Bed bugs are considered to be “true bugs,” those insects that are capable of piercing tissues and sucking out liquids. Most true bugs are so-called “phytophagous” insects, the bug equivalent of being a vegetarian. These bugs are content to pierce plant tissue and suck out sap for their sustenance. Other bugs are predatory, feeding on other insects or even small vertebrates.
Finally, and most unfortunately, a small minority of these species, like the bed bug, are parasites. Entomologists call these insects obligatory hematophagous animals. In plain English, these bugs feed exclusively on the blood of larger animals. Most of these blood-feeding insects (there are approximately 100 worldwide species of blood-feeders) prey on bats, birds, and small animals.
But there are two species of bed bugs that have a distinct preference for human blood: the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius L., and the tropical bed bug, C. hemipterus Fabr. So far, in the United States, reported cases of the tropical bed bug have been limited to Florida. But the common bed bug is a different story. The source of all of our bed bug problems in New Jersey, as in most places, is because of this one blood-sucking parasite.
The common bed bug, which is tolerant of cooler temperatures, has a worldwide distribution throughout North America, Europe, and Central Asia. They have been found in all fifty states. The tri-state area has been especially hard-hit with bed bug infestations in recent years because of our population density and mobile population. Although the common bed bug prefers human blood, its will also suck the blood from other animals when in a pinch, feeding off birds, bats, rodents, and our domestic pets. The professional bed bug exterminators at Cowleys Pest Services offer bed bug control in Edison, Woodbridge, Lakewood and more.
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Proper identification is the first step in managing bed bugs. They resemble and can be confused with other insects such as:
Carpet beetle larvae have hairs all over their bodies and the adults have two hard wings. A bed bug has six legs. A bug with eight legs may be a tick or mite. Bed bugs are not overwintering bugs; once they find a location with human hosts, they stay there unless they happen to be hiding on the clothing or personal effects of someone leaving the home. Bed bugs do not use our homes as a refuge from winter temperatures; they use homes because of its human hosts.
Bat bugs can be confused with bed bugs. Bat bugs are also parasitic bugs that require blood to survive. These bugs develop in colonies of roosting bats that are often found in attics or behind building walls. When the bats migrate or are excluded from the building, the bat bugs may move into human living areas and incidentally bite people. Likewise, swallow bugs are parasitic bugs that feed off cliff swallows and human bites can occur in homes where swallows attach and maintain nests. All of these wingless species of insects are generally similar in appearance with the same coloring and size,
Unfed adult bed bugs are about the size of a lentil or apple seed (about 3/16 to 1/5 inch long). You can definitely see the adults. The trick is finding their hiding spots. If the edge of a credit card can fit, so can a bed bug. They are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped and flattened. Their flat shape enables them to readily hide in cracks and crevices. The body becomes more elongate, swollen, and dark red after a blood meal. Think of a drop of blood with legs and that pretty much describes a bed bug after a blood meal. Just like a tick, bed bugs plump up after feeding. A bed bug’s antennae point forward and are about half as long as the body, not longer. Its head is broadly attached to its body and they have small, stubby, nonfunctional wing pads. They have a beaklike piercing-sucking mouthpart system.
Bed bugs do not undergo metamorphosis (a pupal stage) between the larval and adult stage. Instead, their young are called nymphs and resemble the adults to a large degree, the primary difference being their tiny size. They are about 1/16’ (1 mm) long. Unfed nymphs are tan. Adults live for about one year and three or more generations can occur each year.
Eggs are small, white, barrel-shaped and sticky. The eggs are coated with a sticky substance so that they will adhere to whatever they are laid on. Female bed bugs lay from one to twelve eggs per day. A female may lay an average of 200 eggs in her lifetime, with the potential of up to 500 eggs. Eggs hatch in about ten days on average and nymphs can immediately begin to feed. They require a blood meal to molt and bed bugs reach maturity after five molts.
Identification: The critical first step is to correctly identify the blood-feeding pest, as this determines those treatment protocols to adopt that take into account the specific bug biology and habits. For example, if the blood feeder is a bat bug rather than a common bed bug, different management approach is needed.
Inspection: A thorough inspection of the premises to locate bed bugs and their harborage sites is necessary so that cleaning efforts and applications can be focused. Inspection efforts concentrate on the mattress, box springs, and bed frame as well as the cracks and crevices that the bed bugs may hide in during the day or while digesting a blood meal. These sites can vary depending on the particular home and can include window and door frames, floor cracks, carpet tack boards, baseboards, electrical boxes, furniture (especially if used for naps or rests like sofas, reclining chairs, and cribs), pictures, wall hangings, drapery pleats, loosened wallpaper, cracks in plaster, and ceiling moldings. Cowleys also has a working partnership with an accredited dog scent detection team that has proven to be highly effective in locating bed bugs for targeted treatments.
Preparation: Cowleys will coordinate with the homeowner those measures necessary as part of the overall strategy to eliminate the bed bugs. This can include vacuuming, laundering, scrubbing of the mattress to dislodge bed bugs, and repairing cracks in plaster and gluing down loosened wallpaper to eliminate bed bug harborage. Mattress enclosure in a zippered mattress cover is also important.
Treatment: It is a popular myth that with DDT now being banned, there are no effective insecticides that work. In fact, professional pest control operators have access to an array of applications that have been proven to work amazingly well. However, today’s insecticides break down quickly in order to make them safe for humans. As such, they may not have the residual efficacy to kill those bed bugs that hatch from eggs laid before the insecticide was applied. Insecticides do not penetrate the eggs, which can take upward of two weeks to hatch. In today’s world, multiple, carefully targeted applications are necessary in order to eliminate bed bugs. A follow-up treatment is necessary to kill the newly hatched nymphs. Most importantly, insecticides are a supplement to a multi-tactic approach; they don’t replace other hard work that needs to be done. Do not let anyone tell you that a simple spraying is enough to eradicate a bed bug infestation. It’s not.
If you think you may possibly have an infestation, or are especially dealing with bed bug bites, contact us now to quickly get rid of the problem. We have the experience and expertise with bed bug removal to identify and eliminate your problem. In just a few minutes, your solution can be on the way. Cowleys Pest Services works with homeowners throughout Woodbridge, Edison, Lakewood, Brick, Toms River, Piscataway, Trenton, Middletown, Princeton Junction, Old Bridge, and the surrounding area.