One of the most common questions we get asked is: Where do bed bugs come from? Unfortunately, one of our customers found out the hard way. She didn’t know what bed bugs looked like or how to check for bed bugs until they were suddenly everywhere.
The truth is, we don’t always recognize the early signs of bed bugs. This story illustrates how quickly they can become a problem and how difficult it can be to get rid of bed bugs once they’ve infiltrated your world. Take heed!
What Causes Bed Bugs?
A dear friend of ours, Carol, tripped over a childproof gate at the bottom of her stairs and broke her ankle. She ended up in a large hospital for three days. During her stay, Carol was put in a patient room with a sofa and a stuffed, white chair for visitors.
On the first day of Carol’s stay, her whole family visited her: her husband, her son, her two daughters, daughter and sons-in-law and multiple grandchildren. Several family members took turns sitting in the white chair. One of her sons-in-law thought he felt something biting him and mentioned at the nurse’s station. The nurse did a quick inspection but didn’t see anything.
That afternoon, Carol’s friends from church showed up with the usual assortment of balloons and flowers. One of the church deacons sat in the white chair but didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.
The next morning, the gardening club ladies showed up. The woman in the white chair noticed something biting them and mentioned this to Carol. Carol, remembering her son-in-law complaining the night before, called the nurse.
A new nurse inspected the chair and saw a small dark red insect along the seam. This nurse had been trained in the identification of bed bugs and in the hospital’s bed bug action plan. He immediately reported the sighting and began the process to correct the situation.
Carol and her clan were moved to a different room. The room with the white chair was quarantined and treated for bed bugs.
How Bed Bugs Spread
The story is far from over. During the treatment, 20 adults and a handful bed bug babies emerged from the folds of the white chair. At least 4 people had sat directly in the white chair which also probably contained microscopic beg bug eggs.
-The son-in-law had left to go back to work at his financial planning firm, a large office building downtown, with 11 floors.
-An adult granddaughter took the train back to Chicago where she attends college. She lives in a dorm on campus with 3 other girls.
-Carol’s other grandchildren attend daycare and middle school.
-The deacon didn’t go directly home, he visited another parishioner in the same hospital.
-The gardening club ladies? After visiting with Carol, some of them returned home, while others went out to lunch and then window shopping at the mall.
Michigan is home to 100s of varieties of beetles. Most of them are harmless, some are invasive, and many can be a nuisance. Beetle larvae – or grubs – are voracious eaters that destroy plants and lawns at the root. Wood burrowing larvae can damage and kill trees.
A beetle is an insect with six legs, a head, an abdomen and a thorax. What distinguishes beetles are two sets of wings – a hard protective outer pair called elytra and a soft inner pair. We cover some of the more popular beetles in Michigan and answer where beetles come from, whether they’re harmful and how to keep them away.
Stag beetles in Michigan are easily identified by the large pinchers or mandibles on the male members of the species. Theses mandibles are used in battles over food and mates. Despite their imposing appearance, stag beetles aren’t normally aggressive towards humans.
Stags are a black beetle with long shiny bodies. The females are smaller than the males. Stag beetle larvae are smooth white grubs with orange heads and legs. The larvae spend 3-5 years underground before becoming adults. Adult beetles hatch in early summer and usually die by September.
Stag beetles live in forests and wooded areas. Stag beetle larvae feed on dead and decaying wood. Adult stag beetles can’t eat solid food beyond tree sap and soft fruit and rely on built up fat reserves from when they were larvae. These beetles are a vital part of woodland habitats for their role in consuming dead and decaying trees.
Carpet beetles are small oval shaped beetles with dark brown, orange and black mottling. They are named for their penchant for eating carpet as well as other textiles like wool, leather, felt and feathers. The larvae are the actual destructors; adult carpet beetles only eat flower pollen,
Carpet beetle larvae are small grubs covered in long orange hair. These small worms have a big appetite and leave behind shed skins and fabric holes as they grow.
Carpet beetles are sometimes confused with bed bugs. Both are small and prefer quiet areas like bedrooms, but carpet beetles don’t bite humans. Bed bugs lack wings and are usually a flat tan or brown color without mottling.
