or bed bugs themselves. If you suspect bed bugs may be present, let management or the residents know before unpacking your luggage. When you return from travel, unpack immediately. Inspect luggage before putting it away, and wash and dry all clothing using high heat. You can also ask your Terminix bed bug specialist about purchasing mattress and box spring encasements or bed bug monitors.

Habits & Habitats

As bed bugs feed exclusively on blood, they can be found anywhere and everywhere humans live and visit—including homes, hotels, motels, movie theatres, office buildings, medical facilities, and all modes of transportation. And even though humans are their preferred host, bed bugs will also feed on other animals, such as dogs, cats, and birds. (Oh, my!)

In an infested area, the majority of the bed bug population will be near sleeping areas, such as beds and couches. That being said, portions of the population can be found just about anywhere in a home. During the day, bed bugs tend to stay hidden in cracks, crevices, and other dark areas. At night, they crawl out of their hiding places to feed. Because bed bugs generally stay out of sight, it can be hard to know you have them in your home.

Small Bug, Big Problem

While bed bugs aren’t known to spread any diseases, their bites result in red swollen bumps on the skin which may itch and can last for several days. Histamines in bed bug excrement can also trigger allergic reactions and asthma in some people. These pests can also leave blood spots on bedding and black excrement in and around the places they hide. Large infestations can even produce a musky odor.

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