Bed bugs are somewhat unique among the many pests that invade our New England homes. Today, we're going to look at a few categories that pests commonly fall into and explore why bed bugs don't fit into these categories. This should help to get a better perspective as to how bed bugs get in and, more importantly, how you can keep them out!
Some pests live outside and cannot live in our homes with us, crop pests like stink bugs and Asian lady beetles are a great example. These pests can overwinter inside our homes when it gets cold outside but they can’t settle there permanently as there are no crops inside our homes for them to feed on. However, bed bugs are quite the opposite; they are indoor pests and are rarely found living outside.
Many pests that can live with us are also capable of living outdoors such as rodents, carpenter ants, Indian meal moths, centipedes, and many other pests. When you have a pest control professional apply a barrier treatment around your home, it will work to keep out outdoor pests and indoor/outdoor pests that come in through the gaps and cracks in your exterior walls. However, those treatments will have no effect on bed bugs as these parasitic pests are carried into our homes on our clothing or in our purses, suitcases, or other personal belongings.
Pests That Have a Host
While it is true that bed bugs are blood-eating pests, they behave very differently than other pests that come into our yards and invade our homes to gain access to a blood meal. Mosquitoes, for example, are highly-mobile pests and are able to fly right in through an open window or door. But installing good screens is usually enough to keep these pests out. However, those screens will do nothing to protect you from a bed bug infestation!
Some blood-eating pests such as ticks and fleas, choose a host animal to live on, but bed bugs do not. So, while ticks and fleas can often enter homes on dogs, cats, rodents, and other wild animals, bed bugs cannot. Instead, as we mentioned above, they have to be carried into a home or other building by people, either on their clothing or inside their belongings. So even if you take measures to control rodents and other animals in your yard and have routine treatments performed to reduce ticks and fleas around your home, any invading bed bugs will remain unaffected by these changes.
What Stops Bed Bugs
Since bed bugs are carried in by people and often hide inside transportable items, a unique pest control strategy is required to keep them out of our homes. Here's how it works:
- When you go somewhere to spend the night, even if it is to stay overnight at a friend's or relative’s house, be aware that you could potentially pick up bed bugs.
- When you or someone who lives in your home spend the night somewhere, it is important to keep an eye out for signs of bed bugs; look for black streaks or excrement, shed bed bug skins, tiny white eggs or egg casings, blood staining, or bed bugs themselves.
- Bed bug identification is crucial. It’s important to learn how to identify a bed bug in all stages of development. When they first hatch, bed bugs are about 1 mm in length and are translucent to pale white in color. As they develop, they turn more tan in color and eventually become a brownish-red color when they reach adulthood.
- Take notice if someone has bug bites on their skin, especially your family members. Bed bug bites are usually arranged in clusters or in trails across the skin as individual bed bugs don't bite just one time; oftentimes, they'll bite multiple times during the night.
- Be aware that bed bugs are drawn to items that have already been worn and make sure to store your clothing in a plastic bag when you're done wearing them or wash them immediately.
- Be aware that bed bugs prefer to hide in the cracks and creases of clothing items and personal belongings. When inspecting any item for bed bugs, make sure to look in tight spaces.
- Be cautious when bringing any used furniture into your home, especially beds, upholstered furniture, and nightstands or avoid it altogether. If you decide to do this, inspect them closely for signs of bed bugs or have a professional inspect those items. Professional pest control companies like American Pest Solutions use K-9 inspectors to efficiently sniff for bed bugs.
- Be aware that you can pick up bed bugs when you go anywhere outside of your home. These parasitic pests have been found in libraries, movie theaters, senior living centers, schools, college dormitories, daycares, and more!
Routine inspections, proper identification, and continual awareness are key factors in preventing any pest infestation, including with bed bugs. But, if these bugs make it past your watchful eye, know that the team at American Pest Solutions is here to help you quickly resolve bed bug problems. Reach out to us for immediate assistance!