The best way to prevent carpet beetles is by vacuuming. Adult beetles will lay eggs in your carpet or in quiet corners. Vacuuming regularly usually catches the tiny eggs that you would never notice otherwise. If you encounter a carpet beetle infestation and see damaged textiles, Griffin Pest Solutions’ highly trained specialists can help.
June bugs encompass a variety of beetles that relate back to the Egyptian scarab. These large beetles in Michigan are popular around decks and patio lights. No one knows for certain why June bugs are so attracted to light.
June bugs or June beetles get their name from the time of year they normally appear. Like stag beetles, June bugs spend several years as grubs before they become adults. As the ground thaws after winter, the grubs pupate into their adult form and emerge as the shiny beetles you see around your home.
June bugs are mostly harmless. They aren’t aggressive and don’t bite humans. The main issue is with the larvae. June beetle grubs eat plant roots and grass while underground. If you have a grub infestation, it could cause brown patches in your lawn or garden.
Asian long-horned beetles are large black beetles with speckled markings and long antennae. Their larvae live in tress and create feeding tunnels. Eventually these tunnels can cause branches to break or even kill the infested tree. The best method for dealing with Asian long horns is, unfortunately, to remove the affected trees.
Japanese Beetles are shiny green metallic beetles with white hairs on their abdomen. These insects feed on flowers, fruits, vegetables, beans and corn. They can strip plants of their leaves and damage crops. The grubs can damage lawn and turf via underground roots. You can use pesticides as well as several natural methods to get rid of Japanese beetles in your garden.
Michigan’s Strangest Beetle
The blister beetle may be the oddest beetle we have in Michigan. While these garden dwellers help by reducing the grasshopper population, they also drip a toxic yellow ooze. This irritant is toxic to humans and will cause skin to blister.
Blister beetles are long and narrow with a slim neck. Their soft bodies range in color from black to gray with yellow or red stripes. If you come in contact with a blister beetle, you may not react right away. Welts typically appear 24-48 hours after contact. They are mostly harmless but can cause a painful burning sensation. To treat beetle blisters, keep the affected areas clean and use a topical steroid if needed.
Keeping Michigan Beetles Under Control
Griffin pest solutions quickly addresses insect infestations of all kinds including beetles. If you are concerned about beetles or grubs around your Michigan home, call or contact us today. We’re happy to help you stay bug-free this summer.
Outside of the boogey man, no image conjures greater nighttime terror than that of the bed bug. Itchy bites, crawling hordes and ruined furniture follow these fearsome feasters down their nocturnal path. Welts, sheds, and bed bug stains may mean you’ve got a bed bug infestation brewing in your bedroom.
Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of. You’ll want to identify them quickly and act even more quickly if you’ve got them. Identification can be tricky – bed bugs like to hide in tight spots like mattress seams during the day. We don’t want you to lose sleep over pest problems, so we’ve tried to answer all your bed bug questions here. Hopefully, these answers will help you identify a potential bed bug problem and explain how to best respond.
Why Do Bed Bugs Bite?
We’ve all been warned not to let the bed bugs bite, but why do they want to torment us in our sleep? The short answer is food. Bed bugs need the protein from your blood to molt and mature into their adult form.
Like mosquitoes, bed bugs have an elongated beak that they use to probe through your skin and into your blood vessels. They will feed for up to ten minutes until engorged and then hide again.
Mature females also use that nutrition to produce and lay their eggs. A female will average one egg/day and lay up to 250 eggs in her lifetime. While these numbers are low relative to other insects, you don’t want bed bugs propagating in your bedroom.
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?
If you’re reading this, chances are you woke up with suspicious bites on your skin that weren’t there the night before. Bed bug bites are similar to mosquito bites and can be easily confused with them.
Bed bug bites appear as small, pink and puffy spots with darker coloring in the center. They may or may not itch. While bed bugs can bite you anywhere, they usually concentrate in areas that were exposed while sleeping like hands, wrists, ankles, neck, and face. Bites usually occur in lines or irregular zig-zagging clusters and can accumulate over many nights.
The size of the bites will vary depending on your body’s reaction. People who are more sensitive or allergic will display larger bites. If you scratch your bites, they may become inflamed. Keep bites clean and use an antibacterial if they appear infected.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Now that we know what bed bug bites looks like, let’s identify the culprit behind them. A live bed bug sighting will be definite confirmation that you have a problem.
