Anyone can get bed bugs. Bed bugs do not discriminate from sanitary conditions and unsanitary conditions, individuals who rent or own their units, and individuals of high income or low income. Anyone who is warm blooded has the potential of infestation. It is important to know that working together can completely rid your unit of bed bugs.
Identifying Bed Bug Infestations
Much of the time, a bed bug infestation is only suspected when bites appear on a person. Oftentimes, the bites are misidentified, thus allowing infestations to go unnoticed, which gives the bed bugs time to spread to other areas of the home.
When cleaning, changing bedding, or staying away from home, look for:
Dark spots, Which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and white.
Skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
Live bed bugs.
Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.
Treating Bed Bug Infestations
Bed Bug Pesticide Alert
Never use a pesticide indoors that is intended for outdoor use. It is very dangerous and won't solve your bed bug problem.
Using the wrong pesticide or using it incorrectly to treat for bed bugs can make you sick, may not solve the problem, and could even make it worse by causing the bed bugs to hide where the pesticide won't reach them.
Check if the product is effective against bedbugs - - if a pest isn't listed on the product label, the pesticide has not been tested on that pest and it may not be effective. Don't use a product or allow a pest control operator to treat your home unless bed bugs are named on the product label.
Before using any pesticide product, read the label first, then follow the directions for use.
Keep in mind that any pesticide product without an EPA registration number has not been reviewed by EPA, so we haven't determined how well the product works.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods like pesticides, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
IPM methods for bed bugs include:
Inspecting infested areas, plus surrounding living spaces.
Checking for bed bugs on luggage and clothes when returning home from a trip.
Looking for bed bugs or signs of infestation on secondhand items before bringing the items home.
Correctly identifying the pest.
Keeping records - including dates when and locations where pests are found.
Cleaning all items within a bed bug infested living area.
Reducing clutter where bed bugs can hide.
Eliminating bed bug habitats.
Physically removing bed bugs through cleaning.
Using pesticides carefully according to the label directions.
Wash and dry bedding and clothing at high temperatures to kill bed bugs.
Heat infested articles and/or areas through to at least 113 degrees for one hour. The higher the temperature, the shorter the time needed to kill bed bugs at all life stages.
Cold treatments (below 0 degrees for at least four days) can eliminate some infestations. Again, the cooler the temperature, the less time needed to kill bed bugs.
Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements to trap bed bugs and help detect infestations.
Pesticides are one component of a comprehensive strategy for controlling bed bugs. Currently, there are over 300 products registered by EPA for use against bed bugs - the vast majority of which can be used by consumers. Several classes of chemicals are utilized in these products -- each class share a similar mode of action, or way in which the chemical affects the biological functions of a bed bug. Although there are many products available for use by consumers, it is recommended to obtain extermination services.
Preventing Bed Bug Infestations
Bed bugs are very successful hitchhikers, moving from an infested site to furniture, bedding, baggage, boxes, and clothing. Although they typically feed on blood every five to ten days, bed bugs can be quite resilient; they are capable of surviving over a year without feeding.
A Few Simple Precautions Can Help Prevent Bed Bug Infestation In Your Home
Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation, as described previously before bringing them home.
Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs which eliminates many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement makes bed bugs easier to see. Be sure to purchase a high quality encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasements regularly for holes.
Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
In hotel rooms, use luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor.
Check the mattress and headboard before sleeping.
Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully.
Hiring Pest Management Professionals
Getting a pest management professional (PMP) involved as soon as possible rather than taking time to try to treat the problem yourself is very effective at preventing further infestations. Each pest management company should have instructions for residents on how to prepare the unit for a treatment which will include laundering and cleaning.
When choosing a Pest Management Professional the following should be considered
Is the company licensed?
Is the company willing and able to discuss proposed treatments to your home?
Does the company have a good track record?
Does the company have appropriate insurance?
Does the company guarantee its work?
Is the company affiliated with a professional pest control association?
Bed Bug Biology
The common bed bug (cimex lectularius) has long been a pest - feeding on blood, causing itchy bites and generally irritating their human hosts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all consider bed bugs a public health pest. However, unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known vectors for the transmission and spread of diseases.
Knowing what to look for is the first step in controlling bed bugs. Generally, adult bed bugs are 1/4 to 3/8 inch (4-5mm) long, brown in color, with a flat, oval shaped body; while young bed bugs (also called nymphs) are smaller and lighter in color.
When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and head board.
If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs in the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains, in drawer joints, in electrical receptacles and appliances, under loose wall paper and wall hangings -- even in the head of a screw. Since bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card, they can squeeze into really small hiding spots. If a crack will hold a credit card, it could hide a bed bug.
