There has been a significant increase in the number of bed bug infestations reported over the past ten years. Here’s how to get rid of them yourself without resorting to harmful chemicals.
Found worldwide, the common bed bug (cimex lectularius) is a blood-sucking insect that feeds mostly on humans, but is also known to attack birds, bats and other animals. Bites occur mostly at night and are generally painless when inflicted. However, fluids that are injected during feeding often produce painful welts on the skin that itch and may become severely irritated. As pest numbers increase, more bites occur, and the problem can become progressively worse (often very quickly).
Adults (1/4 – 3/8 inch long) are oval-shaped, reddish brown insects that are wingless and flat. After a meal, they become swollen and elongated when engorged with blood. Eggs are white and are about 1/32 inch long. Newly hatched nymphs are the same shape as adults, but are yellowish-white in color.
Active at night, female bed bugs lay white eggs in batches of 10 to 50 on bedding and in cracks and crevices. Under favorable conditions one adult female can lay as many as 200-250 eggs over her lifetime. Young nymphs hatch in about 10 days and use their beak-like mouthparts to feed on hosts. It takes 1-2 months for nymphs to become mature adults. Adult bugs can live a year or longer (most live about 10-11 months) and there may be three or more overlapping generations per year.
Note: While bed bugs carry human pathogens, it has not been shown that they transmit these diseases to humans or animals.
Bed Bug Control
Determine if bed bugs are present with the Bed Bug Alert monitoring device. If present, wash bed linens, vacuum cracks and crevices and steam clean mattresses and bedroom furnishings. Apply temporary barriers to keep crawling insects from migrating into the bed at night. Often this can be achieved by placing bed legs in containers full of soapy water or by spreading a 2-3 inch layer of petroleum jelly around them. Caulk cracks and other daytime hiding places found around bed frames, floors and mouldings. Remove or eliminate animal nests, such as bird nests or bat roosts, from your house. These animal habitats may be the source of the infestation. If an organic pesticide is needed the following are recommended and should be applied to all daytime hiding places.
Tip: During the day bed bugs hide under folds in mattresses, along seams and in between bed posts and bed slats. At night they are on the move and can often be found by checking on and under sheets.