Q: Are bed bugs real?
A: Yes. Many people recall bed bugs from the bedtime rhyme “good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” and assume they are fictional and used to scare small children. Bed bugs are certainly very real and are making a worldwide resurgence after being nearly eliminated as the common household problem they were in the early – mid 1900’s.
Q: What are bed bugs?
A: Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night when people are sleeping.
Q: Are bed bugs big enough to see?
A: Yes. Adult bed bugs have flat, rusty-red-coloured oval bodies that resemble an apple seed in size, shape and colour, easily seen with the naked eye. However, they are adept at hiding and are most often hidden away in cracks, crevices, screw holes or other places on or around the bed frame, baseboards and surrounding furniture and clutter. It can be very difficult to see or find a bed bug when it is hiding.
Q: Do bed bugs live in the mattress?
A: Bed bugs can live in a mattress but contrary to popular belief, they are not tiny mite-sized creaters that permeate the fabric and paddingon the top of the mattress – they cannot travel through fabric but rather crawl on and around it. Bed bugs can travel through rips or holes in a mattress so it is possible for the bugs to live inside mattresses and box springs. It is far more common that bed bugs live along the folds and seams of a mattress’s exterior – or in cracks and holes in the bed frame or surrounding baseboards, flooring and furniture.
Q: What does a bed bug bite feel and look like?
A: Most bed bug bites are initially painless, but later turn into large, itchy skin welts. These welts do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites. HOWEVER, some people do not react at all to bed bug bites – that is, they are indeed getting bitten at night but do not develop any sign, redness, itchiness, swelling or otherwise. Some entomologists say up to 30% of the population does not react to bites. We, at Addison, feel this is contributing significantly to the spread of bed bugs – people who show no signs of bites often have the worst infestations because they have no reason for concern and do not realize they have bed bugs – and that they are spreading the bugs to friends, family, co-workers, neighbours, etc.
Q: Are bed bugs dangerous?
A: Although bed bugs are a nuisance, they are not known to spread disease.
Q: How does a home become infested with bed bugs?
A: In most cases, people carry bed bugs into their homes unknowingly, in infested luggage, furniture, bedding, or clothing. Bed bugs may also travel between apartments through small crevices and cracks in walls and floors.
Q: How do I know if my home is infested with bed bugs?
A: You may notice itchy skin welts. You may also see the bed bugs themselves, small bloodstains from crushed insects, or dark spots from their droppings. It is often hard to see them because they hide in or near beds, other furniture, and in cracks.
Q: How can I get rid of bed bugs?
A: The City of Toronto recommends hiring a pest control professional licensed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to get rid of bed bugs. Unlicensed exterminators are working illegally, have no insurance and do not have access to purchase the effective pesticides necessary to eliminate bed bugs – purchasing professional-grade pesticides requires a valid license in Ontario. There are many home remedies, DIY solutions and consumer-grade products described on the internet and found in hardware stores – these are generally ineffective compared to the professional-grade products available to licensed exterminators and almost entirely ineffective against severe infestations.
Q: Is it necessary to use insecticides to get rid of bed bugs?
A: There are many non-toxic do-it-yourself techniques and non-toxic consumer-grade products that are effective for killing individual bugs – however, they are not adequate for elimination of an established infestation. They are not pervasive enough to reach and kill all bed bugs living in a dwelling. Residual insecticides that stay active for weeks at a time are a necessary component for eliminating bed bugs completely because they will continue to affect any bugs that come out of their hiding places at a time long after the exterminator visit.
Please feel free to call us with any more questions or to discuss specific ways to address your particular bed bug problem.