Bed bugs are tiny, Appleseed-sized insects. They are flat and oval shaped with horizontal ridges across their bodies. Bed bugs don’t have wings, but they are very fast movers.
Bed bug nymphs are significantly smaller than the adults and may be difficult to spot. Check the EPA webpage for further info on identifying bed bugs at all stages.
What Does Bed Bug Shedding Look Like?
Growing bed bugs molt – or shed their outer skin – after each time they feed. They go through five stages of molting before they reach full maturity. During each stage, bed bugs leave behind their shed skins, which you might notice accumulating around your home and on your furniture.
A bug shed appears in the shape of an actual bug but is an abandoned hollow exoskeleton. They are pale and yellow and in color. Bed bug sheds are a sure sign of infestation and can be vacuumed up to remove.
What Do Different Types of Bed Bug Residue Look Like?
Bed bugs will leave behind several types of evidence that tie them to nighttime activities in your home or even you car. If you uncover any of the following at your crime scene, you probably have bed bugs:
Bed bug dirt. Bed bug waste is often confused with dirt because of its dark flaky appearance. Bed bug droppings are tiny, raised, brown or black smears. A sure way to test if the “dirt” you discover is bed bug fecal matter is to dab it with a wet paper towel. If the color turns from black to red, you’ve got bed bug poop.
Bed bug rust stains. Bed bugs are sloppy eaters and messy roommates. You may wake up to find reddish smears on your bed linens. Unfortunately, this is your own blood. Bedbugs use an anti-coagulant to keep your blood flowing while they feast. Once they’re finished, your blood may drip on them and the bed, causing the bed bug streaks and stains you see.
Bed bug eggs and egg casings. Bed bug eggs are tiny – about the size of a pin head – and will appear in small, rice-shaped, pearl colored clusters. Bed bugs lay their eggs in warm, quiet places like mattress folds, box springs, wall cracks and along baseboards where they won’t be disturbed. They use and adhesive to glue the eggs in place until the nymphs hatch – which happens in 6-10 days depending on the temperature.
Do Bed Bugs Smell?
Yes. A sweet or musty odor is another sign you may be invaded by bed bugs. Bed bugs secrete hormones from scent glands to mark their homes and feeding sites. The smell has been described as similar to “damp towel” or coriander depending on who you talk to.
This bed bug odor will be strongest around the places they hide and feed. It may be difficult to identify, so look for it in association with other signs in areas like your headboard, the corners of your mattress and under your box spring. If you are a frequent traveler, this may be a good way to stay alert for new companions.
I Have Bed Bugs, Now What?
If you’ve confirmed that you have bed bugs through one or more of the signs above, you’ll want to act fast to get rid of them. The main methods to treat bed bugs are heat, cold and chemicals. A combination of methods may be most effective.
Bed bugs don’t like hot temperatures. Throwing anything affected by bed bugs in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes will kill them. If you travel frequently, you may want to do this with your belongings when you get home. Bed bugs are notorious hitch hikers and spread through high-travel areas like hotels and airplanes.
While using your clothes dryer is a great option to kill bed bugs, it may not address a larger infestation and it won’t find them in all the areas that bed bugs hide. A pest control professional can assess and treat your home to make sure every bed bug is dealt with. Heat treatment is expensive but has proven to be very reliable for getting rid of bed bugs. We use portable heaters to raise the temperature in your home above 120 degrees for several hours to essentially bake all the bed bugs away.
Bed Bug Extermination in Michigan
If you have more questions about bed bugs or would like one of our pest control technicians to scour your home for signs of bed bugs, we’d love to hear from you. Call or contact Griffin today and make sure you sleep well tonight.
Bed bugs are associated with beds because they survive by hiding in dark, covered hiding spots near food sources. They frequently nestle themselves in among mattress seams, ridges, folds, zippers, and other crevices. They also frequently hide on bed frames, furniture such as headboards or nightstands, and even electrical outlets.
