How to Find Bed Bugs in Your Car—and How to Get Rid of Them

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This article is written by Brooke Nelson with Readers Digest – Jan. 24, 2019 / Updated Aug. 28, 2019.

Mattresses and sofa cushions are among the most obvious places to check for bed bugs. But these sneaky creatures can also find some unexpected hideouts—including your own car.

A bed bug infestation in your car, although rare, is no minor inconvenience. These many-legged hitchhikers can easily access every place you go, just for starters. And once they reach your front (or back!) door, they can be much harder to get rid of. “As much as the thought of having bed bugs in our car is alarming, it is much worse having an infestation in the home where there are many dynamic components and people involved,” says Jody Green, PhD, an urban entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in Lincoln, NE. Check out these 16 secrets bed bugs don’t want you to know (which are crucial for keeping them at bay).

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Telltale sign of bed bugs: Dark spots on the seats or floor mats

Bed bugs can sneak into your car via clothing, purses, moving boxes, and even books, Green says. To prevent these pests from getting the best of you, closely inspect areas of your vehicle that are made with fabric. One of the most common clues of a bed bug infestation will be small fecal or blood stains near the seams of the seats, cracks around the console or glove box, and on the edges of the floor mats, according to the Virginia Tech Department of Entomology. Don’t forget to search car seats or other fabrics like blankets as well. Check out these 13 weird tricks to clean your car.

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Telltale sign of bed bugs: Exoskeletons near cracks and crevices

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bed bugs shed their exoskeletons five times before reaching adulthood, or about once a week. Look for those exoskeletons in places where bed bugs love to hide, such as between your seats and inside the glove compartment or center console. Pro tip: Use double-sided tape to inspect any hard-to-reach areas, including the edges of seat cushions and floor mats.

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Telltale sign of bed bugs: A live bug walking around the vehicle

Naturally, a live bed bug roaming around your car is yet another sign of an infestation. Floor mats, seats, glove boxes, and center consoles are all fair game for these critters to hide out. While their color and shape change based on their age, most bed bugs are reddish-brown, flat, and oval-shaped. Their size can range from as small as a poppy seed to as big as an apple seed, Green says. Learn more about what bed bugs look like to help you easily identify them.

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Telltale sign of bed bugs: Bites or bumps on your skin

They may be little, but bed bugs pack a huge punch in other ways—including their bites. Human blood is their favorite food, so they might nip you while you are driving or taking a nap in the back seat. If you suddenly find itchy, red bumps, or rashes on your body after driving, you could have a bed bug or two in your car. Here’s how to identify the most common bug bites.

Do Bed Bugs Bite Your Pets?

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Do Bed Bugs Bite Your Pets?

Bed bugs are notorious for being elusive, difficult pests that give even the most popular and premier bed bug exterminator a run for their money. They are also extremely irritating, biting humans while they sleep and often leaving red marks and annoyance in their wake. But many times our first thought is not about ourselves, but about others in our household and how bed bugs can affect them. This includes our older family members, children, and even pets.

It is common knowledge that bed bugs bite humans for feed in order to reproduce and grow, but what about our furry friends?

But first, what are bed bugs?

Bed bugs, also known scientifically as Cimex Lectularius L, are insects that feed on warm blooded animals as their only source of nutrition. Only the size of an apple seed, these pests are flat, which makes them an ideal size and shape to hide within seams, cracks, and crevices. Because their food source is stagnant at night, they often choose to hide within mattresses, bed frames, and box springs. At night, they come out from hiding, feed for about five minutes, detach, then retreat back into hiding. Because of their quick, almost non-exist, appearance in public, most people don’t realize they have an infestation until it becomes a large problem.

So they bite humans, but what about pets?

Bed bugs prefer humans as their main source food, but they can bite any warm-blooded animal, including pets. This includes cats, dogs, rodents, and other animals that tend to sleep near their humans. Although these pets are not major hosts of bed bugs, their beds are often great hiding places, so it is important to inspect their bedding if you suspect a infestation. If you do find live bed bugs, be sure to call a professional bed bug exterminator as soon as possible.

Do bed bugs carry diseases like other pests, such as fleas and ticks?

Bed bugs are irritating and can make even the most sane person go a bit crazy, but bed bugs are not known to carry any diseases. Bed bug bites can cause skin irritation and, if severe, might require some minor treatment from a doctor, but will not develop to anything of concern. However, bed bugs are labeled as a significant public health issue due to their ability to lead people to poor physical health, mental health, and negative financial outcomes.

