Bed bugs have a very unique method of reproduction, called traumatic insemination. Males simply stab females in the side with their reproductive organ and inject their sperm, which makes its way to her eggs. Females recover from one mating, but several matings increase the chance of infection and death. Female bed bugs may try to get away from groups of males and go off and hide alone to avoid being stabbed to death. This bodes poorly for infestation, as females will hide in order to prevent death, and also lay eggs in quiet, hidden locations. This makes it imperative to locate all eggs and bed bugs to prevent further infestation.
If you don’t find the female, or eggs, they’ll keep laying eggs and could restart an infestation. This means you could go days or even weeks without a bite, as eggs take 6 to 17 days to hatch. If reoccurring infestations do happen, it is best to consider wrapping furniture and heat treating clothing to kill and prevent further infestations. Remember, picking up furniture on the side of the road is an easy way to get bed bugs! If you need a new mattress topper or sofa, find one on sale.
With the arrival DDT in the 1940s, bed bugs almost disappeared in western countries. However, bed bug infestations have resurged in recent years, for reasons which are not clear, but contributing factors may be complacency, increased resistance, bans on pesticides and increased international travel.
Hotels take bed bugs very seriously, and if they don’t, they should. An alarming number of 4 and 5 star hotels have had issues with bed bugs in recent decades, and the process of eradication is costly and extreme. A hotel must not only seal off the infected room, it must also place all adjacent rooms – including above and below – out of service to be treated as well. This means that between 4 – 12 rooms are placed out of service while a pest control operator comes in to treat the rooms at two separate times. This means that the hotel is paying for the following:
- 12 rooms lost profit for 5-7 days – could be $25,000 – $50,000 for nice hotels
- 2 rounds of pesticides – $1,000 – $3,000 for all rooms
- 2 inspections – variable
- Total cost for bed bugs: $50,000 – $60,000
This cost does not factor in loss of business as a result of the public finding out about the infestation and taking their business elsewhere.
New York has been hit particularly hard with bed bug infestations over recent years. Not only have hotels and movie theatres been hit hard, also a number of prominent businesses and retailers have felt the affects. These include:
- Google’s New York Headquarters
- The Wall Street Journal
- Victoria’s Secret
- The Empire State Building
Image via Wikipedia
What’s the Risk? What’s the Payout? Should you, a pest control operator, offer a warranty/ guarantee for Bed Bugs? Anyone that has done their research knows the difficulty in offering a Bed Bug elimination guarantee. Whether it be for single family homes, apartments, hotels, or furniture rental companies. Weather you are a large multi-million dollar company or a small local establishment. Right now Bed Bugs are swooping in to this nation from afar bringing back memories of the 40’s and 50’s. Except now pest professionals and proven pesticides are restricted by our government and that may cause this pandemic to get worse before it gets better. Not only are pest professionals fumbling to find the most effective way to treat, but they must decide on whether or not to guarantee that service. There are several risks involved. Are they worth the consequences? If you plan to wait for the right tools to offer such a guarantee as you would with spiders or crickets, what would you do until then? One thing is for certain there is money to be made.
I think we need some industry feedback to draw a conclusion. What do you think?
The bite is painless. The salivary fluid injected by bed bugs typically causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed, although individuals can differ in their sensitivity. A small, hard, swollen, white welt may develop at the site of each bite. This is accompanied by severe itching that lasts for several hours to days. Scratching may cause the welts to become infected. The amount of blood loss due to bed bug feeding typically does not adversely affect the host.
Negative health affects are minimal, with some individuals respond to bed bug infestations with anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Fortunately, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease. Additional adverse affects can include skin rashes, allergic symptoms, and psychological impacts.
Bed bugs feed solely on the blood of their hosts. The only time you’ll get bitten by a bed bug is while sitting quietly, or much more commonly while sleeping. Remember, you may not be the only host that a bed bug is feeding on – pets and local wildlife may also be in a bed bugs nightly diet. So, simply changing your sheets or buying a new mattress will not necessarily alleviate the problem.
While not feeding, bed bugs will seek shelter in any crack or crevice to avoid detection, and light. Most commonly bed bugs will make homes in mattresses, furniture, or cracks in dry wall.
Remember that bed bugs will not feed while you are active, so take the time to search for them, or signs of them, if you feel you have an infestation. Putting barriers (such as a latex mattress topper) between you and bed bugs at night may help the situation, but the only true method of pest control involves heat and pesticides.
Caption: An 1860 engraving of parts of a bed bug.
The image above is an interesting look into the anatomy and psychology of the mid 1800’s and their preoccupation with bed bugs. A few additional specifics to help identify bed bugs versus other common household pests:
- A bed bug has 6 legs.
- Its antennae point forward and are about half as long as the body—not longer.
- Its head is broadly attached to its body and it has no wings.
- Eight legs indicate a tick or mite.
- Six legs and long antennae with two spikes coming off the back (cerci) might be a roach nymph.
Bed bugs cannot fly, and will crawl into the darkest, most isolated space possible. If this is a car or RV, expect them to settle down in a crevice in the seat or RV’s mattress. To best avoid this fate, a bed that will not allow infestation is best, such as a latex mattress.
There have been many theories as to where the phrase, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” originated; some more interesting than others. Here is a breakdown of those theories, and their origins:
- The phrase dates from the days when mattresses were supported by ropes, which needed to be pulled tight to provide a well-sprung bed
- The phrase refers to the tightness of bedclothes, intended to keep bedbugs at bay
- That within the phrase, the word tightly, although not often used in this way now, means ‘soundly, properly, well’. In this way it would imply ‘fast asleep’.
Modern day use of this phrase can be taken quite literally, both for bed bugs and for the quality of mattress being slept on. Let’s just hope it’s a memory foam mattress and not ropes that anyone is sleeping on…
Timeline of bed bugs in Europe:
Greece – 400 BC
Rome – 77 AD
Germany – 11th Century AD
France – 13th Century AD
England – 1583
Bed bugs have been documented and recorded for millennia, and until the late 18th century were believed to have healing characteristics. They were used throughout the centuries to treat everything from snake bites to ear infections, and as late as the 18th century to treat hysteria. Bed bugs have been extremely common in past centuries, as recently as 1933 there were many areas of the UK that all houses had some degree of infestation. After World War II, bed bugs were thought to be eradicated with the advent of DDT, and for decades they were not an issue. More recently, bed bugs have been returning to developed countries, especially with overcrowding and international travel. Traditional mattresses contribute to this issue by housing the bugs, while newer hypoallergenic and latex mattresses are better as they do not allow the bugs to live inside the mattress.