Florida bedbug Control Services ~ Al Hoffer’s

Bedbug infestation reports grow in Volusia County

The Volusia County Agriculture Extension Center is seeing an increase in reports of bedbugs throughout the county.

The National Pest Management Association, which represents many of the country’s pest control companies, says the number of bedbug reports has increased fivefold in four years and no one knows exactly why.

Before World War II, bedbug infestations were common in the U.S., but they were virtually eradicated through improvements in hygiene and the widespread use of DDT in the 1940s and 1950s.

Bedbugs are blood-feeding insects that feed mainly on the blood of humans, but also suck blood from other animals, such as birds, bats and rodents. Bedbugs usually feed at night when people are asleep because the host is unaware that they are being fed upon. As bedbugs feed, they inject a salivary secretion into the wound to prevent coagulation. This fluid often causes the skin to itch and become swollen. Scratching causes sores which may become infected. Bedbugs are not known to transmit any human pathogens but can cause emotional distress to those affected.

Bedbugs generally infest dwellings such as houses, hotels, dormitories and cruise ships, but have also been known to invade subways, movie theaters, nursing homes, hospitals and planes. During the day, bedbugs hide in cracks and crevices and can be found in wall outlets, behind baseboards, wallpaper and pictures, between bed joints and slats, along the seams of mattresses and in bed linens. They are difficult to detect and locate, making control difficult.

These pests “hitchhike” on clothes, suitcases, furniture and bedding. A single, pregnant female that is transferred to a different location can begin a new infestation.

LIFE CYCLE

The adult bedbug is about 1/4-inch long, ovoid in shape and has no wings. It is generally brown in color except after a blood meal. One female can produce a total of 200-500 eggs in her lifetime, laying anywhere from 10 to 50 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch in one to three weeks, reaching adulthood in 35 to 48 days.

Adults can survive for 6 to 7 months without a blood meal and have been known to live in abandoned houses for a year.

One successful method of detection is bedbug-detecting canines. They can locate early infestations, even as few as one adult bedbug, leading to cheaper and more successful control.

Monitoring devices can also be used for detection. Traps placed around beds and sofas can confirm an infestation. There are also monitoring systems that use carbon dioxide and heat as an attractant.

CONTROL

Several methods may be used to combat bedbugs. Combining many methods usually yields the best result. Steps can be taken by the homeowners to optimize the possibility for success.

Begin by vacuuming all the carpets as well as visible bedbugs from the furniture. Once finished, seal and remove the vacuum bag and place in a ziplock bag, then in a deep freezer for at least a week. The four posts of the bed can then be placed in glass dishes. Bedbugs cannot climb smooth surfaces. All bedding should be laundered with soap and a borax additive and dried at a high temperature. Clothing, pillows and drapery should be dry-cleaned. Also, contents inside dresser drawers should be emptied in order for insecticides to be sprayed under the drawers.

Insecticides are one option of control, but in order to be effective, most insecticides must be applied directly on the insect.

Most pest control companies budget about five to 10 hours to treat a typical bedroom. Because eggs are not affected by the spray, the treatment must be repeated after about two weeks to kill newly hatched nymphs.

Dust formulations are usually preferred over sprays. A number of pesticides are available for use.

Heat is a control method that has been used since the early 1900s. Bedbugs die at temperatures above 113 degrees. There are many pest control companies that offer some kind of heat treatment to kill bedbugs.

Clothes, sheets and other bedding can be placed in a clothes dryer at high heat for about 15 minutes to kill all bedbugs.

It is not recommended that homeowners build their own heat treatment chambers. Seek a licensed pest control professional.

Karen Stauderman is a Volusia County residential horticulture extension agent. Reach her at 3100 E. New York Ave., DeLand, FL 32724-6497, 386-822-5778 or e-mail: kstauderman@co.volusia.fl.us.

South Florida bedbug Control Company

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