Bed Bugs

With growing concerns over pesticide use, DDT, an effective bug killer was discontinued. After using DDT so heavily in the decades prior to the 1960’s to kill all kinds of bothersome insects, regulatory agencies determined there were dangerous side effects from the chemical on the environment. Due to the extent of the hazards, it was decided to stop general use of DDT, leaving attempts to control various insects without effective treatments. As a result, over time bed bug infestations have re-emerged.

Bed bugs are not known to cause disease; however, the bites can be irritating and become infected. In addition, the substance the bugs inject into the skin in order to numb it and prevent the coagulation of blood when they are biting to get their blood meal, can cause some people to experience an allergic reaction. Having bed bugs biting while a person is resting or sleeping can cause mental anxiety.

Yates County residents have had bed bug infestations in homes, apartments, and businesses in the past few years. It is important to deal with a bed bug infestation right away, before the problem becomes larger and harder to control.  Ignoring bed bugs in the hope they will go away is never a good way to handle the situation because bed bugs are good at hiding and waiting for conditions to change. When confronted with bed bugs, here are some things you need to know and do:

Know that over-the-counter remedies may not reach the hidden bed bugs and their eggs.

Some bug sprays and powders may kill the bugs that the chemical lands on, but may not be effective for those that are hiding or the eggs that are laid within wall spaces, and may cause health problems for anyone living in the building where chemicals are being used within living spaces.

It is necessary to de-clutter spaces where bed bugs are hiding; launder all clothing and fabrics that may contain bugs in water as hot as the fabric will tolerate and dry in a hot clothes dryer. Any product that cannot be laundered should be sealed in bags and placed in a deep freeze for several weeks.

Caulk all crevices around floors, walls, ceilings, and woodwork. Remove loose carpets and seal loose wall paper seams. It may be necessary to bag up books, toys and electrical equipment that bugs have crawled into like televisions and VCRs.

Steam machines can be effective to kill bugs on furniture, if the steam actually touches the bugs directly.

Mattresses and box springs may need to be placed in encasements to keep bugs out or to contain them once they have invaded the bedding. Care must be taken to avoid any breaks in the encasement fabric. If items are being discarded because of bed bug contamination, mark the item so no one else decides to take it for their own use. This is one way the problem grows.

If a bed bug problem exists in an apartment house, be aware that adjoining apartments need to be checked for infestations since bed bugs crawl on wiring in walls and go to other areas to escape chemical use. Treatments may be necessary for other apartments as well. Eggs also need to be removed or treated before they hatch. Bed bug eggs look like small grains of rice.

The best method to eradicate bed bugs is to contact a pest control service that uses treatments specific to bed bugs. The service will need to return a few times to re-treat and confirm the eradication of the bugs. However, this is only effective if the residents of the building also are diligent about vacuuming, washing clothes and bedding, and placing freshly cleaned items in sealed bags, and de-cluttering.

Bugs will not disappear permanently if people bring in new items that are contaminated again or have the bugs on their clothing, suitcases, books, backpacks, or shoes. Bed bugs do travel from place to place on personal items and in vehicles. Everything needs to be examined and treated.

For more information, go to: http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/whats_bugging_you/bed_bugs/bedbugs_faqs.asp