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Bed Bug Information Part 1

Written by Paul J. Bello, author of The Bed Bug Combat Manual

This list of practical and useful things to know about bed bugs was written specifically with the many bed bug victims, hospitality professionals, property management professionals and pest management professionals in mind. Please note that these bits of information were gleaned from years of first hand field experience in dealing with bed bugs and working with industry colleagues across the country.  They are presented to you the reader in an effort to assist you with your current bed bug concerns.

Behavior, Biology & General Information:
1. Do not underestimate them; bed bugs take a lot of knowledge, experience time & effort to deal with successfully.

2. You need to keep a heightened level of vigilance to assure you are properly prepared to detect and deal with bed bugs.

3. Bed bugs can last a long time without feeding. Some references indicate bed bugs can survive about one year without feeding under ideal conditions. Of course we are dealing with live entities and longevity is based upon local conditions. As such, your mileage may vary.

4. In a recent conversation one of the industry's leading technical directors commented that because bed bugs have avoided the industry's attention since the 1960s that much of the basic biological information we have on bed bugs is limited and old information that needs to be updated.

5. The good news is that there are several researchers working at modern labs and universities conducting bed bug research and that new information is being on bed bugs is being published nearly every day about bed bugs.

6. Generally speaking, bed bugs can not climb smooth surfaces such as glass, some plastics and other such surfaces.

7. In a bed bug video session conducted recently we witnessed an adult bed bug successfully scale a one cup Pyrex glass bowl not once, but twice. Subsequent inspection of the bowl under magnification revealed that the bowl may have been slightly dirty or dusty and there were small ridges in the glass invisible to the unaided eye. As such, be sure your pitfall type traps are clean and suitably smooth. Additionally, place a small amount of a suitable dust/powder such as talc as this will help to prevent bed bug escape.

8. We found that adult bed bug œground speed on smooth poster board is from about three to four feet per minute. This means that a determined bed bug, if a bed bug can be characterized as œdetermined, can cover a significant distance, up to twenty feet in just five minutes, if need be to seek out a host while we're sleeping.

9. At about four feet per minute, bed bugs travel at about 0.045 mph or about 22 hours per mile.

10. Except for the egg, all stages of bed bugs from nymphs to adults feed on blood.

11. Some experts point out that, if necessary, bed bugs can get a blood meal from other bed bugs. While this may be a rare occurrence, it is possible and it underscores the tenacity of this troublesome pest.

12. Generally speaking, bed bugs can survive cold temperatures very well but succumb to heat rather easily. Recent industry literature sights temperatures of as low as about 113 degrees Fahrenheit can be lethal to bed bugs.

13. Temperatures of about 120 degrees Fahrenheit kill all stages of bed bugs in about one minute. Industry references and publications indicate a variety of temperatures and duration times to achieve mortality. It is likely best to be conservative to assure you achieve the desired results.

14. Bed bug eggs are tiny. Eggs and first instar nymphs are only about one millimeter long, that's only about 1/32nd of an inch.

15. Bed bug eggs are coated with a sticky substance.  Once deposited by the female the eggs become glued in place to hidden areas which can make them difficult to find.

16. Once dried in place bed bug eggs are difficult to remove without a scraping action.

17. While accessible bed bug eggs may be removed by careful vacuuming, it is unlikely that a significant amount of hidden bed bug eggs, if any, will be removed using a vacuum alone.

18. Bed bug eggs are shaped cylindrical and oval like, rounded at one end with a round flat hatch shape at the opposite end. The round flat end opens like a "round hatch top" when the immature bed bug immature emerges.

19. Bed bug eggs are a shiny, translucent and a milky white color as are the newly hatched bed bug nymphs.

20. Prior to taking their initial blood meal immature bed bugs are translucent and may appear slightly yellowish in color.

21. Once engorged after a blood meal nymphal bed bugs may take on a bright red color. However, just like your mileage, individual bed bug color may vary.

22. Immature bed bugs maintain their reddish color for as long as they have remnants of their blood meal within their gut. As the blood meal is digested over time they become more and more translucent again.

23. It may take several weeks for an immature bed bug to fully digest a blood meal such that no or very little blood matter appears within the abdomen.

24. Hatched bed bug eggs appear hollow and may have their œhatch top opened and attached like a pop top or missing.

25. As are the eggs, newly emerged/hatched immature bed bugs are equally small and difficult to see.

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