Who or What Hosts Bed Bugs?
Hosts include man, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, bats, poultry, birds and other warm-blooded animals. The Cimicids in North Dakota that affect man include the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, and the eastern bat bug, C. adjunctus.
What Kind of Damage/Symptoms Should I Look For?
When bed bugs bite, they become completely engorged with blood in from three to fifteen minutes, depending on the bed bugs age and sex. A fluid is injected into the wound while feeding which may cause irritation and inflammation. In many cases welts develop, however, persons bitten by bed bugs may react differently. In some cases, the bite causes little inconvenience. The fact that bed bugs take at least five blood meals prior to maturity has placed these insects under suspicion as potential vectors of disease. However, there is no convincing evidence that this is true.
Initially, bed bugs are found in bedding and associated tufts, seams, and folds of infested mattresses. As the insects multiply, they spread to window and door casings, pictures, loosened wallpaper, plaster cracks, baseboards and partitions. They are readily moved about in clothing, traveling bags and suitcases, laundry, second hand beds and furniture. Bed bugs are found in just about any habitat which offers darkness, isolation, and protection. This includes new and old buildings. Even the best maintained households are not exempt from invasion, although proper sanitation is the best preventative measure against these and many household pests. Close relatives of bed bugs include the bat bug which is common in attics infested with bats, and swallow and chimney swift bugs which are frequent in homes inhabited by swallows, pigeons, and other wild birds. These insects prefer hosts other than man; however, they may feed on man if the opportunity presents itself.
Do I Have to Throw Out the Bed?
Eliminating bed bugs from beds can be a challenge. If there are holes or tears in the fabric, the bugs and eggs may be inside, as well as outside. There also are restrictions on how beds can be treated with insecticides. For these reasons, pest control firms often recommend that beds be discarded, especially when heavily infested or in poor condition. Whether the bed stays or goes, encasing both the mattress and box spring is helpful if bugs are still present. Zippered encasements -- available at bedding and allergy supply stores -- deny bed bugs access to inner, hidden areas and entrap any bugs already inside. Some pest control firms treat seams, tufts, and crevices of bed components, but they will not spray the entire mattress surface, bed sheets, blankets, or clothing. Vacuuming (discussed previously) may further help to remove bugs and eggs from mattresses and box springs that cannot be discarded. Some pest control firms also treat beds with portable steam machines. The technique can be useful, but affords no residual protection and does not kill bugs or eggs hidden inside the box spring or mattress. Fumigation is another way to de-infest beds and hard-to-treat items, but the procedure is not always available. In extreme cases, entire buildings have been fumigated for bed bugs. The procedure is costly though, and involves covering the building in a tarp and injecting a lethal gas.
What are your rights and obligations?
Landlords and property owners have specific legal obligations to provide safe and habitable accommodations for tenants. Certain infestations, including bed bugs, may constitute an unacceptable condition. Tenants have an obligation to cooperate with owners and landlords. This includes preparing the apartment so that the pest control operator can easily inspect the rooms and treat if necessary. Contact your state or municipal health agency or housing authority for more guidance on these issues.
What shouldn't you do?
Don’t panic. Although bed bugs can be annoying, they can be battled safely and successfully if you adopt a well-considered strategy. Do not apply pesticides unless you fully understand what you are applying and the risks involved. You are legally liable if you misapply a pesticide, or apply it without a license to the property of another (including common spaces in apartment buildings). Generally, landlords, owners and building managers cannot legally apply pesticides. They should, instead, hire a licensed pest control operator to confirm the infestation and to develop an integrated pest management plan.
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