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Bedbugs

They’re back!

Although they had almost disappeared in the early 1950’s, bedbugs are back in most large cities on the planet. Bedbug infestations have been reported in homes, apartment buildings as well as in hotels, motels, health institutions, shelters, student and senior citizens residences, etc.

What causes bedbugs to spread?

  • Greater movement of individuals (moving, tourism)
  • Use of second-hand objects (sale and exchange of used furniture and clothing).
  • Lack of knowledge about bedbugs has led to the implementation of ineffective extermination methods.

What do bedbugs look like?

The scientific name for bedbugs is Cimex lectularius. A bedbug is a flat, oval-shaped, brownish and wingless insect 4 to 7 millimetres long. The female is rounder and the male longer.

How do bedbugs feed?

Bedbugs feed at night, exclusively on human blood. They feed every 3 to 7 days. They are attracted by vibrations, heat, odours and carbon dioxide (C02) released by an individual. At the beginning of an infestation, bedbugs usually feed on only one person in the household.

What is a bedbug’s life cycle?

Female adults lay 2 to 5 eggs a day, or between 300 to 500 eggs over their lifetime. There are three main stages of development in the bedbug’s life cycle:

  • Egg: White, one millimetre long, hatches in 10 to 14 days. The eggs are deposited in clusters in a variety of locations (cracks and crevices, inside walls, etc.).
  • Nymph: Looks like an adult insect, but smaller. Same as adults, nymphs feed on blood, but are more vulnerable if they don’t feed. Nymphs turn into adults in about one month.
  • Adult: Life span is about 5 months, if it feeds regularly. However, adults can survive in a dormant state for over a year, if they don’t feed.

How do bedbugs move around?

Bedbugs are often transported from place to place in objects in which they are hiding. For example, they can use bags, suitcases, backpacks, clothing, mattresses, furniture, bedding, laptop computers, or even wheelchairs as hiding places and means of transportation. Bedbugs are wingless, and therefore can only get around on their own by walking. This is why they don’t usually move far from beds. If they are very numerous, some bedbugs will migrate by walking to other rooms (the living room, for instance), or even to adjacent apartments.

Where do they live?

Especially in bedrooms, where they feed on the blood of people who are sleeping. Bedbugs avoid light and hide mostly in the following places:

  • along the seams of mattresses;
  • in box springs and bed frames;
  • in cracks and crevices in walls, floors and furniture;
  • behind pictures on walls;
  • along baseboards;
  • inside electrical outlets.

They can also live in any object that provides a dark, narrow space where they can easily hide. A crack wide enough to fit the edge of a credit card can harbour bedbugs.

How do we detected them?

The first clue that there are bedbugs in a home are bites on the skin. Bedbugs bite especially the arms, but all body parts exposed during the night are likely to get bitten. Bites, or lesions, are often clustered in groups of 3 or 4 and look like mosquito bites. They disappear within two weeks. Bedbug bites can cause intense itching. Creams and allergy medications can be used to relieve itching. Scratching lesions can result in skin infections and leave scars.

What other health problems can they cause?

Sleep disturbances

Itching caused by repeated bites during the night can cause sleep disturbances, fatigue and anxiety, and greatly reduce the quality of life of people who are the victims of bedbug infestations.

Social isolation

Individuals struggling with bedbug infestations can feel ashamed and become socially isolated. Consequently, they might hesitate to talk to people who could help them with this problem, thus delaying necessary interventions, which gives bedbugs time to spread further.

Prevention methods

  • Find out more about bedbugs so you can detect them more easily:
  • Watch for bites on the skin, black spots along mattress seams, and blood on sheets and pillows.
  • Notify the owner or person in charge of insect control of the presence of bedbugs as quickly as possible.
  • Regularly vacuum all rooms, mattresses and box springs, especially along the seams, folds and bed frames.
  • Avoid, if possible, rugs, carpets and wallpaper, since these provide hiding places for bedbugs.
  •  Remove clutter (objects and furniture) from apartments and common areas.

What are the most effective control methods?

Several methods have been tried to get rid of bedbugs. One solution that is often considered is the application of insecticides, which should only be done by qualified pest controllers to minimize potential health impacts. In all cases, the participation of everyone affected by the infestation (building occupants and owners, pest controllers) is required to solve the problem.

THE OCCUPANT OF THE HOME OR THE APARTMENT

What should he do?

  • Tell the owner as soon as possible that there are bedbugs.
  • Avoid trying to solve the problem himself.
  • Never spray insecticides on people and mattresses, because this could be harmful to health.
  • Avoid moving infested objects or furniture into common areas of the building.
  • Never leave infested mattresses or furniture out on the street. Most objects can be treated. Those that can’t be treated should be made unusable to prevent other people from using them and spreading bedbugs elsewhere.
  • Allow inspection and control in all rooms of the apartment. Get the apartment ready for the pest controller
  • Reduce clutter in rooms to limit the number of hiding places.
  • Put clothing and bedding in hermetically sealed bags. Empty the bags directly into the washing machine, and wash in hot water, then let them dry into the dryer for at lest 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Clean clothes and bedding must be kept in different hermetically sealed bags until there are no more bedbugs in the apartment.
  • Vacuum twice a week. Seal the vacuum cleaner bag and throw it in the garbage outside the building. If you have a bagless vacuum cleaner, empty the contents into a hermetically sealed bag which should immediately be placed in the garbage outside the building. The vacuum container must be cleaned out after each use, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Avoid bringing new furniture or mattresses into the house before the bedbugs have been completely eliminated.

Safety and prevention instructions to the occupant

  • People and pets should leave the apartment when insecticide is being applied.
  • They can return 6 hours after application and wait at least 48 hours before walking bare foot on treated surfaces.
  • Pregnant women should wait at least 24 hours before returning to the apartment and 48 hours before walking barefoot on treated surfaces.
  • Air out the premises after the treatment is applied.
  • It is highly recommended to repeat the treatment within one month of the first application, because currently approved insecticides (permethrin and cyfluthrin) don’t kill the eggs. A second treatment ensures that newly hatched insects are also eliminated and that the initial treatment was effective.
  • Make sure bedbugs have been eliminated: It is recommended to go back for a follow-up visit 2 to 4 weeks after each insecticide application. If eradication is not complete, identify the causes and implement the appropriate measures to eliminate bedbugs effectively.