Before looking into a bed bug treatment, properly identifying bed bugs is a critical first step. They often go undetected for prolonged periods of time. Read below on doing an accurate assessment:
What is a bed bug treatment?
A bed bug treatment is the necessary action taken once a bed bug infestation is discovered in any living space. The process may include high heat, steam, powder, laundering, mattress encasements, vacuuming, and pesticide. Often, a combination of multiple treatment methods need to be used in order to combat a major infestation. Visitor our bed bug removal page for more details. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s examine the basic identification process:
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny reddish brown oval shaped parasitic insects that feed only on human blood, about once per week. Though they are not known to spread disease, their bites can cause extreme itchiness and tend to have a lasting psychological effect on those living with an infestation.
They usually prefer to feed during the night while someone is sleeping, and generally favor the face, neck, and arms. Bed bugs can survive a wide range of temperatures and can also go dormant for as long as 18 months without a blood meal.
How does a bed bug infestation start?
There are many misconceptions about how bed bugs can first arrive in someone’s home, and doesn’t occur as easily as some of the myths suggest. The first most common way would be related to apartment dwellings, joining units, duplexes, etc. An already infested apartment makes it easy for bed bugs to roam into other joining units, through cracks in the foundation, corners, ceilings, etc. This would explain why apartment buildings have the highest prevalence of bed bug infestations, along with the added difficultly of fully eliminating them.
The second most common way bed bugs enter a home is through any type of luggage or traveling bags. If a person is living in a residence with a heavy infestation, the bed bugs tend to migrate into dresser drawers with clothing. When the person packs their belongings to move, they will now bring the bed bugs to another location. Hotels and hostels have higher rates of bed bugs due to the constant flow of in and out travelers. Toronto in particular, sees travelers from all over the world come as either tourists or as a student enrolled in a program. Upon arrival, they would usually stay at a hostel or bed and breakfast for a few days until finding a longer term location to stay. This is when bed bugs can be transferred easily from one location to another.
There is a useful reporting site called The Bedbug Registry, which is specific to Toronto. This might be helpful to find out if a particular area, hotel, or building has reported bed bug issues recently. Keep in mind, many cases do go unreported, so just use this as a general guide.
How do I know if I have bed bugs?
The first clue to a bed bug infestation is usually noticed by the sudden onset of bites and itchiness. Some people will not think much of it at first, attributing the bites to a spider. Amazingly, about 20% of humans do not even get a reaction to bed bug bites, so they can live through the turmoil, until suddenly noticing obvious evidence such as bed bugs rapidly scurrying around the floor.
If you are waking up with bites, the next step is to visually check the bed frame and mattress closely to see if you are able to identify any key signs of bed bugs. Look for black fecal markings that might be concentrated in one area.
Don’t be surprised if you can’t see the actual bed bugs themselves, as they are great at hiding and generally become active at night. To this point, many people report seeing them in the middle of the night if they turn on the light suddenly and look closely at the floor around the bed. Bed bugs do not like noise, light, or movement, and tend to stay hidden during the day.
What should I do if I notice signs of them?
Before calling exterminator companies an asking about a bed bug treatment, you may come across advice on trying to capture an actual bed bug in a container or zip lock, then bring it in for someone to examine the type. This is not an easy task, nor realistic. This will also not affect the treatment, as most bed bug control applications will cover a wide range of insect parasites. You may also read up on some ‘home remedies’ to help kill the eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs on contact. These may include using hot steam, or a specific bed bug spray. In most cases, these home remedies can be effective, but only for anything that can be seen in the moment.
There might be bed bugs that scatter across the room and disappear into a corner under a baseboard, for example. Others might have a nesting area in a clothing drawer near the bed. Therefore, just eliminating the visible eggs or bedbugs will just be a short term fix and alleviate the number of bites over the next couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, you can be assured that there will be a larger problem taking shape behind the scenes, as the remaining scattered bed bugs will continue to mate, lay eggs, and prepare to invade your bed again.
Ultimately, nothing can replace the effectiveness and assurance of a professional bed bug exterminator. The high quality applications will take care of both killing all eggs and bed bugs on the spot, while laying down a residual bed bug treatment that will kill any ‘wanderers’ longer term, which try to come back to the target area. Once you book an appointment with a bed bug expert, be sure to check our our list of treatment preparation steps so you can ensure it will have a 100% success rate.