Bed bugs – a cosmopolitan pest attacking all where hygiene does not play a role, are hitch-hikers and move from place to place along with people’s clothing and baggage. During day time bed bugs hide in tiny cracks and crevices and feed on blood at night. Since they are mostly found in beds they are named as Bed Bugs (Scientific name: Cimex Lectularius).
An integrated pest management system helps in bed bug management. This consists of thorough inspection of the entire premises, especially the places where people have extended period of contact like beds, mattresses, pillows, linen storage compartments, sofa chairs and walls. In bed bugs pest control, a thorough insecticidal spray is given to all cracks and crevices in furniture, bed joints and other fixtures, special attention is given to mattress beading and folds, where a light spray is delivered.
Adult bed bugs are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about 3/16 to 1/5 inch long. Their flat shape enables them to readily hide in cracks and crevices. The body becomes more elongate, swollen, and dark red after a blood meal. Bed bugs have a beaklike piercing-sucking mouthpart system. The adults have small, stubby, non-functional wing pads. Newly hatched nymphs are nearly colourless, becoming brownish as they mature. Nymphs have the general appearance of adults. Eggs are white and about 1/32 inch long.
Bed bugs are fast moving insects that are nocturnal blood-feeders. They hide during the day in dark, protected sites. They seem to prefer fabric, wood, and paper surfaces. They usually occur in fairly close proximity to the host, although they can travel far distances. Bed bugs initially can be found about tufts, seams, and folds of mattresses, later spreading to crevices in the bedstead. In heavier infestations, they also may occupy hiding places farther from the bed. They may hide in window and door frames, electrical boxes, floor cracks, baseboards, furniture, and under the tack board of wall-to-wall carpeting. Bed bugs often crawl upward to hide in pictures, wall hangings, drapery pleats, loosened wallpaper, cracks in plaster and ceiling moldings.
A bed bug infestation can be recognized by blood stains from crushed bugs or by rusty (sometimes dark) spots of excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls. Fecal spots, eggshells, and shed skins may be found in the vicinity of their hiding places. An offensive, sweet, musty odour from their scent glands may be detected when bed bug infestations are severe.
“Since, bedbug eggs are resistant to insecticide penetration, the second bed bug management treatment is followed up within a fortnight to control new hatchlings.”
A critical first step is to correctly identify the blood-feeding pest, as this determines which management tactics to adopt that take into account specific bug biology and habits. For example, if the blood-feeder is a bat bug rather than a bed bug, a different management approach is needed.
Control of bed bugs is best achieved by following an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that involves multiple tactics, such as preventive measures, sanitation, and chemicals applied to targeted sites. Severe infestations usually are best handled by a licensed pest management professional.
Do not bring infested items into one’s home. It is important to carefully inspect clothing and baggage of travellers, being on the lookout for bed bugs and their tell-tale faecal spots. Also, inspect second-hand beds, bedding, and furniture. Caulk cracks and crevices in the building exterior and also repair or screen openings to exclude birds, bats, and rodents that can serve as alternate hosts for bed bugs.
A thorough inspection of the premises to locate bed bugs and their harbourage sites is necessary so that cleaning efforts and insecticide treatments can be focused. In hotels, apartments, and other multiple-type dwellings, it is advisable to also inspect adjoining units since bed bugs can travel long distances.
Sanitation measures include frequently vacuuming the mattress and premises, laundering bedding and clothing in hot water, and cleaning and sanitizing dwellings. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag, seal tightly, and discard in a container outdoors-this prevents captured bed bugs from escaping into the home. A stiff brush can be used to scrub the mattress seams to dislodge bed bugs and eggs. Discarding the mattress is another option, although a new mattress can quickly become infested if bed bugs are still on the premises. Steam cleaning of mattresses generally is not recommended because it is difficult to get rid of excess moisture, which can lead to problems with mold, mildew, house dust mites, etc.
Repair cracks in plaster and glue down loosened wallpaper to eliminate bed bug harborage sites. Remove and destroy wild animal roosts and nests when possible.
After the mattress is vacuumed or scrubbed, it can be enclosed in a zippered mattress cover such as that used for house dust mites. Any bed bugs remaining on the mattress will be trapped inside the cover. Leave the cover in place for a year or so since bed bugs can live for a long time without a blood meal. Sticky traps or glueboards may be used to capture bed bugs that wander about. However, the effectiveness of these traps is not well documented.
Residual insecticides (usually pyrethroids) are applied as spot treatments to cracks and crevices where bed bugs are hiding. Increased penetration of the insecticide into cracks and crevices can be achieved if accumulated dirt and debris are first removed using a vacuum cleaner. Avoid using highly repellent formulations, which cause bed bugs to scatter in many places. Dust formulations may be used to treat wall voids and attics. Repeat insecticide applications if bed bugs are present two weeks after the initial treatment since it is difficult to find all hiding places and hidden eggs may have hatched.
Do not use any insecticide on a mattress unless the product label specifically mentions such use. Note that very few insecticides are labelled for use on mattresses. If using an appropriately labelled insecticide on a mattress, take measures to minimize pesticide exposure to occupants. Apply the insecticide as a light mist to the entire mattress, opening seams, tufts, and folds to allow the chemical to penetrate into these hiding areas. Allow the treated surface to completely dry before use. Don’t sleep directly on a treated mattress; be sure bed linens are in place. Do not treat mattresses of infants or ill people. No insecticides are labelled for use on bedding or linens. These items should be dry cleaned or laundered in hot water and dried using the “hot” setting.Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet