Bed bugs are ancient, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans. They are approximately 1/4 of an inch long, oval in shape and usually reddish-brown in color.
Their bodies resemble apple seeds, and they can be found wherever humans congregate such as: homes; apartment and office buildings; hotels; train cars; airplanes and most other places near where people sleep or rest. Their favorite hiding places include: the seams of mattresses, behind headboards, or inside furniture.
Bed bugs hitchhike from host to host via luggage, on clothing and inside furniture that has been in areas that are infested. In multiple unit housing facilities in Pittsburgh, bed bugs will often infest surrounding units, and in single family homes, living rooms, bedrooms and laundry areas are common sites of infestation.
Bed bugs couldn’t care less whether your Pittsburgh home or business is located in the country or the city, how clean or dirty it may be or whether it is a glorious mansion or a tiny studio apartment. A blood meal is their only quest from the moment they are born until the second that they die.
In addition to the importance of engaging ongoing highly effective bed bug control experts, there are some simple tips you can take to help prevent your Pittsburgh home from being invaded by these tiny nuisances.
Read on to learn about bed bugs and our team’s 12 simple suggested prevention tips, or call our team today for any bedbug-related issues! (412) 252-5200
A Quick History of The Bed Bug
Scientific studies as well as fossils uncovered at archaeological sites dating back more than 3,500 years clearly suggest that the bed bug has its origins in Middle Eastern caves that were inhabited both by humans and bats. It is believed their first hosts were bats and then the menu changed to include humans. Their species name, Cimex lecturlarius, derives from the Latin and the glory days of ancient Rome. Cimex means bug” and lecturlarius refers to a couch or bed.
In the ancient world, the Egyptians used bed bugs in potions to cure common conditions and would drink them as a cure for snake-bite. The Romans and the Greeks burned them to force leeches to release their hold. As villages and then cities developed, these bugs thrived, spreading respectively with the burgeoning populations all throughout Asia and Europe.
By 100 A.D, bed bugs were well-known in Italy, and by 600 A.D. they had an active presence in China. By the year 1200, bed bugs were present all over Europe. They were attracted to the heat generated from cooking and sleeping fires, which gave them the warmth they needed to thrive in both the castles of the wealthiest families and the huts of the less fortunate working class.
During the the 16th through 18th centuries, they arrived in America onboard the sailing ships carrying European explorers and the early colonists. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, both the rich and the poor living in urban areas were plagued with bed bug infestations. Wealthier households fared a bit better, as vigorous house-cleaning temporarily got rid of them. But they always returned until DDT was introduced in the early 1950s.
What Has Caused The Resurgence Of Bed Bugs Today?
In the United States, bed bugs were very common until after World War II when the introduction of DDT became highly effective in eradicating them. In 1972, the government banned the use of DDT, as it was considered both carcinogenic and highly toxic to animal life.
Entomologists believe that the re-emergence of bed bugs to a not-so-adoring populace may be due to a number of factors which include: increased international travel, the popularity of second-hand furniture, the ban on DDT, a lack of public awareness and the development of a higher resistance to pesticides.
Many mistakenly believe that bed bugs are most problematic in hotels. While it is true that they can cause havoc in such a setting, they are also very prevalent in other areas such as: public transportation; dorm rooms; hospitals; nursing homes; schools; libraries and anywhere else where people congregate. Homeowners may inadvertently transport them into their residences inside a school or library book, back-pack, purse, dirty laundry, clothing or shopping bag.
Nina Jenkins, a senior research associate in the Department of Entomology at Penn State believes that bed bug infestations are rampant because they are tiny and know how to hide. This alone makes it very difficult for conventional chemical pesticides to reach them.
In her own words: “Bed bugs are extremely difficult to target directly. They hide in little cracks and crevices. Often, people let the infestation go for a long time before they even report it, so it becomes such a huge problem that dealing with it is a major operation. It involves collecting all of your clothing and laundering everything, and reducing all of your clutter, so that a pest controller can actually apply the chemicals to the areas where the bed bugs may be.”
Pittsburgh and Bedbug Infestations
A few years ago, high school students visiting Penn State University’s main campus returned home after a week-end science competition infested with bed bugs. They present a real problem within the close living quarters of multi-unit buildings such as dorms, because they are transitory and attach themselves to clothing or items that move from room to room. Clothing and bed linens particularly, are easy targets for bed bugs.
According to a recent study, Pittsburgh ranked number 12 on a list of the top 20 cities infested with bed bugs in the United States. Allegheny County medical entomologist, Bill Todaro, states: “The bed bug feeds on blood, and because it feeds directly on blood like a mosquito, it goes through its life cycle very quickly. In one month’s time, a female will develop from an egg to being able to lay eggs…They tend to feed between 3 and 5 a.m., when most people are fast asleep.”
Bill Todaro goes on to say: “There is no gold standard to getting rid of bed bugs, but there are ways to check for them in your home, including detectors. The sooner a bed bug infestation is detected, the less expensive it will be to treat it.”
12 Summer Bed Bug Prevention Tips
1. Fit protective plastic covers under linens, mattresses, box springs and pillows. This helps to eliminate both ingress and egress points. In addition, the plastic will keep any air from entering the mattress and will suffocate any bed bugs or eggs that might have found their way inside your bedding.
