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.
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.
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.
Did you know that four Michigan cities (Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Flint) ranked among the worst for bed bugs in 2019? It’s safe to say that Michiganders are looking for any type of relief from the potential burden of bed bugs. Traditional bed bug techniques are great, but they don’t work for every situation. That’s where bed bug heat treatments come in.
Bed bug heat treatment is the most effective modern means of treating bed bug infestations of all sizes. It’s fast-acting, all-encompassing, and (most importantly) permanent. This is how bed bug heat treatments work, why they work, and why they’re the best way to solve bed bug infestations today.
What is bed bug heat treatment?
Bed bug heat treatments utilize special equipment to safely heat each target area to a temperature bed bugs can’t withstand. These treatments are commonly done room by room. Bed bugs and their eggs can’t withstand temperatures above 122 degrees Fahrenheit. An average heat treatment raises air temperatures in a room to levels between 135 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
The pest management professional conducting the treatment will monitor room temps with help from remote thermostats. This type of treatment can take between six and ten hours depending on a number of factors. These factors include the severity of the infestation, the number of rooms treated, and the layout of the area.
How does bed bug heat treatment work?
There are a few main ways bed bug heat treatments are conducted. The most common way is for a pest management professional to bring in large electric heaters into your home. The heaters turn on and run until they reach 135 and 145 fahrenheit. Experts may also blow hot air into rooms via ductwork or apply localized steam heat.
We use devices to create a sustained high heat environment that bed bugs can’t live in. This method is especially helpful compared to others because it leaves bed bugs with no place to hide. A bed bug heat treatment treats entire rooms, not just portions of it.
Why does bed bug heat treatment work?
The presence of the heat dries out the bodies of the bugs. Sapped of the moisture they need, they quickly expire. Sustaining the heat over the entire area means bed bugs can’t escape it when they attempt to hide.
We’ll set up the heaters and use remote monitors to make sure we reach the bed-bug killing temperature in every area. After achieving the temperature, we’ll sustain it for at least another hour to guarantee effectiveness.
Why is it more effective than other methods?
Bed bug heat treatments are more effective than other stand alone methods because there is room for error. Insecticides can’t cover every inch of a home. K-9 units are trained and effective, but they’re still living creatures, so there’s always room for error. Your best option is to use as many varied treatment options as possible to guarantee your success.
One of the most important things to know about bed bug infestations is that they spread fast. Once they’re established in your home and lay eggs, those eggs start hatching within days. Not long after that they’re reproducing again, turning small infestations big in a matter of weeks.
Bed bugs re-emerged as a serious pest problem in Michigan and the rest of the US relatively recently. After they suddenly reappeared, the bloodsuckers started spreading like they were making up for lost time! Today, bed bugs are considered one of the worst pest problems facing Michigan’s cities.
One reason why bed bugs were able to spread so quickly is that people don’t understand how they spread. No matter how far they spread, however, it’s not too late for you to keep them away! That’s why we put together this video on how the annoying pests spread, and how you can stop them:
Obviously, there’s a reason why these bugs spread so successfully. They’re very good at sneaking into traveler’s bags and making themselves at home. Whether you brought them inside or a visitor did, it’s all-too-easy to end up with a bed bug infestation, despite your best efforts.
If you’re worried you have an infestation, don’t hesitate to call Griffin Pest Solutions right away. Our experts have the tools, experience, and knowhow to wipe out your pests quickly and effectively. If you’re having troubling sleeping tight, just get in touch right away. We’ll make sure the bed bugs don’t bite.
When you’re planning a vacation, we’re guessing pest control is one of the further things from your mind. If anything, you probably think about things you can do to protect your home while you’re away. You certainly don’t think about whether pest infestations could happen to you while you’re traveling. That doesn’t even sound like it makes sense. How can you have a pest infestation if pests don’t have anywhere to infest?
