After 50 years as a rarity in the North American residential sectors, bed bugs have made a resurgence in urban housing markets and, increasingly, in suburban and rural communities. Partly a product of changes to pesticides laws and regulations and partly the result of increased international travel, bed bugs are increasingly found in communities across the province, in households of all types and all income levels.
About Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are brown, flightless, nocturnal insects. There are a variety of different species of bed bugs; however they all feed on the blood of mammals and birds. Domestic species prefer to feed on people who are asleep, however they will also bite household pets and other pests (e.g. rodents).
An adult bed bug is five to seven millimeters in size, approximately the size of an apple seed. Prior to feeding bed bugs are flat, approximately the thickness of a business card. When they have fed, they increase in size and thickness. Bed bug eggs are almost white in colour and are shaped like small grains of rice.
The Bed Bug Life Cycle
The bed bug life cycle has seven stages: egg, five nymph or larva stages, and adult. A female bed bug will lay eggs every few days and typically will lay 300 to 500 eggs in her life time. The offspring must have a blood meal between each stage. Under ideal conditions the complete bed bug life cycle is four to six weeks. The short maturation period of bed bugs and abundant egg production of female bed bugs means that untreated infestations can grow very quickly.
Adult bed bugs can live for approximately one year, but can hibernate and live longer if they are unable to access food sources. A bed bug’s feeding can last three to 10 minutes. While usually painless, the resulting bite can develop into an itchy welt that may last for several weeks. The bites are also prone to infection if scratched. Some people may develop severe skin conditions or experience allergic reactions to the bites.
Where do they come from and where do they live
There are popular misconceptions that suggest that bed bugs are a “low income” or a “city” problem; both are untrue. Bed bugs can now be found anywhere where a lot of people come together, particularly places like hotels, apartment and condominium buildings, and hospitals. They have been found in movie theatres, on subways, and in luxury hotel suites. They are not a problem faced only by the poor; they are a problem faced by all of us. They are hitchhikers, hiding in luggage, laundry, and in objects, waiting to be brought to a new home.
Given their size, bed bugs are able to hide in any type of crack or crevice found in a typical home. They will typically be found hiding on or around mattresses, box springs, and bed frames, as well as in upholstered furniture. This is not surprising given their nocturnal feeding habits. Depending on the infestation they can also be found under and behind baseboards, on curtains, in clothing, and even in electronics; they can be found almost anywhere!
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