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Would You Know if Your Home Had Bed Bugs?

By Chris Williams on June 8, 2016.

Absolutely, you say. Don’t be so sure. It’s surprising the number of people who coexist with bed bugs and don’t even know it.

A research team from Rutgers University found that one in every eight low-income apartments in New Jersey had bed bugs…and 50% of the time, the residents didn’t even know it! The researchers inspected more than 2,300 low-income apartments in 43 buildings and found bed bug infestation rates in buildings ranging from 3.8 to 29.4%, with an average infestation rate of 12.3%. In other words, in an average 12 unit building, between 1 and 2 units would have a bed bug infestation and in some buildings, nearly a third of the apartments were found to be infested.

Not Everyone Notices Bed Bug Bites

Although bed bugs are visible, they’re not all that easy to see unless you carefully look for them. Bed bugs hide during the day. Elderly people with poor vision can easily miss bed bugs. Other people might psychologically “overlook” bed bugs. They just don’t want to admit that the bugs are really there.  Additionally, not everyone reacts to bed bug bites. Since they only come out to bite at night when you are asleep, if you don’t react to the bites, you may never imagine that you have bed bugs and the population can grow, unseen, for a long time. Of the residents in the study who had bed bugs, almost a third (32%) reported no reaction to the bites.

You Can’t Report Bed Bugs if You Don’t Even Know You Have ‘Em

You can understand how this adds to the difficulty of bed bug control, especially in apartments. Apartment residents don’t always report bed bugs even when they know they have them. Their reasons range from lack of interest to concerns about being blamed or charged for extermination services. Then, add in the residents who don’t even know that they have bed bugs. You can see why many infested apartment units are never treated for bed bugs, yet these same apartments are no doubt passing bed bugs on to their neighbors on a regular basis.

Even worse is when apartment residents try to treat for bed bugs on their own. The researchers found that more than half (59%) of the residents who had bed bugs acted as their own exterminators despite the fact that the property provided pest control service. These residents used pesticide products that were essentially ineffective. They no doubt drove the bed bugs into hiding or into neighboring apartments.

Besides the bugs themselves, other signs of bed bugs are reddish-brown blood spots on sheets and pillows, dark fecal spots in mattress seams and other bed bug hiding places, white bed bug eggs tucked into cracks and crevices, shed bed bug skins…and sometimes itchy bites. For more on how to check for bed bugs, see What Are the Signs of Bed Bugs? If you suspect bed bugs, give Colonial Pest a call for a professional inspection.

Photo Credit : “Adult bed bug, Cimex lectularius” | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Public Health Image Library | #9820 | Wikimedia Commons.

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