2. Keep linens on the bed and off the floor and remove clutter from within eight feet of sleeping areas where these bugs can hide. A cluttered home provides more places for bed bugs to hide and makes locating and treating them harder.
3. Make sure to verify that your home is infested with bed bugs, not fleas, ticks or other insects. Call in the professionals at Pestco; they can identify the pests and take further action to eradicate them from your home.
4. Regularly wash and heat-dry your bed sheets, blankets, bedspreads and any clothing that touches the floor.
5. Reduce the number of bed bugs by thoroughly vacuuming your home. Carefully vacuum rugs, floors, upholstered furniture, bed frames, under beds, around bed legs, and all cracks and crevices around the room. Change the bag after each use so the bed bugs can’t escape.
6. Clean out laundry containers and hampers, as bed bugs and their eggs can hide in them. Remember to thoroughly clean them whenever you do the laundry.
7. Bed bugs can live anywhere their hosts can live, which means your bedroom is not the only place where precautions should be taken. Other common places you must inspect include: furniture with cushions (chairs, couches, ottomans); drawers; electrical outlets and appliances; wallpaper and cracks in ceilings and floors.
8. Whenever you wash your bedding, take this time to inspect the condition of your bed for signs of bed bugs or bed bug residue. If you see any indications, place bedding in the washer on the highest heat and cycle setting your bedding will tolerate. The heat and water combined will kill any bed bugs that might be hiding in the bedding. As an extra precaution, consider also washing any curtains, rugs, throw blankets and/or pillows that might have also been exposed in your bedroom.
9. Don’t Panic. It is not impossible to rid your home of bed bugs so it is important not to overreact. Don’t throw all your things away, as the majority can be treated and may be saved. In addition, throwing stuff out is expensive, may spread the bed bugs to your neighbors’ homes and could cause even more stress.
10. Do-it-yourself freezing remedies are not usually reliable for bed bug elimination because even though freezing can kill bed bugs, home freezers are usually not cold enough. A thermometer can help to check freezing levels, but even putting infested items out in the cold doesn’t always work because other factors come into play.
11. Don’t pass your bed bugs on to others. Bed bugs are known to hitchhike between locations. If you throw out a mattress or piece of furniture that has been infested by bed bugs, destroy it so no one else will want it and take it home.
12. Turning to the pest control and pest management specialists at Pestco can increase your chances of success in getting rid of bed bugs in your home with an integrated pest management (IPM ) strategy. Bed bug elimination is not a job for amateurs.
Pittsburgh Pest Control Solutions and Programs
Founded in 1948, we have had many years to perfect our pest control and pest management solutions. As both a leader and a pioneer within the industry, we make discoveries within the realm of industrial science every single day within the confines of our 85,000-square-foot Technology Center, which is located in Pittsburgh.
Our laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art advances that include the latest in: gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, headspace analysis, distillation, extraction and quality control technology.
In dealing with bed bugs, we were one of the first to trail test and then adopt an innovative, non-hazardous, bio-pesticide known as Apprehend. Invented by researchers at Penn State, this product is comprised of fungal spores that kill bed bugs and works for up to three months. It is also considered safe for both humans and animals.
In addition to our state-of-the art extermination tactics, our complete arsenal of pest control and pest management weapons also include an experienced team of bed bug-sniffing dogs that are trained to pinpoint areas of application.
In continuous operation for more than seven decades, we are family-run business and have developed a stellar reputation for both our products and services, which are offered to both high profile commercial accounts in the Pittsburgh area, such as Heinz Field and PNC Park, and private residences.
Call our team today and be rid of bed bugs tomorrow! (412) 252-5200
Final thought about bed bugs: It’s insane. For all of our advanced technology, we still haven’t beaten bed bugs. We’re being defeated by an enemy that doesn’t even bother to get out of bed. ~ Canadian comic, Ron James
A Few More Interesting Facts About Bedbugs
- According to a 2018 Bugs Without Borders survey, almost 97 percent of pest professionals have treated bed bugs in the past year. Most agree that the prevalence of these pests is increasing.
- More than half of pest control professionals reported that they receive the most bed bug complaints during the summer months of the year.
- The top three sites where pest-control and pest-management professionals report finding bed bugs are single-family homes (91 percent), apartments/condominiums (89 percent), and hotels/motels (68 percent).
- Although typically found in couches and bed frames, bed bugs can also thrive inside stuffed animals; wheelchairs; airplanes; school buses; purses and even bedside lamps.
- According to NPMA’s Bed Bugs in America Survey, one out of every five Americans has either had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel.
- The incidence of bed bugs is three times higher in urban areas than in rural sectors due to larger populations, apartment living and increased mobility, which are conducive to the rapid spread of bed bugs.
- Bed bugs draw blood for about five minutes.
- Newly-hatched bed bugs are so tiny that they can easily pass through a space as small as a stitch-hole in a mattress.
- Bed bugs can ingest seven times their own weight in blood, which would be the equivalent of an average-sized male drinking 120 gallons of liquid.
- 10. Bed bugs are found in all 50 U.S. states.