Back to Bed Bugs Basics

It’s easy to get caught up in the intricacies of bed bug work, focusing on the details of the treatment protocol including finding the right product mix.   Often, we are so immersed that we lose sight of the basic facts we know about the target pest and the knowledge we can offer for control. Let’s get back to bed bug basics:

  • Identification
  • Education for Early Detection
  • Prevention & Control

Proper Bed Bug 'Identification'

Remember, when it comes to bed bugs we aren’t just looking for the bug itself but also signs of activity.  These include:

  • Dark, fecal spots 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch in diameter on the bedding, headboard or areas surrounding the sleeping area. Some spots appear dark and others look faded. Some have described the stains as looking like sprinkled pepper or a smudged magic marker.
  • Cast skins (molt) that nymphs leave behind as they grow through their 5 juvenile stages.  Bed bugs must have a blood meal at each stage to progress to adulthood.
  • Red spots (blood droplets) or reddish strains from crushed bed bugs.
  • Bed bug eggs are typically 1 mm long, white and elongated. They are often glued to a surface.  Harder to detect given their size and color.

Do you take your client's, guest's or a housekeeping staff’s report as sole confirmation when they say they’ve found a bed bug? As we know, bat bugs are almost impossible to differentiate from a bed bug with the naked eye.  Before you pull out the big guns, ensure you are dealing with a bed bug by consulting with a trained pest management professional.

It is also possible that one or two bed bugs are uncovered in an account with no further signs of an infestation. There are various schools of thought on whether you should treat based on the finding of 1 or 2 bed bugs. For starters, determine if it is alive or dead.  Then discern whether it is male or female. Females that may be prepared to drop their eggs are much more concerning, when found. Next, consider a canine inspection, ensuring you go the extra mile in determining the extent of the problem.  Strongly consider an active mattress liner on the mattress or box spring in the target and surrounding rooms. The goal here is to be certain that a bed bug introduction doesn’t turn into a full-blown infestation.

Education for Early Detection

Whether you are treating a residence or a large hotel, education is fundamental in assisting our clients toward achieving a bed bug-free environment.  We cannot stop bed bugs from being introduced into any facility, but we can work with our clients to stop an introduction from establishing into an infestation.  Uncovering a bed bug problem early is key!  To do so we need to educate those in residence or staff to recognize the early signs of an infestation.  Educate your clients by preparing and distributing personalized leave-behind materials on the basics of bed bug biology, behavior and treatment.  Employ powerful visuals of bed bugs in different life forms, fecal stains, eggs, etc.  Consult with experts in the preparation of these materials or direct clients to PestWorld; an excellent resource for educating the layperson on the detection of bed bugs.

Next, reinforce that your clients have a ‘Standard Operating Manual’ in place should they discover a bed bug. This manual should be a guide that educates the reader that documentation (offering clear template examples) at every step in the process is crucial.  Make certain that it is referred to often rather than gaining dust on a bookshelf.  Recently we have noticed a trend that pre-treatment protocols are minimizing the preparation we typically burdened our clients with previously. The rationale is that extensive preparation appears to contribute to spreading bed bugs throughout a home or facility, further complicating control measures. 

Prevention & Control

If an account has had a bed bug infestation in the past or they are considered at high risk (e.g., high transient behavior) for bed bugs, instituting a preventive strategy must be given serious consideration.   An active mattress liner can serve as the perfect multi-tasker by:

  • Protecting the host sleeping in the bed in addition to the mattress and box spring
  • Preventing introduced bed bugs from establishing an infestation for two years
  • Acting like a monitoring device
  • Offering peace of mind to the client
  • Most importantly, killing bed bugs starting within 10 minutes of contact!

Simplify your approach to bed bugs with our: Identify | Educate | Prevent & Control methodology. Sometimes, getting back to the basics can make all the difference.

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