For the second year in a row, Baltimore has been ranked the top city for bed bug infestations, with Washington D.C. ranked second. These little critters can invade any location at any time. They aren’t poisonous or harmful, but can cause itchiness, loss of sleep, and rashes. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms if you have a bed bug infestation, as well as how to eliminate and prevent them.
What Are Bedbugs?
Bed bugs are wingless, blood-sucking insects that have been a scourge among humans for centuries. They typically spread through travel and hitchhiking. Bed bugs can be hard to identify because they hide in the cracks and crevices of objects that are in close proximity to humans. This includes luggage, bedding, furniture, and upholstery. Bed bugs can easily spread in places like hotels, building facilities, apartments, and household residences through seams and casings of doors, windows, and floors.
They come out to feed every five to ten days, but they can also last several months up to a year without feeding. They sense the body heat and carbon dioxide from a person’s breathing, making bedrooms the perfect habitat.
A bed bug bite isn’t immediately noticeable and it can take as long as 14 days for signs to show up. The most common symptoms indicating a bite are swollen welts and itchy red bumps on the surface of the skin. This is caused from an allergic reaction to the bed bug’s saliva.
Why is Baltimore So Prone to Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are not seasonally dependent insects, and they are nondiscriminatory to location. Unless active precautions are taken to prevent an infestation, any residence or commercial property can be prone to bed bugs. Bed bugs are natural hitchhikers, and spread through travel. It’s more likely for bed bugs to be found in places that have a high rate of tourism and travel. Both cities are densely populated, only 40 miles apart, and attract visitors from all over the world. There are, however, a number of precautions that can be taken:
How to Prevent
1) Don’t provide a place for them to hide. Remove clutter and messy conditions.
2) Vacuum frequently, and secure furniture items like mattresses and couches in a protective cover or casing.
3) If you do laundry in a shared facility, keep your items in a protective bag, rather than an open basket.
4) Essential oils from tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, cedar, citronella, lavender, cinnamon, thyme, and lemongrass have been known to kill bed bugs on contact.
How to Identify
Identifying whether or not you have bed bugs is to look for dark stains in your bedding. After bed bugs feed, they leave behind a fecal residue of digested blood, which can turn dark brown, dark red, or black when dry. Bed bugs also shed at least five times until they reach maturity, so it is important to check for molted bed bug skins.
How to Eliminate
If there are overwhelming signs of a bed bug infestation, then it is best to contact a professional and vacuum as frequently as possible in the meantime.
Washing your laundry may eliminate some bed bugs, but drying and steaming at the hottest setting is a guaranteed way of killing them. Bed bugs take 20 minutes to die at 118oF. Freezing temperatures can also kill bed bugs. If your items can’t be treated with heat, then it’s best to store them in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer for 3-4 days.
Available from Daycon is a product called STERI-FAB. It is an effective and convenient insecticide that deodorizes, disinfects, and eliminates bed bugs, among other insects. For more information, visit their web site https://www.sterifab.com/
Additionally, a powder made from a naturally occurring sedimentary rock, Diatomaceous Earth, has been proven to be effective against bed bugs. Read more here: https://www.diatomaceousearth.com/blogs/learning-center/diatomaceous-earth-natural-bed-bug-control
Tips/Ideas when Traveling
• Make sure your luggage is sanitized before and after your trip. Use ample heat and the proper fabric disinfectants when cleaning.
• When traveling, thoroughly inspect the sheets, towels, furniture, and other bedding of your hotel, hostel, or residence for signs of infestation: dried blood, dried feces, and molted skin.
• Store your clothing in protective bags. Bring plastic liners with you to protect your skin and items from a bed bug attack.
• Limit the purchasing of secondhand items. This is one of the most common ways for bed bugs to travel. Otherwise, disinfect carefully before wear or use.
City rankings provided by Orkin® Pest Control: https://www.orkin.com/press-room/orkin-releases-top-50-bed-bug-cities-list/