Missy Henriksen: Hi! I am Missy Henriksen, Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Pest Management Association. Today I am discussing how to prevent bed bugs, but more specifically the biology of bed bugs and where these pests can be found.
Bed bugs are small brown pests measuring about a quarter-of-an-inch in diameter, which basically looks like an apple seed. Although bed bugs don't transmit any diseases, bed bugs can lead itchy, bloody welts on human skin. These pests feed exclusively on blood meals and as a nocturnal pest this feeding typically occurs at night. Bed bugs have often been thought of as just a silly mention in a nursery rhyme. Yet in the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in bed bug infestations. In fact the National Pest Management Association reports that bed bug infestations have increased 71% in the past five years. Prior to 2001, pest professionals may have received one or two phone calls a year for bed bugs and now many receive 10 to 50 or more calls per weak. Even more, pest control sales from bed bug inspections and treatment have increased by more than 30% in just the last year. NPMA also reports that 97% of the public now believes that bed bugs exists which is indeed important. In the past, it has been the acceptance of this pest as real or lack thereof, which has been a major hurdle in dealing with this pest problem.
Let's examine where bed bugs are found. Surprisingly, bed bugs are not just in beds which makes the term a bit of a misnomer. Although most often found in beds, these pests can infest chairs, cushions, sofas, behind electrical outlets, cracks and crevices, around baseboards and even behind picture frames. Basically, they can live nearly anywhere, especially anywhere where humans are. Adult bed bugs can live for a year without a blood meal. And it is this ability to thrive without feeding that makes bed bugs a especially hard to control.
Once inside a room, bed bugs can spread rapidly through pipes, on clothing and luggage and of course on human beings. Bed bugs are not a pest issue isolated to one area of the country. From a national perspective, bed bugs have been found from the east to the west coast and every where in between. Every state has reported bed bug infestations and these pests are not limited to any one specific type dwelling either. Pest control companies have reported infestations in multi-family housing, apartments, hotels, hospitals and even movie theaters.
An NPMA research reports that more than 44% of infestations occur in apartments in single family dwellings, while more than 37% of bed bug infestations occur in hotels and motels. Next I will discuss what proactive tips you can take to prevent beds begs from infesting your home.