Bed Bug Bites: The Comprehensive Guide

If you’ve ever woken up from a long night’s sleep, only to find welts on your face, hands, arms and legs then you know the feeling of the “bed bug panic”.  Questions often race through bed bug victims mind regarding the bites and the severity of their bed bug problem.  While unexplained bites can definitely mean that you’ve got a bed bug problem, those bites could be explained by other bugs or rashes as well.  To avoid confusion and panic, IBBRA has compiled everything you need to know about bed bug bites below.

Vampire Bugs…

Bed bugs are drawn by warm body temperature, the carbon dioxide you exhale and are known to feed on your blood while you’re sleeping. While they are known for feeding at night, bed bugs can feed at any time of the day or night, whether you’re sleeping or not, and will adjust their feeding times according to your schedule.

The bed bug bites by first grasping the exposed skin with their fore tarsi.  As the proboscis is extended forward and thrust into the capillaries of the skin (categorized as vessel feeders)  the bug injects anticoagulant and anesthetic to numb the area so you won’t feel the bite. Bed bugs will feed for several minutes before withdrawing the stylet bundle from the feeding position and retracting it back and folding the entire unit back under the head.  It takes between five to ten minutes for a bed bug to become completely engorged with blood.

 

Bites Feel Like…

While the act of biting is usually not felt, the effects of that bite are often quite irritating and painful.  Some people experience an allergic reaction to the protein found in the bed bug’s saliva.  Approximately 50% to 70% of people develop this allergic which can cause severe rashes or even blisters. A varying level of reaction can occur, usually beginning with small, flat or raised bumps, and red swollen, itchy skin. If scratched, the bite areas can become infected.  The saliva of the bed bug often contains active substances (hyaluronidase, kinins or proteases), which may cause different skin reactions including (erythema, wheal, vesicle, hemorrhagic nodule).

It’s important to remember that everyone reacts to bed bug bites differently.  Some people don’t react to bed bug bites at all. Even two people sharing the same bed can have completely different reactions to being bit by the same bug.

 

Secondary Effects…

The bitten areas of skin can also become subject to secondary bacterial infections.  It has also been reported that the affected skin can be more susceptible to eczema, cellulitis, and/or lymphangitis. An occasional systemic reaction can occur from a bed bug bite, and in some cases, if the bite reactions are intense, repetitive scratching will produce skin lesions that may be complicated by impetigo.

 

Bites Look Like…

The skin lesion produced by the bite of a bed bug resembles those caused by many other kinds of insects, such as mosquitoes, spiders and fleas. Therefore, bed bug bites can rarely be identified by the appearance of the bites alone.  This means that identification often requires the guilty insect to be  found and positively identified as a bed bug.

Most welts heal in a few days,  but there are cases where the wound may persist for several weeks to months. Usually, an anti-itching ointment will help easy irritation, but if bites become infected the  people should see their doctor right away.  To date, the bed bug has not been known to spread any human diseases.

Once the bed bugs have finished feeding, they scurry off quickly to return to their hiding place, sometimes dropping a portion of their last meal as fecal matter on the way as they continue to digest their fresh blood meal.  These droppings can also help identify bed bugs during an inspection.

 

 

 

 

What You Should Do…

If you have experienced unidentified bites, especially after traveling, you should do a full inspection of your bed for any signs of bed bugs.  For a quick guide to bed bug inspections, check out your bed bug inspection guide at https://ibbra.org/best-diy-bed-bug-solutions/.  Bed bug bites can be extremely irritating, painful, and potentially dangerous.  If you think you’re having an allergic reaction to bed bug bites, contact your doctor immediately.

