Within Colorado and much of the United States, bed bugs have made a dramatic resurgence since the banning of DDT in 1972. The bed bug is an ecto-parasite that feeds off human blood. These insects seek shelter in cracks and crevices around your bed, couch, chair, etc. These insects are flat oval-shaped, mahogany reddish brown in color with adults measuring around ¼ in length. Other pest relatives of the bed bug include the bat bug and the swallow bug. These insects look almost identical to the naked eye, and true identification needs to be done under a microscope. The biggest difference between these insects aside from their physical characteristics is their host. Bed bugs feed off humans, bat bugs feed off bats, and swallow bugs feed off swallows. However, bat bugs and swallow bugs will bite humans, but cannot survive and reproduce off human blood. One of the most commonly asked questions is where did I get these insects? Bed bugs commonly move throughout multi-use housing like apartments and condos where there are shared walls, so you could be getting activity from a neighbor. Another common way to get them is from used furniture from a rent a center or garage sale or from dumpster diving to get mattresses and box springs. Bat bugs are always found near bats and customers who find them in their house will have a bat roost in their attic, chimney or walls of their house or business. Swallow bugs are found within the nest of cliff swallows and sometimes barn swallows. When these bird nests are on your house/business you might see the insects inside.
The worst thing about these insects is the bad stigma in which they represent. When someone think about a bed bug, they commonly think that they are associated with being dirty. Although, this can be true, we commonly see these insects in very clean homes and businesses. In other parts of the world, these insects are very common, and they are a way of life. Another, common way to get bed bugs is through travel to other states or countries around the world. These insects are not known to transmit any diseases to humans. Bites from these insects is very similar to that of a mosquito, as they itch and get swollen. Some people have a pretty aggressive reaction to them, while other people seem to have no symptoms at all. These insects do not cause any structural damage to the house or your belongings but the feces (frass) from the insects can leave stains like fly feces.
Treatments for Bed Bugs
Treatment for these insect pests begin with proper identification. The wrong identification can lead to extra time and money spent chasing the wrong pest. Once you have the insect properly identified as a bed bug, we treat the house with a conventional treatment. This treatment is a combined effort with the customer, and our staff of technicians. Customers are given a prep-sheet prior to treatment, which includes picking up belongings, laundry of clothes and clearing out of dressers, closets and nightstands. This allows the technician the best opportunity to properly locate and eliminate the bed bug nest(s). Once everything has been identified and prepped, the technician will meticulously go through inspecting and treating with a bed bug insecticide. A typical bed bug service will consist of 3 services, spaced 10-14 days apart. The interval between services coincides with the hatching of bed bug eggs. The insecticide does not target eggs as well as it does on adults and nymphs.
Bat bug and swallow bug treatments are very similar to that of bed bugs, but we first need to eliminate the host, i.e. the bats and the swallows. As, you read further about the bats, it is easiest to do this once the bats migrate out of Colorado in the fall. As with swallows, it needs to be after the birds in the nest fledge, unless you have a USFWS permit, since these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
As mentioned above, most bed bug infestations are eliminated in 3 services or less. The largest variable in the number of services is the amount of customer participation and the level of infestation. Extreme infestations might take more than 3 services and, in some cases, prepping for a treatment is unrealistic. In those situations, we might recommend a heat treatment. We are advocates of heat treatments as a tool of bed bug mitigation, but do not believe that this treatment alone will eliminate the problem. Once, the technician feels the bed bugs, bat bugs, or swallow bugs have been eliminated, the service comes with a 30-day interior warranty. At this point it is important to stay vigilant and try to eliminate the risk of re-introducing bed bugs to the environment through travel, used furniture purchases, etc. Be aware of bats on the house and do not allow swallows to build nests on the house. Like we have said many times before, prevention is always the best solution. Call us and we’d love to help you!