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Bed Bugs

WHAT ARE BED BUGS?
They are wingless insects, the adults, have bodies that are oval-shaped. Before eating, they are about a quarter of an inch long and thin as a piece of paper. After feeding, they are dark red and bloated. Eggs are pear-shaped, whitish, and about the size of a pinhead, and are left in cracks and crevices. These are normally groups of 10-50. Bed bugs have a life span of one-year during this time a female can lay between 200-400 eggs depending on the availability of food and the temperatures. The eggs hatch after about 10 days.

WHAT DO BED BUGS FEED ON?
Bed bugs feed on blood, and while they prefer human blood they feed on other mammals and even birds. Typically bed bugs bite during the night. The bites will be anywhere on the body, particularly the upper torso including the neck, face, arms and hands. Bed bugs can live up to six months without food. Both female and male bed bugs bite.

DO BED BUGS POSE A HEALTH RISK
There have been no cases reported were infectious diseases were transmitted from the bites of bed bugs. Often people are unaware of the bites, although some people are much more sensitive to the bite resulting in a localized reaction. Scratching can result in an infection.

HOW DO BED BUGS GET INTO MY HOME?
Bed bugs are often brought into the home on objects such as clothing and furniture. If you believe you have a problem with bed bugs, look for live bed bugs and shells in the following locations:
  • Folds, seams, creases, of a mattress and box spring
  • Cracks in the headboard and bedframe
  • In cracks in plaster
  • In drawers
  • Beneath , couches, chairs, beds, and dust covers
  • Under loose wallpaper, behind electrical plates, paintings, or posters
  • Between the cushions of couches and chairs
  • Under area rugs and the edges of carpets
  • In telephones, radios, and clocks
  • Between the folds of curtains
  • Behind baseboards, and around door and window casings
Bed bugs can also move between apartments using electrical wiring, pipes, and other openings. In heavy infestations, a sweet smell may be present in the room.

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN BED BUGS ARE IN MY HOUSE OR APARTMENT?
The most effective way to handle a bed bug infestation is IPM (Integrated Pest Management), a combination of products and techniques that carries the least possible risks to the health of humans as well as to the environment.
Consult a professional Pest Control operator or ask your local health department for a confirmation of the presence of bed bugs.
Inspect your bedframe, mattress, and box spring, especially the crevices, folds, underside, and other locations where they are likely to hide.
Vacuum all the crevices in your mattress, box spring, bed frame, baseboards and any objects near the bed; using a nozzle attachment on the vacuum to capture the bed bugs and their eggs. It is vital to vacuum every day and empty the vacuum immediately.
Linens should be washed in the hottest water possible then placed in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. It is recommended that you cover your pillows and mattress with a plastic cover and remove all clutter.
Seal all cracks and crevices in baseboards, wooden bed frames, walls, and floors. Wallpaper that is peeling should be removed or repaired, loose light switch covers need to be tightened, and seal any openings where utilities, wire, or pipes, enter your home (shared walls between apartments require extra attention). Monitor your environment every day by placing sticky tape such as carpet tape or by using glue boards to trap the bed bugs. Before bringing any item into your home closely examine it.
Consult professional pest control services and discuss options that pose the least risk to humans and the environment.
You can treat the infestation with an insecticide, or by calling a Professional Pest Control Service for more information. You should use the least toxic product available and follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions.
Whether you have chosen Integrated Pest Management or the use of insecticides, you may see some living bed bugs for up to ten days, this is normal. If you continue to seeing large numbers of bed bugs after 14 days, you should contact a professional pest control service.

HOW TO IDENTIFY BED BUG BITES
When bed bugs bite they inject saliva into the victim, resulting in irritated and inflamed skin. Each person can respond differently to bed bug bites. The bed bug bites may not be detected, or they may be mistaken for other skin conditions, or even mosquito and flea bites.

The most common rash consists of localized lesions that are red, itchy, and flat. Typically bed bug bites are presented in a linear fashion in groups of threes, which are referred to "breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

HOW DO I TREAT BED BUG BITES?
Normally bed bug bites will go away without requiring treatment. It is essential to keep your skin clean and try not to scratch. Your doctor may prescribe a cream or antihistamine if the bites are very itchy, to help relieve these symptoms. In the case of a secondary skin infection caused by excessive scratching, oral antibiotics may be prescribed.

MORE INFORMATION: www.toronto.ca/health/bedbugs/

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