Bed bugs are making a big comeback in America, and they've come to Houston. We haven't seen these annoying pests in Houston for decades, but the recent wave of them spreading across the country hit the Bayou City a few years ago, and now bed bugs seem to be everywhere.
Beg bugs feed on blood. While human blood is generally not their first choice, they will drink it when it's the easiest option. These insects like to bury themselves in soft fabrics and upholstery. This is why they're called bed bugs, a person's bed provides both a home and a source of easily available food for bed bugs. They can burrow deep within mattresses and will lay their eggs inside the fabric deep in the mattress interior.
Bed bugs have been with human beings for thousands of years, but they were mostly wiped out in this country during the 1940s. But in the past two decades, a pesticide-resistant strain of bed bugs has started spreading across the country. The current outbreak started in New York City, where the tightly-packed layers of people created an easy breeding ground for the insects. Bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers, and can attach themselves unnoticed to people or crawl into luggage. When hotels in New York began to be infested with bed bugs, the insects attached themselves to visitors to the city who inadvertently carried them across the country and around the world.
Bed bugs are small and remain well-hidden during the day. Unfortunately, usually the first way to know if you have bed bugs is when you start experiencing the symptoms of their bites.
Bed bug bites will usually appear as a reddish rash, spreading out from a series of raised bumps on the skin. The rash is caused by the beg bug's saliva being injected under the skin when the insects drink blood. The severeness of the rash will vary from person to person, depending on how allergic the individual is to the bug's saliva.
Bed bugs will bite on the most readily available areas of skin, so the bites will usually appear arranged in a rough line on any areas of skin that are exposed while in bed, with the rash spreading out from the bites.
Bed bugs will also leave stains from their droppings on bed linens or on the surface of other areas they've established themselves in. These stains are small, reddish-brown points which look like small drops of blood. If you see these spots scattered across bed linens, mattresses, or other upholstered surfaces, it's a good sign of a bed bug infestation.
This new wave of bed bugs spreading across America is highly pesticide-resistant, and most conventional pesticide treatments will not work against them. Treatment of bed bugs with pesticides is also problematic because, since bed bugs are in beds, treating with pesticides will mean that it's unavoidable for whoever is sleeping in that bed to come into close contact with the chemicals used during the treatment for extended periods, which is generally not recommended.
The most effective way to eradicate bed bugs is heat treatment, which involves heating the infested areas to temperatures above 122 degrees for five minutes or longer. These heat treatments involve applying a sustained, direct heat to the infested areas for an extended period of time. This treatment not only kills adult bed bugs, but also destroys the larvae and bed bug eggs, breaking the life cycle and preventing re-infestation.
While this treatment isn't damaging to infested beds or other property, it does require specialized equipment which is available to licensed pest control companies. Public health officials across the country consider bed bugs to be a genuine public health threat, and strongly encourage anyone who thinks they have may have a bed bug problem to consult a licensed pest control company.