Bed bugs are very good at staying hidden, but they’re also rather predictable. They don’t like to travel very far from their food sources, so they depend on hiding places near those food sources. If you have an infestation, then they’re probably hiding either in your bed or at least in your bedroom. Here’s where to find bed bugs in each of their most likely hideaways:
In the mattress
Bed bug’s flat bodies help them squeeze into any opening about the width of a credit card. Unfortunately, this means bed bugs could potentially live on your bed without your knowing… at least, until they bite you. Here’s how to find even the most cleverly-hidden bed bug on your bed:
Seams: Pull back seams and use a flashlight to look for signs.
Zipper: Check both the bed’s zippers and any covers or sheets that may have zippers.
Creases and folds: Even small, miscellaneous creases such as the sewn-in folds of the mattress could harbor bed bugs.
Pillows and pillowcases: Check the zippers, seams, and cases thoroughly and wash them frequently.
Underside: Remember to flip the mattress and check both sides.
Box spring: Bed bugs can live anywhere inside your mattresses’ box spring, especially if there are any holes or tears in its underside.
Fitted sheets: Strip the sheets and check both sides, including the corners and creases.
Near the mattress
Despite their affinity for living as close to food as possible, bed bugs needn’t hide in your bed. In fact, they’ll hide in dark, cramped crevices near your bed just as frequently. They simply wait to crawl up to you until you’re sleeping. Here are their most likely nearby hideouts:
Headboard: Take your headboard off the wall and check behind and under it. Make sure you check inside its cover, too.
Nightstands: Check any cracks, crevices, or small surfaces the bugs could cling to on any furniture, including your nightstand.
Bed frame: After checking both sides of the mattress, pull it away to check the inside and outside of the frame itself.
Dust ruffle: Wash your dust ruffle from time to time and check both sides for bugs.
Electrical outlets: Yes, bed bugs can squeeze behind outlet panels. Take them off to check for signs.
Wallpaper: Bed bugs love to sneak under peeling wallpaper. If your wallpaper is damaged, check and replace it ASAP.
Stuffed animals: We realize this is bad news. If the stitching or seams of a stuffed animal are loose at all, bed bugs could use it as a particularly insidious hiding place.
In the bedroom
Though most bed bugs are found close to your bed, they could live anywhere as long as they have a consistent food source nearby. Though bed bugs rarely venture throughout a home, pretty much anywhere in your bedroom is fair game. Including each of these hiding places:
Stuffed furniture: Any furniture bed bugs can crawl inside of, they will. Check seams, zippers, cushions, and any other openings. Don’t forget the undersides, either.
Bookcases: Bed bugs can hide between, under, or sometimes even in books themselves, as well as on shelves.
Wall hangings: Bed bugs may squeeze behind or even within hanging frames and other wall art.
Stuffed animals: We realize this is bad news. If the stitching or seams of a stuffed animal are loose at all, bed bugs could use it as a particularly insidious hiding place.
Loose clothing: Bed bugs occasionally hide in clothing, especially if you leave it in your closet for long periods of time.
Closet: Speaking of your closet, check anything you keep uncovered inside of it, especially any boxes or bags you keep on the floor.
Wardrobes, cabinets, or chests: Bed bugs may squeeze through drawers or into the underside of virtually any furniture around your bedroom.
Carpeting or hardwood: If all else fails, bed bugs may even squeeze into cracks in your wood paneling or hide under any damaged carpeting.
In Your luggage
Bed bugs spread by traveling with you. To prevent them, pay special attention to anything you transport into and out of your home. That counts double for anything you bring to multiple locations where you spend time or (especially) sleep. These are the most common materials bed bugs turn into their own personal Trojan Horses:
Luggage: This is a big one. Bed bugs love to hide in luggage boxes and bags and accompany you home. Thoroughly check and run bags in a dryer upon returning home.
Clothing: Especially loose laundry. Run all clothes (including the ones you’re wearing) through the washer and dryer as soon as you get home from traveling.
Shoes: Including the ones you’re wearing! Run shoes through the dryer, too.
Cardboard boxes: Cardboard is full of nooks and crannies bed bugs can squeeze into and out of. Be very careful about the boxes you bring into your home from outside.
Thrift store goods: Especially furniture, antiques, and clothing.
Electronics: Including televisions, appliances, and computers.
Grocery bags: Usually on the bags themselves, though they could be inside containers such as cereal boxes.
If you suspect you might have bed bugs, check as many of the locations we listed as possible. If you find signs of bed bugs anywhere, you can probably assume the worst. Remember: you never have “just” one bed bug.
Whether you find signs or the bugs themselves, however, the next step is obvious: call the pros. Bed bugs are hard to wipe out on your own, but we can do it quickly, reliably, and completely. Just give Griffin a call as soon as you discover your bed bug problem. We’ll provide your solution–no ifs, ants, or bugs!
Bed bug bites are small, circular red marks or welts on the skin. They usually itch and may swell up. The nocturnal bloodsuckers usually bite in lines or zigzag patterns around areas of the body that are exposed while sleeping such as the face, neck, shoulders, hands, armpits, or ankles.
It can be tough to tell bed bug bites apart from other insect bites. There’s no one surefire way to deduce if your red mark is a bed bug bite or some other skin irritation… especially since bed bug bites look different from person-to-person. There are, however, several telltale characteristics of bed bug bites like those described above. The trick to figuring out if you’re looking at a bed bug bite is to look for several of the following characteristics at once:
1. Visible lines of bites
Insects obviously tend to bite the areas they have easy access to when they’re feeding. Mosquitoes bite your lower arms, legs, and neck because that’s what they can usually get to while you’re outside. Bed bugs are no exception. As explained above, these bloodsuckers prey on the parts of your body that are exposed while you’re sleeping. For most people, this may include your armpits, upper arms, neck, shoulders, hands, or even face.
Because of how they have to feed, bed bugs tend to leave tight, grouped clusters or lines of bites on the areas of the body they prey upon. Unlike mosquitoes, bed bugs feed in only one spot until engorged. They have to feed on this spot continuously for 3 to 10 minutes. If you interrupt them (by rolling, adjusting your covers, etc.) at any time during their feeding, they’ll break off and attempt to return to a nearby spot later. Bed bugs also tend to feed three times a night, so lines of bed bug bites are sometimes called “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” signs.
2. Several bites at once
Unfortunately, you never suffer only one bed bug bite. If you’re ever bitten by a bed bug, it’s because you either have an infestation or slept in a place with an infestation. Infestations are always dozens or even hundreds of bed bugs… and they all feed at once. They all also feed up to three times a night. Consequently, if bed bugs find you for even one night, they’ll bite you quite a few times.
The symptoms of bed bug bites may take up to two weeks to appear, but they’ll probably start appearing all at once. Look for several bite marks, rashes, or irritated areas around likely spots. Remember: if you have one bite, then it probably isn’t a bed bug bite. Unfortunately, as infestations grow, the number of bites you sustain will, too. You’ll probably notice several bites in key areas of your body at first, and then many more bites in those areas as time goes on.
3. Uniformly red, hard bite marks
Unlike flea bites, bed bugs bites do not have a clear central location where the bite originated. They usually don’t develop any ring-like, circular rash, either. Instead, bed bug bites tend to look and feel more similar to mosquito bites. They are small, usually circular, bright red (especially when inflamed), and itchy welts. These welts may take several days to swell up but will usually grow over time. They may also scab over or bleed if you scratch them enough.
Unlike mosquito bites, bed bug bites rarely become “puffy,” though they may feel tender. Instead, they tend to become hard, even as they inflame. If you’re particularly sensitive to bed bug bites or allergic, your bites may appear liquid-filled. Bed bug bites also tend to last longer than mosquito bites. Your bites could last several weeks after the initial bite. They’re also somewhat more likely to scar than mosquito bites, especially if you itch them.
4. Targeted areas
As mentioned above, bed bugs feed on specific parts of the body in straight lines or zig zags. They also work their way from site-to-site in order to find the best places to feed. This behavior means, unlike other pests, bed bugs don’t bite randomly. Instead, you should be able to notice patterns in their biting behavior, especially after a protracted infestation. Look for zigzagging or clusters of bites moving from area-to-area of your body.
To complicate matters, bed bugs don’t necessarily feed every night. After engorging themselves, bed bugs typically digest and molt for several days. Depending on how synchronized your infestation’s feeding rituals are, that means your bugs could feed on you severely one night and not much another. In other words, don’t be surprised if your symptoms tend to wax and wane slightly over the course of weeks or months. Remember: bed bug infestations never go away on their own. If bed bugs feed on you now, they’ll keep feeding until you do something about them.
