GREENVILLE — “Nighty, night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” was something a lot of parents would tell their children at bed time in days past.
However, the mention of bed bugs, whose scientific name is climex lectularius, today brings on a whole new meaning to that phrase.
They have become an epidemic in many households, but are preventable.
“Bed bugs are a bug problem but they can be dealt with,” stated Dr. Susan Jones, professor of entomology at The Ohio State University in a workshop Tuesday at the Shawnee Prairie Preserve Nature Center when she spoke on “Dealing With Bed Bugs — the New Reality.”
Jones said she has been working with bed bugs since 2003.
“They went away in the ’50s and ’60s after DDT; now, they’re here to stay,” she said.
She went on to address the group that gathered on how to handle infestations and what a person can do to protect him/herself and his/her home.
“Bed bugs typically feed at night,” she said. “They feed only on blood, preferably human every six to seven days and they have been known to feed on rodents, bats, birds and pets. They cause significant economic, physical and mental distress. They are the most expensive insects we’re dealing with today in households.”
According to her the bed bugs are not caused by bad housekeeping.
“They can happen to anyone; they don’t discriminate,” she said. “They are also found in apartment buildings, motels, hotels, hospitals, libraries, schools and movie theaters. They are brought in by visitors and staff; on clothing, coats, shoes, purses, brief cases, wheelchairs and walkers. They prefer fabric and wood.”
Jones told the group she rears bed bugs in her lab to test them.
“They’re easy to kill,” she said. “They’re as soft as can be.”
She went on to note that the bed bugs crawl into facilities’ chairs, carpeting and equipment.
“A single bed bug doesn’t warrant panic or business closure,” she said. “Early identification is important. Have an expert look at it. A staff should be trained.”
She went on to say that but there are other look-alikes when it comes to bed bugs, such as the bat bugs, known as climex adjunctus.
“Items placed on curbs are often picked up and re-used; thereby spreading bed begs to other households,” she said. “You can put bed bugs into a vial, pill bottle or a Ziploc bag. If you want to get rid of them, wrap them in plastic.”
She also told them how to integrate pesticide management after having correctly identified the pest.
“Conduct a thorough inspection…use sanitation measures, use non-chemical measures and apply insecticides to targeted sites,” she said. “Bed bugs like to hide in the dark, especially in cracks and crevices. They can cling together to surfaces. They can’t fly or jump but can walk fast.”
Jones said some bug can hide behind hanging pictures, in carpeting, on furniture and even in electrical outlets. They can also be found behind baseboard, mattresses and box springs, clustered together.”
To recognize telltale signs of bed bugs, look for black fecal spots, shed skins and eggshells, live nymphs and larvas, blood stains from crushed bugs, welts on exposed skin and a distinctive odor in severe infestations.
She said when a person is bitten, skin reactions include redness, welts and itching.
“They resemble bites from other insects and arthropods and typically occur on exposed skin but rarely on palms or soles,” said Jones. ” They often occur in rows or groups.”
Treatment, she said, is typical or systemic…antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications.
“Do no use topical insecticides,” she advised.
Health effects from bed bites, she added, are skin reactions, secondary bacterial infections, anemia, asthma, anaphylactic shock, physiological effects, sleeplessness, agitation and anxiety.”
She also told employees who make home visits what they can do when dealing with bed bugs, including minimizing the items they carry into a household and not to sit their items on beds, upholstered furniture or floors.
“A clothes dryer is the best thing to kill all bed bugs in all life stages,” Jones said. “Wash in hot water [120 degrees F.], use dryer on hot setting for 30 seconds or dry clean the items.”
She also travelers what they can do to prevent bed bugs, including examining the items in a room….the underside of the bed, along the bed frame, opening nightstand drawers and checking along inner and and outer edges and look along baseboards.
“You got to be pro-active and do you own inspections,” she said. “A bathtub [in a motel/hotel] is a best place to store items, and keep your clothes in a zippered suitcase. At night time, they [bed bugs] don’t stay put.”
She went on to let them know that after they get home from a trip to inspect their clothing and luggage and inspect second-hand bedding, furniture and clothing.
“Treatment options include residual products [dust, liquid, aerosols] but if they have the word ‘contact’ on them, that’s not good. It has to be residual,” she said. “Other options are fumigation [sulfuryl fluoride] the entire bed and the heat treatment for the whole structure.”
She also talked ways of getting rid of bed bugs: Sniffing dogs and inexpensive monitoring devices such as sticky traps, pitfall traps, stop pitfall traps, lights out interceptor and a climb up interceptor.
According to Jones, the bed bug’s life cycle, in total development time for egg and adult, is 21 days at 86 degrees F and 120 days at 65 degrees F.
“They don’t live outside,” Jones said. “They won’t crawl out doors or windows.”
She went on to note that bed bug numbers can quickly skyrocket and told those in attendance how to use the whole room heat treatment; gave them tips on other methods of getting rid of the pests, such as placing a nylon stocking in a vacuum cleaner to gather them up; and steaming to get rid of them.
“Boric acid products don’t work,” she said. “Grocery store sprays won’t kill infestations. Don’t use bug bombs on bed bugs; they can worse a problem. And, ultrasonic pest devices don’t work.”
Some products that have been known to work are Temprid SC and Demand CS, which have to be done by an exterminator, while Eco Raider and Bed Bug Petrol can be used naturally.
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