Can my pet carry bed bugs, like fleas?

Bed bugs do not live on their hosts as much as common pests, such as ticks, lice, and fleas. Although, they are excellent and efficient hitchhikers that spread using luggage, furniture, bedding, and clothing. This leaves the possibility that they can use your pet or their bedding as a transportation outlet.

How can I tell if my pet has been bit by a bed bug?

Looking under your pet’s hair, you will notice very tiny red bumps, often times on their limbs and belly. Because they move in a linear pattern while feeding, the bites will occur what will look like a straight line. If you notice your pet beginning to itch more frequently, it is important to check their skin for irritations and pests.

How can I tell if I have a bed bug infestation?

Keep an eye on your pets for biting, licking, scratching, and irritability. If they are showing these signs, it is often because of a pest infestation or skin irritation due to other factors. If these pests are bed bugs, you will feed tiny red blood stains on their bedding due to the smashing them. You will also notice what will look like little black dots, the size of a mark made by the tip of a marker, on their bed. These are bed bug feces that are deposited after feeding. Bed bug sheddings, or their exoskeletons, will be around your pet’s bedding and will look transparent and empty.

Bed bug eggs are often an indication of a bed bug infestation, but are very hard to find. A very obvious sign of an infestation is the appearance of live adult bed bugs, which are small, reddish brown in color, and are shaped like apple seeds.

Disclosing bed bug infestation to potential tenants can save landlords money

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Laws that require landlords to disclose bed bug infestations help combat the spread of the insects and protect the health of potential tenants. According to a new study, these laws also lead to cost savings, on average, for landlords within five years. Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania published their findings today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

When enforced properly, these laws can decrease infestation rates, thereby reducing the need for extermination treatment, which can cost landlords thousands of dollars. Bed bugs can be found in areas of the home other than a bed, but typically reside in areas where humans and animals sleep. Their bites often cause itching, rashes, and anxiety, among other symptoms.

“These laws are critical to ensuring tenants are informed of infestations so they can take precautions to avoid spreading the bugs further,” said senior author Michael Z. Levy, Ph.D., an associate professor of Epidemiology in the department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics. “Our work suggests that while it can be extremely difficult to eliminate bed bugs from homes, it might not be so difficult to eliminate them from cities. The public health impact of proactive legislation that promotes prompt and appropriate treatment of infested homes would be enormously beneficial.”

The team developed a mathematical model of the spread of bed bugs and housing turnover in a generalized rental market, drawing on data from the United States Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and Housing Vacancies and Home Ownership surveys. Though data are limited on how quickly an infested unit is treated, researchers considered cases in which infestation is detected and treated within two months, and cases in which treatment took up to a year. They found that across that broad range, laws requiring landlords to disclose infestations impose immediate cost on those property owners—through greater difficulty renting out affected properties in the short term—but, on average, lead to significant cost savings for landlords within five years of disclosure.

Cities including New York and San Francisco have already implemented laws requiring landlords to disclose any recent bed bug infestations to potential renters. The model created by the Penn team also establishes an evidence-based framework for evaluating a Philadelphia City Council bill introduced in February 2019 aimed at mitigating the spread of bed bugs. Washington DC is also considering a similar bill.

“These policies have the potential to lower rates of bed bug infestation, which saves landlords from spending potentially thousands of dollars on extermination treatments,” said the study’s lead author Sherrie Xie, a graduate researcher in Epidemiology. “It’s important for laws to respect the rights of tenants, landlords, and the general public while minimizing cost to all parties, as well as curbing the stigma faced by those whom are living in a previously infested unit.”

While they transmit deadly pathogens in laboratory settings, there is no evidence yet to show that they do so in homes. The study authors note that future research will delve into whether bed bug infestation would cause rent prices to change and how that could affect the housing market.

HOUSE SOLD WITH UNKNOWN OCCUPANTS: BED BUGS

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House hunting? Make sure you keep an eye out for these pests.
Whether you are buying a house for the first time, buying an additional home, or finding yourself a change a scenery, house hunting can have its own aches and pains. One obstacle you don’t want to have to think about when you walk in the door for the first time is being greeted by the militant pest, bed bugs.

Often found hiding in the seams of mattresses and other places, bed bugs can invade any home and because of their tiny size, they are also difficult to find and can be easily overlooked. Bed bugs are notorious for causing sleepless nights, which often lead to mental and physical anguish and are extremely difficult and costly to get rid of. So before buying a home, ensure you have done your due diligence so you aren’t moving into a home that is surprisingly occupied.

