Bed Bug FAQ’s
Things most people ask us about bed bugs
All stages (adult, the 5 nymphal instars, and the eggs) can be seen with the naked eye, especially if a bight flashlight is used. They look like this…
Bed bugs are introduced by people- they do not come in from outside, they can’t jump and they can’t fly. There are a few common ways bed bugs are introduced:
- Traveling – bringing home a “hitchhiker” in your baggage or clothes
- Bed bugs traveling between units in multi-unit apartment buildings
- Used furniture and clothing from infested homes
- Visitors staying at your home bringing infested items with them
- You going to visit someone with bed bugs
So, think about where you might have picked up the bed bugs, and change your habits if needed!
Where can bed bugs hide? Could they be in ______ item? What about my computer, my chairs, my speakers, my TV, my books, my bathroom, by DVD cases?
The answer is yes, they can be in all of these things and places, we have seen this many many times, and in the vast majority of cases they are not in all of these places. It takes many many many months for bed bugs to spread out from the bed and couch into all these other areas.
If you only have a few bugs on your bed or couch, you probably don’t have any bugs in the other areas. On the other hand, if you have had bed bugs for many months and there are hundreds in your bed or couch, then they are likely also in the things close to your bed and couch (nightstands, dressers, side table, book cases next to the couch, maybe the TV stand, etc.)
Maybe, but probably not. Most people don’t react to bed bug bites, most reactions are delayed, and reactions change over time in the same person.
Itchy skin and marks and bumps and rashes on the skin are typically not caused by insects of any kind. Some common causes of skin issues are the wide varieties of dermatitis, sometimes by reactions to a change in soaps detergents or shampoo’s used in the home, new vitamins or medications being taken, and minor viral infections.
When it comes to insects and skin issues there are a variety of potential causes – fleas are the most common, but there are also mosquito’s and other biting flies, ticks and mites. Another cause of marks may be from the hairs of a carpet beetle larvae aggravating your skin – carpet beetles live in almost every home we have ever inspected, and are mostly harmless to people, but many people react to the hairs of the larval stage.
If you have marks on your skin that you think are “bed bug bites”, look for the bugs! If there are no bed bugs present, the marks on your skin are probably not from bed bugs!
And of course if you need help looking, call us to provide a thorough bed bug inspection!
I have bite marks in a line of three - breakfast, lunch and dinner! That must be from bed bugs, right?
No – bed bugs do not bite in three’s, nor do they bite in a straight line and if we ever find who started that myth we will infest their house with bed bugs (just kidding)!
Groups of bed bugs sometimes line up along an edge of a person’s sheets or pajamas to feed on exposed skin, and individual bugs sometimes feed multiple times in a night if they didn’t get a complete meal the first time, so there are sometimes clusters of bite marks. Many people do not react to the bite at all.
I have bites all over but no one else in my house does. If it's bed bugs, why am I the only one with bites?
It may be bed bugs and unfortunately it can be difficult to determine if a “bite mark” is caused by a bed bug or another insect or even something else entirely. Bed bugs will bite all types of people. There does not seem to be a preference based on a person’s sex, age, gender, or ethnic background. Studies suggest between 60% and 70% of people do not react to bed bug bites. It is similar to mosquito bites – some people react and some people do not.
Nope, it just means you aren’t reacting to the bites (sorry).
Most likely your doctor is wrong (believe it or not, doctors don’t know everything). Remember, most people don’t react to bed bug bites, reactions to confirmed bed bug bites vary widely, and there is a very good chance your doctor didn’t inspect your home. The absence of “bed bug bites” does not mean no bed bugs, and the presence of “bed bug bites” also does not mean you have bed bugs.
Bed bug infestations leave evidence (cast skins, droppings, eggs, the bugs themselves) and in the absence of evidence of bed bugs, you should not conclude you have a problem just from “bite marks”. What you should do is arrange an inspection, do some laundry and vacuuming and possibly de-clutter a bit.
