Bed bugs, which had almost completely disappeared from the majority of industrialized countries have made a comeback by hiding in the luggage of people who travel around the globe. They started to spread across Quebec mainly in urban areas, then increasingly across the province with tourism, transportation, business and moving.
Bed bugs do not transmit any diseases to humans. However, in addition to the itching and lesions caused by their bites, bed bugs can cause sleeping problems and anxiety and greatly reduce the quality of life for their victims. Some people go so far as to isolate themselves, overwhelmed by feelings of shame, falsely associating the presence of these undesirable insects with uncleanliness. In addition, since bed bugs can spread quickly in densely populated areas, they are a problem than can affect several people within a short period of time.
Bed bugs have a flattened, oval body with no wings, measure 4 mm to 7 mm in length and are brown. There are three stages in the bed bug’s life cycle: egg, nymph and adult. Their eggs are approximately 1 mm long and are white. The nymph looks like an adult bed bug but is smaller and is whitish-yellow. Complete development, from the egg to adult stages, takes about six weeks. Bed bugs are generally found in bedrooms where they feed on the blood of people while they sleep at night. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for adult bed bugs to feed on blood. They will then digest it for a period of four to seven days. During this time, the bed bug hides around the mattress and box springs. Depending on the degree of the infestation, they can also be found hiding in cracks in walls, ground and furniture, behind picture frames and under wall paper; the eggs and nymphs can also be found in these hiding places. Adults can survive up to one year without eating any blood, under optimal conditions.
This does NOT mean they will go a whole year without feeding if they are in the presence of hosts on a regular basis. If there is a source of food (human or animal blood) available, bed bugs will feed on it. It has frequently been observed in apartment buildings that bed bugs that are deprived of food as a result of the resident moving, will migrate to another apartment and then infest that dwelling.
Therefore, bed bugs don’t go far from their host if they can feed frequently. As a result, when bed bugs are present in just one room with people who sleep there regularly, they will tend to remain in place. However, if the infestation is significant, they can also migrate to other rooms. Since they don’t have wings, they move around by walking.
- Never recover mattresses, upholstered furniture or bedroom furniture left on the side of the road. They can easily contain bed bugs. Also carefully inspect all used furniture.
- If you move into a building, ask the owner, janitor or other tenants if there is a management policy or action plan regarding bed bugs. It is preferable to move into a building were this type of action plan has been implemented, whether or not there were bed bugs in the past. In certain municipalities, bed bugs are an insect that are subject to mandatory reporting. Acquaint yourself with local regulations about this.
- Before signing a contract with movers or a vehicle rental agency, ask about the measures they take in regard to bed bugs. Do they use clean blankets for transportation? If not, use your own. Do they systematically clean their truck during the day? If not, check the truck closely before taking possession of it.
- Once you are in your new dwelling, run the vacuum everywhere before moving your furniture and other belongings inside. Throw the vacuum cleaner bags away outside in closed garbage cans. Check the baseboards at the bottoms of walls, electric baseboard heaters and other places where a small insect that has the shape and size of a flat apple seed could hide. In the bedrooms, inspect electrical outlets and along mouldings for bed bug excrements. Call your owner immediately in case of doubt; it will prevent you from appearing to be responsible for the infestation.
- In buildings, condos or apartments, bed bugs can travel from one dwelling to the next: be vigilant the first few weeks!
HOW CAN YOU DETECT THEM?
- At a hotel, do not put your luggage on the ground or the bed: store them in the bathtub or on a luggage stand.
- Verify the bed: the mattress, if possible the box springs, zippers, seams, tufting of upholstery, behind and around the headboard. Don’t just look for visible specimens, bed bug excrements that look like small ink dots grouped together may also be visible and prove that there is or was an infestation. (If the stains become reddish-brown when rubbing them with a damp cloth, it is very probably that they are bed bug excrements).
- Check the furniture and walls, furniture frames and upholstering, using an object with a hard corner such as a credit card.
- Check behind paintings, posters, pictures, mirrors and around mouldings, woodwork, baseboards and window frames.
- Check in cracks in plaster and wallpaper that is becoming unglued.
- Look very closely at electrical outlets, lamp switches, telephones and alarm clocks as well as carpets and rugs, especially around beds.
I HAVE BED BUGS, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
First of all, DON’T THROW ANYTHING AWAY. Bed bugs can be removed from all objects, in one way or another.
DON’T APPLY ANY INSECTICIDE YOURSELF! In addition to being a risk to your health and those of your loved ones in the case of improper use, most pesticides available on the market have a repellent effect. That means that in spite of their instant effectiveness on bed bugs treated directly, the product emits vapours that are strong enough to repel the other bed bugs in places farther away. They will then move to places you wouldn’t normally find them, complicating the pest management technician’s work.
If you find even just one bed bug, contact us. Since a female bed bug having been fertilized just once in its life can then lay up to 350 eggs over its life cycle, intervention must take place immediately to contain and eradicate the infestation.
Our exterminators will give you advice adapted to your situation to help you prepare for the intervention, which is a safe treatment procedure that is targeted and environmentally friendly to help you get rid of these unwanted visitors.
THE TREATMENT WAS DONE, NOW WHAT?
- Don’t move to another room. No doubt, you will want to do it, but the bed bugs who survived the treatment might follow you to the other room, causing a new infestation. Since the insecticide has a residual effect, any bed bugs that come out of their hiding places will come into contact with the pesticide and will die. Newly-hatched specimens are very vulnerable and will quickly die upon contact with the product, ensuring an interruption in the insect’s life and reproduction cycles. Rather, continue to sleep in the same room, frequently and carefully inspecting it to locate any bed bug that are still alive. Trust our technicians’ expertise, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
- Wrap your mattress and box spring with zipper slipcovers recommended by companies who provide products to prevent allergies. Cover the zipper with tape, because bed bugs could crawl through. As long as the slipcover remains intact (no holes or rips), bed bugs won’t be able to reach you to bite you and will eventually die. It is recommended that you keep the mattress covered for one year.
- Use white or pale-coloured sheets. It will be easier to spot any bed bugs.
- Run the vacuum cleaner everyday for a few weeks after the treatment, even if you don’t see any more bed bugs. Immediately throw the vacuum cleaner bag in the garbage, like you did before and during the treatment.
- Inspect regularly to detect the presence of bed bugs.