Unfortunately, however, pest infestations can happen to you, even while you’re on vacation. Even worse, these pest infestations never stay a vacation problem. Instead, you’ll probably bring them home with you like a bad souvenir. In fact, some pests spread primarily via travelers. Here are four pests you need to look out for while traveling, and how to keep them from following you back home.
The number one way bed bugs move into new homes is after travelers inadvertently transport them there. Bed bugs hitch rides with travelers by hiding in suitcases, luggage bags, clothing, purses and more. After sneaking inside these hiding places, the bugs remain perfectly still for extended periods of time. The bed bugs are so small, hidden, and still that travelers don’t often notice them. After taking their bags back home, the bed bugs emerge and seek more permanent residence.
Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs don’t exclusively infest “dirty” places. Unfortunately, they’re quite capable of living anywhere from a relative’s house to a car to a five star hotel. Bed bugs don’t “mean” to hitchhike with travelers; they’re simply drawn to dark, warm, hidden places. When you travel, you should always keep a close eye on all the bags you’re carrying with you. Keep them elevated, closed, and sealed whenever you aren’t using them. When you get home, consider throwing your traveling items into the dryer for 20 minutes at a high temperature.
Despite being larger and easier to spot than bed bugs, cockroaches often end up hitchhiking in very similar ways. Cockroaches are naturally attracted to dark, warm, moist, and secluded areas. They’ll also sneak into food boxes or even toiletries. Like bed bugs, they will stay perfectly still after they find a good hiding place. Roaches can survive for an extended period of time without food or water. They’re also great climbers and can cling to surprisingly sheer surfaces.
Roaches can work their way into nearly any open container you leave out for them. Food packages, suitcases, clothing bags, purses, and even computer bags are all fair game. A roach can survive a surprisingly long trip until you take it back home. To avoid this, keep all travel bags closed, sealed, and elevated whenever you’re not using them. Don’t transport food with you–especially not without a proper container. If you keep your bags locked down, roaches won’t be able to come home with you.
Lice get into people’s hair after climbing into it from clothing items like hats, scarves, coats, and sweaters. They use their hook-like feet to latch onto hidden parts of clothing or other pieces of fabric until they have an opportunity to transfer. Unlike roaches or bed bugs, lices usually travel along with travelers directly on travelers. Lice can’t survive without a human host, and they can’t live for long on fabric. If you find lice near you, they’re feeding on someone close by.
Before lice climb onto you, they generally hide on clothing items where they can transfer to hosts. Hats, scarves, hoodies, and any other clothing that goes on your head is particularly vulnerable. Try to be particularly cautious about what you wear when you’re traveling. Refrain from sharing clothing items or trying on pieces of clothing you didn’t bring with you. Keep all of your clothing in sealed, closed bags when you’re not wearing it.
It seems like ants have a nearly-supernatural ability to find food. You leave out any food for any period of time and it seems like ants are all over it. Unfortunately, this counts double when traveling. Ants very frequently end up where they live after hitching a ride on unsuspecting traveler’s food. Like bed bugs, ants weren’t even trying to hitch a ride. They just wanted the food you happened to be carrying with you!
No matter where you travel, you should assume ants are living–and looking for food–nearby! If you leave out food, ants will feed on it. When you put that food away, you may end up transporting them with you. Keep a close eye on all the food you bring with you while traveling. Keep it in sealed, airtight bags whenever you’re not eating it. Clean up crumbs and other food debris whenever you make it. Throw out food wrappers and other garbage as soon as you’re finished with them.
Traveling makes everyone a little more vulnerable to pests, just like it makes everyone more likely to catch a cold. Just like you can bolster your immune system, however, you can take precautions to prevent pests from traveling with you. Practice the pest control tips we’ve shared while traveling, and you can have a pest-free vacation.
If you end up with a pest infestation after your vacation–or any other time for that matter–call Griffin any time. We’ll figure out where your pests came from, wipe them out, and make sure they can’t bother you again. Have a great trip, and stay safe!