Bed Bug Signs, Symptoms and FAQs

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Understanding whether you have bed bugs, and why, is difficult to comprehend and extremely frustrating. A concern over bed bugs tends to leave many of us with questions. So, to help, here are the answers to the questions we get most often:

Q: Why do I have bed bugs?

Bed bugs are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide and feed on warm-blooded hosts, usually humans, but potentially other warm-blooded animals when humans are not around. These hitchhikers travel from host to host by crawling from personal belongings or people into shared areas or other belongings. They can be picked up almost anywhere, although it’s most common to pick them up in hotels, from neighbors in a multi-unit complex, or from second-hand furniture. Bed bugs do not discriminate based on age, race, income or any other factor. They are just as likely to be found at a 1-star motel as they are at a 5-star resort.

Q: Can I get rid of bed bugs myself?

Many DIY sites will tell you that you can kill bed bugs by using natural home remedies, including rubbing alcohol or essential oils like lavender, tea tree or peppermint oils. Where some of these home remedies have merit, these solutions require that you see each individual pest and apply the products directly to them. Bed bugs are great at finding hiding places – it’s how they’ve survived all these years. The chances that you will find every single bed bug and apply a home remedy directly to them is virtually impossible. Applying your own treatments can also be dangerous. If you are not applying them properly, and in the appropriate location, you could not only miss the bed bugs, but also cause harm to your home, business, or the people in them.

Q: Does bed bug spray work?

There are tons of bed bug sprays and insecticides on the market. Much like DIY solutions, they usually aren’t very effective unless you know the exact location of the bed bugs and their hiding places. Bed bugs have also built up a resistance over the years to several pesticides, so depending on what you use, it can be ineffective. It can also be dangerous for homeowners or business owners to try to solve a problem themselves because they are not trained in proper application techniques for pest control products. This can lead to unnecessary over-exposure.

Q: What do exterminators use to get rid of bed bugs?

The first step is always to inspect a home or business and validate that a bed bug issue is present. Technicians can do visual inspections, and at Wil-Kil, we even have a canine inspection unit to help us sniff out the various spots bed bugs may be hiding! Once a problem is validated, exterminators use a variety of strategies to get rid of bed bugs such as heat treatment, mattress encasements, crack and crevice injection/spot treatment and pesticides.

Treatment Methods

Q: Are bed bugs only found in beds?

A: No, bed bugs are found anywhere humans are. Where beds are most common because that is where people rest, they can be found in any room of the house. They can also live in any furniture in the house, it’s not uncommon to find them in a resident’s favorite lounge chair or sofa. Bed bugs have also been found in areas outside the home where people spend a lot of time, such as movie theaters, busses, planes, and more.

Q: When are bed bugs most active?

Bed bugs are typically nocturnal insects. They feed at night and hide during the day in most cases, though they can adapt to different habits if their human hosts have a different schedule

Q: Can I see bed bugs?

Bed bug adults are big enough to be seen, they are about the size of an apple seed. They are mahogany to rusty brown in their natural state and red after a blood meal. Bed bug eggs and immature bed bugs are extremely difficult to see because they are much smaller and virtually transparent, but a trained individual can find them.

Q: What are the signs bed bugs are present?

In addition to visually identifying adult bed bugs and eggs, bed bugs may leave other signs of their presence behind. It is not uncommon for them to be squished by their human hosts when sleeping, so if there are small unexplained blood spots on bedding, that may be a sign bed bugs are present. You may also find caste skins of immature bed bugs on your bedding, mattress, box spring or other furniture because they shed skin as they grow. Finally, you may find black spots on your bedding/furniture that resemble black ink, this is the bed bug fecal matter.

Q: Where are bed bugs hiding?

Bed bugs live in cracks and crevices, electrical outlets, wall voids, behind wallpaper, base boards and picture frames, mattresses, box springs and headboards and in bedding materials as well as other upholstered furniture.

Q: What do bed bugs look like?

Bed bug adults have six legs, are flat and oval shaped and are no more than ¼ inch in length.

Q: What does a bed bug look like?

Bites may not be visible for some people. For others, a small, red irritated and/or itchy spot will appear. Bed bugs are not known to carry diseases and their bites usually do not require medical treatment unless symptoms are severe or persistent.

Q: Will I know when I am being bitten by a bed bug?

Bed bugs feed for 2-5 minutes and are not felt by humans while biting.

Q: How do they spread and what can I do to keep them out of my home?

Bed bugs are hitch-hikers – they crawl into purses and bags, move into furniture and generally transfer via close contact. At home, remove clutter that makes bed bugs hard to find and treat. Carefully inspect any second-hand furniture before bringing it inside your home. Inspect hotel rooms and luggage when you travel to ensure you don’t have any surprise visitors coming home with you

Q: How long does a heat treatment take?

A heat treatment will last about 8-10 hours depending on infestation levels. Our heat team arrives between 6:30 AM and 7:00 AM to make sure we have time to address extreme infestation levels. Clients can generally return to their home in the early evening.

Q: Do I need to throw away all my furniture and pull everything out of my closets to prepare for heat treatment?

No, that is generally not necessary. Trying to remove infested furniture can actually cause bed bugs to spread further because you are carrying infested furniture through hallways, where bed bugs may crawl or drop off and relocate. All infested items should stay in the space to be heat treated. In some cases, heavily infested furniture may need to be discarded, but it should either be treated first or wrapped very securely. Your Wil-Kil technician can provide guidance on this matter.

Clothing and other items should remain in closets for treatment. You will, however, receive a list of items prior to treatment that need to be put aside for your technician to inspect by hand and then remove from the space before the heating begins. Extreme clutter in closets can prohibit treatment from covering the entire area though, so make sure your home is neat, tidy and allows for air flow.

Q: I have a lot of “stuff” in my home. What should I do?

If you have multiple furniture items and a lot of other clutter in your home, a heat treatment may not be effective due to limits of the heating systems, but all situations are different and a heat technician will help you assess the situation.

More Questions? Ready for an inspection or treatment? Contact us today!

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