How to Check for Bed Bugs & Avoid an Infestation
“If bed bugs are so good at hiding, then how do you find them? Where do they live and what do they eat? Do I have a bed bug bite?," these are some of the most-searched questions on the internet about bed bugs, and we're here to help you find the answers you and your customers are looking for!
Let's Start With the Basics
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are parasitic insects that only feed on blood. This pest gets its name from its most common home: beds. A bed bug infestation generally starts when adult bed bugs invade a location in search of such a food source but for an infestation to take hold, a pregnant female or a male and female must be introduced, otherwise, the bed bugs cannot reproduce. Adult bed bugs have a flattened, oval shape and are reddish-brown in color. They are wingless having a size of five to nine millimeters or one-quarter inch depending on if they have fed (about the size and shape of a small apple seed). Once these bugs feed on the blood, they become larger, taking on a more rounded shape, and their color changes from reddish-brown to purplish-red.
The typical lifespan of a bed bug is about seven to twelve months. However, some bed bugs may live up to a year under cool conditions and with no food. They mature in about thirty five days and females can lay four or more eggs per day, and hundreds in their lifetime, with an incubation time of ten days in hot weather. The rapid reproduction rate makes bed bug removal difficult without the help of a professional.
Where to Look
Snug as a bug in a...picture frame? Despite their name, beds and bedrooms are not the only place where bed bugs can be a concern. They can be found in almost any place that humans sit, rest, or sleep. Because of this and their similarities to other species, proper bed bug control requires knowing what to look for and implementing preventative measures. Early detection methods can be the key to successful bed bug prevention.
To feed on humans, bed bugs need close proximity to a host that is inactive long enough for them to draw blood. They scare easily and dislike movement, which is why they typically feed at night. They're able to hide within nearly every hidden crack, crevice, and corner available. Bedrooms, box springs, headboards, and bed framing are favorite spots for these pests. They may also settle into furniture and fixtures that are close to a bed, other upholstered or wooden furniture, and even inside electrical switch plates, picture frames, and damaged wallpaper.
Bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers. They are primarily transported by humans and their belongings, like clothing and luggage. They are not only found in hotel rooms but also in other residential buildings, medical facilities, clothing stores, movie theaters, schools, and public transportation. Hotels, hospitals, and senior and assisted living facilities are at especially high risk for bed bugs and other pest infestations because they experience high volumes of human traffic, often bringing in personal belongings, and host sleeping people in multiple rooms. These characteristics make them high risk places where bed bug populations can grow, spread, and impact staff, residents, guests, patients, and visitors.
Senior and Assisted Living Facilities: Bed bugs in senior and Assisted Living Facilities can be very dangerous. Because these residents are moving in and out so frequently and they often bring with them older furniture and décor that bed bugs may be hiding in, they are constantly at risk of infestations. This risk becomes higher in these facilities during the holidays as visitors come and go. The impact of a bed bug infestation in these locations can be substantial, so it's important to set up a proactive plan to regularly monitor and check for bed bugs.
Hotels: Hotels are one of the first places that come to mind when people think of bed bugs. No matter the size or star rating, all hotels are at risk for bed bugs and other pests moving in which can cause significant damage to your property and your reputation. It's a common misconception that if you have bed bugs, you must have a sanitization issue but in reality, bed bugs can pop up anywhere people frequent. Terminix Commercial helps to protect your hotel's reputation by getting rid of pests without disturbing your guests. We're quick and discreet and offer a convenient schedule with after-hours and weekend scheduling.
Hospitals: Like assisted living facilities and hotels, hospitals also have a constant stream of patients, visitors, and staff coming and going and it only takes one or two pesky hitchhiking bed bugs to start a real problem. Fortunately, we're experts in all types of healthcare environments and our range of experience includes medical offices and hospitals as well as dental offices and assisted living facilities. We'll quickly identify and treat your pest problems. We work fast and deliver customized, comprehensive pest control to treat every area of your facility, including operating and patient rooms, kitchens, and dining halls.
Your patient and guest health as well as your facility's reputation depends on a clean, pest-free environment. Terminix Commercial safeguards both with specialized procedures and protocols designed specifically for hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.
When the Bed Bugs Bite
Distinguishing bed bugs and their bite from any other insect bite is difficult. There are a few other insects that can resemble bed bugs and their bites including wood ticks, Swallow bugs, mosquitoes, and fleas. Swallow bugs look like bed bugs, except that they have long, silky “hair." These insects will sometimes settle in when the cliff swallow birds they feed on are migrating. Bed bug bites can also look similar to those caused by fleas and mosquitoes, and telling which insect caused a bite is almost impossible. Some characteristics to note, mosquito bites are generally dispersed in a random manner and typically fleas would rather feed on animals than human hosts unless the infestation has gotten out of control.
