Nearly 97% of pest professionals have treated bed bugs in the past year, according to the 2018 Bugs Without Borders Survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association. And according to the professionals, the prevalence of these pests is increasing. More than half of pest control professionals say they receive the most complaints of bed bugs during the summer when most people are vacationing and students are returning home from college.
Bed bugs are tiny, blood-sucking insects. Mature bed bugs have flat, oval, brownish bodies. But after they feed, their bodies swell and their color turns reddish. They don’t fly, but they can move quickly across floors, walls, ceilings, furniture, and mattresses.
Female bed bugs lay hundreds of dust speck-sized eggs during her lifetime. Once hatched, these immature bed bugs, called nymphs, shed their skin five times as they feed, grow, and mature.
Bed bugs become most active at night and feast on humans and animals while they’re sleeping. These tiny creatures latch onto skin through an elongated beak, like a straw, that sucks the blood of its prey from three to 10 minutes before becoming engorged and crawling away. The bites are painless when they occur and don’t usually wake people. But over the next few hours, they turn into itchy welts.
Bed bug bites usually occur on the ankles, arms, or shoulders and often in straight rows on the skin. They often go away without treatment or with over-the-counter antiseptic lotions or antibiotic creams. Corticosteroid creams and oral antihistamines can help with the unbearable itching.
The good news is that bed bugs are not thought to carry diseases like other pests such as ticks or fleas. But they can be extremely difficult to treat. However, it’s not impossible. The first step is to identify whether you have a bed bug problem in the first place.