If you suspect bed bugs at your home or business call in an IBBRA approved professional near you. You can find the best pros at https://ibbra.org/service-providers/

The Leading Cause Of Bed Bug Infestations Is…

The Leading Cause Of Bed Bug Infestations Is…

Bed bug issues may seem like they arise out of thin air.  One night you go to bed and wake up the next morning with strange bites.  Night after night, this occurs until suddenly you see a little bug scurry across the sheets, and you realize – It’s BED BUGS!  Or maybe you’re a hotel/motel owner/manager and a customer spotted bed bugs in their room.  The first thought for many people would be, “How did this happen?” and “Where did they come from?”.

The Top 3 Ways Bed Bugs Spread

#3 – Bed bugs love an old couch (or other “hand-me-down” items)

If you’ve recently been thrifting, yard sale shopping, or worse, picked up free furniture from the side of the road, and then randomly started seeing bed bugs everywhere, then you can pretty much assume that that new couch is the cause.  Usually, bed bug infestations take a while to grow to a size where you see live bugs scurrying across your bed.  The exception to this rule is when an already established infestation enters the home; this is 100% possibly by bringing in an infested piece of furniture.  Bed bugs can live in any type of item; Such as dressers, nightstands, upholstered chairs and sofas, clothing, mirrors/pictures and even books.  The larger the furniture the more places there are for bed bugs to hide.

#2 – Bed Bugs on a Field Trip

Traveling is one of the leading times when bed bugs are picked up.  Bed bugs love to hitchhike around by hiding in your clothes or on your personal items.  If you’ve been on a public bus, on the subway, in a taxi, flew in a plane, or used any other means of public transport, you are much more likely to pick up bed bugs.

#1 – The Notorious Bed Bug Hotel

This one is kind of a no-brainer.  Hotels and Motels are a perfect place for bed bugs.  Travelers will pick up bed bugs during transportation and bring them back to their hotel room where the bugs quickly get comfy in the bed or other furniture.  Bed bugs aren’t picky about where they stay; it could be in a 5-star resort or a $50/night room.

 

So how can I avoid a bed bug infestation?

All of the above infestations started because someone didn’t do an inspection.  Bed bugs inspections are critical in avoiding a bed bug infestation.  In many cases, a bed bug problem was avoidable if the person knew what and where to look for bed bugs before the problem occurred.  Here are some tips to help you perform easy and effective inspections.

To avoid getting bed bugs, you should:
1.  Never take in old furniture without an extremely thorough inspection.  Look inside, under and behind everything.  Remove drawers and look inside.  Look in upholstery seams and under and coverings (like the covering on the bottom side of a bed spring) and always check the seams and pocket linings in used clothing.

  1. Use hard case luggage to avoid giving bed bugs a place to “grab on” while traveling.
  2. Always keep your luggage on a luggage rack on in the bathtub. Never sit your bag on the hotel/motel bed!
  3. Do a quick visual inspection before you sit down on any public transportation. A small flashlight may be helpful to see in dark corners.  Pay attention to the sides, back corners, and seams where others may not look.
  4. Likewise, always inspect your hotel/motel room for signs of bed bugs. Obviously, check the bed and mattress, but don’t forget about the chairs and nightstands too. Bed bugs can hide anywhere!
  5. Inspect your own home regularly. While the issue may seem to have popped up out of nowhere, bed bug infestations take time to grow. A single bed bug brought home from any of the avenues listed above will take weeks to become an infestation. If you’re unfortunate enough to have brought home a female bed bug, it will start to lay eggs within 24 hours of establishing it’s home.  Each female bed bug can lay dozens of eggs at a time. Eggs take 7-10 days to hatch, and the newly hatched nymphs will begin feeding and growing immediately.  Every 21-39 days those bed bug babies will be full-grown adults and will start breeding and multiplying very quickly. In just six months that one female bed bug will turn into a full-blown infestation of over 30,000 descendants.

