As with many household pests, an infestation of bed bugs often carries the stigma of a dirty home. But, according to Carl Embree of Toledo’s Rose Pest Solutions, bed bugs are hitchhikers; they can “hitch” a ride into your home, regardless of its cleanliness, your socio-economic status, or the neighborhood you live in.
What are bed bugs?
“They are considered an ectoparasite,” says Embree. “They need a blood meal to live and survive, and they feed on humans.”
Because they are nocturnal, bed bugs can be hard to identify. Up to only about 1/4 of an inch thick, these little pests are easier to identify by what they leave behind. Skin casings from molting and excrement, resembling small black dots from a permanent marker, may be visible on bedding. Their bites may leave red marks on the skin, although Embree says that like mosquito bites, people respond differently based on their sensitivity.
While there are no known diseases associated with bed bugs, the annoyance of caused by their presence in the home is enough to make any parent squirm.
Here are some common causes of infestation and tips according to Embree:
- Travel: Inspect where you are staying — behind the headboard,
- behind themattress, cords, and furnishings close to the bed. Inspect the room first before setting your luggage on the bed.
- Children: From sleepovers to just spending time at a friend’s house, children can carry these little bugs from one place to another. Embree says they often find bed bugs in musical instrument cases, or in situations of shared parenting.
- Used furniture: second-hand furniture, whether from a store or a family member, may be a home to little critters.
- Home nursing: Any occupation that comes in and out of the home has potential to contribute to bed bug infestation. In home nursing situations, medical equipment, especially those close to the bed can be a factor.
Again, Embree stresses that bed bug infestation does not classify a home as “dirty.” Infestation can also be caused by public transit, movie theaters, or other areas with a community gathering.
What can be done?
There are various ways of dealing with bed bugs. “The outcome is directly correlated to how involved the home owner wants to be,” explains Embree.
A conventional treatment is chemically-based, focused on areas the individual doesn’t touch, including the bed frame and nightstand.
Heat treating is another option. With extreme heat, bed bugs and their eggs are killed. Fumigation is also an option.
Clothes, stuffed animals, blankets, etc. should be laundered and dried to kill any bed bugs that may be hiding.
Tossing your entire bed to the curb, however, isn’t a solution. “Throwing away stuff doesn’t cure the problem,” says Embree. Other furniture items, including couches, chairs or hidaway beds, could also be infested.
Not sure if your home is infested? Some companies, like Rose Pest Solutions, offer free home inspections.
For more information about Rose Pest Solutions, now celebrating its 150th year in business, visit www.rosepestsolutions.com.