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All About Bed Bugs

They lurk in the dark, they feed in the night, they crave human flesh…this summer, no one can escape from…THE BED BUGS!

Seriously, these varmints can go everywhere you don’t want them to be. They are the most notorious pests that plague many a hotelier or summertime tourist, and just like Dracula, they always find a way to creep back into your life, all the while sucking your blood and draining your energy.

That’s not to say bed bugs are impossible to get rid of though. While they are built to be great at defense mechanisms such as hardiness, that doesn’t mean they’re completely invincible. So, relax, our Pest Boss knows how to get rid of bed bugs (as well as other varmints like flies, wasps, ants, and so on). To help you better protect yourself this summer, we’re going to have to go over what to expect from bed bugs…get the barf bags ready, because some of this is really gross.

The Life Cycle of Count Bed Bug

Like we said, the bed bug is one of the insect kingdom’s vampires, and they’re ten times as bad, if not worse, than fleas (although mosquitoes are a very close second, since they can carry horrible diseases like the West Nile virus and malaria). Summertime is most definitely bed bug season, although it doesn’t take too long for them in infest any season of the year. Summer just happens to be their favourite, because guess what else happens in the summer? Yep, you’re right: traveling.

Like every insect, the bed bug starts out with these stages: the egg, the larva, and the adult. The eggs hatch after 6 to 10 days of being laid by mama bed bug and they’re about 1/16 inches long. Mama will be busy all the while, laying up to 200 to 250 eggs in her lifetime (see, we told you!). The larva’s thought process is exactly what you think it is: “Must drink blood. Must drink blood. Must drink blood.”

Basically, you’re their first thought when they’re born. Isn’t that sweet? (Kidding, it’s terrifying.)

Bed bug - Pest Boss

Seriously, Mama won’t stop for anything! Here she is having laid an egg and a new larva appeared even after she was trapped in a plastic bag. Photo taken by Kyle Wright

Adults basically do the same as larva, except the females lay the eggs after mating and the males don’t lay eggs…they just suck. Literally. The more they’ve had to eat, the bigger and redder they look. This makes them easier to find (preferably sooner than too late!).

A bed bug also has longevity on its side. Once it’s reached adulthood, the bed bug will feast on a blood meal weekly. An adult bed bug can live up to 5 to 6 months without a blood meal, but some bed bugs can live up to 1 year while living in cooler conditions and with no food.

Signs of a Bad Bed Bug Infestation

You should definitely give your local Pest Boss a call if you’ve noticed any one of these “lovely” signs that Count Bed Bug has decided to make your bedroom its haunted castle:

  • A weird, sickly sweet smell, like overripe raspberries; this is a red flag that your infestation is a really bad one
  • Itchy, red, swollen bites appearing on your body; the worse the infestation is, the more bites will appear!
  • Blood stains seemingly appearing overnight on your pillowcase or sheets
  • Black specks; this is their fecal matter
  • White specks that look like grains of rice on your bed skirt, sheets, mattress cover, and mattress; these are their eggs

How Did They Get in My Bedroom?! HELP!

Unfortunately for all of us (not for Count Bed Bug), bed bugs are the world’s most notoriously sneaky pests. Given their tiny size, they can literally find their way into more than just your bed and mattress where it’s dark and not easy to access; the worst infestations take place in the crevices and creases between your bed mattress and the floor, the bedroom closet, and even in the wiring, ventilation, and walls! This is why bed bugs are so hard to get rid of (especially if you live in an apartment building); chances are if you find bed bugs in your room and you live in an apartment, they’ve found their way into your neighbours’ homes, too. Some people aren’t sensitive to being bitten, however, so they may miss the signs and causes of an infestation without even realizing!

It helps to know the causes of bed bugs to prevent them from even coming near your home (and to find out what you have to do).

