Bed Bugs

Acrobat Ant
Family: Cimicidae
Genus Cimex
Color: light brown to reddish-brown, and have no hind wings
Size: 4 to 5 mm (0.16 to 0.20 in) long and 1.5 to 3 mm (0.059 to 0.118 in) wide
Feeding habits: Feeds on humans (bloodsucking) insects.

Bedbugs - what are they?Bedbugs are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. They are easily moved from room to room on infested objects. Bedbugs cannot easily climb metal or polished surfaces and cannot fly or jump. Adult bedbugs can be as long as 10 mm. They have an oval, broad, flat body and a short, broad head. Adult bedbugs are brown, but darken to a blood red colour after feeding. Young bedbugs are shaped like adults, but are smaller (1.5 mm long) and lighter in colour. They also darken after feeding. Bedbug eggs are white, about one millimetre long, and are almost impossible to see on most surfaces. The female bedbug lays at least 200 eggs in her lifetime, at a rate of about two to four each day. The eggs have a sticky coating and are laid in cracks and crevices, behind woodwork and other hidden locations. They usually hatch in 6 to 17 days.

How they feed and live?Bedbugs come out at night to feed, attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale. They will feed on both people and pets. Bedbug bites may not be noticed right away because bedbugs typically feed at night when people are asleep. Bedbugs prefer locations where they can hide easily and feed regularly, like sleeping areas. Their flattened bodies allow bedbugs to hide in extremely small locations: under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in electrical outlets, inside box springs, in mattress pads, and in night tables. Newly hatched bedbugs feed as soon as food is available. Bedbugs can live from several weeks to up to a year and a half without feeding. Older bedbugs can go even longer without feeding. Adults usually live for around 10 months, but can live for a year or more in a home where the environment is good for reproduction (with temperatures ranging between 21 C and 28 C).

Bedbug bitesA bedbug bite can take as long as 14 days to appear, depending on the person. While bites can happen anywhere on the skin, they are often found on the face, neck, arms, legs, and chest. Some people do not react at all to the bites, while others may have small skin reactions. In rare cases, some people may have severe allergic reactions. To avoid infection, try not to scratch the bites and keep the bite sites clean. Using antiseptic creams or lotions, as well as antihistamines, may help. Talk to your health care provider for advice.

Bedbugs: how do I prevent an infestation?
Prevention is the key to avoiding bedbug infestations in your home. To reduce the chances of an infestation, follow these steps to reduce places where bedbugs can hide

Get rid of clutter. Vacuum often, including under and behind beds. Repair or remove peeling wallpaper and tighten loose electrical faceplates. Seal all cracks and crevices on wooden bed frames, between baseboards, and in walls, ceilings, windows, door frames, and furniture. Check any entry points on walls that you share with neighbours, and openings that allow access to the inside of the wall (like areas where pipes, wires and other utility services enter).

Be careful about what you bring into your house or buyCheck every item you bring into your home for the first time, including used books, new furniture, and garage sale or antique store furniture. Be very cautious with second-hand or refurbished items. New mattresses are often delivered in the same truck that carries away old mattresses, so be careful to check your new mattress before it enters your home. Insist that your new mattress be sealed before it is delivered. Never take a mattress or sofa from a curb. Check items before you put them in your vehicle and check your vehicle after helping a friend move. When you return from a trip, follow the tips described on the Public Health Agency of Canada website

Check your home regularly for bedbugsRegular inspection is important to prevent infestations. To thoroughly inspect your home, you will need a few simple tools: flashlight something to scrape along mattress seams and other crevices (like an old credit card cut into a long triangle: use it in a sweeping motion in narrow spaces to chase bedbugs out of hiding) screwdrivers for removing electrical faceplates and taking furniture apart (always be sure the power is turned off before opening an electrical outlet) alcohol, glass-cleaner, or baby wipes for checking if stains are bedbug droppings (if spots dissolve into a reddish brown colour when rubbed, the spots could be bedbug droppings) cotton swabs for checking stains in crevices white plastic bags that can be sealed, for your belongings Check on, under and beside beds, couches and upholstered furniture. Look for black/brown spots (dried blood or feces), white spots (eggs - very hard to see), or live or dead bedbugs. If you find signs of bedbugs, you should carefully widen the area of your inspection. If you have a pet, check areas where your pet sleeps as well.

