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Know Your Pest! Bed Bugs

Nov 29, 2017

Know Your Pest! Bed Bugs

Want a good scare? Imagine someone in your family coming up to you and whispering “I think we have bed bugs.”
Or how about this: have you ever been in a hotel room and you think — no, you know — there’s something on your leg? You’ve read enough horror stories over the years that your mind immediately jumps to bed bugs. 
Suddenly, you can see the worst happening — bringing those bed bugs home, getting bed bugs in your clothes, your car — it’s a nightmare. Sometimes, that nightmare comes true.

Bed bugs: The worst uninvited guest.

Nearly two out of three pest management professionals report that bed bug infestations continue to be on the rise, making bed bugs the most difficult pest to treat. Bed bugs take the crown over termites, ants and even the dreaded cockroach. 
Are you worried that these unwanted guests have infested your home? Have you seen their signature dark spots or rusty stains on your sheets or walls (we have some bad news about what those stains may be)? Maybe you’ve actually spotted the little devils themselves. There’s no need to panic, but you do need to act now. 
If you’re thinking about reaching out to Fairfax pest control companies, we have some information that can help you understand what you’re up against: what these critters are, how they get in your home, and what to do to get rid of them.

What are bedbugs?


Bedbugs are small, oval insects — about the size of an apple seed — that live on human or animal blood. While they’re usually brown, bed bugs’ bodies will begin to swell and give off a reddish color after feedings. They can’t fly, but they can move very quickly between walls, ceilings and floors. 
Bed bugs feed roughly once a week — and by “feed” we mean “bite you, your family and your pets” — which may not seem like much until you consider that a bed bug infestation can means hundreds of bed bugs or more hidden in your home. Bed bugs are shy; they stay hidden unless they are feeding, and even when they get hungry, they generally come out in the deepest hours of the night.  
On the prowl, they look for CO2 exhalations to find a host — a.k.a., you breathing in your sleep — then climb on board and feed by tapping into your blood for three to 10 minutes before crawling away.
Under the right conditions, bed bugs can multiply fast, developing in one month and producing three or more generations a year. Bed bug “nymphs,” or immature bed bugs, grow by molting their exoskeletons away. A sure sign you have bed bugs is finding the crunchy, dried-out shells of molting bed bugs around your home.

How do you know if you have bed bugs?

Low-level infestations are tough to spot because bed bugs can easily be mistaken for other insects, such as mosquitos or carpet beetles. Bed bug bites may be painless at first, and you won’t even know that you have them until the infestation expands.
Not sure if you’re dealing with bed bugs? Reputable Fairfax pest control companies can tell you to be on the lookout for these signs:
  • Reddish, rusty stains on sheets and pajamas. Bad news: that’s your blood. Blood-like stains on your bedding is a sure sign that you’ve crushed a bed bug, or it bit you a little aggressively. 
  • Dark spots on your mattress or beddings. Worse news: that’s bed bug poop. Since bed bugs excrete digested blood, their fecal spotting tends to resemble smears or stains, which are dark brown or black.
  • Bed bug skins, exoskeletons or shells. As mentioned earlier, if you find a clear or pale yellow bug shell, this is most likely the exoskeleton that a bed bug nymph shed as it grew. 
If you suspect you have bed bugs, it’s best you contact one of your local Fairfax pest control companies. A recent study showed that Washington, D.C. is the 13th most bed bug-infested city in the United States, and nearby Baltimore is number eleven. The enemy is among us!

Where do bed bugs hide?

First of all, we should note that you shouldn’t take bed bugs personally. Bed bugs are not a sign that you have a dirty house, patronize cheap hotels or have questionable sanitary habits. Bed bugs live on blood, so they tend to congregate near places where they can safely feed. The bed bug knows no class or social boundary.
You should also know that bed bugs generally don’t travel in your clothes, in your hair, on your pets or on your person. Bed bugs usually enter your home through the tools of travel, like luggage or backpacks, or secondhand items like used mattresses or furniture. 
Again, these facts also do not serve as an indictment of your personal cleanliness or hygiene. Bed bugs have flattened bodies that are the width of a credit card, making it easy for them to fit into tiny spaces that are difficult to see.
Bed bugs don’t nest, but they do live in groups in dark, hidden spaces with easy access to people to bite at night (like mattresses, bed frames and headboards). Hundreds of bed bugs can pack into a tight area, only going out when they need to feed.

How to keep bed bugs out of your home

Talk to your favorite Fairfax pest control companies: if you do have a bed bug infestation, it’s much easier (and far less costly) to treat it early before it reaches extreme levels. If your home becomes heavily infested, you may even find these bugs in electrical appliances, drawer joints, curtains or screw heads. Great.
The best way to avoid bed bugs is to be proactive. Here are some tips to keep bed bugs out of your home from CroppMetcalfe’s Fairfax pest control experts:
  • Check what you bring into your home. If you are buying used or vintage furniture, check it closely for bed bugs before you bring it into your home. Think long and hard before accepting a secondhand mattress.
  • Use a protective cover. By encasing your mattress and box springs with a protective cover, you can eliminate many of the hiding spots that bed bugs look for. The light color of the cover will also make bed bugs easier to see.
  • Watch out for shared laundry. If you share your laundry facilities — either at the local laundromat or in your apartment building — it’s important that you wash, dry and transport your clothes with caution. After washing your items, dry them on high heat (which can kill bed bugs). Once done, transfer your clothes directly into a clean bag and fold them at home.

How to get rid of bed bugs

While bed bugs don’t transmit disease, they are certainly an annoying house guest. Most people hate the idea of sharing their living space with any kind of insect, and when bed bugs strike, they immediately jump to bug sprays and foggers as a pest removal option. This method almost never works to completely remove the pests.
Some people will even try to leave their homes for a few weeks. The thinking goes that bed bugs need blood to survive — take away the source, no more bed bugs, right? Wrong. While it’s true bed bugs need blood to live, they can actually get by for weeks or even months at a time without feeding. 
If you have bed bugs, the best thing you can do is contact a pest control company that has experience eliminating these critters. Be prepared: since bed bugs are so persistent, it may take several treatments to get rid of them completely. 

Say goodbye to bed bugs.

If you think you have bed bugs in your home, don’t hesitate to contact CroppMetcalfe 1-877-740-6657 or schedule service online now with our five-star Fairfax pest control technicians. Sleep well again!


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