By Shelley Mills
MSU Extension 

Beware Bed Bugs

 

February 21, 2018



Anyone can get bed bugs - it is not a matter of cleanliness but more of transportation. They only need a place to hide and a human host to feed on.

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are wingless, oval, reddish-brown insects about ¼ inch long that feed primarily on the blood of humans. They are most often found around, or near the bed but when populations are large they may move to other rooms. They can live up to a year with females laying nearly 400 eggs during that time. The bite of bedbugs can leave a swollen, red, irritated welt usually in clusters or rows on bare skin exposed while sleeping.

Evidence of bed bug feeding is usually spots of blood or fecal matter found on the sheets, mattresses or box springs. They shelter in cracks and crevices in furniture, carpets, walls, bed headboards, and in the mattress and box springs. They are very efficient at attaching themselves to clothing, suitcases, furniture, boxes and other items to relocate to new settings.

A parasite on bats, bat bugs (Cimex pilosellus) can be confused with bed bugs but they only occasionally bite humans. Identification requires the use of a dissecting microscope and a knowledgeable expert. Bat bugs have fringe hairs along their pronotum that are as long as or longer than their eyes, the fourth segment of the antennae are shorter than the third, and the inner margin of the wing pads is broader than the bed bug. Bat bugs cannot survive without their bat host, so eradicating a bat problem removes the bat bug problem.


Control of bed bugs is difficult because the insect prefers to hide in small crevices and cracks that can be difficult to treat. Insecticides may be used to treat bed bugs, but the chemical must come into direct contact with the insect to be effective. Residual insecticides are not labeled for use in the home and other products may not have efficacy on eggs, so repeated applications may be necessary. Steam heat or freezing treatments can be effective but difficult in the home. Aerosol bombs are not effective on bed bugs. It is best to contact a professional pest control operator to help eradicate bed bugs.

 

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