Quick Visual Inspection
Although you may be distracted by the layout and design of a property you are interested in, it may be worthwhile keeping your eyes open for signs of bed bugs. Because you are in someone else’s home, it isn’t proper to be peeling back bed sheets to look for them on mattresses, so you will have to keep it general to start out. You will more than likely not see any walking around, as they are very elusive, but what may look like dirt, could be feces and exoskeletons left by these pests. Here are some signs of bed bugs to look out for:

Live bed bugs
Dark spots on mattress or sheets
Bed bugs’ excreta
Bed bug eggs and eggshells
Bed bugs are extremely small and flat. To put this into perspective, the insect is about the size of the thickness of a quarter, 0.1 inches, and enjoy being in warm and dark places. Bed bugs can be anywhere, but they are most often found in the following locations:

Mattresses and box springs
Drawers and furniture
Bed frames, headboards, and baseboards
Cracks behind outlets
Curtain folds
Furniture seams
Floor and door molding
Electrical appliances

When looking for bed bugs while touring a house, you are not going to be able to look at the mattress, box springs, and furniture in respect of another family’s belongings. So keep an eye out along the baseboards for any of the signs.

What To Do If You Find Bed Bugs
If you find a bed bug or have the signs of bed bugs in a home you are interested in purchasing, you must first tell your realtor to ensure that it is communicated clearly to the other party. This may or may not alter property value or halt any offers that are in place. At this point, the seller would have to seek help from a professional bed bug exterminator. They will be able to confirm whether there is, or is not a bed bug infestation and the best methods to exterminate. If the house you are seeking does have bed bugs, it is not a deal breaker. With the right bed bug treatment procedure, the bed bugs can be exterminated in just one day.

Hiring a House Inspector
Hiring a house inspector that is familiar with bed bugs could save you an immense amount of time and money. Some home inspectors may or may not be familiar with bed bugs and many individuals have to hire a separate bed bug investigator to make sure there aren’t any infestations in your home. Because of this, it may be worth doing some research and finding a home inspector that is familiar with these infestations!

 

Why You Should Consider Bed Bug Heat Treatment

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When you get a bed bug infestation, your first instinct is probably to panic. They’re disgusting little pests that literally feed on your blood.

Plus, bed bugs are notoriously difficult to kill–adults can go anywhere from 20 to 400 days without feeding, depending on the temperature and humidity. They’re cold-blooded, so in cold temperatures, their metabolism slows down and they can survive longer without food.

So, how do you get rid of bed bugs? Your best option is killing bed bugs with heat.

Here’s what you need to know about bed bug heat treatment and why you should consider this treatment option as your first line of defense against an infestation.

What is Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs?

First, though, you should understand what heat treatment for bed bugs is. Heat treatments involve a process of heating up your home to a temperature of 130 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the treatment will kill bed bugs in all stages of life, including eggs, nymphs (immature bed bugs) and adult bed bugs.

Heat treatments at this temperature range usually kill bed bugs within the first hour and a half. However, exterminators typically keep the heat treatment going for several hours to make sure that any lingering pests are dead.

Why is Heat Treatment So Effective?

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? So why are heat treatments so effective in killing bed bugs? Well, for one thing, bed bugs are increasingly resistant to many pesticides.

Think about it–we’ve been using the same pesticides to kill bed bugs for years. Over time, the bed bugs that don’t die from pesticides reproduce to make more bed bugs that are resistant to pesticides. And suddenly, you’re facing a group of bed bugs that is resistant to chemical treatment.

That doesn’t mean that chemicals are useless. They’re actually quite helpful as a supplement to keep the bugs contained. But as a standalone treatment, you won’t know whether you have resistant bed bugs until you try to kill them with pesticides–and the bed bugs refuse to die.

But heat is a different matter altogether.

When you trap a bed bug with a heat treatment, what you’re really doing is trapping the bed bug in an environment that’s too hot for it to survive.

Since the entire room (or your entire house) is too hot, there’s nowhere for the bed bug to escape before the heat kills it. And since the exterminator keeps the heat up for several hours, the bed bug can’t simply wait out the heat, either.

The bed bugs are just trapped in a room set at their thermal death point, for hours at a time.

Why Use Heat Treatment?

  • Done in a Matter of Hours
  • Heat treatments take less time than many other treatments.
  • You can cover every corner of your home more effectively.
  • The technician will take several hours to treat your possessions or rooms in your home at a high temperature that will ensure any lingering bed bugs are wiped out.

Do You Need Bed Bug Heat Treatment?

