Category Archives: Bed Bugs

When is a “Bug” Really a Bug?

Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) Gary Bernon, USDA APHIS, Bugwood.org

Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys)
Gary Bernon, USDA APHIS, Bugwood.org

We may refer to any insect as a “bug”. In the pest control business, we often find ourselves doing the same thing. An insect taxonomist would have a fit because only a small group (40,000 species, to be exact) of insects can correctly be called bugs.

Only the insects in the suborder Heteroptera, part of the larger order Hemiptera, are known as “true bugs.” All other bugs are imposters. However, many refer to any insect in the larger order Hemiptera as a “bug”. All of the insects in the Heteroptera group share certain characteristics that other insects don’t, most importantly 3-4 segmented, piercing-sucking mouthparts. Many, but not all, of these bugs have distinctive front wings that have a leathery base with a membranous tip. Take a close look at a stink bug’s wings. Wings lie flat on the back at rest, forming an X. True bugs all have simple metamorphosis, which means there is not a larval stage. Immature bugs look like smaller versions of the adult bug, in shape if not always in color, and increase in size with each molt.

Bed Bugs ARE True Bugs!

Lightning bug Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State University, Bugwood.org

Lightning bug
Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State University, Bugwood.org

Many of the true bugs use their piercing mouth parts to suck juices from plants. Examples of true bugs in the Heteroptera suborder are lace bugs, stink bugs, seed bugs, squash bugs, assassin bugs, and finally… the very well-known wingless bed bugs. Bed bugs, and some assassin bugs, use their beak mouthparts to suck up blood rather than plant juice. You’ll notice that the most of the true bugs have the word “bug” as part of their common name. There are some exceptions though, for example, water striders and backswimmers are true bugs.

To confuse the issue even further, there are insects that are not in the Heteroptera group that have the word “bug” in their common names. For instance, ladybugs, June bugs, and lightning bugs all sound bug-like, but they are all beetles and are in a completely different order of insects. They are bugs imposters!

How to Kill Bed Bugs

Bedbugs are a growing problem in South Carolina and all across the United States. Greenville-Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach and Charlotte were all on this year’s list for the worst bed bug infestations. Bed bugs are not only a nuisance, they can easily spread disease and cause skin infections. Don’t underestimate these pests!

How to Identify Bed Bugs

Bed_bug,_Cimex_lectulariusThe common bed bug is visible to the naked eye. Their flat shape enables them to readily hide in cracks and crevices. After a blood meal, the body elongates and becomes swollen. They are about 3/16″ long, broadly oval and flat. Most are mahogany or red-brown in color. The larvae are very small and clear. After feeding bed bug larvae can resemble small drops of fresh blood.

If the top of the mattress has any rips, the bed bugs may hide there as well. Look in your box springs also, both top and bottom for any rips that might shelter these bugs.

Common Home-Remedy Bed Bug Treatments

  • Sticky traps: While useful in first detecting and diagnosing a bedbug infestation, such traps are not a reliable solution for removing the bugs.
  • Dismantling, cleansing and/or disposing of beds: Bedbugs earn their name—biting and feeding upon the blood of people while they sleep. But bedbugs can nest in any hidden corner or crevice several yards from the bed itself! Replacing a mattress is an expensive solution which often makes no difference in removing the bedbugs!
  • Vacuuming and/or steam cleaning: Though effective in reducing the adult bedbug population, vacuuming is a “band aid” solution at best. Bedbug eggs adhere to surfaces with a cement-like substance which cannot be vacuumed or steam-cleaned.
  • Insecticides: Insecticide treatments effective against bedbugs are not for sale at big box stores.

Amateur methods lead to amateur results!

The unfortunate bottom line: nature has gifted the bedbug with defenses against even the most aggressive means available to the average household or business. Professional knowledge and bed bug treatment methods are your best defense against bed bugs. If you suspect bedbugs, immediately call the pest control pros at Cayce Exterminating – 803-796-BUGS – Your Pest, Our Problem!

Our experience is support by a study by Ohio State University that shows that over-the-counter bug bombs will NOT get rid of a bed bug infestation.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs When Traveling

When you go on vacation, the last thing you want to bring back as a souvenir is a bed bug infestation. However, that’s exactly what many travelers have been experiencing over the last couple of years. Public awareness of bedbug problems cannot help but increase, thanks to the increase of news reports of innocent travelers coming back with angry red welts, skin infections and other nasty side effects of being attacked by bedbugs while on vacation. Then there are the lawsuits that follow.

In a recent National Pest Management Association Bed Bugs in America survey of pest companies across the USA revealed that a shocking one in five households have experienced a bed bug infestation. Additionally, 80 percent of Americans believe that bedbugs are a growing problem and are fearful of encountering them at hotels. The general awareness of bedbugs has also increased with 27 percent of those surveyed inspecting their clothing upon returning from trips, and a 25 percent checking their hotel rooms for bugs. Over 10 percent of travelers have even altered or cancelled their trips due to concern over bringing back bedbugs to the states.

While you cannot always the areas where bedbugs hide, there are some steps you can take to avoid bedbugs while traveling, and the worry of bringing these critters home with you. Here’s what Cayce Exterminating recommends:

1. Store all clothing and travel items in airtight bags inside suitcases and travel bags, while traveling and while lodging. If at all possible, choose hard-shelled suitcases because this makes it harder for bedbugs and other pests to crawl inside.
2. Inspect your mattress, sheets, pillows, headboard and any furniture for tiny, oval shaped bugs that are clear to reddish brown in color. Eggs may look like tiny grains of rice and will be in clusters. Alert the hotel owner immediately if you spot these critters and change hotels because it is likely that adjoining rooms are infested.
3. Keep your luggage away from beds and curtains, where bedbugs may be hiding out. Instead, opt for hanging items in plastic dress or suit bags in closets when traveling. Keep all toiletries sealed in plastic bags and containers as well.
4. Buy only new items from local shops, and avoid buying from thrift shops and charities while on vacation. That “great deal” you found may turn into an expensive bedbug treatment once you get back to your home or office.
5. Upon return, keep your luggage in the garage until you can inspect it for any stowaways. Most bugs will die within 48 to 72 hours, but be sure to immediately call Cayce Exterminating if you spot any unwanted pests in your luggage before putting your cases back into home storage.
6. Thoroughly wash all clothing and bedding in the hottest water possible upon return from your trip followed by the highest setting on your dryer. Remember to respect your neighbors by not using the local Laundromat to clean your clothes following vacation if you can avoid this.

Have more questions about avoiding bedbugs when you travel? Contact pest control experts Cayce Exterminating.