 

Want to know what to look for while doing your DIY inspections?  Check out our inspection guide, at https://ibbra.org/best-diy-bed-bug-solutions/

Have bed bugs and need a solution?  Contact a certified provider today at https://ibbra.org/service-providers/

OR

Purchase your own DIY heat treatment equipment at https://ibbra.org/shop/

 

Customer Communication Tips for Bed Bug Professionals

Proper communication will set the tone for the correct expectations for any bed bug treatment.  Customers have high expectations for bed bug professionals now more than ever.  But how can you, as a pest professional, live up to those expectations.  The key is effective communication between the technician and the customer before the treatment even begins.

Communicating on the Job

Each job, customer, and treatment will be different, and effective communication will be essential to making sure that the client knows what expectations are valid.  Bed bugs are extremely resilient to some treatments, and depending on the size of the infestation the problem could take a few follow-up treatments and/or inspections to ensure that the problem is completely solved.    How you relay this information will vary depending on what type of account you’re dealing with.

In a single-family home, the likelihood of an infestation is lower in comparison to a hotel or apartment building.  This means that one heat treatment could be enough to completely eradicate the problem.

When dealing with a multi-family housing situation, you could be facing a chronic bed bug problem or an infestation that is moving from unit to unit after repeated failed treatments.  This can cause the treatment process to be more difficult, and your approach with the client will be different to make sure they have a realistic and informed view of the problem.

Communicating and Dispelling Myths

One of the first things you’ll need to assess and communicate to a new customer is how to react to a bed bug sighting.  Seeing a single bed bug or an unknown insect in your home does not mean that you have an infestation and doesn’t warrant an emergency.

Making a proper identification is the first step.  When possible, encourage customers to place any potential bed bugs in a plastic bag labeled with where and when it was spotted.  When the technician comes to do an initial inspection of this bag of “evidence” will help know where to look and ensure that you’re actually dealing with bed bugs and not another insect type.

Next, when treatment is deemed valid, make sure you are giving your customers realistic expectations for any pre-treatment prep.  Take into account whether the customer is physically able to reduce clutter or move items in preparation.  Also, give the customer clear instructions on what items should be moved, if any.  You may need to adapt your treatment plan for any special requirements of the client or the treatment area.

Give your customers real, proven information.  You would be amazed at the myths people will believe.  It may be a good idea to have a hand-out ready for customers to educate them about bed bugs and the treatment you will be providing.  Clearing up any false info could also help the customer realize where or when they picked up the bed bugs and how to avoid them in the future.

Key Points:

  • Bed bug treatments can be tricky, depending on the severity of the infestation and the location. Be upfront with your clients and provide realistic expectations for your treatment.
  • How you communicate this information will depend on what type of customer you’re working with. Residential and commercial clients have different needs and requirements.  Be aware of these expectations and address them in your initial meeting.
  • Make sure your expectations for prep and post-treatment clean-up are realistic.
  • Provide quality information to your clients and dispel any myths that they may believe.

The IBBRA website is full of useful information regarding bed bugs, treatment options, and more.  Check out our blog for up-to-date bed bug news and info.

If you have a bed bug problem, call one of the IBBRA certified bed bug treatment providers near you.  Search here: https://ibbra.org/service-providers/

5 Common Bed Bug Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

Bed bugs can be a frustrating, expensive, and potentially dangerous problem to have.  There is so much false information online that many people make simple, but expensive and dangerous mistakes when treating for bed bugs.  IBBRA is here to help you stay informed with scientifically proven information and access to qualified professionals that can help you through your bed bug issue.

Here are the top 5 bed bug mistakes that you could easily avoid:

  1. Hiding bed bugs from your friends, family, and landlord
    Bed bugs can affect anyone and aren’t something to be ashamed of. If you get bed bugs, telling your family, friends, neighbors and landlord is essential to making sure the problem doesn’t spread.  It also gives you the chance to educate others about how easily bed bugs can be “picked up”.  Spread the word and protect yourself and those you care about by being open regarding any bed bug issues that may arise in your household.
  2. Sleeping in another room

Once you find out bed bugs have infested your bedroom, many people will opt to sleep on the couch or in another bedroom to avoid the bugs and potential bites.  While this may keep a few bites away, this is actually one of the leading cases that bed bugs spread to multiple rooms in your home.  Solve the problem quickly with heat and use caution when moving to other rooms. Take the proper sterilization steps to contain the bed bug problem.

