Real Life Bed Bug Stories: When a young camper returned home from summer camp his parents noticed numerous small, red bites on his face and neck. They assumed they were mosquito bites and would simply go away. The bites persisted over several weeks until eventually all the members of the boys family started contracting the same type of bites. A visit to the dermatologist confirmed they all had been bitten by bed bugs and they had to have their whole house treated by pest control professionals.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are parasites that survive exclusively by feeding on the blood of humans and animals. They have a reddish/brown color and are very small, typically 1mm to 7mm, which equates to about the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny. Bed bugs reproduce rapidly and can survive for a long time without feeding, which is why they are easily spread and difficult to exterminate.
Here are some bed bug facts that illustrate why they are rapidly becoming such a problem:
- Bed bugs can lay 5 eggs a day and over 500 in a lifetime
- Bed bugs can survive for a year without eating
- Bed bugs can survive temperatures from near freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit
- Bed bugs can travel up to 100 feet in a single night
- Bed bug hatchlings are so small they can pass through the sticking of mattresses
Bed Bug Facts and Statistics
Instances of bed bugs have been steadily on the rise over the past decade with no indications that this trend will stop. Understanding the problem bed bugs pose and how to identify them are important steps in protecting you and your organization from experiencing an infestation.
- 1 out of 5 people in the United States has experienced a bed bug infestation or knows someone who has
- Bed bugs are found in all 50 states
- 76% of pest management companies say bed bugs are the most difficult pest to remove
Preventing the Spread of Bed Bugs
Summer camps are a common culprit for bed bug outbreaks. Children come from all over to spend a few fun-filled days at camp, but due to the close living conditions, one individual with bed bugs can quickly infect many others. It is important to let parents and campers know the dangers of bed bugs and what they can do to protect their home when their children return. A few tips include:
- Vacuum suitcases after returning from travel
- Keep travel kits in plastic bags when traveling
- Bring a flashlight to assist with inspections
- Check your pets and where they sleep for an infestation
- Thoroughly wash your clothes after traveling
Recognizing a Bed Bug Infestation
The easiest way to tell if you have been infested with bed bugs is the appearance of bites, but if you want to find them before they bite you there are some other signs to look for. The best places to look for signs of bed bugs are seams of mattresses, clothing, box springs, bed frames, headboards, wallpaper seams, corners of rooms, and any other areas with structure near a bed. You should look for:
- Bed bug exoskeletons (bed bugs molt frequently)
- Live bed bugs (typically found in folds of sheets and mattresses)
- A sweet, musty odor
- Rust colored spots (the blood-filled fecal mater) on mattresses, bedding, clothes, and furniture
Identifying Bed Bug Bites
Bed bug bites can be difficult to diagnose since they look like many other insect bites and rashes. Bug bites can also take up to 14 days to appear so determining where they came from can be difficult. The bites can either be random or appear in a straight line. People also react differently to bed bug bites but common symptoms will include:
- Slightly swollen and red area
- Other skin ailments due to scratching
Treating Bed Bug Bites
Bed bug bites pose no serious medical threat and can not transmit diseases. The main concern is from excessive scratching which can lead to more serious skin ailments including infections. The best methods of treatment are antiseptic creams and antihistamines.
Eradicating Bed Bugs
If it is determined that you have bed bugs there is no easy way to get rid of them. The only option is to contact an exterminator and they will come and assess the level of infestation and determine the best method for removal.