Bedbugs were once a common public health pest worldwide, which declined in incidence through the mid 20th century. Recently however, bed bugs have undergone a dramatic resurgence and worldwide there are reports of increasing numbers of infestations. Bed bugs are one of the great travelers of the world and are readily transported via luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. As such, they have a worldwide distribution.
Some Basic Facts:
Bed bugs are persistent. Eradicating, exterminating or just killing an entire infestation requires persistence.
Bed bugs can hide in extremely small cracks and crevices making it difficult to locate breeding sites.
Bedbugs are rarely seen in daylight. They emerge from their hiding spots at night.
Bed bugs can live a year or longer without food (blood) and thus stay in their hiding places.
Bed bugs can travel long distances and survive in suitcases, clothing, vehicles, aircraft, cruise ships and other modes of transportation.
Bed bug females lay about 300 eggs.
Bed bugs hatch from eggs in 10 days.
Bed Bug Bites:
Bed bugs feed by piercing skin with an elongated beak. Saliva is injected, containing an anesthetic to reduce pain, and an anticoagulant to keep blood flowing. The reaction to bed bug bites varies among individuals, from no reaction to sever skin inflammation and irritation.
How to treat bites:
The redness and itch associated with bedbug bites usually goes away on its own within a week or two. You might speed your recovery by using:
A skin cream containing hydrocortisone
An oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
If you develop a skin infection from scratching bedbug bites, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.
Treating your home:
Once your symptoms are treated, you must tackle the underlying infestation. This can be difficult because bedbugs hide so well and can live for months without eating. Your best bet may be to hire a professional exterminator, who may use a combination of pesticides and nonchemical treatments.
Nonchemical treatments may include:
Vacuuming. A thorough vacuuming of cracks and crevices can physically remove bedbugs from an area. But vacuum cleaners can’t reach all hiding places.
Hot water. Washing clothes and other items in water at least 120 F (49 C) can kill bedbugs.
Clothes dryer. Placing wet or dry items in a clothes dryer set at medium to high heat for 20 minutes will kill bedbugs and their eggs.
Enclosed vehicle. If it’s summer, you can bag up infested items and leave them in a car parked in the sun with the windows rolled up for a day. The target temperature is at least 120 F (49 C).
Freezing. Bedbugs are also vulnerable to temperatures below 32 F (0 C) but you’d need to leave the items outdoors or in the freezer for several days.
Some professional exterminators use portable devices to produce steam, heat or freezing temperatures to kill bedbugs. In some cases, you may have to throw out heavily infested items such as mattresses or couches.
MORE RESOURCES & INFORMATION
BC Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, Tips on Bedbugs:
Vancouver Coastal Health:
North American Bed Bug Registry:
GLOBAL National August 12,2010:
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