  1. Forgetting to do follow-up inspections and treatments
    Once a treatment is complete and you aren’t receiving nightly bed bug bites, you may tend to forget about the problem altogether. By doing this you may be allowing bed bugs to continue to infest your home undetected.  Bed bugs eggs take 6-10 days to hatch, which means that your bed bug infestation could re-appear within a few weeks after a treatment.  Follow up treatments and inspections are especially important if a chemical treatment was applied.  The best way to kill all the bed bugs, even the eggs, is by hiring a professional to complete a heat treatment. Alternatively, you can rent bed bug heat equipment from certified providers here.
  2. Bring home used items without proper inspections
    Bringing home bed bugs can be very easy, especially if you recently were traveling or purchased used furniture or clothing. Bed bugs like to hide in upholstered furniture, and not just bedroom furniture.  You could bring home bed bugs in chairs, couches, clothing, and even books.  Always inspect any used items that come into your home.
  3. Off-the-shelf pesticides or un-safe heating methods
    There are countless pesticides out there that claim to be effective on bed bugs, but in actuality, they aren’t required to test their product on bed bugs. Likewise, news outlets are full of stories where homeowners burnt down their house while trying to heat the home using space heaters, a home furnace, the oven….ect.  Heat treatments should only be performed using professionality quality heaters that are made to kill bed bugs.  Chemical treatments should only be applied by professional pest control technicians that are trained to use high quality and powerful pesticides.

Don’t make these mistakes!  Call in a bed bug professional, rent bed bug heat equipment or purchase professional quality DIY equipment at https://ibbra.org/service-providers/

 

Public Places: Bed Bug Treatment Problems and How to Solve Them – Part 2

Public Places: Bed Bug Treatment Problems and How to Solve Them – Part 2

Last month we covered all the challenges of treating bed bugs in public places.  Today we will be talking about tips and tricks to help your next treatment be as successful as possible.  If you missed last month’s article, click here to check it out before continuing.

So what can be done in these challenging situations?

Public areas require trained, experienced bed bug professionals to assess the problem and come up with a treatment place specifically designed for each case.  Below are some things to consider when making or reviewing a treatment plan:

