Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of people and animals, often while they sleep. Bed bugs are maroon, red, or brown in color, without wings, and are less than 7 millimeters long. Even though they are parasites that only survive on blood, they can live several months without a meal.
Bed bug infestations can happen wherever people sleep, including apartments, shelters, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, dormitories, hospitals, and even workplaces. Often, bedbugs hide during the day in crevices nearby. Bed bugs can travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.
While bed bugs do not spread disease, they can be an expensive annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep and treatments are costly, often in excess of $500 per treatment. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.
Bed bugs leave tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts of their victims. This isn’t a reliable way to tell if a home is infested with bed bugs, since bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people. While visual inspections are estimated at only 30-40% accuracy, the main items identified in a visual inspection are the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting, visual identification of bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets, rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and a sweet musty odor.
It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug because they inject an anesthetic (numbing their victims) and an anticoagulant (preventing clots) that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating.
Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction.
Bed bugs are experts at hiding and hitching a ride. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a source of food. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.
Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, frequent travelers and their quarters are particularly at risk.
The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact us today. <b>The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.
Very carefully, we keep live bedbugs that our dogs are trained to recognize by scent every day. Our dogs were trained extensively at J&K Canine Scent Detection Academy, but this daily reinforcement ensures that we can remain as accurate as possible.