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Bed Bugs (Cimex lectularius)

Once thought to be a pest of a bygone era, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius)Bed bug adult have made a dramatic public reappearance in the United States in the past decade.  In 2009 and 2010, the American news media reported heavily on how commercial buildings, multi-family projects, hotels, transit systems, and other urban locations across the country were being invaded by these pests that are well known for being secretive during the day and vicious in their attacks on sleeping humans at night.


Bed bugs travel from location to location solely by hitchhiking on individuals, in infested items, or in means of transport of goods.  During the day (except in extreme cases of infestation) bed bugs will remain hidden from view in cracks and crevices of general household items, furniture (especially bedding and bed furniture), clothing, floor baseboards, wall hangings, etc.  At night, bed bugs will emerge from their hiding places for the sole purpose of feeding on the blood of a human host.


Hatched from eggs laid by a fertilized female, bed bugs will emerge as an instar (immature insects) about 1/20th of one inch in size, small enough to require a 10X or more magnifying glass for identification.  During their life cycle, bed bugs will go through five instar stages before maturing into reproductive adults.  Adult bugs can reach 1/8-3/16 inch in size. 


The good news is that, as far as academic research has told us to date, bed bugs are not vectors of disease.  The bad news is that all instar stages can bite and suck blood just as adults will.  Depending on the sensitivity of the individual, bite reactions can range from virtually non-existent to skin discoloration, inflammation, and scarring.  Most people have bite reactions in between the extreme ranges.


Bed bugs are attracted to their prey primarily by carbon dioxide exhaled from normal humanBed bug-first instar respiration and to a lesser extent from body heat.  Though they can feed as frequently as every 3-7 days, they can survive for over two months before the next meal depending on the instar stage of the bug, ambient room temperatures, and other factors.



The good news to date is that the present bed bug problems in the U.S. are less widespread in the Pacific Northwest than in other parts of the country.  The bad news is that the bed bug issue has made an appearance in the Northwest and is spreading. 


Preventative Measures:  The best way to avoid a bed bug problem is to prevent their introduction in your home and personal effects.  This requires due diligence when traveling (as an example, making sure that hotel rooms rented are not infested) and inspecting one’s luggage upon return.  Taking a closer look at used furniture or clothing before introducing such items into the home is important.



Corrective measures:  Clothing items found infested with bed bugs can be tossed into a clothes dryer and heated to kill the insects (bed bugs will die at temperatures greater than 114º F).  Do-it-yourself chemical treatments are generally worthless, for all practical purposes, as the strains of bed bugs we are seeing today have been found to be resistant to most current insecticide products now on the market.  Bed bug populations can spread quickly and treatment programs, due to their labor intensiveness, are expensive.  As a result, measures to take control of infestations in homes and apartments are best left to experienced pest management professionals.


Leupitz Pest Control staff and management have participated in national forums addressing this increasing spreading pest threat and can provide the direction and help you may need to deal with this bed bug scourge.