Bed Bug Identification and NJ Bed Bug Information
Information on the Growing Bed Bug Problem in Northern New Jersey
An age-old human scourge thought to be long eradicated in the U.S. has been creeping steadily back into American homes and crawling back into American beds where they are making life miserable for their hapless victims. Tiny nocturnal blood suckers that feed on humans while they sleep, bed bugs have reached epidemic proportions in the northern New Jersey and New York City corridor where new infestations are being reported every week. From luxury high rises to public housing tenements, from multimillion dollar homes to modest bungalows, bed bugs are bedeviling New Jersey residents.
Impervious to household insecticides and increasingly resistant to residential pesticides, the modern resurgence of this ancient foe has presented a unique challenge for pest control companies. Without access to the ecologically-damaging insecticides previously used to control bed bugs, pest control companies have had to forge new ground in the war against bed bugs. Heritage Pest Control in northern New Jersey has developed a highly effective combination of EPA approved materials that has proven extremely successful in annihilating bed bugs from northern New Jersey residences and businesses.
Northern New Jersey and New York City Are Ground Zero in the U.S. Bed Bug Fight
Once a common human bedfellow, bed bugs were effectively eradicated by DDT in America and Western Europe after World War II. However, bed bugs remained a relentless pest in many parts of the world. The banning of DDT in the 1970s and increased ease of international travel set the stage for the global comeback of these obnoxious pests. Between 2000 and 2005, bed bug reports by U.S. pest control companies increased by 71% according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). A national survey of pest control companies found that 91% had encountered bed bug infestations within the past two years compared to just 37% five years ago.
Considered a nuisance pest, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, although they do temporarily harbor 28 pathogens including HIV and hepatitis B. In certain areas of the country, bed bug infestations have become so prolific that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has labeled bed bugs an epidemic. While bed bug infestations are now found in all 50 states, the New York City and northern New Jersey area is considered ground zero. Bed bug complaints reported by NYC's Department of Housing Preservation and Development have increased by 500% in the past two years. Other severely affected areas include Cincinnati, Louisville, Los Angeles, St. Petersburg, and Tampa.
How to Identify Bed Bugs - Do You Have Them?
About the size of an apple seed with a triangular-shaped head, Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug, is believed to have evolved from early bird and bat nest parasites. This small, wingless insect that is the cause of such great human distress begins life as a tiny pinhead-sized egg. Female bed bugs lay pearly-white eggs in pea-sized clusters of 200 to 500 eggs, although they may also dribble single eggs across bed linens as they crawl about. Bed bug eggs are coated with a sticky substance that allows them to adhere to any surface, promoting the easy spread of these nuisance pests.
Eggs hatch into nymphs in four to 12 days. Looking like smaller versions of adult bed bugs, nymphs progress through five molts before reaching maturity in five to eight weeks. The whitish carapaces shed during molting are a telltale sign of bed bugs. Adult bed bugs are 1/4 to 3/8 inch long, paper thin and brown in color. They swell like ticks as they feed, becoming more reddish as they suck blood from their victims. Prolific breeders, it is common for three or more generations of bed bugs to be present in a single infested environment.
These blood sucking insects feed primarily on humans, although bed bugs will also feed on pets and other animals. Like mosquitoes, bed bugs have a proboscis, a specially developed mouthpart used to pierce their victim's skin and suck its blood. Nocturnal insects, bed bugs attack at night while their human victims are sleeping. An anesthetic injected when they puncture the skin, allows bed bugs to gorge for five to 10 minutes without disturbing their prey. Bed bugs must ingest a blood meal prior to each molt and in order to reproduce. Adults feed on human blood every three to five days during their six to 12-month life span but can survive without a blood meal for up to a year.
How Do You Know If You Have Bed Bugs?
For most people, itchy red welts are the first sign that bed bugs have invaded their home. Salivary proteins injected when bed bugs bite can cause allergic skin reactions; however, only about 50% of bed bug victims react to their bites. Those who do react can wake up covered with hundreds of itchy bites all over their face and body. Some people become so traumatized they develop psychosomatic phobias.
Other telltale signs of bed bug infestation are active crawling bugs, rusty brown or black fecal spots or smears, whitish carapaces left by molting nymphs and dead adult carcasses. Bed bugs hide in tiny cracks and crevices in or near beds to be near their human food source. Their small size can make them difficult to find.
Favorite hiding places include along the welted seams and tufts of mattresses, inside box springs under the fabric cover, under the drawers of nightstands, behind headboards and along baseboards; but bed bugs are small enough to crawl inside alarm clocks, table lamps, televisions, inside electric plates and under loose wallpaper. In severe infestations, live bed bugs may be seen crawling on bedroom walls or ceilings near vents. Large infestations may produce a scent similar to fresh raspberries.
How to Protect Yourself from Bed Bugs
If you get bed bugs, it is important to realize that you are not at fault. Bed bugs are not attracted by filth or food. A clean, tidy kitchen will not keep bed bugs out of your house. Bed bugs are pests of convenience. Like head lice, bed bugs are carried into your home by an infected individual or on infected possessions. You can take precautions to minimize your risk of getting bed bugs; but bed bugs have become such a pervasive American pest that there is little you can do to completely eliminate the risk.
The most common ways people get bed bugs include:
- International and domestic travel. Many people bring bed bugs home from overseas travel. Particularly in non-western countries, bed bugs were never eradicated after World War II and have remained a common problem. Rapid hotel room turnover both overseas and in the U.S. increases the opportunity for bed bug infestation. In some U.S. hot spots, as many as 70% of hotels have experienced a bed bug infestation in the past year.
- Used furniture. Bed bugs often hitch a ride into homes on
used or rented furniture or mattresses. It's best to avoid bringing
home "found" articles and limit purchases to known, reputable furniture
- Returning college students. Most U.S. colleges and universities
experience annual bed bug outbreaks. If you have a college student
in your family and your child is exposed, take extra precautions when
he returns home for a visit. Unpack suitcases in a cleared area in
your garage or laundry room and wash clothing immediately.
- Children's sleepovers. Sleepovers are another typical way bed bugs spread from home to home in a community. If your child's friend complains about bug bites, take precautions until you can talk to the child’s parent.
When bed bugs are suspected, laundering bedding, clothing, toys, etc. in hot water (at least 120 degrees F.) and drying on the hottest possible dryer setting for one hour will kill active bugs and eggs. Unwashable items can be sealed in heavy plastic bags and heated to 120 degrees for two hours or kept in a home freezer at 20 degrees for two weeks. Inspect beds daily for signs of bed bug activity and be alert for bites.
Proactive Bed Bug Protection
If you are concerned about possible bed bugs, consider renting the NightWatch Bed Bug Monitor. This monitoring device uses heat, carbon dioxide and a pheromone lure to attract, trap and kill bed bugs. A one- or two-week rental is usually long enough to determine whether you have bed bugs and put your mind at ease. Contact us for more information about our Nightwatch rental services.
Protect-A-Bed mattress and box spring encasements are an additional proactive way to protect your bedding investment from bed bugs. Encasements are made of bite-proof material with specially designed zippers. Designed to stay on your mattress and box springs for the life of your bedding, encasements keep bed bugs from burrowing into your mattress. If bed bugs invade your home, encasements make them easier to find and eliminate. If your home is already infested with bed bugs, encasements will prevent them from feeding on you by trapping them inside the mattress where they will eventually suffocate and die. Ask us about these bed bud products to get fast relief.
The only way to get rid of bed bugs is with the help of a professional pest control service with an expertise in bed bug elimination. If you suspect you have bed bugs, contact the bed bug experts at Heritage Pest Control.