Insect Bite Disclaimer
Insect bites of all kinds (including bed bug bites) are notoriously difficult to decisively identify without an actual insect sample. No matter how positive you are that you’ve got bed bug bites, the only way to know for sure is to find the bugs themselves. Consider these bed bug bite identification steps a helpful first step, but not a complete response.
If you think you have bed bugs, we always recommend conducting a professional inspection. Griffin’s experts use highly-trained canines to thoroughly inspect the infested site and collect samples. We’ll be able to tell you if you have bed bugs for sure, and figure out the best way to wipe them out.
When it comes to bed bug bites, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Infestations never go away and only worsen over time as they grow and expand. If you think bed bugs are biting you, do something about it right away: call Griffin Pest Solutions.
There are a lot of hitchhiker horror stories. There are dozens of movies about it. The Hitchhiker. The Hitcher. The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting. Curve. Quicksilver Highway. Hitchhiker Massacre. Dead End. And many more. All these media, all on the topic of scary folks trying to catch a ride. Despite how common a horror topic car hitchhikers are, these movies seem to forget the most common horror hitchhikers of all: pests.
Bed bugs are one horrific type of hitchhiker that is unfortunately all-too-real. Given the opportunity, bed bugs will sneak into your car and hitchhike all the way home with you. You’ll inadvertently transport them everywhere you go and they’ll make themselves at home with you and wherever you stay. Bed bug hitchhikers are a real problem, but fortunately, that means there are real solutions to that problem. All it takes to prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking in your car is a little knowledge and preparation. These are our best tips for keeping bed bugs out of your car:
Clean your car regularly and thoroughly.
It’s disarmingly easy for even very tidy people to let their cars get messy. Unfortunately, the messier your car, the easier it is for bed bugs to hide inside. Bed bugs tend to cling to and hide inside transported objects. Prevent bed bugs from getting into and hiding in your car by regularly practicing the following cleaning practices:
Remove the floor mats. Take them outside. Shake them. This will remove the loose dust, dirt, and other debris. Set them down in your driveway or garage floor and use a vacuum to pick up anything that wasn’t already shaken off.
Clear out any trash. Papers, coins, cans, cups, and so on. Use latex gloves in case anything has gotten a little too gross. Place all the trash in a garbage bag. Don’t forget to clear out places like the center console, cup holders, glove box, and both between and under the seats.
Wipe out cupholders. You can use your average surface or glass cleaner. Spray it in, let it sit for five minutes, and then wipe it out. Do this same process for other plastic crevices like the center console, interior of doors, and so on.
Use disinfectant wipes on all other surfaces. Buttons, dashboard, console. You can use q-tips to clean in the slots in the vents as well.
Use carpet cleaner on all carpets. Spray it on, scrub it with a stiff brush, and let it dry.
Vacuum everything. This is your final step. Anything that hasn’t already been caught (including wayward bed bug eggs) will be sucked up by the vacuum tube.
Learn how to inspect a car for bed bugs.
Car infestations aren’t nearly as common as infestations inside homes. Unfortunately, that’s often because the bed bugs in your car migrate or spread into your home quickly. If you have bed bugs in your home, you should know how to look for them in your car, as well. Here’s how you inspect a car for bed bugs:
Remove any trash or clutter that they can use as a hiding place. This includes jackets, books, and other random items we tend to keep in our cars.
Once you’ve done this, conduct a visual inspection. If your car is clean, any abnormalities should be easily found.
Look along the seams in your car seats, underneath the seats, and along the floor. Also look in out of the way places like the glove compartment, console, and cup holders.
Keep an eye out for common bed bug signs like rust-colored blood stains or dark streaks. You may also find abandoned exoskeletons or small black eggs that look like lint or dots.
Have the number of a trusted pest control company on hand.
Bed bug problems can go from small to big fast. They can easily spread to your home, office, friends, and family if not taken care of immediately. That’s why you want to know who you’re going to call if you have a bed bug problem before you have one. Do some research on local pest control companies and find one that has robust practices that include inspections, heat treatments, and more.
Whether it’s bed bugs in your car, cockroaches in your basement, or something else entirely, Griffin has your back. Give us a call whenever you need help removing pesky pests from the places you call home.