The cold hard reality about bed bugs is that they are not going away anytime soon. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association, one in five Americans have had an infestation or know someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel. In this post we are going to identify common myths related to bed bugs. Not knowing the truth surrounding these creatures can cause a lot of mental anguish and in most cases result in a very expensive remedy.
Myth: You can’t see a bed bug.
Reality: You can see adult bed bugs, nymphs and eggs with your naked eye. Adult bed bugs are approximately ¼ inch long. Nymphs range from 0.05 inch to 0.2 inch and eggs are approximately 1 mm. For reference, 0.1 inches is slightly over the thickness of a quarter. Adult bed bugs are approximately the size of an apple seed.
Myth: Bed bugs live in dirty places.
Reality: Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime. They are attracted to warmth, blood and carbon dioxide. Cluttered conditions do however pose a considerable problem in solving bed bug infestations.
Myth: Bed bugs transmit diseases
Reality: There have been no cases or studies that indicate bed bugs transmit diseases between humans. They do however leave behind itchy, red welts, and can increase one’s risk for a secondary infection as a result of scratching.
Myth: Bed bugs are not a public health pest.
Reality: Bed bugs are a public health pest. The EPA and the USDA coordinated to identify pests of public health importance and issued a Pesticide Registration Notice that listed pests of significant public health importance. Bed bugs are on this list. The EPA and CDC also collaborated on a joint statement to highlight the public health impacts of bed bugs.
Myth: Bed Bugs only come out in the dark.
Reality: Bed bugs activity level is adapted from their host. In other words if a person works 3rd shift and sleeps during the day the bed bugs will adapt to that schedule and feed during the day. Keeping a light on in the room will not deter these pests from biting you no matter what time of day it is.
Myth: Bed bugs only live on beds, throwing out my bed will get rid of the problem.
Reality: While it is true that the bed is usually the main location of an infestation, couches, lazy boy recliners and any other area the bed bug’s host sleeps is also an area that can and will be infested. As infestations grow bed bugs will spread to non-sleeping areas throughout the residence; this is why it is important to treat the entire residence not just the bedrooms.
Myth: If I have bed bugs, the only way to get rid of them is to throw away all of my furniture and belongings.
Reality: Almost everything can be salvaged if you heat treat the entire residence. Heat treatments kill all stages of bed bugs and in most cases allow the resident to keep all of their belongings. In severe cases discarding belongings including furniture may be recommended.
Myth: Once I’ve gotten the infestation treated, I don’t have anything to worry about anymore.
Reality: Bed bugs are hitchhikers and re-infestations can happen very easily if the resident is frequenting the place the bed bugs originated from. Bed bugs are also highly resistant to many pesticides so if a traditional chemical treatment is chosen over a heat treatment there is a good chance of failure. Being vigilant and inspecting “hot spots” such as bedding, bed frames, headboards, and in and around sleeping areas is a good idea following all treatments. This should last several weeks to make sure they are gone, as bed bugs do not feed every night.
Myth: I can take care of bed bugs with over the counter products.
Reality: Bed bugs are highly resistant to many common household insecticides. Trying to take care of them yourself most likely will result in a failed solution and the possibility of spreading them throughout the residence due to the delayed solution. We strongly recommend hiring a professional that you have interviewed as to their knowledge and protocols regarding bed bug solutions. Only then will you be able to rest easy after discovering a bed bug infestation.