  • Traveling. These sneaky varmints LOVE to travel (you could say they’ve been bitten by the traveling bug… #sorrynotsorry). That means if a hotel room has been infested, you could be at risk of bringing Count Bed Bug and his vampire clan home with you in your suitcase, traveling clothes, shoes, luggage, and backpacks. Your luggage is more at risk if it’s left on an infested bed or on the floor of the bedroom. Summer is the time of the year when people love to travel, but unfortunately, so do they.
  • Faulty bed bug products. We actually have pointed this out on our Facebook page, but some products that cater towards protecting yourself from bed bugs are actually very flimsy and are more of a money grab than a big help. The best mattress cover to use should be directly provided by us (we’ll add it immediately if your home is infested!).
  • New, used items. Some people love the idea of bringing home a discount couch from a used furniture store or thrift shop. Buyer beware! Especially if the furniture has been left on the curb for days on end (the things people will do when they’re desperate to save money…). Other items that bed bugs love to infest include anything made of cloth, stuffed dolls and toys, and used clothes.

Now, here are some non-causes of bed bugs getting around:

  • Moving around. Objects that stay in motion are not ideal places for Count Bed Bug to establish its haunted castle. That’s why they’re more often found in the dead of night, and suck your blood while you’re sleeping. Like we said, they’re notoriously sneaky varmints; their bites don’t hurt you and tend to appear after 10 days have passed, so be ever vigilant!
  • Hugging people. While we do advise you to clean your clothes as soon as you discover an infestation, you won’t pass bed bugs on to the next person if you hug them (although they may not want one!). So go ahead and be a love bug.
  • Jumping. Unlike their vampire cousin the flea, bed bugs don’t have the same body fleas do, including their uncanny jumping skills (thank goodness for that). They make excellent crawlers though and can get into the dark crevices in wall sockets and electronics, so seriously, watch out.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Now here comes the hard part…brace yourself, because some of these tips will require a lot of work and effort on your part. We can hear your eyes rolling, but it’s true! Aside from calling your local Pest Boss to help exterminate the bed bugs, you will need to be diligent and stay determined in between heat treatments of your home to get rid of every single last one. Otherwise, the infestation will only get worse.

Speaking of heat, much like Count Dracula, that is their number one weakness: heat. While unfortunately direct sunlight won’t kill them outright, they cannot live in temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). Before you decide to set your own house on fire (that’s just inconvenient for everyone!), you can do the following instead:

  • As soon as you discover the bed bugs, grab your new best friend: the vacuum cleaner. Suck up those bloodsuckers! You’re not done though; before and after you grab the vacuum, be sure to wear gloves and also dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag in an extra garbage bag before taking that bag out to the curb.
  • Take off your clothes…we’re not perverted we swear!!! We’re talking about the clothes you’re wearing or have worn upon discovering the infestation. Send them along with all your infested bedding straight into the wash in hot water and then dry them in the dryer (use the hottest settings your washer and dryer allows) for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. This should help kill any eggs and larvae hanging out on your bedding. You will unfortunately need to repeat this step if and when you discover a bed bug hanging out in your personal space.
  • Rubbing alcohol can actually help deter bed bugs from laying their eggs where you don’t want them. It may not kill them outright, but for short term solutions when it’s late at night, everything helps.
  • When you’re traveling, make sure the room you step into does not smell of overripe raspberries before dropping off your luggage. Check the creases under the mattress and mattress cover and bedding where they’re most likely to nest. Do not place any luggage on the bed or on the floor. Wherever you go, it’s a good idea to wrap your valuable belongings in plastic so that bed bugs cannot enter and infest (next to heat, plastic is their one weakness; the less access you give them to a blood meal, the better!).
  • Traps are available from your local Pest Boss! We can usually install them under each bedpost. Remember, you are their food source, so they’re more likely to stick around in or near your bed than anywhere else.
  • In addition to traps, heat treatment applied by your Pest Boss to the rooms where infestation is the worst will be provided. This is pretty much guaranteed to be the best form of bed bug extermination.

Dracula may never die, but bed bugs can, and they’re treatable. Now that you know more about bed bugs, you can hopefully stay safe. If you notice an infestation, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call your local Pest Boss. We’ll get you, varmints! And we hope you sleep tight, don’t let…well, you know the rest.

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