Bed bugs might be tiny, but they’ve presented a huge problem for home and business owners in the last 20 years.
According to a study conducted by the National Pest Management Association, only about 25 percent of pest control companies were called in for at least one bed bug infestation every year prior to 2000. But by 2010, that number spiked all the way up to 95 percent, proving just how problematic bed bugs have become.
“How do bed bugs spread?” is a question that many home and business owners ask our experts here at Best Pest Control in Great Falls, Montana. Since so many people are starting to see bed bugs show up inside their homes and businesses, they want to figure out how to stop infestations from getting even worse.
If you suspect you might have bed bugs, you need to answer that question and so many others. And once you have the facts, it’s time to call in a pest control company specializing in bed bug removal.
Now, let’s get to the bottom of what bed bugs are all about.
First, What Are Bed Bugs?
Before we talk about how a bed bug infestation spreads and what you can do to prevent it, it’s important for you to have a good understanding of what bed bugs actually are.
Bed bugs, which are also known as Cimex lectularius Linnaeus in the scientific community, are very small bugs that are usually about 5 to 7 millimeters long. They have bodies that are either brown, flat, and oval-shaped if they haven’t had anything to eat recently or reddish-brown and relatively elongated if they have eaten.
Bed bugs have a very distinct appearance and aren’t difficult to identify if you know what to look for. But because bed bugs are so small, there are many times when they’ll go unnoticed in homes and businesses.
It’s why it’s recommended for people to look out for the signs of bed bugs at all times, regardless of how clean they might keep their homes and businesses.
Signs You Have a Bed Bug Infestation
You might not realize that you have bed bugs living in your home or business at first. But there are plenty of signs that will let you know they’re around.
Here are just a few of the signs you might notice throughout your home or business:
- Red, itchy, and potentially painful bite marks on your skin that bed bugs leave behind on humans
- Blood stains on pillowcases, comforters, mattresses, bed frames, and other furniture inside of a bedroom
- Fecal matter on many of the same surfaces where you find blood stains from bed bugs
- Unpleasant and musty odors that stem from the pheromones that bed bugs release when they congregate in large groups
- Empty bed bugs shells scattered throughout the area in which bed bugs have come together
As bed bug populations grow within your home or business, you may also start to see the bugs actually walking around on beds, couches, carpeting, and more. Once it reaches that point, it’s probably time to call for help with controlling your bed bug problem.
Are Bed Bugs Dangerous?
The mere sight of bed bugs in your home or business will often send shivers running up and down your spine. You might not be able to sleep well at night knowing you have bed bugs on the loose.
But the one good thing about a bed bug infestation is that they don’t usually pose a serious threat to humans. Their bites can cause irritation and scratching the bite marks left behind could potentially lead to an infection.
But generally speaking, bed bugs are not considered dangerous. They don’t carry some of the deadly diseases that you’ll find in other insects.
Of course, that shouldn’t stop you from having bed bug pest control done right away if you see them in your home or business. But you don’t necessarily have to run to the emergency room if you ever believe you’ve been the recipient of bed bug bites.
How Do Bed Bugs Spread?
Now, it’s time to answer the one lingering question you’ve had on your mind since you started reading this: “How do bed bugs spread?”
The answer to this question is actually a lot simpler than you might think. Bed bugs are basically the hitchhikers of the insect community and make their way from one place to another by attaching themselves to, well, just about anything.
Bed bugs have been known to jump onto people’s clothes at movie theaters, on airplanes, in hotel rooms, and in lots of other places. They also have earned a reputation for jumping onto luggage and going home with people traveling through many of these same locations.
Additionally, a bed bug infestation can spread when people decide to throw out old mattresses, furniture, curtains, clothing, and so much more. In many cases, a person will pick up what looks like a perfectly good household item off the curb and unknowingly bring bed bugs home with them.
If you’ve ever done this, you may have carefully inspected the item prior to taking it to your home or business with you. But bed bugs can be conniving little creatures and will often hide in cracks and crevices where you can’t see them. And before you know it, you have a bed bug infestation on your hands.
How Can You Prevent Them from Spreading?
Now that you know how bed bugs spread, we want to point out how you can stop them from spreading once you know you have a problem on your hands.
The first thing you should do is admit that you have a problem. There are lots of home and businesses owners who refuse to believe they have a bed bug infestation. They think that, because they make an effort to clean their homes and businesses, there’s no way they could possibly have bed bugs.
But as you’ve seen, you can have the cleanest home or business in the world and still have bed bugs. Something as simple as a night at the movies could eventually lead to a full-fledged bed bug infestation.
Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that you have a bed bug problem, there are steps you can take to stop them from spreading. You can:
- Steer clear of moving around in your home or business too much since you could spread the bed bugs yourself if they’re on your clothes, shoes, etc.
- Bag up any comforters, blankets, sheets, pillowcases, and clothing that may have been exposed to bed bugs and wash them in hot water before drying them on the hottest setting
- De-clutter the area of your home where you’ve detected bed bugs to give them fewer places to hide
- Spray isopropyl alcohol on your mattress and any furniture that may be housing bed bugs (just be sure to spot test the furniture first in a discreet spot to make sure the alcohol won’t stain it)
- Call a professional pest control company right away!
There are some home and business owners who will attempt to try and stop a bed bug infestation from spreading on their own. This is not a good idea, as bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of on your own.
How Are Homes and Businesses Treated for Bed Bugs?
When you call on a pest control company to assist you with your bed bug problem, there are several different methods they might use to eliminate bed bugs from your home or business.
More often than not, a pest control specialist will start with a chemical treatment. They’ll utilize a powerful pesticide to treat the area that has been directly affected by bed bugs.
This pesticide will force bed bugs to come out of their hiding spots and kill them on the spot. Although the pesticide works well when it comes to bed bugs, it won’t pose a threat to you or your family members or employees. But it may need to be applied several times to work to its full potential.
Another way to attack bed bugs is by using a heat treatment. Bed bugs and their eggs will start to die off when temperatures reach about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it possible for a pest control company to rely on a system of heaters and fans to scorch bed bugs in your home or business.
Finally, there’s a new, non-toxic and “green” treatment option called Cryonite® where frozen liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) is sprayed in an infested area. Both bugs and eggs are hit with a snow-like substance that’s -110°F and not survivable. It gets deep into bedding, as well as upholstery, cracks and other common bed bug hiding spots.
And none of these options work for you or if you have a particularly large infestation, a pest control company can also turn to fumigation. The company can seal your home or business up and release a toxic gas that will kill off bed bugs once and for all. Fumigation can take care of bed bugs in your bedding as well as bed bugs hiding inside of the walls in your home.
Is There a Way to Tell If Bed Bugs Are Gone for Good?
Once you’ve had a bed bug infestation in your home or business, it can take you a few weeks to get over it. Even when the bugs are gone, it might still feel like they’re there causing havoc.
Unfortunately, that can sometimes turn out to be the case. If you opt to go with a simple chemical treatment for your bed bug infestation, there’s always a chance that the pesticide that’s used during it won’t get all the bed bugs. Some of them might spring back to life and continue to roam around in your home or business.
For that reason, you should keep looking out for bed bugs after you’ve had your home or business treated for them. You don’t necessarily have to be flipping your mattress over every five minutes. But you should check for the aforementioned signs of bed bugs every so often.
You might also want to consider having your pest control company come out every few weeks to inspect your home for additional signs of bed bugs. The pros know where to look for bed bugs and how to stop a few lonely stragglers from reigniting your bed bug problem.
Whatever you do, don’t just assume that your bed bugs are gone after one or two treatments. It’s important to be vigilant about dealing with bed bugs, lest they find a way to creep back into your life.
How Can You Keep Them from Coming Back?
In addition to keeping your eyes peeled and looking out for signs of bed bugs in your home or business, there are other ways you can prevent yourself from ever having to deal with this problem again.
For starters, you can spend more time inspecting your clothing and luggage anytime you go on vacation, take a business trip, or even just go out to see a movie.
You can also start bagging up your clothing before bringing it back home after you’ve stayed at a hotel or even spent the night at someone else’s house. You can really never be too careful about the spread of bed bugs.
Finally, you should consider leaving things that you might find on the curb for trash pickup out on the curb. Even if something looks like it’s in great condition and would be a great fit for your home, there’s probably a reason why it’s on the curb. The same cautions should also be applied when buying such items from sellers on Craigslist and other online marketplaces.
You should also mark anything that you might throw out as a result of bed bugs with some kind of symbol that lets others know not to take it. You don’t want your bed bug problem to turn into someone else’s outbreak, right?
Treat Your Home or Business for a Bed Bug Infestation
You now know the answer to the question, “How do bed bugs spread?” You also know how to prevent bed bugs from spreading moving forward.
If you currently have a bed bug infestation in your home or business, take care of it with help from a professional pest control company and then take the proper steps to prevent the bed bugs from spreading any further. Otherwise, you could end up spending the next few months or even years worrying about bed bugs on your property.
Give Best Pest Control, serving all of Wyoming and Montana, a call today to schedule bed bug pest control in your home or business. We’ll use the right treatment methods to eliminate bed bugs for good.