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It is important to have a general understanding about bed bugs and how they can affect you, your family and your place of residence. Following are some areas of information that should be helpful in learning about bed bugs. Bed bugs know no economical or sociological boundaries, they are found in tenements as well as in penthouses.

Click on a question below and be directed to the aswer.

• WHAT DO BED BUGS LOOK LIKE?
• DO THEY REALLY SUCK BLOOD FROM HUMANS?
• ARE BED BUGS DANGEROUS?
• WHERE DO BED BUGS LIVE AND HIDE?
• HOW MANY EGGS DOES A FEMALE LAY?
• ARE BED BUGS NEW, WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
• HOW DO YOU GET BED BUGS?
• HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE BED BUGS?
• WHERE WILL I MOST LIKELY ENCOUNTER BED BUGS?
• HOW TO PREVENT BED BUG INFESTATIONS?
• HOW DO YOU GET RID OF BED BUGS?
• SHOULD I THROW OUT BED BUG INFESTED ITEMS?

WHAT DO BED BUGS LOOK LIKE?
Bed bugs are reddish brown, about 3/8 to just under 1/4 inches long, wingless and very flat, a little smaller than an apple seed. Nymphs or, immature stages are usually light brow or yellowish in color and become darker after feeding. Bed bugs are considered true bugs which all have gradual metamorphosis, meaning that the immature stages look like and exhibit the same feeding preferences and habitat as adults.

DO THEY REALLY SUCK BLOOD FROM HUMANS?
Bed bugs have beak-like, piercing/sucking mouthparts and it injects its saliva into the human it has selected as a meal. The saliva acts as an anticoagulant and helps its feeding process which usually lasts about five minutes. Bed bugs are parasitic, and their survival depends on the consumption of blood of humans and other animals.

Bed bugs usually do attack humans, but they will feed on other warm-blooded animals including birds, cats and dogs. When full of blood the bed bug will crawl back to its hiding place. After feeding adult bed bugs become bright red.

Both nymphs and adults feed exclusively on blood. A blood meal is necessary for nymphs to develop from each instar (level of maturity) to the next and also for adult females to produce eggs.

Bed bugs don't, such as lice, attach themselves to the human and travel with them. They take their blood meal and leave to hide.

ARE BED BUGS DANGEROUS?
Bed bugs have never been known to transmit diseases but infestations can cause anxiety, stress, insomnia, etc.

WHERE DO BED BUGS LIVE AND HIDE?
Bed bugs are cryptobiotic, instinctively hiding unless they are out foraging for food (blood).

Because of their flatness, bed bugs tend to live in small cracks and crevices close to or on the bed itself. The most frequent places found are under the piping around the mattress and the underside in the padding and wood framing of box springs, on head and foot boards, bed liners, upholstery, under furniture inside clocks and electrical boxes, in floors, behind wallpaper and picture frames.

Sofas and other stuffed furniture are especially prone to harboring bed bugs if they are frequently slept on where bed bugs are present.

It is very important to avoid clutter; piles of clothes and other items lying around on the floor giving bed bugs an easy place to hide.

HOW MANY EGGS DOES A FEMALE LAY?
A female bed bug will lay from one to twelve eggs per day and can lay as many as 150 eggs during their lifetime of 12 to 18 months.

Eggs are not known to be deposited on the host's body but are usually found on surfaces near where hosts may sleep. Bed bugs prefer fabric, wood, and paper surfaces and glue their eggs to any of those surfaces.

ARE BED BUGS NEW, WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
Bed bugs were first noticed in the United States in the early 1700s. They were pretty much wiped out in the United States during World War II with the extensive use of DDT. Bed bugs have seen a resurgence since the 1950's with several contributing factors, including: the ban on DDT, the increase of international travel to and from countries where bed bugs are present, our military personnel and equipment returning home from countries with large populations of bed bugs, and more frequent exchange of used clothing and furniture.

HOW DO YOU GET BED BUGS?
Bed bugs are hitchhikers on luggage, bedding, furniture, equipment, etc. Therefore, the bed bugs find harborage in lodging facilities, storage facilities, airplanes, ships, and other locations where they are eventually spread throughout country. It has also been found that bed bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to modern insecticides. 

 Bed bugs commonly spread from infested areas to new locations by hitchhiking on people's clothes, shoes, or belongings, or moving from room to room, or apartment to apartment through pipe runs, wall voids, along electrical wires and through other connections between rooms.

Travelers can bring bed bugs home from hotels and motels in their luggage, while students are known to relocate bed bugs in backpacks, books, and other belongings to and from apartments and dorms.
Bed bugs are often brought home in used furniture.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE BED BUGS?
Bed bug biology and behavior make them difficult to detect, so infestations may go undetected for several months or more. Even though, it is important to know that early detection is key to successful treatment and to keeping control costs low.

Usually the first indication you have bed bugs are unexplained bites. Bed bug bites are usually found on the upper body, around the neck and face, arms, and shoulders, even though they may be found on the legs and ankles. Women seem to be more susceptible to bed bug bites because it seems bed bugs prefer a smooth, non-hairy surface to feed on. These bites are normally inflicted while sleeping so you most likely will not feel the bed bugs because they are so small and feed quite rapidly on the surface of your skin.

