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August Pest of the Month: Bed Bugs

Pest of the Month August Bed BugsAs we head into the final month of summer, we thought we’d highlight a pest most often thought of as one you encounter on a vacation – but can just as easily show up in your home. Cimex lectularius– better known as the ever-nasty bed bug.

It may seem like bed bugs have been in the news a lot lately, and you’re not wrong – especially since they had all but disappeared until just a few years ago.

Prior to World War II, bed bugs were a huge problem across the United States. Advancements in personal hygiene and extensive use of DDT led to the cimex species being isolated in remote areas of Africa and Asia.

That all changed about a decade ago. There’s still no clear reason why, although scientists now believe that the bugs have built up a resistance to many insecticides. Add that to a unique genetic anomaly – while inbreeding leads to most species’ deterioration, bed bugs, like the royal family, tend to thrive on it.

Bed bugs only feed for 2-5 minutes, then move on. A lot of people don’t even realize they’ve been bitten, since even the most severe reactions to a bite resemble hives, and many people have little or no reaction.

Unlike fleas, ticks and other biting insects, bed bugs don’t hitch hike on mammals, but rather on clothes, which is why they are so prevalent in urban areas.

While they’re small, bed bugs are easy to identify because they move in great numbers. Individual bugs are less than ¼” long, oval shaped, reddish-brown and flat. After eating, they are a bit fatter and redder.

One of the easiest ways to detect a bed bug infestation is the residue they leave behind. After feeding, bed bugs leave small brown or dark red fecal spots on fabric (they kind of look like coffee grinds, yuck!) and you may even find small cast off shells as they molt to their next stage.

While bed bugs need to eat before each molting stage, they can remain dormant without eating for several months, especially while travelling on clothing or luggage.

And while bed bugs are found most often in hotels and shelters, they can also end up in your home or apartment, especially in today’s more sharable society. Whether it’s taking an Uber, chilling in an Airbnb, or picking up a curb alert couch, there’s more chance than ever that bed bugs can end up hitching a ride to your home.

One woman in New Jersey was found dead in a home so infested with bed bugs, that, although they didn’t kill her, everyone who went into her house had to wear hazmat suits and be disinfected afterwards.

Not to fear, though. Bed Bug infestations are not difficult to treat, but they do take time. The first step is to limit the contamination – clear away clutter, thoroughly wash sheets, stuffed animals and any potentially infested clothing. Vacuum thoroughly, empty and seal the bag, and discard it into a trash receptacle outside your home.

Another great option – our Go Green Plus 3 program. Integrated pest control that is not only highly effective against many pests, but is 100% safe & organic – an eco-superior solution to those nasty chemicals some of the other guys use. We cover most of the Gulf Coast of Florida, from Ruskin to Punta Gorda. Give us a call to find out more!

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