In a report released yesterday by Orkin Canada, Winnipeg came in second as the Canadian city with the most bed bug-related pest service calls. Only Toronto had more. It’s interesting to note that Montreal, a city that was facing a bed bug epidemic just last year is conspicuously missing from the list.
The rise of bed bugs in Winnipeg is particularly alarming since they can survive in just about any environment (no matter how clean or tidy), multiply quickly, can be transported when you move or travel and are becoming increasingly resistant to pesticides.
Taz Stuart of Poulin’s Pest Control told our sister station 680 CJOB that an adult female bed bug, may lay between 200 to 500 eggs in a lifetime, averaging 3-5 eggs per day. From one original breeding pair of two, in as little as six months you could have about 1,500 bed bugs!
What The Heck Are Bed Bugs Anyway?
Bed bugs are small, nocturnal, wingless insects with two antennae and six legs. Adult bed bugs are flat and oval in shape and between 4-5 mm long, about the size of an apple seed. Young bed bugs, or nymphs, are clear or yellowish in colour and molt numerous times before becoming full grown. Adult bed bugs are rust coloured or a deep red brown after feeding. They feed on the blood of humans and other warm blooded animals and are attracted by the carbon dioxide and warmth that we give off. Bed bugs prefer dark undisturbed areas near where they can feed, usually within 3-6 feet (although they have been know to travel as far as 20 feet to feed if they have to). Because of their flattened bodies and nighttime habits bed bugs can often be difficult to detect, they hide in crevices in furniture like bed frames and sofas, under carpets, in cracks in the floor or behind loose wallpaper, picture frames or baseboards. Large infestations will give off a sweet but unpleasant smell. Scary fact: Adult bed bugs can survive for a year without feeding!
How Do You Know If You Have Bed Bugs?
If you suspect you might have bed bugs it’s time to do some investigating. The four tell-tale signs are:
- Seeing the bugs. Ew!
- Exoskeletons: As the bugs grow, they shed their skins, or molt, leaving their old casings behind.
- Stains: After feeding, bed bugs defecate leaving black or brown stains near where they’re hiding.
- Bites: Ouch! While they don’t typically spread disease (thank goodness!) bed bug bites often appear as small, raised, itchy red welts. It’s important to note that roughly 70% of people do not react to bed bug bites, when first bitten. A bite mark can take up to 14 days to develop in some people. Bites can appear on any skin that is exposed while you sleep and often look like mosquito or flea bites. You may want to visit a dermatologist.
How To Treat Bed Bug Bites
Much like mosquito bites, there’s not much you can do to treat bed bug bites, but you can reduce the discomfort they produce.
- Wash the bites with soap and water. This will help prevent an infection and reduce itchiness.
- If the bites itch, apply a corticosteroid cream to the bites. You can this over the counter at your local drugstore.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Unfortunately, to completely rid yourself of these tiny bloodsuckers, you’re going to have to call in the big guns – a professional exterminator, since household insecticides won’t do the trick and you need to be careful treating the area where you sleep. There are some steps you can take yourself:
- Clean bedding, linens, curtains and clothing in HOT water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately empty the vacuum or place the bag in another plastic bag and deposit in a garbage can outdoors.
- Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping.
- Fill cracks in plaster or floors and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of hiding places.
Tips To Keep Away Bed Bugs
- Remove all clutter from your home, which makes finding bed bugs easier.
- Wash and dry your bed linens on the hottest temperature permitted.
- Closely inspect any second-hand furniture before bringing it in your home.
- Inspect your home after moving, trips, service calls or overnight guests.