Combatting the hitch-hiking bed bug
by Tom Allen
February 1, 2018
Bed bugs seem to magically appear from nowhere. We like to think that nature has a reason for every living thing. But bed bugs are a head scratcher for the answer to this question. These creatures are excellent hitchhikers and easily travel into homes and hotels on luggage, hand bags, clothing, beds, furniture, and household items. This is a huge problem for hotels, student housing, and apartments, where frequent guest turnover is the regular business of the day. Bed bugs are small, and not always seen. Signs of the little insects if not seen crawling around live, are the classic apple seeds and ground black pepper. The adults are the shape and size of small red apple seeds and their fecal droppings look like ground black pepper. Common areas for inspection are the seams of mattresses, box springs and headboards. The eggs are especially tiny and are usually overlooked whitish/transparent small rice grains.
Used beds and furniture is another way they can be transported into homes and offices. The bugs can also be carried in clothing, shoes, wheelchairs, shopping bags, service carts, vacuum cleaners and pet beds etc.
Bedbugs do not discriminate
Unlike cockroaches or flies that live in filth, there is no relationship between bed bugs and clean environments. Bed bugs feed only on blood. Clean, upscale homes can be as easy to infest as run down filthy homes. Poverty is often associated with bad bed bug infestation problems due to the lack of affordable pest control. College students traveling from other countries often travel with bed bugs and introduce them to the university dorms. Today’s student housing takes this very seriously and has strict preventative procedures for new arriving students to be inspected before check in.
Blood sucking bed bugs are tough to eradicate. Female bed bugs may lay from 200 to 500 eggs in batches of 50. The eggs are covered with a type of glue and hatch in about 10 days. The entire life cycle from egg to adult requires anywhere from 5 weeks to 4 months depending on temperature and host availability for blood meals.
This is a video of a bed bug feeding in the lab.
Bed bugs can go without a feeding for 80 to 140 days. Adults have survived in laboratories without food for as long as 550 days. A bed bug can take six times its weight in blood. Adults can live about 10 months and there can be many generations per year.
...But hang in there. Killing bedbugs with heat equipment is the only treatment with 100% efficacy for all stages of life from eggs through nymphs to adults.