If you need a bed bug heat treatment, your best bet is to call in the pros. Please contact us to schedule your inspection.

 

 

Experts Warn of Bed Bug Encounters Ahead of Busy Travel Season

FAIRFAX, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

The National Pest Management Association shares tips to avoid contact with hitchhiking pests during Bed Bug Awareness week

As the busy travel season commences and families finalize their vacation plans for summer, experts at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) are warning vacationers to remain vigilant during Bed Bug Awareness Week, this June 2-8. An annual observance recognized by Chase’s Calendar of Events, Bed Bug Awareness Week serves as an important reminder that bed bugs can wreak havoc if brought home after traveling, making prevention key to staving off an infestation.

Bed bugs are one of the most common pests, and according to NPMA’s 2018 Bugs Without Borders survey, 97 percent of U.S. pest control professionals surveyed reported they treated for bed bugs in 2018, with 68 percent saying they treated hotels specifically. A recent online research study conducted between January 2018 and May 2019 by Advanced Symbolics Inc. using a representative sample of 274,500 Americans revealed a 9 percent increase in people reporting bed bugs from just April to May, 2019, and a 21 percent increase in concerns regarding bed bugs as a potential health and home threat during that same time period.

“Bed bugs can be found anywhere, whether it be a 5-star hotel or a summer camp,” said Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “These pests do not discriminate, and many people usually transport bed bugs with them back to their homes without even knowing they’re doing so. To prevent these freeloaders from hitchhiking back home with your family, it is important to take proper precautions when traveling this summer.”

To help vacationers avoid bringing home any hitchhiking pests this travel season, the NPMA is sharing the following prevention tips:

  • Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard, under lights, and inside dressers, drawers, sofas and chairs.
  • Pull back hotel sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains or spots. If you see anything suspect, change rooms/establishments immediately.
  • Carry a small flashlight to assist you with visual inspections.
  • Vacuum and properly inspect suitcases after returning from a vacation. Do not bring the suitcase into your home until it has been inspected.
  • If you think you may have brought bed bugs home with you, seek professional pest control assistance to address an infestation, as this is not a do-it-yourself pest.

For more information about how to prevent bed bugs or to contact a licensed pest control professional, visit PestWorld.org.

About the National Pest Management Association

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 5,500 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property from the diseases and dangers of pests. For more information, visit PestWorld.org or follow @PestWorld on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190529005506/en/

 

Bed Bug Incidents Account for Almost 8% of Animal-Related Insurance Claims, Allianz Reports

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Bed bug incidents, such as bites and infestations, account for almost 8% (534) of animal-related claims received by insurers, according to findings in the newly released Allianz Global Risk Dialogue, a review of 470,000 insurance claims over five years by Allianz Global & Specialty (AGCS).

Bed bug bites/infestation were the fifth top cause of animal-related liability claims according to the AGCS study. Only dog incidents (30%), deer incidents (17%) and bird incidents (8%) accounted for more animal-related liability claims, AGCS reported.

AGCS cited the 2018 Bugs Without Borders survey, conducted by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky, which found that infestations in the US continue at high rates, with 97% of respondents having treated for bed bugs in the past year. That number is significantly higher than 15 years ago when only 25% of pest control professionals reported treating for bed bugs.

While dog incidents were the top animal-related insurance claim, by far the most expensive insurance claims result from bird incidents, which are the third most frequent cause of animal-related claims (1,146), AGCS reports. This is hugely influenced by one type of loss – bird strikes with airplanes – for  which there have been over 900 claims in the past five years. The average bird strike claim costs around $368,000 in insured losses.

Source: Allianz

Reproduction

“After mating, females lay white, oval eggs (1/16″ long) into cracks and crevices. An individual bed bug can lay 200 to 250 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs hatch in about 6 to 10 days and the newly emerged bed bug nymphs seek a blood meal.”

“A female bed bug will lay 5 to 7 eggs/week, 1 or more eggs per day and 200-500 eggs over her lifetime. The eggs are small (1 mm, 1/32″), whitish in color and slightly pear shaped. Bed bug eggs are difficult to see without magnification or a flashlight and are about the size of a pin head or speck of dust.
An egg hatches in 10 days and will develop into an adult in 2 to 4 months.

When laid, the bedbug eggs are sticky, and adhere to the surfaces where they are placed. Eggs are found in harborages where bedbugs hide in loose clusters.

(References University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Bed Bugs Michael F. Potter, Professor and Urban Entomologist; by:Jeff Grill)