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MARCH 17 2022 / PEST AND TERMITE
Bed bugs are one of those pests that everybody vaguely knows about, while also hoping they never have to end up with first-hand knowledge of them. Unfortunately, bed bugs are also a pest that was once almost completely eliminated in the United States but then began a serious comeback tour.
Over the past few decades, bed bugs have re-infested the United States in a big way. They can be found in all 50 states. They thrive in the heat but can handle the cold for short periods of time. They are good at hiding and can go for several months without a meal, making it easy for them to survive when they find themselves in danger of elimination.
As a major hub of activity, Washington D.C. is a hotbed of bed bug activity. Bed bugs have become a serious problem in the District of Columbia, and there’s no guarantee that your home will not end up with bed bugs in it.
If you do end up with a bed bug infestation, the first thing you’ll want to know is if your family is in any danger from them. The following information will help answer some of the questions you’re sure to have about bed bug infestations in Washington D.C.
Bed bugs are small parasitic insects. As parasites, they only feed on blood, and although their preferred hosts are humans, they can also feed on other warm-blooded animals, like dogs, cats, and even chickens. Bed bugs must have blood meals to grow and move from stage to stage through development from egg to adult.
Bed bugs begin as tiny, white eggs that can easily go unnoticed by the human eye. Once they hatch, bed bugs go through five stages of development before becoming adults. In the first nymph stage, bed bugs are tiny and translucent.
About the size of a pinhead, these nymphs can begin feeding right away. Although they are large enough to be seen, their milky white color and small size make them easy to miss.
Through the next four nymph stages, bed bugs become progressively larger and darker in color. When they reach adulthood, they are about the size of a small apple seed. They also have a similar shape to apple seeds, with a wide, oval-shaped body, although unlike apple seeds, their bodies are flat when unfed, not round.
Adult bed bugs are brownish in color. After feeding, their bodies stretch out, become engorged, and turn a redder brown color. Bed bugs have six legs, a small head, and a set of antennae that stick out straight to each side.
Bed bugs are not like other pests in the way that they move around and infest homes and businesses. Most pests begin on the outside of your property and make their way into your home or business by finding entry points in the foundation, walls, or roof. This is not how bed bugs get into your home or business.
Unlike other pests, bed bugs do not start by living outdoors. Rather, they are exclusively indoor pests. As they grow, they can crawl into a suitcase or bag, or climb onto a shoe or pant leg to hitch a ride wherever the person who owns those items decides to go.
They may crawl off the item partway through the trip or they may hang on until that person reaches their destination. Either way, the bed bug will eventually end up in a new location from where it began.
If it crawls off a person on a public bus, it might crawl onto the next person to sit in that seat. If it crawls off a person who is visiting a friend, it might crawl off and settle into the couch cushions in the friend’s home. If it crawls off a person in a hotel room, it might hang out there for a while before deciding to crawl into the luggage of an entirely new family.
In this way, bed bugs easily infest different homes and businesses all over the place. When you understand the way they move around, it’s not difficult to see why bed bugs have become so prevalent all over the United States, and really, all over the world. They are pests that not only love to travel but are extremely good at traveling.
The question of whether bed bugs in Washington D.C. are dangerous is a tricky one. That’s because there isn’t one simple yes or no answer. Really, the answer to this question depends on how you view it.
The good news is that, when it comes to the information we currently have, bed bugs are not known to spread any diseases. Many pests spread disease-causing pathogens through their feces, bites, saliva, or other means. For instance, mice can carry hantavirus, cockroaches spread salmonellosis, and ticks can cause Lyme disease. But bed bugs are not known to spread any of these types of diseases.
This information should allow most people to breathe a sigh of relief. One of the major problems with pest infestations of any kind is the threat of illness, so it’s nice to know that bed bugs don’t spread diseases. However, just because bed bugs aren’t known to cause illnesses doesn’t mean they don’t cause health problems of any kind.
Some health-related issues come up concerning bed bugs. First of all, they bite. Because they feed only on blood, they have to bite through the skin to get their meals. They typically do this at night while their host is sleeping, which is why they got the name bed bugs.
Bed bug bites leave behind red, raised, itchy bumps, much like mosquito or flea bites. They do have the ability to bite more than once and people who have been bitten often find a series of bites in a linear pattern on their trunk. This differs from flea bites which are usually left in more random clusters and are usually on the extremities.
Bed bug bites are bothersome on their own, but they can become more problematic the itchier they are. If you scratch at your bed bug bites, you risk opening the skin, which can lead to a secondary infection. Although these are usually mild infections that don’t require more than topical over-the-counter treatments, they can become more serious in rare cases and could require medical attention.
The other physical health problem that bed bugs have the potential to cause is anemia. This is very rare and requires an infestation that has either been going on for a long time or has grown extremely large, but it is possible.
If enough bed bugs are in your home needing blood meals that they are biting you extensively, it is possible that you could lose enough blood to cause anemia.
Perhaps the worst danger with a bed bug infestation is not in the physical problems they can cause, but in the mental and emotional toll they take. For most people, just the thought of a bed bug infestation makes them shudder and start to feel itchy.
Finding out you actually have bed bugs in your house can be extremely upsetting, causing stress levels to rise to unhealthy levels and causing serious bouts of insomnia. It’s very difficult to sleep if you know that bugs will be crawling on you and drinking your blood while you sleep.
Furthermore, trying to get rid of a large bed bug infestation can be difficult and expensive, especially if you attempt to do it on your own. Without the proper training and knowledge, DIY treatments usually lead to bed bugs going into hiding and returning a few months later. This only adds to the mental unrest a bed bug infestation causes.
So although bed bugs aren’t known to spread diseases, they do come with some mild physical dangers and some more serious mental health dangers.
Ending up with a bed bug infestation is stressful, but so is knowing that there is no overly effective way to prevent them from getting into your Washington D.C. home. Because of the way they travel around, common preventative pest control practices don’t work to help you avoid a bed bug infestation.
Instead, identifying a bed bug infestation in its earliest stages is the best way to control a bed bug infestation because it allows you to take action and get professional control as quickly as possible before the infestation grows too large.
To identify a bed bug infestation early on, it’s important to do regular inspections of your home and the things inside. The following tips can help you find bed bugs as quickly as possible after they enter your home.
Inspect bags and boxes for bed bugs before bringing them into your house.
When you travel, inspect any places you stay for signs of bed bugs before bringing your luggage inside.
When you get home from traveling, inspect your luggage for bed bugs before bringing it inside and wash all clothing on a hot cycle before putting them away.
Inspect all beds in your home regularly. Check the sheets, pillows, mattress, box spring, and headboard for any signs of bed bugs, bed bug eggs, casings, tiny red blood droplets, and tannish brown fecal marks.
Inspect furniture in your home regularly for any of the signs listed above.
Look for bed bugs behind picture frames and in electrical outlets.
If you discover that bed bugs are present in your home, don’t wait to take action in hopes that they’ll go away on their own. Instead, contact American Pest. We have 95 years of experience solving bed bug problems. We know what works and we have the skill, experience, and equipment to fully eliminate your bed bug infestation in its entirety.
You don’t want to waste time on bed bug control treatments that don’t work or only partially eliminate your infestation.
With American Pest, you receive proven solutions that work in just one treatment. Our thermal remediation kills bed bugs in every stage of development, from egg to adult, and in all areas of your house, even where they’re hiding deep within your walls.
At the first signs of a bed bug infestation, contact American Pest to request a bed bug inspection. Bed bugs can cause plenty of problems, but you don’t have to let them cause worry and stress. American Pest will have them out of your Washington D.C. home in no time.