Checking a bed for bedbugsRemove and inspect all bed linens, including pillows. If you see signs of bedbugs, wash the linens using the hot cycle of your machine. Slowly lift up each corner of the mattress and examine all creases, tufts, and buttons, along each side of any piping material sewn onto the edges, along mattress handles and air holes, and under pillow tops. Slowly lift up each corner and check where the box spring sits on the bed frame. Look closely at the top surface of the box spring, inside folds of material, along seams, and where the fabric is stapled to the box spring. Also check along the edge of the cloth underside. If you see signs of bedbugs, flip the box spring upside-down and remove the cloth underside to look inside the box spring. Check all surfaces, crevices, screws, staples, tacks, and under wooden plugs that cover screw or nail holes on the bed frame, legs, and headboard. Also go over the wall behind the bed (bedbugs can hide in wallpaper and electrical outlets). Remove electrical, telephone, or cable faceplates to check behind them. Always be sure the power is turned off before opening an electrical outlet. Pay extra attention to gaps in the baseboard or rips or bumps in wallpaper. You should throw your bed out if you find bedbugs inside the box spring or where holes or worn spots in the fabric of the mattress are. These spots can allow bedbugs to lay eggs in places that are not easy to reach for treatment. If you do throw out your bed or any other infested items, wrap them in plastic and tape off the edges to prevent spreading bedbugs on your way to the trash. Put a sign on the item saying it has a bedbug infestation, so that no one else takes the problem home with them.

Checking furniture for bedbugsRemove any loose cushions and check the creases, especially the seams and around the zippers of upholstered chairs and couches. Check the seating area and any creases along the sides and back of the chair or couch. Check the legs, especially where they join the upholstery, and where the fabric is tacked to the frame. Go over all corners and surfaces of wood furniture like dressers, cabinets, tables, chairs, and bookshelves. Remove drawers and look at the inside, the top, sides, back, and legs, paying extra attention to any cracks. Use the crevice tool to check any gaps (like between a shelf and bookcase frame, and under metal drawer slides). Wicker furniture is an ideal hiding spot for bedbugs, so check it carefully. If you find signs of bedbugs, also check: Wall baseboards closest to the bed, using the crevice tool to check inside gaps. Between the folds of curtains, along the curtain hem, inside curtain rods and under the hardware on the wall. Around window and door casings and frames, along the hinges and in the hole for the door latch. Under area rugs and the edges of carpets. Fold back the edges of wall-to-wall carpeting and check the carpet tack strips. If bedbugs are on the walls, they could also be hiding in picture frames, light fixtures, smoke detectors or other wall-mounted items. Bedbugs hiding in ceiling lights could mean that they are entering from a room above yours. For more information on pesticide use and regulation, contact Health Canada's Pest Management Information Service.

Bedbugs: how do I get rid of them?Bedbugs are very hard to get rid of. If you do have bedbugs, it is strongly recommended that you hire a licensed professional pest control operator. If you are a tenant and have bedbugs, you should tell your landlord right away. Tenants who have bedbug-related issues should speak with a public health officer for help in dealing with the infestation. If you live in a multiple-unit dwelling and building management has asked you to prepare your unit for bedbug treatment, this usually includes emptying storage furniture to make it easier to inspect, organizing your belongings and placing them in bags, washing all your clothes and bedding, and moving furniture away from the walls. The pest control operator will usually give you specific instructions to prepare for an inspection or treatment. Professional pest control operators can use a variety of tools to control bedbugs. These include liquid insecticide sprays, aerosol insecticide sprays, insecticidal dusts, diatomaceous earth, pressurized carbon dioxide snow, and steam and heat treatments. Whichever treatment is used, it will only be effective if physical control methods and preventative measures are used together.

How to find a professional pest control operatorContact GTA Exterminators

Physical control methodsPhysical methods of controlling bedbugs include steam cleaning, vacuuming, heating, freezing, washing, and throwing out items. Steam cleaning should be done before vacuuming, as the steam will flush any bedbugs not killed out of hiding. Heat treatments should be left to the professionals.

