Winter's Unwanted Guests
Beth R. Bolles
Recent news reports have made us all wary of bed bug infestations. Since many people travel during the holidays, this may be one bug that stays on our minds during winter months.
Young bed bug after feeding. Photo Credits: University of Florida
Bed bugs are wingless true bugs that feed on blood from birds and mammals. The common bed bug that feeds on people can sometimes be a pest in hotels, houses, barracks, or other living areas. The insects feed at night and inject saliva into the wound that can cause an irritating reaction on the skin. During the day, bed bugs will hide in wall cracks, under baseboards, in bed springs, under mattresses, behind wallpaper, or similar areas. Their bodies are very flat so they can rest in small crevices and then come out at night to feed.
Bed bugs are transported to other locations in bedding, clothes, suitcases, or other linens. They are able to survive several months without a blood meal and may feed on other animals in the absence of a human host. Once bed bugs are found in a location, an integrated approach to treatment is necessary. A thorough vacuuming and dry cleaning of linens or clothes is the first step. Be sure to place vacuum contents in sealed bags for disposal. Homeowners may choose for pest control operators to use insecticides, but there are options for some non-chemical approaches. The University of Florida describes a low-tech approach using heat to kill all stages of the bed bugs with portable heating chambers. Various companies will offer different management strategies so it may be helpful to contact several to determine the best approach for your situation. For the full article on new management approaches and more details on bed bugs and controls, visit http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2009/07/07/3149/