©Little Bugs Pest Control LLC – Serving Northwestern PA and Southwestern NY
Spring break has finally arrived, and many people are traveling to visit with friends and soak up some sun. They’ll return with souvenirs, suntans, dirty laundry, and maybe even a little sand… but hopefully no unwanted critters!
Unfortunately, bed bugs are one of the easiest travel “souvenirs” to unknowingly collect, and they are also one of the hardest pests to eradicate once you have an infestation. In hopes of avoiding these unwanted pest guests, let’s take a closer look.
Cimus lectularius, the common bed bug, is a parasite that feeds exclusively on human blood. Similar in size and shape to an apple seed, the largest adults will only measure about 7 mm or ¼-inch long. These bugs aren’t just little, they’re tiny! And their color helps them blend in nicely with most woodwork.
Wait, woodwork? Yes. It’s a myth that bed bugs live exclusively in mattresses; they also hang out on upholstery, drapery, and carpets, especially around the edges. They’re drawn to the warmth their cooperative human hosts provide with their body heat, but if the temperature heats up too much, these little critters will migrate to the sides of the furnishings. They can be found on headboards and window sills, on picture frames, and even inside electrical outlets.
Cooler temperature conditions cause the bugs to enter a semi-hibernation state – allowing them to survive without feeding for up to a year! – but in the typically warmer atmosphere provided by homes or hotels, bed bugs like to dine at five- to ten-day intervals. Mostly nocturnal, they may still move about during the day and will eat whenever hunger strikes and a meal possibility presents itself. Since they begin their feast on human blood by first injecting an anesthetic into their unwitting host’s skin, people rarely notice a bug biting them until they’ve already provided its banquet. Bite marks resemble mosquito bites, possibly including a fluid-filled blister, and are located on whatever skin is exposed during their dinner time – typically neck, arms, hands, legs, and feet. The good news is that bed bugs are not known to transmit any diseases, but the bad news is that the bites can itch and produce allergic reactions.
Prevention & Management:
So the two main questions we need to have answered are:
Prevention isn’t too difficult as long as you stay alert. When you first enter a hotel room, follow the Five Feet/Frame Rule. More than 90% of the time, infestations are found within five feet of the bed, so begin by placing your belongings on a luggage carrier located outside that imaginary boundary or else in the bathroom. (See illustration below.)
Then look for the border or frame of each of the furnishings and inspect them all – edges of mattresses and pillows, headboards and footboards, nightstands and drawers, outlets and lampshades, window sills and picture frames. (See illustration below.)
Look for dark fecal deposits, tiny white larvae, and brown adults or skins that have been shed. If you see any of these, gather up your bags again and pause your exit only to politely inform the front desk personnel that they need to call an exterminator.
This leads us to our next point – Management of an infestation.
Contrary to folksy websites, bed bugs are not eliminated by do-it-yourself methods or over-the-counter sprays. In the last decade, infestations have increased as the bugs have become more resistant to pesticides. Unless you want to fight the bugs with their natural predators by releasing an army of cockroaches, centipedes, or spiders into your home, do yourself a favor and call a trustworthy pest control company to come deal with the problem.
Little Bugs Pest Control, LLC offers reliable, confidential service for your home or business. Contact us at: (814) 221-3424 or (716) 640-5006. We’ll be glad to evict those “Uninvited Pest Guests” for you!
The sight of one of these little brown critters often raises quite a stink… especially if you decide to swat it!
Halyomorpha halys, also known as the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), is an insect in the family Pentatomidae.
The adults are approximately 1.7 centimeters (0.67 in) long and about as wide, forming the shield shape characteristic of other stink bugs. They are various shades of brown on both the top and undersides, with gray, off-white, black, copper, and bluish markings. The stink glands are located on the underside of the thorax, between the first and second pair of legs, and on the dorsal surface of the abdomen.[*] Adults can live from several months to a year.
Since stink bugs feed on fruit and vegetable crops and can cause widespread damage, they’re a very unwelcome sight in a garden or farm field. They feed on a wide array of plants including apples, apricots, Asian pears, cherries, corn, grapes, lima beans, peaches, peppers, tomatoes, and soybeans. Compost bins look like a buffet table to stink bugs!
This little guy poses no health hazard at all to humans, nor does he transmit diseases, sting, or bite. He doesn’t cause structural damage. He’s annoying because of his odor and his loud WW2 bomber flight noise, but this is actually a God-given defense mechanism meant to prevent him from being eaten by birds and lizards. (Of course, we could be discussing a female – we don’t intend to send gender dominant messages here – but we’re talking about stink and loud noises, so it’s probably a male, right?!) 😉 He has two different scents – one to make him seem unappetizing to predators, and one to mark his territory. The interesting point here is that once he finds a great place to hibernate for the winter, he marks that area not to keep other stink bugs away, but to invite them to join him! It’s slumber party time at your house!
We’ve been hearing a lot of reports recently of people seeing these bugs in their houses now, but the brown marmorated stink bug home invasion usually occurs in the fall. The bug survives the winter as an adult by entering houses and structures when autumn evenings become colder, often numbering in the thousands. They will enter under siding, soffits, around window and door frames, chimneys, or any space which has openings big enough to fit through. Once inside the house, they will go into a state of hibernation to wait for winter to pass. The warmth of the house may cause them to become active. They are able to survive long periods of time in hot or cold conditions.
If you see an occasional stinkbug and want to get rid of it without swatting it and having to deal with its odor, you can devise a fun trap with little-to-no expense. Set a crook-neck or angled desk lamp (with a non-LED bulb) over a disposable aluminum pan containing about an inch of water and a few drops of dish soap. Darken the room so that the only light comes from the lamp shining into the soapy water. Leave the room for several hours (preferably overnight) before checking. The bug will be attracted to the light, land in the water, but be unable to escape once the soap coats its body.
Management & Prevention:
Managing this pest species is challenging because there are currently few effective pesticides that are labeled for use against them. Predators such as wasps and birds are helping fight the spread of stink bugs by feeding on the bugs.
Preventive perimeter spray (seasonal spray) around your home is the most effective defense to keep them from entering your home. Spring and fall treatments are recommended so as to kill them as they leave their state of hibernation or as they try to enter before winter arrives.
Sealing off cracks and crevices around the home is recommended so as not to allow them entry or harborage.
Little Bugs Pest Control, LLC offers preventive and seasonal sprays for your home or business. Feel free to contact us at: (814) 221-3424 or (716) 640-5006. We’ll be glad to deal with the stink bugs for you!
©Little Bugs Pest Control LLC – Serving Northwestern PA and Southwestern NY