So how do you identify a bed bug bite? Bed bugs primarily feed on humans sleeping in bed at night and their bite is painless but may leave a mark with a red, swollen area and a darker red center. Bed bug bites have a few unique characteristics. Most of the time they're found in clusters or in a line pattern on the skin. Their bites can also cause blisters or hives at the site of the bite, itching, and fever. Consult with your physician if you are concerned about a potential reaction.
These are some signs and symptoms to look for to identify a bed bug bite:
- Raised, red welts
- Burning and itching
- Bed bug bite rash across a localized area
- Straight lines of multiple bites
However, about 30% of people are not allergic to bed bug saliva. Therefore roughly one in three people show no skin reaction when bed bugs draw their blood. On its website, the United States Environmental Protection Agency states that "Bites on the skin are a poor indicator of a bed bug infestation. Bed bug bites can look like bites from other insects (such as mosquitoes or chiggers), rashes (such as eczema or fungal infections), or even hives. Some people do not react to bed bug bites at all."
Despite these difficulties in identifying bed bug bites - all hope is not lost. Bed bugs are excellent at hiding but they also leave behind evidence of their presence. Their eggs and nymphs can be hard to identify without a professional eye due to their extremely small size so if you haven't found a live adult bed bug, but suspect an infestation, there are other indicators that you are dealing with these pests. Indicators to look for include:
- Shed bed bug skins, exoskeletons, or shells
- Small fecal stains on mattresses and bedding
- Blood stains on mattresses and bedding
Bed Bug Feeding Habits
Bed bugs are nocturnal and usually more active at night but they will also feed during the day if hungry. They locate their hosts through the body heat, carbon dioxide from exhaled breath, and other biological signatures.
The bed bug feeds, then retreats back to its hiding place for days or even weeks before coming back out. Bed bugs spend most of their time in hiding and when they do feed they do so for about three to ten minutes and can survive up to one hundred days+ without food, often making detection difficult until the infestation is well established. The smaller the infestation, the easier bed bug extermination is to conduct. That's why it's important to spot any possible infestation as early as possible.
Bed Bug Prevention, Control and Treatment
Getting rid of a present bed bug infestation is complex and many DIY and over-the-counter bed bug treatment methods are largely ineffective, only treating the ones you can see. A good place to start when protecting your business from these nuisance pests is taking preventative measures like maintaining the areas where bed bugs frequently appear, repairing damaged plaster, wallpaper, and flooring to get rid of the places where bed bugs can potentially hide, and establishing a regular maintenance and inspection schedule with a trusted pest control specialist. However, because of the high traffic that these businesses experience there's no guarantee that bed bugs won't sneak in. If they do, call Terminix Commercial.
When a suspected bed bug infestation is present it typically requires a more strategic approach, using multiple control methods to fully remove them. That's why it's important to contact a professional who's knowledgeable and trained in bed bug control to inspect your business and determine the best treatment methods for your unique needs.
If you find yourself facing an established infestation, quarantine the area immediately, so pest control specialists can determine the severity of the issue. Do not strip the bed, move furniture, or wash the sheets. By moving around infested items, you aren't solving the issue. If anything, it's probably making things worse. When bed bugs are disrupted, they will scatter and infest new spaces within your business. They could also move between units in spaces like hotels or multi-family housing.
Bed bugs are found all across the country in all climates. Fortunately, so are we. Terminix Commercial has hundreds of offices nationwide so no matter which part of the country you're in, we know how to deal with your specific bed bug threats. Terminix Commercial offers proven, powerful, and customized bed bug treatments that eliminate bed bugs at the source where they live and breed. We work quickly and effectively to provide effective prevention and treatment with as little disruption to your business as possible.
How Bed Bug Treatment Works:
- A Terminix technician performs an extensive inspection of your business, including beds, furniture, linens, and surrounding areas.
- Terminix removes visible bed bugs and treats the area to eliminate any hidden bed bugs and their eggs, with a custom bed bug pest control solution.
- Terminix backs the work 100% with our Bed Bug Guarantee.
We offer commercial bed bug control solutions, including steam or RapidFreeze®, which are fast, effective, and non-toxic. If you think you might have bed bugs and need treatment, call Terminix today and schedule a FREE Bed Bug Inspection.
If we find signs of an infestation, we'll get to work removing these unwanted guests with our powerful, comprehensive treatments. You'll also find our customer service to be just as powerful with knowledgeable technicians and advanced online tools that help you monitor your facility's pest related issues 24/7, and when you rely on Terminix, you get our Commercial Protection Guarantee:
- A customized treatment for your needs to quickly and safely eliminate bed bugs from the infested room/ area.
- Further treatment at no additional cost, if bed bugs are found in the treated room/ area within the next 30 days.
- An extended guarantee for 90 days, if mattress covers are purchased with the service.
We put bed bug worries to rest so your guests can sleep tight.