Bed Bug Appearance and Physical Characteristics
Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite - but that’s easier said than done for Lake Worth homeowners. Florida’s beaches see millions in tourism every year, and many of those tourists are carrying hitchhikers. If you don’t take steps to protect your home, your home might get some permanent residents.
In this article, we’ll take a look at why bed bugs are a threat to Lake Worth homes, warning signs to lookout for, and steps to take to take care of any bed bug problem.
Bed bugs are parasites that feed on the blood of the hosts they cling to. These pests generally live 6-12 months, following a typical three-stage life cycle: a female lays an egg, which hatches into a nymph that matures into adult before repeating the process. While the maturation process takes four to five months, one female can lay about 1-3 eggs per day (250-500 eggs in her lifetime) - so even a minor infestation left untreated can quickly spiral out of control.
Prevention is key, so look be on the lookout for eggs, nymphs, and adults around the home if you suspect you might be dealing with an infestation. Close inspection of a bed bug-infested room can reveal one or all three types, so here’s what to be on the lookout for:
- Bed Bug Eggs: Eggs are both the first step of bed bug development and commonly one of the first signs to tip off homeowners to an infestation. Eggs are miniscule, about he size of a pinhead and pearly-white in coloration.
- Bed Bug Nymphs: When a bed bug egg hatches, a nymph emerges, already on the hunt for blood. These immature bed bugs are translucent whitish-yellow in color but have to shed their skins five times before reaching adulthood, leaving hollow shells behind that can be an early indicator of infestation.
- Bed Bug Adults: Mature bed bugs are about 5-7mm long, with reddish brown coloration. Their bodies are oval shaped, broken into three segments with antennae on the head, flightless wings on the thorax, and a ballooning abdomen for blood storage - which can make them resemble apple seeds at a glance.
Bed bugs are excellent climbers, giving them easy access to any human beds, furniture, or clothing inside the infested home. Their climbing ability is also what makes gives them their reputation as the hitch hikers of the insect world: during tourist seasons, unaware hotel room residents could inadvertently take a bed bug infestation home with them.
Nymph and adult bed bugs are largely nocturnal, becoming most active at night. While they’ll feed on any host they can find in the wilderness, including large mammals and birds, they stand to do the most damage when they invade human homes and workplaces.
The Problems Bed Bug Season Brings
Bed bug infestations are primarily unpleasant for the related health concerns they can bring and the social stigma that comes with bed bug presence.
Bed bugs are parasites, and like any other parasite, they can be a serious detriment to the mental and physical wellbeing of their hosts. While bed bugs are not known to spread disease, the EPA has nevertheless declared that bed bugs are a national public health concern due to the various negative effects they can have on humans and pets they come into contact with.
Bed bug bites affect different people in different ways. While some people will show no negative signs or symptoms, others can face serious negative health complications, including:
- Bites: Bed bug bites often leave itchy red bumps on arms and legs. These bites can be difficult to detect, both because they vary in severity from person to person and because the bed bug saliva temporarily numbs the skin so that the person isn’t aware he or she is being bitten at the time.
- Allergic Reactions: Bed bug bites can cause severe allergic reactions in certain people, especially people with asthma, with rare cases resulting in whole-body reactions that can lead to conditions such as hives and anaphylactic shock. These are often caused by the secondary biological materials that bed bugs leave behind, including skin and droppings.
- Skin Infections: While bed bugs are not direct disease vectors, bed bug bites that break the skin can serve as entry points for the bacteria that causes impetigo, ecthyma, lymphangitis, and other secondary infections.
- Worsened Mental Health: Bed bugs have been proven to have a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of their hosts, leading them to experienced increased levels of anxiety, insomnia, stress, and related systemic behavioral reactions.
- Homes: Bed bugs are most notorious for infesting human homes, invading human mattresses while they sleep, as well as carpets, clothing, and furniture.
- Businesses: The social stigma associated with bed bug infestation makes them incredibly damaging to affected businesses, especially in healthcare, transportation, and clothing-related industries.
- Schools: Bed bugs’ climbing ability also allows them to thrive in schools under certain conditions, spreading through children’s clothing.
- Hotels: Bed bugs have been shown to invade even the nicest of hotels, allowing bed bugs to flourish in tourist destinations. Unfortunately, for a large part of the year, that means Florida.
Why Bed Bugs Love Florida
Florida’s weather, temperature, and climate make it an ideal breeding ground for bed bugs. Recently, conditions have allowed tropical bed bugs to resurface after 60 years of absence, indicating a bed bug comeback in the area and a higher potential for bed bug infestation to current Florida residents.
Given that bed bugs need to feed on a host to survive, it makes sense that they thrive where we thrive. Unfortunately for Lake Worth residents, Florida’s status as a tourist hotspot means an even higher risk of infestation than most other parts of the country.
Bed bugs flourish during warm times of the month when the beach attracts tourists from around the world, leading to the creation of bed bug awareness month in June. However, while bed bugs flourish during tourist seasons, Florida’s warm weather year-rounds puts residents at potential for bed bug infestation at almost any time of year.
If you want to stop bed bugs from taking over your home, the first step is to know what to be on the lookout for.
How Do I Know if I Have a Bed Bug Infestation?
Often, a bed bug infestation can go on under the resident’s nose for weeks or even months, giving them more time to breed and multiply. Mitigate the damage of any bed bug infestation by staying aware of warning signs you see, so be on the lookout for:
Bites: Most people realize they have bed bugs when they get bitten, leaving a painful or itchy red lump behind. However, individual reactions vary from person to person, so while some result in rashes or hives, others display no visible reaction at all. This part of the reason why bed bugs can go unnoticed for long periods of time in certain situations.
Streaks and Stains: Look for black spots or specks from bed bug droppings and reddish or rust-colored stains leftover from bed bugs getting crushed inside sheets or mattresses.
Insect Parts: See the section above for help identifying eggs, leftover eggshells, or discarded pale yellow body shells throughout your home. Likewise, be on the lookout for insect parts, such as limbs, that might have come off.
Odor: Bed bugs have glands on the lower side of their bodies that produce a musty odor that, in large enough numbers, can spread throughout a home.
Bugs: Finally, if you see live bugs crawling around on your skin, clothing, or bedding, especially during the day time, it’s an almost certain sign that you’re dealing with an infestation.
Home Bed Bug Inspection Checklist
- Inside sheets and blankets
- On seams and tags on mattresses, box springs, and other bedding
- In cracks in the bed frame and headboard
- In clothing items
- Inside closets and drawers
- Around baseboards and carpets
- Around window and door frames
- In the seams of chairs, couches, and other furniture
- Inside curtain folds
- Around piping
- In electrical outlets and appliances
- Under loose wallpaper or wall hangings
Why Professional Bed Bug Treatment is Worth It
If you’re experiencing a bed bug infestation, or fear you could in the future, there are some steps you can take to protect your home and family in the event of an infestation in your home. Unfortunately, bed bug infestations can still be incredibly difficult to completely treat, leading many DIY bed bug solutions to fail.
If you want long-term bed bug protection, professional treatment is always worth it.
At Nozzle Nolen, our team are the best in business at keeping Florida residents pest-free, and we can take care of any bed bug problem you might be facing - and keep it gone. Interested in learning more? Check out our residential pest control options or contact us for more information.