What do bed bugs look like? Adult bed bugs are brown, about a quarter of an inch in diameter and resemble a flat apple seed or lentil. How pervasive is the bed bug problem in the United States? There has been a significant increase bed bug infestations in recent years. According to 2013 research conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky, almost 100 percent of pest control companies have treated for bed bugs in the past year, compared to just 25 percent in 2000. In addition, an earlier NPMA survey conducted in January of 2011 found that one in five Americans has encountered bed bugs in their home or knows someone who has. Why are bed bugs such a problem now? While there is not one clear answer for the resurgence in bed bugs in recent years, the majority of pest professionals point to increased travel, lack of public awareness, and changing pest control products and methods. What states have been affected? Pest control companies have reported bed bug activity on a national scale. Today, bed bugs can be found throughout almost every region of the world and in all 50 United States. Where are bed bugs found? Bed bugs are not limited to any one specific type of dwelling. Pest control companies have been reporting infestations everywhere including single family homes, multi-family housing, apartments, hotels and motels, hospitals, schools and college campuses, office buildings, retail stores, movie theaters, libraries and even public transportation. Are bed bugs just in beds? While bed bugs are most often found in bed parts, such as mattresses, box springs and folded areas, they can also survive in alternative habitats. Bed bugs often conceal themselves behind baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, picture frames, electrical switch plates and in furniture crevices. What are some common signs of a bed bug infestation? Telltale signs of a bed bug infestation include:
- Small red to reddish brown fecal spots on mattresses, upholstery or walls
- Molted bed bug skins, white, sticky eggs or empty eggshells
- Very heavily infested areas may have a characteristically sweet odor
- Red, itchy bite marks, especially on the legs, arms and other body parts which may be exposed while sleeping
Why are bed bugs so hard to treat? Bed bugs are elusive, hardy pests that are easily transported from one place to another. They can live for several months without eating and can withstand a wide range of temperatures from nearly freezing to almost 122 degrees Fahrenheit. How does someone control bed bugs? Any effective bed bug control strategy should start with a careful, thorough inspection by a licensed pest professional of all known and suspected spots where the bugs may be hiding. This is not a pest that can be controlled effectively with do-it-yourself measures. Once bed bugs are discovered, a pest professional will develop a treatment and control strategy with their customer depending on the extent of the infestation. It is imperative for the customer to fully follow the advice, including removing infested items and laundering clothing.