Steaming, washing and throwing out itemsInfested (but intact) mattresses, upholstery and plush items that cannot be washed with hot water and detergent should be steam cleaned. Bedbugs die at 50 C and steam cleaners generally emit steam at a temperature of at least 100 C. Dry steam or low vapour steamers are better because they leave behind less moisture. Steam will only kill the bedbugs that it reaches, so move the steam cleaner slowly to maximize depth. Avoid excess moisture, which could lead to mould. Putting small items in the freezer or outside is sometimes effective. However, freezing temperatures must be kept for a prolonged period (4 days of consistent cold at -19 C), and may not kill all of the bedbugs. Place small non-washable items and dry-clean-only items in a hot dryer for 30 minutes or more. Wash mattress pads, bedding, bed skirts, infested clothes, curtains, and so on in hot water and dry them on the hottest dryer setting. Store clean, dry items in light-coloured sealed heavy duty plastic bags or plastic storage bins with secure lids to avoid infesting other areas. Throw out any items that can't be washed, heated, or steam cleaned. Vacuum daily following the directions below.

VacuumingHandheld vacuums, vacuums with a cloth bag, and vacuums with hoses that are made of fabric are not a good idea for bedbug clean-up because these vacuums can become infested. For households with family members who have allergies or asthma, it's best to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to avoid putting insect and dust allergens back into the air. Bedbugs cling to wood and fabric, and their eggs are cemented to the surface where they were laid. Using a stiff brush attachment and a back-and-forth scraping motion on the surface of the mattress, and a nozzle for the seams and crevices, carefully vacuum all sides to remove bedbugs and eggs. This includes the mattress, box spring, bed frame, baseboards, non-washable furniture cushions, any rugs and carpeting, around heating units and baseboards, and the inside and underneath all drawers and furniture. Let the vacuum run for a bit to make sure all bedbugs have been sucked into the bag, then dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed white plastic bag (white plastic makes it easier to spot a bedbug), in a garbage bin with a lid. Stuff paper towel in the end of the vacuum hose and seal it with tape to prevent any bedbugs from escaping. Wash all vacuum attachments in hot water and detergent. Store the vacuum in a large plastic bag and seal it. For a bagless vacuum cleaner, follow the instructions above, but also empty the canister contents into a plastic garbage bag, seal and dispose of the bag right away, and wash the dust container in hot water with detergent.

Using pesticides and pest control productsHealth Canada regulates pesticides in Canada. They make sure that each pesticide registered for use meets Canada's high standards for health and environmental safety, and that the product works as claimed on the label. Each registered pesticide comes with a detailed label that provides directions on how to use the product safely, which pests it controls, where and on what it can be used, and how to apply it properly. To see if a pesticide has been registered for use in Canada, check the label for a Pest Control Products (PCP) registration number. If the product label does not have a PCP registration number, do not buy or use it. Unregistered pesticides are illegal in Canada and their safety and effectiveness have not been reviewed by Health Canada. Follow these precautions when using pesticides: Carefully read the label before buying or using pesticides, to figure out which products are best for your situation and to use the product safely. Use only pesticides registered by Health Canada and only as directed on the label. Never use any treatment on people, pets or bedding unless the pesticide label specifically says to do so. For example, pesticides registered for use on bed frames are not meant to be used on mattresses or box springs. Do not use pesticides on baby cribs, playpens, or toys. Do not use homemade pesticides. While they may seem simple and harmless, many homemade pesticide recipes can be dangerous both to make and to use. They could harm you and your family. For more information on pesticide use and regulation, contact Health Canada's Pest Management Information Service.

Ozone generatorsOzone generators are machines that produce ozone gas. Manufacturers and vendors may claim that they can kill bedbugs and get rid of mould and indoor air pollution. However, Health Canada is warning Canadians: do not use ozone generators. These devices are not safe. They can cause respiratory problems that include: coughing, chest pain, shortness of breat, irritation of eyes, nose and throat. No ozone-generating devices have been approved for use on bedbugs in Canada. Home-owners and pest control operators should not use ozone generators to control bedbugs, mould or other pests.

