If you’re looking to move into a new home, you might best remember the timeless adage: What goes around comes around—at least in the world of household pests and most specifically, bed bugs.
These hardy, miniscule yet slightly visible insects have gained such notoriety that the media and pesticide industry produce periodic lists of the most bed-bug infested cities in the U.S., according to Todd Lubar, a leading real estate investor and president of TDL Ventures.
A home buyer can scan the most-infested cities list, driven by national pesticide services such as Orkin and Terminix, but Lubar simplifies the matter. “Really, any time you are moving into a large urban area, you should be aware of the potential for bed bugs in the home you are eyeing around a big city, mostly because of the insect’s mobility.”
The Smallest of Hitchhikers
According to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, New York, a large urban environment perpetuates bed-bug populations simply because the environment in which they thrive is common from house to house. A lot of people move within one urban area, according to experts, and if the moving party experienced bed bugs in their former domiciles, their next one can become infested as well. This is because bed bugs are great hitchhikers, says Lubar.
Indeed, mattresses, bed frames, pillows, linens, quilts, towels, or similar accessories and furniture can serve as great vehicles for cimicidae, the scientific name for these somewhat pentagonal insects of a red-brown color. Combine these cozy bed-bug habitats with the overall warm habitat of a house, and these pests can soon proliferate throughout a given urban area.
According to Orkin, these tiny, biting, nighttime-active critters are nothing to joke about. Indeed, one blood-fed female bed bug can hatch up to 500 healthy eggs over a lifetime or 2-5 eggs daily.
How to Detect Bed Bugs
Orkin notes that though these pests are tiny, smaller than the top of a push-pin, their presence is not overly difficult to detect. Tiny blood spots on linen, yellowish spots on pillows and even a smashed bed bug on bedding can indicate an infestation.
If the house dweller is experiencing a lot of itching at night and spots of blood from the scratching, bed bugs should rank high on the list as the culprit. Examine your bedding and bedroom furniture, says Orkin and Todd Lubar.
Know Bed Bug Facts
According to Cornell Cooperative Extension, even hotels become infested. Therefore, Lubar reminds those buyers who are staying in hotels temporarily before settling into their new home that all items moved from hotel to home should be inspected for bed bugs.
According to Lubar, despite the unpleasantries of hosting bed bugs, home buyers should know the facts about these insipid micro-dwellers. He points to a New York City Health website for clarity on what is fact and fiction regarding bed bugs.
Myth: Bed bugs only bite in the dark.
Though bed bugs are more active at night, they can bite just as fervently during day, if one is laying or sitting in a conducive furniture habitat.
Myth: Only dirty, cluttered homes attract bed bugs.
Bed bugs are found in the homes of both the wealthy and impoverished. It is not necessarily dirt that attracts bed bugs. That said, reducing clutter also reduces potential habitat for the cimicidae.
Myth: Bed bugs can’t be seen.
These are small creatures, but they can be seen. Look for insects about the size of a poppy seed in the case of young ones and about the size of an apple seed in the case of mature adults. As previously mentioned, their backs are almost pentagonal in shape and reddish-brown in color. However, a magnifying glass can expedite your search.
Myth: Bite marks indicate bed-bug infestation.
Several other insect bites resemble those of bed bugs. Look for the aforementioned signs of bed bugs.
Myth: Infested clothing and furniture must be discarded.
Clothing can be laundered to rid bed bugs and treated to eradicate them.
Myth: Bed bugs cause disease.
Bed bugs do not transfer disease to humans. However, excessive scratching of their bites can cause infections otherwise unrelated to the bites.
Myth: Bed bugs can jump or fly.
Bed bugs are absent of wings and jumping capabilities. They only crawl.
Fact: Some people are not affected by bed bugs.
Some people do not react as severely to bed-bug bites, and therefore, they know not of their presence unless they see other physical signs of the pest.
Fact: Bed bugs can survive for months without feeding.
This is why bed bugs are such great hitchhikers, even across many state borders. They are resilient in their habitat and able to live for a long time without feeding on blood.
Fact: Insect foggers are not advised.
Foggers can actually make bed-bug control more difficult. They are more hazardous to human health than other measures with their unwanted residue and a propellant that is actually flammable. Indeed, they have been associated with fires in some cases.
So, when buying a home, make sure to follow Lubar’s advice, and always check for the tiniest of pesky pets that may have beat you to punch when it comes to moving in.