Over the past decade, bed bugs have slowly crept their way into homes and businesses across our nation, stretching out from the inner cities into the burbs and beyond. For the most part, people assume bedbugs are seasonal because of the attention they received during spring and summer, but the fact remains that it doesn’t matter what time of year it is to them. The only thing that matters for a bed bugs survival is warmth and human blood, which our homes provide.
Aside from a few seasonal high traffic travel and visiting days during fall and winter like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s; normally people are less active during the cold winter. News of infestations and breakouts rise when the weather warms and people start moving around more. It’s not that they weren’t there during the colder season to begin with; they were hiding in places that people were not looking.
Infestations Take Time to Develop
Unlike other insects, the bed bug doesn’t lay all their eggs in one day. The female lays her eggs over the course of her lifetime. The process is temperature conditional and requires regular blood meals. Each egg takes approximately seven to ten days to hatch. Again, depends upon temperature and moisture. Once the first egg is hatched and the first instar (nymph) is introduced to the world, it requires a blood meal in order to grow into the next stage of development. This happens five times until they reach full adulthood and are now able to breed. This growth happens over twenty to thirty six days. So you might say that with perfect conditions the whole process takes approximately six weeks.
If this goes undetected or ignored for several months, infestations develop where people start to see the more serious signs including accumulation of shed skins, old blood stains (fecal or poop marks) and/or smears of blood from the bug feeding on sheets or other materials where a person rests for long periods.
(Since some people are not affected by the bite of a bed bug, months can pass before they recognize the fact they have them).
Temperature greatly affects bed bugs. If the temperature inside is too cold in the environment they reside, they go into diapause, which is like a suspended lifelessness, a type of hibernation. Unoccupied, seasonally used homes may harbor their lifeless bodies and eggs until the temperature inside warms to wake them to a possible host. The eggs won’t hatch and bed bugs don’t move around anymore than a bear would during cold temperatures with no heat source.
Transfer during Winter Months
Bed bugs will hitchhike during any time of the year. A characteristic example is during school winter break travel times (Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s) are students bringing home bed bugs. Alternatively, a holiday visitor can pick one up on their way and transfer bed bugs from one warm home to another.
According to callers, during the winter months many people breakout and suffer from a persistent rash, dermatitis, or hibernal eczema (dry skin) and bites are often mistaken as from dry itchy skin. People tend not to suspect bed bugs, don’t know about them or ignore the signs. After a month or so of lathering lotions and prescriptions with no relief, the bugs have built up and visible signs are now showing. At this time the news fills with new stories and the Internet search engines explode with people typing in the word bed bug.
Because bedbugs are a specialty pest, it takes a specialized education and experience when faced with a serious infestation on the part of the exterminator to rid them properly. Actual Certified Bed Bug Exterminators are few and far in-between.
Bed bugs are still a learning curve and some pest control companies refuse to do bed bug work because of the failure rates. The process of eliminating every bed bug is difficult enough for pest control but when the infestations are allowed to grow over many months, it present even more of a challenge.
It Takes Two – The Setbacks of Bed Bug Elimination
No matter what time of year, it takes a committed “team effort” that includes complete cooperation and assistance of the client to handle a bed bug problem properly. Especially with environments that contain clutter without this, efforts can be counter-intuitive and can fail.
Many people are used to cutting a check and allowing pest control to come in and do their magic while they are at work. Unlike other insects, the bed bugs nature is to hide in the most insignificant places where people wouldn’t dream to look.
Because of this, the client has to do a detailed accounting of most all their belongings. Depending upon the extent of the infestation, dresser drawers may have to be emptied, as well as closets, etc. Beds need stripping and items need to be dried in a hot dryer. Many other items may need removal; but there is a process that needs to be followed very carefully for success. Most people would not want pest control rummaging through their personal drawers nor do they have the time to do so.
Bed bug prep companies are popping up throughout the US that assist people that may have a handicap or are bed ridden or stuck in a frozen emotional state. They are fully trained in what to do to make the process easier for pest control to eliminate the majority of bed bugs on the first try by making the spaces where they usually hide available for access.
Reach out if you have any questions – we are always here to help you understand your role in bed bug elimination! www.ibbra.org 888-9-NOBEDBUGS