  1. Heat It Up: Heat treatments are one of the most versatile treatment options.  Heat can be used in nearly any enclosed area.  Heat is especially great in hotels, businesses, and transportation methods (buses, cars, planes…ect) because heat treatments don’t require that the entire building be shut down for treatment.  Heat treatments can be applied in any single room, without disturbing the rest of the building.  Heat treatments are also chemical-free, so in retail situations where there may be chemical sensitivity and odors that need to be avoided, heat might be the perfect solution.  Finally, heat is great because the treatment area can be completely treated in 24 hours (depending on the location).
    If you’re a Pest Control Pro and not yet offering heat treatments, IBBRA highly recommends that you educate yourself in the revolutionary heat treatment movement.  You can contact Convectex Bed Bug Heaters for equipment, training and more to help get your bed bug heat business started.
    If you’re a Hotel or Motel owner/manager, then IBBRA recommends that you check out our DIY heat treatment options and kill bed bugs yourself.
  2. Sniff It Out: Ensuring that the bugs are gone is KEY to every bed bug treatment.  Bed Bug K-9 detection teams are there for just that purpose, to ensure that the treatment was successful and the area is safe.  Partnering with or expanding your pest control business to include a k-9 detection team is not only great for your customers peace-of-mind, they can also be used as a defense in any legal battle resulting from a bed bug issue.  Bed Bug K-9s are over 90% accurate in most cases, making them the BEST way to ensure that your treatment was successful.
    Need a K-9 Inspection?  Want to partner with a K-9 Detection business to back-up your treatments?  Find a qualified team right here on the IBBRA website.  Click here to find a scent inspection company near you.
  3. Keep an Eye Out: The best way to treat a bed bug problem is before it happens.  Business owners should be watching for signs of bed bugs at all times.  This is especially true for hotels/motels, but can also be applied to office buildings and retail locations.  Public transportation businesses should have regular inspections, as well.  Catching a bed bug problem early will greatly reduce the amount of time the treatment takes!  Proactive business owners can also educate their employees on what to do if they spot a bed bug at work, on their commute or at home.
    Need help training your staff in the ins-and-outs of bed bug detection?  Read more about bed bugs and simple detection tips on the IBBRA blog.  Here are some articles to get you started:
    https://ibbra.org/best-diy-bed-bug-solutions/
    https://ibbra.org/bed-bug-prevention-tips/
    https://ibbra.org/how-to-prevent-bed-bugs-from-multiplying-if-you-cant-afford-a-professional/
    https://ibbra.org/the-pros-and-cons-of-bed-bug-treatment-options/
    Clean It Up:  Places with a lot of clutter make the perfect place for bed bugs to hide.  Keep your business or store clean and clear of clutter.  Keeping clutter down will also help any treatment efforts as well.
  4. Hire an Actual Pro: Don’t blindly take the word of someone, who sometimes does pest control work, for your bed bug treatment plan.  Get a real pro that treat bed bugs every day and is trained in treating public locations.
    Finding a professional that is an IBBRA member will ensure that you’re getting the best treatment options available, from someone who really cares about ending the bed bug war in America!  You can find an IBBRA pest control member here.  You can also hire a k-9 detection team OR purchase DIY treatment equipment to solve your bed bug problem yourself with the same equipment the pros are using!

 

 

Public Places: Bed Bug Treatment Problems and How to Solve Them – Part 1

Public Places: Bed Bug Treatment Problems and How to Solve Them – Part 1

Bed bugs are sure to strike fear into the hearts of many, regardless of where they are spotted.  The fact that they can spread so quickly and easily, PLUS at the rate that they reproduce, you could have an infestation on your hands before you even realize they are there at all.  It’s a known fact that bed bugs are commonly picked-up in public locations, but why is that?  Also, what makes those public locations so hard to treat?  What can you do, as a pest control professional, to better treat bed bugs in public spaces?  Alternatively, maybe you’re a business owner, how can you keep your business bed bug free?  We’ve got all those answers and more below!

What’s the problem?

When bed bugs are found outside residential homes, there are many more complications to their treatment.  Here are a few of those issues:

  1. Costly Closures: When bed bugs are spotted at a business, often it will require the entire building be closed for proper treatment.  This can be extremely costly for the company and may cause employees to take a mandatory vacation or unpaid time off.
  2. Tricky Spaces: Sometimes, the locations that bed bug decide to inhabit aren’t the easiest areas to treat.  Whether this means that bed bugs infested a bus, airplane, movie theater, hospital, clothing store, furniture store, thrift store or even an office building, each area has its challenges.  Each case must be examined, and a solution chosen on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Where is the problem?: Some locations, like airports and other public transportation, have so many people flowing through, that it can be challenging to identify where the problem exists and its origin. This makes proper treatment very difficult as the problem is always spreading. Likewise, it can be challenging to be sure that the problem is solved due to the widespread of bugs.
  4. Treatments Off the Table: Depending on the location, some treatments just won’t be possible.  Some retail locations won’t allow smelly chemicals to be spread all over their stock.  Chemical sensitivities are also a concern for all public locations, the last thing you want is for someone to have a life-threatening allergic reaction to your business.

Stay tuned for next month to see how IBBRA can help you navigate these tricky situations and for tips and tricks to solve bed bug problems in these areas.