You probably have heard of bed bugs in rhymes and tales, but did you know they are a real thing? This knowledge is becoming more and more common, but most people still tie Wisconsin bed bugs to larger cities such as Madison or Milwaukee or tourist destinations like the Dells. Unfortunately, this is not an accurate description of the situation. Bed Bugs are master hitchhikers and can be found throughout the state. Regardless of the amount of travel you do, it is best to be familiar with the techniques for effective Wisconsin Bed Bug Control.
Look before you sleep
The first and most important rule of bed bug control is to to be aware of your surroundings and do inspections before you settle down in an area. Bed bugs are mostly nocturnal, so if you are just passing through a place or hanging out for a few hours, your likelihood of picking up a bed bug is much smaller than if you are staying for long periods into the evening or overnight.
Some instances allow for more thorough inspection than others, but the main keys to a good inspection are as follows:
- Look high and low – signs can be seen along baseboards just as much as they can be seen in the seam between ceiling and wall.
- Look in seams and cracks – places where things join and conceal are perfect hiding places for bed bugs. This can be a mattress against a box spring, a box spring against a frame, a picture against a wall, a baseboard seam, or an alarm clock on a nightstand for a few examples.
- Look for adults – these are about the size and shape of a watermelon seed and yellowish to red or brown in color
- Look for nymphs – these have 5 different growth stages and tend to be lighter in color except for after a blood meal
- Look for eggs – these are white and oval about 1/16 long
- Find the feces – bed bug droppings look like pepper flakes. Since most people don’t pepper their furniture, this should stand out a bit
- Suspect spots of blood – not all blood spots mean bed bugs, but the presence of blood spots especially on a sleeping or lounging area is reason to look deeper.
Keep in mind that it is good to do regular inspections of your own belongings after travel. It also is a good idea to do an inspection in your own home after a visitor leaves as well as a few weeks after. If you have a habit of inspecting for bed bugs with routine cleaning items like linen changes, it will be much easier to catch things early rather than be surprised when the population is well established.
Not just nocturnal
While bed bugs are mostly nocturnal, there can be different factors that put them into action during the day including:
- Population pressure- if a place gets overcrowded, some bed bugs may be forced to wander and find a new place to hang out. This won’t inherently happen at night
- Starvation – if a bed bug gets hungry it will hunt for a new place to feed. It may do this outside of the feeding nighttime hours. This can be related to population pressures or change in host habits.
- Self preservation from traumatic inception – females are impregnated through their abdomen, so once this happens they are likely to scoot away from the main population to heal and lay eggs.
- Sun free areas – Some places are not inherently tied to day and night via the sun. A movie theatre is a place where alternating light and dark and available hosts could be completely unrelated to normal nocturnal behaviors.
- Day sleepers – Folks that have to work the night shift will train their bed bugs to feed during the day when they have to sleep. We also see similar patterns where bed bug populations get established in lounging areas such as a TV watching couch.
Regardless of whether you are on the lookout, determining where all they are, or seeing if they are gone yet, monitoring is beneficial. This can be done with inspection as described above, or can include helpful devices such as:
- Glue boards
- Pitfall traps
- Attraction devices/traps
Simplify the Equation
In the event that bed bugs are found, it is important to minimize the places that they can hide out. Mattress encasements rated for bed bugs will help reduce the places they can hide and travel. This simplifies future inspection and monitoring efforts. Pitfall traps can also isolate certain pieces of furniture. The next step is to reduce clutter or piles of clothes and belongings. During this time, it is beneficial to reduce travel and visitors as much as possible to avoid reintroduction.
Combine Treatment with item treatment
Treatment for bed bugs should always be multifaceted to ensure they are eliminated completely from a structure. Some options for treatment include:
- Vacuum removal
- Pesticide application – always ensure labels are followed to protect health and safety
- Heat treatments
- Freezing treatments
- Discard infested items – some can be treated, but some need tossed if heavily populated or hard to clean and treat
- Launder clothes – clothes can protect bed bugs from chemicals, heat, and cold. Treating the clothes via high heat cycle while treatments are being done reinforces the effort
- Follow up inspections – always double check that everything was resolved and stay on top of things until they are taken care of
Don’t rely on bite data
While many people react to bed bug bites with red, raised spots, not everyone reacts the same. Not even everyone reacts to bed bug bites. Many things can look like a bed bug bite as well but not be one. A bite can be a clue to dive in and inspect, but don’t draw conclusions of of a person’s bodily reaction to something.
Bed Bug Experts
Despite the large number of available pests to study, we have experts at Rove Pest Control who dedicate the bulk of their focus and attention to just the world of bed bugs. This can be a huge resource in determining if you have bed bugs, how to best get rid of bed bugs, or if they are completely gone.