It’s a distasteful subject, but one that needs discussing. Bed bugs: tiny little insects that inflict itchy bites on people in their beds at night, feed on their blood and then seem to disappear. Disgusting!
This is of special concern to us at ESS Universal because we’re in the bunk bed business, and many of our customers run facilities that house large numbers of people overnight. These may include camps, hostels, shelters and other facilities. As well-run and clean as these places may be, their rotating clientele can bring with it the beginnings of a bed bug infestation. And that can grow into a huge problem. It’s best to know the facts and what you can do to prevent an infestation.
What Are Bed Bugs?
For thousands of years, the common bed bug (scientifically known as Cimex lectularius) has been a pest to humans. The bugs are tiny, flat, reddish-brown in color, and like to hide. Although they are not known to actually spread disease, bed bugs can cause other health problems such as allergic reactions to bites, secondary infections of the skin and adverse impacts on the mental health of people who have to live in infested homes. Let’s face it—having bed bugs is a drag.
There’s been a recent increase in the prevalence of bed bugs throughout the United States, and many experts believe this is due to more travel (including international travel), general ignorance about how to prevent infestations and ineffective pest control.
What Do Bed Bugs Want?
They want us. Sure, they may occasionally steal a blood meal from the family dog or cat, but they really prefer humans as a host to feed on. Bed bugs love us, everything about us, and they know how to find us. They’re attracted to the warmth and moisture of our bodies, even the carbon dioxide in our breath. And they can detect all these from a distance of three feet.
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?
Stopping a bed bug infestation starts with finding the little fellows. This is harder than it sounds, since they’re small, reclusive and tend to resemble other kinds of bugs.
Contrary to the belief of many, bed bugs don’t prefer dirty or messy environments, or discriminate between personal and public spaces. However, a very cluttered environment does make for more hiding places, which can make bed bug detection and control a more difficult task.
If an infestation is severe, the bugs won’t just stick to the bed; they can be all over. Generally, bed bugs like to conceal their small selves in small spaces, like seams, cracks and crevices. So look for signs of reddish brown bed bug excrement, white collections of eggs, or squashed bugs, not only in your bed sheets, but in the following places:
- The seams of a mattress
- Under a box spring
- Behind a headboard
- In the seams of chairs and couches, and between cushions
- Under the edge of an area rug or carpet
- In the folds of window curtains
- Behind loose wall paper
- Where a wall and ceiling meet
- In drawer joints
- In electrical appliances and wall sockets
What Can Be Done About Them?
If you find evidence of a bed bug infestation, don’t try to treat it yourself. Contact a professional exterminator immediately. They know best what to do, and treating a small infestation early is easier and less costly than treating one that has spread.
Today there are effective strategies for controlling bed bugs, involving both chemical and non-chemical methods.
- Whole Room Heat Treatments. In this technique, a pest management technician brings in special equipment to raise the air temperature in your home or facility above 135°F (57.2°C) to kill the bed bugs. A heat treatment usually takes about six to eight hours to complete. In addition, the technician may take the preventative step of applying a residual insecticide.
- Insecticide Treatments. Multiple types of chemical insecticides are typically used: A fast-acting, contact insecticide, a residual insecticide, and a dust insecticide. These are applied to various surfaces, cracks and crevices where appropriate, including inside and underneath furniture. Your exterminator may also have other services to offer, such as heat, steam or freezing applications for treating individual, infested articles.
After a successful bed bug treatment, you can take steps to minimize future risk, like uncluttering your home or facility and wrapping mattresses and box springs in zippered, bug-resistant cases. But now that you know what to look for, be vigilant for signs of recurrence.
Other helpful bed bug resources
- How Long Can Bed Bugs Live in a Plastic Bag?
- Do Bed Bugs Go Dormant in Winter?
- Bed Bugs vs. Ticks: The Differences Between Ticks & Bed Bugs
- 4 Early Signs of Bed Bugs on Mattresses
- Do Bed Bugs Hide in Metal Bed Frames?
- How to Find Bed Bugs During the Day
- Bed Bug Prevention Tips: How to Prevent Bed Bugs in Your Property
ESS Universal manufactures and supplies high-quality, cost-effective commercial grade beds, mattresses, and furniture to camps, hostels, shelters, dorms and more. View our entire line of furniture products including our popular waterproof foam mattress for institutional use, single metal bed frames, single over single bunk beds, single over double bunk beds, and triple bunk beds. Download our catalog for detailed information on our complete product line.