Landlords And Housing Managers
One of the trickiest environmental challenges for landlords and housing managers is pest management; finding the best way to control unwanted invaders while minimizing the use of potentially toxic pesticides. Pests such as Cockroaches, mice, rats and bed bugs, can be particularly Troublesome in multi-family housing. More than half of the residents in public housing and properties receiving housing subsidies under (often referred to as Section 8) surveyed in 2004 reported having problems with rodents and insects indoors. 17% had problems most or all of the time. A study by Purdue University funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that 71% of a public housing development had an active infestation. Yet only 22% of the residents with an infestation reported the problem. Living with pests should not be the norm for anyone -- whether one lives in a single family home or multifamily housing.
Integrated pest management is a different approach than traditional pest control. It emphasizes eliminating nesting places as well as sources of food and water for pests. It excludes pests from the home. Studies have proven that IPM is the most effective way to control pests in the home. Effective IPM programs in multi-family housing requires a team effort involving residents, maintenance and custodial staff, pest management professionals, and the housing manager.
Why Control Pests Responsibly On Your Property? Pest Cause Problems
In addition to lending properties a poor appearance and potentially causing physical damage, pests can cause health problems that could make living in a property uncomfortable, dangerous, or even deadly. Certain kinds of insects, rodents, and microbes can cause or spread vector-borne diseases like West Nile virus or rabies, asthma and allergies, avian flu, and diseases due to microbial contamination, among other health problems.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Taking precautions to prevent pests from entering the property and becoming a problem is the first step to safe and prudent pest control. By using the common sense approach of a strategy known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM), housing managers can avoid wasting time and money on treatments and repairs for pest infestations that could have been prevented. Additionally, dealing with pest problems quickly and effectively can help ensure that residents are pleased with their apartments and do not move away due to infestations. More information regarding IPM may be obtained at the following link http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/controlling/housing-mgr-tips.htm.
Pesticides Can Be Harmful If Misused
To combat pest problems, many people often turn immediately to pesticides. Pesticides are intended to be toxic to pests. When used improperly, pesticides can be toxic for people as well. Exposure to high levels of pesticides can have short term health effects, while long-term exposure to some pesticides has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, and effects on the central nervous system. Children, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems are some groups who are especially vulnerable to harm from improper use of pesticides. Foggers and bug bombs are not effective against bed bugs. Incase of emergency call Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222.
Measures The Tenant MUST Take To Aid The Pest Management Professional In Ridding The Unit Of Bed Bugs
Clean And Disinfect
Get rid of clutter to reduce places bed bugs can hide. After checking them for bed bugs, consider putting non-essential items into storage until the bed bugs are gone from your home. Check all items again before returning.
Wipe off dead bugs, blood stains, eggs and droppings with hot soapy water.
Wash all items showing bed bug stains in hot water (140 degrees) and dry on the highest setting for at least 20 minutes. Other clean items suspected of having bed bugs should be placed in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes to kill bed bugs. After drying, store items in sealed plastic bags until you are sure you have gotten rid of bed bugs.
Vacuum carpets, floors, bed frames, furniture, cracks and crevices daily, using the brush and crevice tools. Empty the vacuum or seal and dispose of its bag outside of your home after each use.
Enclose infested mattresses and box springs in a cover that is labeled "allergen rated", "for dust mites," or "for bed bugs" for at least a full year. Periodically check for rips or openings and tape these up.
Getting Rid Of Infested Items
Usually, it is NOT necessary to get rid of furniture or bedding at the fist signs of bed bugs. Cleaning and enclosing is often adequate.
Box springs should only be discarded if they cannot be covered and are heavily infested.
Use plastic sheeting (shrink/pallet wrap) or place in plastic bags any items to be thrown away. Label with a sign that says "infested with bed bugs".
Measures The Landlord Should Take To Aid In Managing Bed Bugs
Seal Cracks and Crevices
Repair cracks in plaster, repair or remove any loose wall covering and tighten electrical cover plates.
Apply caulk to seal crevices and joints in baseboards and gaps on shelving or cabinets.
Encourage everyone to report bed bugs as soon as they know of a problem.
Notify tenants, and inspect all units adjacent to, above and below apartments found to have bed bugs.
Hire a pest management professional to treat for bed bugs.
Give advance notice of the planned use of pesticides.
Inspect upon vacancy and if necessary treat units to ensure they have no bed bugs or other pests before renting.
Information provided by the Environmental Protection Agency for The Montgomery County Housing Authority.