Professional bed bug control in Bracknell
We have chosen bed bugs for the pest of the month in October for one reason; most people will travel abroad in the school summer holidays and some of those return with an unexpected souvenir in their suitcases - yes, bed bugs. Many of our customers thought that the bites they were receiving were nothing more than mosquito's and its around the end of September into October that people realise that they've got a bed bug problem.
Bed bugs feed by harpooning our skin at random and finding a capillary; our blood pressure fills the insects abdomen and they withdraw the harpoon, as they only want the protein out of the blood they excrete the liquid which we can see as black blood spots. An adult bed bug will feed several times then depart for a period of three or four days before venturing out for a meal - so we can see that there is a pattern to the biting.
So random black specks on sheets and pillow cases are the first signs of you having a problem; the other part of this is that the bed bugs will feed on the first piece of skin available; they don't select areas if you arm is on top of the bed then the junction between sheet and arm is the feeding zone. Bed bugs will bite in lines; as it fills and then excretes the blood so it moves to the next place and so on until full. If you have lines of bites then its probably bed bugs.
Bed bugs have some pretty unsavoury habits and one of these is their lovemaking; female bed bugs don't have a sexual opening as such and to get round the issue of reproduction without all the necessary organs, the male has a penis like a hypodermic syringe - they piece the females abdomen injecting her with sperm.
It all sounds pretty gruesome and to get access to the females for mating, bed bugs have developed to be thigmotropic; this means that they like to be touched IE: hidden in cracks and crevices in contact with their surroundings. When the males find a suitable place they release a congregation pheromone that entices other bed bugs to the area.
This means that you can find accumulations of blood spots at a bed bug hiding place and along with this a musky smell; this is the pheromone and it smells like a dirty damp towel. On dark surfaces you can see amongst the blood spots, little white egg cases; these are laid at a rate of only a couple a day but in the average female bed bugs lifetime they can lay around 500 of these.
Bed bug egg's on a suitcase - these were carried home from holiday
The Victorians called them wall bugs as wall furnishings used to made of cloth and this was poorly stuck in place and I would imagine that it was an ideal home for the insects. So its a similar thing today, we often find these hiding behind pictures and up behind curtains. When deflated a bed bug has the same cross section as a single piece of paper; they can slide inside electrical wall sockets and in modern hotels they maybe able to move through the walls at the junction of wall and floor.
There are some tips for avoiding bed bugs - I've been there, a three in the morning start, several pints in the Wetherspoons pub at Gatwick and a eleven hour flight to Cuba. You arrive at your hotel and the pool area is empty; that swim up bar is number 1 priority, you're exhausted and you just want to get your cossie on and start the holiday.
I'll let the wife run down to the pool, but, I will strip the sheets of the bed and check the mattress looking for blood spots. I check the head end as bed bugs mainly pick up on our CO2, however we give off a cocktail of scents, fumes and pheromones so I will check the bottom end as well. When treating bed bug infestations I find that there are three concentrations - head, foot and middle of the bed.
I just whizz the sheets up, but once that bits complete I slide the mattress of the bed and check the bed base whether its a divan or a frame bed, again, looking for blood spots - I'm not interested any further than that. If I find a blood spot we're out of there - pronto! Lastly, I look at the head board; these are often fixed to the wall and so I lick a finger and run this behind the board - if I find blood then we're out.
From experience I have slept in beds with bed bugs twice; once in Cuba where I caught one single bug, the bed was dragged out of the room and left in the hotel grounds and I was clear with the management that I wanted a replacement. The second was a hotel where we had the only room available and had one night in there before we were moved. No clothing or belongings were taken out of the bathroom to stop contamination and we both showered with the water as hot as we could stand it - twice.
A few simple precautions can save you for one money and two, the stress of having a bed bug infestation. There seems to be a stigma about these and I can understand that but we have to realise that these insects are rapidly becoming more successful and widespread; I think of them as the 21st Centuries plague.
Are bed bugs becoming more common and why?
Yes, frequent travel and movement of people means that we are exposed to bedbugs - you can even have colonies residing in transport systems like trains and planes. They have a transit population and as these vehicles cannot be taken out of use for a treatment that easily so it goes on; the plane you travel out in on holiday turns around and flies straight back. Then it flies somewhere else, if there are bed bugs in board they won't get treated until either someone complains or the aircraft goes in for a major service - search bed bugs on planes - you'll be surprised!
Are bed bugs becoming resistant to chemicals?
Since the ban on using DDT we have been fighting a slow but losing battle against bed bugs; they are able to metabolise a small amount of the toxic chemicals that we use. Many are killed but the survivor's will breed with each other and their offspring will develop with a natural immunity; as this becomes a cycle so the population becomes more and more resistant.
If bed bugs are resistant to chemicals how do you treat them?
Some bed bugs will die off with a chemical treatment no matter which one is in use; but that's not good enough so we use a combination of chemicals. Certain ones for the mattress and others for the bed and we use a range of application methods; our aim is to attack the bed bugs from different angles, but, we will always introduce heat as our main weapon against these insects. Bed bugs have a low resistance to high temperatures (thermal death point) so we use steam at 180 degrees centigrade in a local application and portable devices for a more widespread scenario which heats the entire room to 60 degrees centigrade.
What is the thermal death point?
TDP is the term used for the temperatures above which bed bugs cannot survive; its very simple really as they cannot regulate their body temperature through sweating and exhalation like in mammals; raise the temperature and you kill the insects. For bed bugs its 49 degrees centigrade and up and for the egg's its 54 degrees centigrade
More information on TDP and bed bugs is available by clicking here to a link from the US National Library of Medicine