Bed Bug FAQs

How do you get bed bugs in the first place?

Bed bugs are introduced - they do not come in from outside. There are a few common ways bed bugs are introduced:

  • Travelling - bringing home a "hitchhiker" in your baggage
  • Bed bugs travelling between units in multi-unit complexes
  • Used furniture and clothing
  • Visitors staying at your home bringing infested items with them

I have bite marks so I must have bed bugs, right?

Maybe, but maybe not. Most people don't react to bites, most reactions are delayed, and reactions change over time in the same person. Itchy skin and marks and rashes can be caused by other insects (spiders, mosquito's, ticks, mites), or by reactions to a change in soaps or shampoo's used in the home, new vitamins or medications taken, minor viral infections, and a variety of different skin conditions. Another cause of marks may be from the hairs of a carpet beetle larvae.

I have bite marks in a line of three - breakfast, lunch and dinner! That must be from bed bugs, right?

No - bed bugs do not bite in three's, nor do they bite in a straight line and if we ever find who started that myth we will infest their house with bed bugs (just kidding). Groups of bed bugs sometimes line up along an edge of a person's sheets or pajamas to feed, and individual bugs sometimes feed multiple times in a night if they didn't fill up, so there are sometimes clusters of bite marks. Many people do not react to the bites.

I have bites all over but no one else in my house does. If it's bed bugs, why am I the only one with bites?

It may be bed bugs and unfortunatley it can be difficult to determine if a "bite mark" is caused by a bed bug or another insect or even something else entirely. Bed bugs will bite all types of people. There does not seem to be a preference based on a person’s sex, age, gender, or ethnic background. Studies suggest between 60% and 70% of people do not react to bed bug bites. It is similar to mosquito bites - some people react and some people do not.

I live in an apartment - I can't control what happens in neighboring units - how can I protect myself from bed bugs?

Unfortunately you just can't control whether or not a neighboring unit has bed bugs or not. The easiest way to protect yourself is to install mattress and box spring encasements and ClimbUp interceptor traps. The ClimbUp interceptor traps are great for early and easy detection of bed bugs. They catch the bed bugs travelling from other parts of the room to your bed to feed and they will also trap any bugs travelling from the bed to other harbourage sites. The encasements will protect your mattress and box spring from being used as a harbourage spot. Keep clutter to an absolute minimum. This reduces the number of potential harbourage sites. Vacuum regularly.

We travel frequently - how can we protect ourselves while travelling?

One of the most important steps you can take while travelling is to inspect the hotel room before staying in it. Inspect the headboard first, then the box spring and then the mattress. The other thing you can do is to "heat treat" your clothes when you return home. Place your clothes in the dryer on the heat setting for 20 to 30 minutes (do not overstuff the dryer!).  Your bags and shoes and laptop and other items can be placed in the Packtite Closet and heat treated safely - we rent or sell these and they are a great new addition to the arsenal.

Do bed bugs carry and spread disease?

Studies have shown that bed bugs can carry a variety of diseases, including MRSA. However, there has been no evidence in the lab or in the field of bed bugs passing on any diseases. They may not spread disease but they are certainly more than a nuisance pest. Bed bugs can have a significant psycological impact on those dealing with infestations.

Can I just treat the bedroom?

Of course but it is not recommended. All it takes is one female bed bug in another area to start the infestation process over again. Bed bugs are commonly found in couches and other areas of the home where people are stationary for extended periods of time. We feel it is just not worth the risk.

I have had bed bugs recently - should I throw out my mattress and box spring?

Infested beds do not need to be disposed of. Mattresses and box springs can be heat treated to kill any live bed bugs or eggs inside them. Bed bug proof encasements can also be used to trap and kill any bed bugs in the mattress and box spring. Encasements will also prevent other bed bugs from using those areas. Some people dispose of their beds in the hopes of eliminating their bed bugs. Unfortunately, while it may reduce the level of bed bugs, it will likely not completely eliminate the problem.

If you do choose to discard your bed, consider encasements to protect your new bed from becoming infested. You may also want to consider ClimbUp interceptor traps to stop bed bugs from accessing your bed. Also, if you discard your mattress or box spring, consider how you will move and transport the items out of your home to avoid having bed bugs fall off and being spread to other areas.

I have had my place treated with pesticides a few times and I still have bed bugs? Why?

There can be a variety of reasons why a pesticide treatment hasn't eliminated the problem. These reasons can include:

  • Incomplete preparation (there is a ton of work to do to prepare for a pesticide application, and if not fully prepared, there are areas that cannot be treated and bugs that will survive)
  • Lots of clutter (this provides untreatable hiding places for the bugs)
  • Pesticides don't kill the eggs, the new bugs will continue to hatch out
  • Poor treatment techniques
  • Bed bug pesticide resisitance (even if everything is done properly, studies show that many bed bugs populations cannot be killed with currently registered pesticides)

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