In defense of doctors, if you went to see a dermatologist, or a doctor with training in medical entomology, or even a local general practitioner with extensive experience diagnosing insect bite marks, then maybe they are right. BUT if they are right, then there will also be evidence in your home of the presence of bed bugs, which can be found during an inspection. So, just arrange an inspection already! If it seems like we are going on about this it is because misdiagnosis of bed bugs by doctors has caused people a ton of unnecessary grief.
I live in an apartment - I can't control what happens in neighboring units - how can I protect myself from bed bugs?
Unfortunately you can’t control whether or not a neighboring unit has bed bugs. The easiest way to protect yourself is to check your beds regularly, vacuum weekly, launder your bedding on the hot cycle, and install mattress and box spring encasements and interceptor traps.
The interceptor traps are great for early and easy detection of bed bugs. They catch the bed bugs traveling from other parts of the room to your bed to feed and they will also trap any bugs traveling from the bed to other harbourage sites. The encasements will protect your mattress and box spring from being used as a harbourage spot.
Keep clutter to an absolute minimum as well, especially close to the bed and couch. This reduces the number of potential harbourage sites where bed bugs can hide.
One of the most important steps you can take while traveling is to inspect the hotel room before staying in it. Inspect the headboard first, then the box spring and then the mattress. Check the seams and piping along the edges at the head and foot of the bed.
The other thing you can do is to “heat treat” your clothes when you return home. Place your clothes in the dryer on the heat setting for 20 to 30 minutes (do not over stuff the dryer!). Your bags and shoes and laptop and other items can be placed in the Zapp Bug Oven and heat treated safely – we rent or sell these and they are a great way to safely dis-infest your belongings.
No – Studies have shown that bed bugs can carry a variety of diseases, including MRSA. However, there has been no evidence in the lab or in the field of bed bugs passing on any diseases. Bed bugs are not considered a health risk by medical practitioners and they are not required to be reported to health authorities.
While they may not spread disease bed bugs can certainly be much more than a nuisance pest. Bed bugs often have a significant psychological impact on those dealing with infestations, and if you start throwing out your furniture it can get very expensive as well.
Our advice is to chill out and relax, they’re just bugs! Then maybe call us for mattress encasements (so you can protect your bed without throwing it out), perhaps some interceptor traps, definitely for an inspection and some advice.
Of course, but it is not recommended. All it takes is one female bed bug in another area to start the infestation process over again. Bed bugs are commonly found in couches and other areas of the home where people are stationary for extended periods of time, and they don’t teleport from place to place, they walk. How sure are you that the bugs are only in the one room you want to treat?
We have seen a great many infestations continue when people just try to treat one area. We feel it is just not worth the risk.
Infested beds do not need to be disposed of. Mattresses and box springs can be heat treated to kill any live bed bugs or eggs inside them. Bed bug proof encasements can also be used to trap and kill any bed bugs in the mattress and box spring. Encasements will also prevent other bed bugs from using those areas. Some people dispose of their beds in the hopes of eliminating their bed bugs. Unfortunately, while it may reduce the level of bed bugs, it will likely not completely eliminate the problem.
Don’t throw out your furniture, it is not necessary.
If you do choose to discard your bed, consider encasements to protect your new bed from becoming infested. You may also want to consider ClimbUp interceptor traps to stop bed bugs from accessing your bed. Also, if you discard your mattress or box spring, consider how you will move and transport the items out of your home to avoid having bed bugs fall off and being spread to other areas.
There can be a variety of reasons why a pesticide treatment hasn’t eliminated the problem. These reasons can include:
- Incomplete preparation (there is a ton of work to do to prepare for a pesticide application, and if not fully prepared, there are areas that cannot be treated and bugs that will survive)
- Lots of clutter (this provides untreatable hiding places for the bugs)
- Pesticides don’t kill the eggs, the new bugs will continue to hatch out, walk around and feed
- Poor treatment techniques
- Bed bug pesticide resistance (even if everything is done properly, studies show that many bed bugs populations cannot be killed with currently registered pesticides)
- Only using pesticides, or only using one product. A good treatment protocol includes use of several different product and tools.