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How to Know if You Have Bed Bugs

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bed bugs often go unseen, but they make their presence known in the form of patchy red bites and other signs.

The tiny insects are not known to spread disease, but their bites can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. There has been a resurgence of bed bugs throughout Colorado and across the country over the past decade, and if you believe you have an infestation of bed bugs in your home it’s advisable to consult with a pest control expert.

The Bed Bug’s Bite

Bed bugs are members of the Cimicidae family, parasitic insects that feed on blood. Bed bugs tend to feed at night, while people are sleeping, and their bites are painless. Bed bugs typically feed for no longer than 10 minutes before returning to an inconspicuous hiding area.

While the sensation of the bites tends to go unnoticed, the effects are often felt later when the body’s defense system reacts to proteins contained in the bed bugs’ saliva. The bite areas may show reddish swelling, and the accompanying itchiness can fluctuate in intensity. Because there is nothing that fully distinguishes bed bug bites from rashes or other insect bites, other means are required to establish their presence.

Signs of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are light brown or reddish brown, and their flat, oval-shaped bodies are only 4 to 5 millimeters long. The most common indicator of bed bugs is the bugs’ bites, itchy red dots that typically appear in clusters and are most visible on the arms, shoulders and back.

Other signs of bed bugs include:

  • The actual bugs, often along mattress seams
  • Small blood stains on sheets or mattresses
  • A vague, sweet odor; this smell from the bugs’ scent glands is often detectable where there are sizable populations
  • Dark specks of insect waste along bedding or other areas where the bugs may hide

Despite their name, bed bugs may also be found in chairs, couches, curtains, drawers and other areas in the home where they have access to both shelter and food.

Battling Bed Bugs

Bed bugs can be challenging to eradicate, and doing so often requires an integrated approach that includes cleaning, heat treatment, and pesticides.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers some basic do-it-yourself tips for bed bug control. However, the EPA also notes that it can be beneficial to work with a pest-control professional who understands how to detect the extent of a bed bug infestation, destroy the entire bug population, and prevent a re-infestation.

If you’re faced with invasive insects or other pests, please contact Animal & Pest Control Specialist Inc. online or call us at 303-987-0842. We are proud to serve residents of the greater Denver area and along Colorado’s Front Range, from Fort Collins to Castle Rock.

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