Many people don't have symptoms for up to a week after the bites. The longer they are bitten the shorter the time they are aware of symptoms and many bites are misdiagnosed that means many infestations are months old when finally discovered.

Reaction to bed bug bites varies from person to person, including the fact that some people do not react to the bites at all. It is also not possible to tell from an apparent bite if it was caused by a bed bug.

Because of bed bug behavior and the many places to encounter them, bed bug bites are not a reliable way to identify infestations in a particular location.

You might find small blood spots on your bedding. These spots are produced by crushing a bed bug full of blood, after or during their feeding. The lack of these spots does not necessarily mean that bed bugs are not present.

If you do have bed bugs, it is possible but not always the fact that you can find evidence on your mattresses and bed frames. Bed bugs and their eggs can sometimes be found glued under the piping around the edge of a mattress. They generate dark spots of fecal matter on bedding and around their hiding places but the lack of these spots, also, do not necessarily mean bed bugs are not present.

The use of "bed bug moats" under the feet of a bed will trap bugs if they are coming or going from the floor to the bed or out of the bed to the floor. These are very good monitors but the lack of bed bugs in these traps does not necessarily mean that bed bugs are present.

The use of standard glue boards don't work well to monitor bed bugs unless placed in a highly infested environment; they seem to be able to walk on top of the glue surface without being stuck.

A homeowner can perform a verily good inspection of the mattress and box spring, especially if bug proof encasements are installed. Although a meticulous inspection by a trained and experienced pest professional is the most reliable way to determine if bed bugs are present. Even though, most professionals will not guarantee their inspection as to the fact that bed bugs do not exist in a particular location.

There is current movement toward the training of dogs to use their sense of smell to seek out bed bugs. Some success has been achieved in this endeavor, but, to this point the success rate is questionable and as of now this service is not available in our area.

WHERE WILL I MOST LIKELY ENCOUNTER BED BUGS?
Being alert of where bed bugs may be should help you avoid taking them home with you. The following locations are said to be the places where bed bugs thrive:

Motels / hotels and condominiums, apartment units, university dorms, hospitals, nursing homes, group homes, retail clothing stores, commercial buses, cruise ships, airplanes, trains, used furniture outlets, and pet beds and cages.

Since bed bugs are hitchhikers it is not unheard of to pick them up on your luggage in lodging facilities but also in cargo holds of planes and buses, and in the trunks of taxis.

HOW TO PREVENT BED BUG INFESTATIONS?
Awareness is probably the best thing when it comes to dealing with bed bug problems. Understanding how bed bugs travel and where you might encounter them will go a long way in avoiding infestations. Just be aware!

When traveling, try to keep your bags, suitcases and clothes off the floor in your lodging room. The linens are changed daily in these rooms so there should not be any sign of bed bugs on them. Lift the bottom sheet and take a look on and around the mattress for any visual signs of bed bugs. In most of these facilities the headboards are connected to the wall but can usually be removed by lifting straight up and away from the wall. The back side of the headboard is a common harborage for bed bugs. If you come across signs of bed bugs, ask the management to relocate you to another room. When returning home inspect your luggage and wash your clothes in hot water

When trying on clothes in a retail dressing room, hang your shopping bags and purses on hooks and not place them on the floor, and always inspect the clothes you are trying on.

If ever you know, or just feel you've been exposed to bed bugs while traveling or anywhere else, try the following: take the items that can be laundered immediately and wash and dry on hot. Place empty luggage and other items loosely in black plastic bags and set in the hot sun for a couple of days. Some items can be placed in a clothes dryer on high heat for at least thirty minutes. Some dryers have a removable sweater rack you can use to place other items on to treat. Be careful as this treatment method may prove to be too hot to treat some electronic, plastic, or other items.

Remember to check the trunk area and seats of your vehicle where bed bugs may be hiding. In the summer the vehicle left out in the sun with the windows up may generate enough heat to destroy the bed bugs.

Always avoid the clutter of clothes and other items strewn around the floor at home or wherever you are staying for any period of time.

HOW DO YOU GET RID OF BED BUGS?
At this point there is no effective do-it-yourself home remedy available. The use of a professional, equipped to aggressively inspect and treat for bed bugs is usually essential to get rid of them.

Bed bugs are proving to be resistant to many of the current pesticides so we at AT YOUR SERVICE recommend and take a multi- tiered approach of inspection and treatment. Our meticulous inspection that finds bed bugs evolves into a bed bug treatment that consists of applying heat sources, the use of specific EPA bed bug products, taking exclusion measures to trap and/or exclude bed bugs, and educating our customers on dealing with bed bugs.

SHOULD I THROW OUT BED BUG INFESTED ITEMS
AT YOUR SERVICE discourages the disposal of beds, furniture, clothing, and other items because they are infested with bed bugs. Disposal should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by you, the customer, and a bed bug technician.

Bug proof mattress and box spring encasements are available for all sizes of beds and are an excellent investment not only for bed bugs, but also for the protection of your mattress and box spring.

The disposal of infested items does not guarantee bed bug control as replacement items may become infested if brought in prior to control of the infestation.

Furthermore, disposal of infested items will most definitely result in the spread of bed bugs to new locations.

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