Bedbugs: how do I make sure they dont come back?Once the infestation is under control, the following tips will help prevent their return: Avoid moving to another bedroom. While you may feel a strong need to do so, surviving bedbugs could tag along which might lead to another infestation. Instead, continue to use the same bedroom, monitor carefully and often for any surviving bedbugs, and take the steps below to protect yourself from being bitten. Completely enclose your mattress and box spring in zippered bed encasements available from allergy or pest control supply companies. Put duct tape over the zipper, because zippers have a space where bedbugs can enter or escape. Mattresses can also be wrapped and sealed in plastic film. As long as the encasement stays intact (no rips or holes), the bedbugs will not be able to get through it to bite you and will eventually die. It is a good practice to keep the mattress enclosed this way for a full year. Coat bed legs with double-sided carpet tape or petroleum jelly, or place the legs of the bed in leg protectors or glass jars with a bit of baby powder to trap the bedbugs on their way up or down the bed leg. Commercially available bed leg interceptors are available and are a way to detect bedbugs. Use white or light-coloured sheets. This makes it easier to spot them. Remove headboards completely. Paint existing wood furniture (including baby cribs) white for easier detection. (Use only paint that is safe for use on baby furniture.) Replace upholstered furniture with metal or plastic, or material that can easily be cleaned with soap and water. Vacuum daily. For the first few weeks, even after you no longer see any bedbugs, throw out the vacuum bag right away, like you did during the treatment phase. Look for new infestations on a regular basis.

Bedbugs: how do I avoid them when travelling?Bedbugs can easily hide in luggage, clothing, and other personal items, so take a few precautions while travelling to keep them from coming home with you.

While travelling

Don't bring your pillow. It gives bedbugs another place to hide and a chance to come home with you. Pack some large white sealable plastic garbage bags in case you need to separate any belongings while on the road. On the road or in the air Light-coloured plastic luggage is best, because bedbugs are less attracted to plastic and the lighter colour makes them easier to spot. If you have dark-coloured or cloth luggage, you could enclose the luggage in a white plastic garbage bag and seal it.

In the hotel room

Do a complete inspection of the room before bringing luggage, pets or other items in. Do not put your luggage on the bed. Place your luggage on a tile floor (like in the bathroom), away from any upholstered (soft) surfaces. Once you have checked the luggage stand (including where the straps are attached to the metal bars), keep your luggage on the stand instead of unpacking your belongings and placing them in the drawers. Inspect the sleeping area. Slowly lift up each corner of the mattress and examine the creases and tufts of the mattress and box spring, behind the headboard and the wall behind the bed, the pillows, bed coverings and bed skirt, the bed frame and legs. Use a flashlight to inspect the inside of the closet, paying special attention to any cracks or crevices. During your stay, place your shoes in an open area. Do not store anything under the bed. If you find signs of bedbugs, notify the front desk and ask for another room, or stay somewhere else. If you change rooms in the same hotel, make sure your new room is not next to the possibly infested room.

When you return

Before bringing luggage into your home, place it on a hard surface away from any places bedbugs could crawl to and hide, and check it carefully. Unpack your clothing and check personal items (like hairbrush and cosmetic case). Wash all clothing and fabric items in hot water, regardless of whether you wore them or not. Dry non-washable items in the clothes dryer on the highest heat for 30 minutes. Vacuum your luggage. Throw out the vacuum bag in a sealed garbage bag right away. Wash any vacuum cleaner brush or nozzle attachments you used in hot water with detergent. For a bagless vacuum cleaner, empty the dust collector into a garbage bag, throw out the bag immediately, and also wash the dust collector in hot water with detergent.

At the Laundromat

Avoid bringing your laundry in a cloth bag unless you plan to wash and dry the bag. Use light-coloured plastic baskets that are easy to inspect when they are empty. Do not set your laundry basket on the floor, or near the seating area or trash cans. Place your basket on top of the washer and check it thoroughly before putting clean laundry back into it. Check any chairs before you sit down. Check the table used for folding laundry before putting your clean laundry on it, or fold your clean laundry at home.

Bed Bugs

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