You may be familiar with a phrase from many years ago when bed bugs were a common bug, "Sleep Tight - Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite". In the late 30's, a major advancement known as Chlorinated Hydrocarbon (DDT) was used to eliminate them. It did a good job and it was very rare that pest control were called in for control. However, the toxic effects of DDT were discovered and it was banned for pest control use here in the US. DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide under the Stockholm Convention. We were literally poisoning our environment; and the long-term effects of this very toxic chemical's residual are still found in our environment today. It was also discovered that bed bugs had developed and shown a resistance to DDT.
Bed bugs are as common in other countries as fleas and cockroaches are to us here. With increased international travel and the fact that they are such great hitchhikers, they made their way into our hotels. Before long, people who stayed in these hotels picked them up on their possessions and started bringing them back to their homes and businesses. Because of their hidden nature bed bugs have continued to spread rapidly worldwide. They now top the list, as the number one most irritating and toughest bug to eliminate. They've earned their "nightmare reputation" because people are not familiar with them and don't acknowledge them early enough to avoid infestations.
First, don't blame yourself or be ashamed or embarrassed that you got bed bugs. Bed bugs are so efficient at hitchhiking that anyone can get them. They don't care if you're rich or poor or whether your house is clean or dirty. Bed bugs travel via people's clothing, luggage, personal items and furniture. Either you, a family member or a visitor can introduce them in your home. And if you live in a shared wall environment like an apartment, they can travel in the walls and spread. They only want your blood and easily adapt to any environment that has a constant blood supply for them to feed on.
Bed bugs are often mistaken for other bugs. So, it's important that you know that it is bed bugs that you are dealing with. Adult bed bugs are easily seen with the naked eye. They are reddish brown in color, flat (before a blood meal), and approximately 1⁄4 inch in length. The female can lay a few hundred eggs in her lifetime of many months to around a year. The eggs are similar to the size of a poppy seed, pearl white, translucent and are attached to surfaces by a sticky substance. Unless you have exceptional eyesight or a magnifying glass, their eggs are not very visible to the human eye. Depending on temperature and conditions, these eggs can hatch anywhere from three to ten days or longer. Once the eggs hatch, and the young bed bug is exposed, it searches for a blood meal for survival. After feeding, they will return to their hiding place, digest their food and deposit fecal stains [poop]. It then outgrows and sheds its skin and searches for another blood meal. They grow through five  of these stages which take approximately 6 weeks before becoming a breeding adult. Bed bugs life survival time is debatable and is completely dependent upon regular blood meals and suitable environments.
Bites or rashes -For some, the first sign of a bed bug problem may be waking up with unidentified bites. These bites can resemble those caused by many other kinds of blood feeding insects and can rarely be identified by the appearance of the bites alone. In order to identify the bites as bed bugs the culprit "must be found". Some people are not affected by their bites.
Blood spots - Outside of bite marks, people may find blood spots. These spots may be recognized as rusty spots on bedclothes, sheets, furniture and surrounding walls.
Fecal stains (poop) - The larger the infestation, the greater amount of these will be found. These stains appear to be minute "ink dots", (like from a black marker pen).
Molted bed bug skins (castings) - These are when the bed bug grows out of its skin and leaves the old one behind. They are normally a paper-thin opaque duplication of the bed bug. Depending on how long you have had an infestation, you may find different "sizes" as each stage of growth to maturity is a little larger than the last.
Peculiar odor - And last, is a peculiar "odor" from defecated blood and oxidized iron in blood, a sort of rusty smell. There are actually many bed bug infestation odors (and have been said to be like coriander, cilantro, citronella, and/or spoiled raspberries). These odors are mostly associated with higher numbers of bed bugs and longer infestations, and like any of the normal human smells and scents, if you reside in the room on a regular basis you may become "use to" the smell.
Bed bug infestations are avoidable if you are cautious. Large populations of bed bugs take time to develop, but if a few adults are not detected early, you could well have thousands after 3 or 4 months! One bed bug is not considered an infestation, but that doesn't mean that you can ignore it. If you suspect bed bugs, call us right away so we can do a proper inspection and remove the problem before it gets out of hand!
Miscellaneous prevention pointers - Avoid shopping at thrift stores, pawnshops, and Craig's list. Be mindful of anything borrowed or given to you or discarded furniture or mattresses found at the curbside. Any of these items should be thoroughly inspected for bed bugs BEFORE bringing them into your home. Use a large plastic self-locking bag to contain items like computer bags, purses, jackets, backpacks and lunch boxes when transporting them back and forth from work, school or places visited. Be sure to inspect all items a visitor may bring into your home or workplace. These include and out of town guest, maintenance and service people, delivery people, sales clerk, and social workers.
Clean up the clutter - Bed bugs are experts at hiding and finding them can present a challenge. Heavily cluttered dwellings cause complete failure of bed bug treatments. If you have piles of boxes, newspapers, magazines or just "stuff", it's time you clean it up. Doing this will make it easier to expose and treat should you ever get them. Beds and lounging areas - Change your sheets and linens regularly; check piping on mattresses and boxsprings for early signs. Vacuum couches, chairs and carpets regularly. Make household repairs - Take away as many possible harborages for bed bugs. Separations between baseboards, grout, seams of wallpaper, crown molding, door jams. Clear silicone fills these areas so bed bugs cannot enter. Consider replacing worn carpeting with tile; and because bed bugs travel along routes created by pipes, cables and electrical conduits, seal any openings where pipes, wires or other utilities come into your home. Best furniture designs for bed bugs - Consider furniture, which is less hospitable to bed bugs. The smoother and harder the furniture, the less likely that a bed bug would find a place to hide. Take into consideration the ease of decontamination should you get bed bugs. Would the finish stand up to treatments like hot steaming or scrubbing? Can cushions be removed or put through the dryer?