Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Guest Part Four - Bed Bugs

The fourth stop on our tour of uninvited holiday guest is the bed bug. Do you have a college student complete with a carload of dirty clothes and a laptop coming home for the holidays? Do you have family members or friends traveling to visit with you that might have stayed in a hotel on their way to your house?

The raise in bed bug population has been linked to the disappearance of DDT; however, there are many other factors that led to the surge of the bed bug population. We are a much more mobile society. People travel all over the world now all the time for business (global economy) and pleasure. In parts of the world bed bugs are an acceptable nuisance, like roaches (oh, I mean Palmetto Bug – they are nasty and we make a cute little name for the disease carrying, asthma causing uninvited guest), gnats and mosquitoes are here in the Lowcountry.

Roach gel baits have also contributed to the raise in bed bugs. We have seen this in turf with a product that is great on mole crickets and fire ants. Kill the ants and mole crickets, but the grubs go unchecked increasing damage from grubs and moles. The roach gels do a fantastic job killing roaches, but do nothing to kill other pests. The homeowner, hotel operator, movie theater owner, nursing home, clothing store, etc stopped spraying in cracks and crevices to kill roaches and other insects as a bonus and just relied on the gel for roaches, giving the bed bug a chance to make a comeback.

Bed bugs, as luck would have it, love the temperatures that we generally keep our homes (the low to mid 70’s). They can be treated with heat (do not burn your house down), steam, and/or cold air. There are many organic products on the market, traps, mattress sealers, as well as chemical control products available to control this very illusive and persistent pest. A combination of methods and products is probably your best approach, or simply calling a pest management professional that has experience dealing with bed bugs.

Dealing with bed bugs is expensive. In most cases you have to throw away furniture, mattresses, couches, clothes and other infested items. Watch picking up that nice chair on the side of the road, you might bring home some uninvited guests. Bed bugs can hide in strange places and even mobile places like a laptop computer. They are small and several can hide in something as small as a Phillips screw head. Inspection is crucial – again maybe a job for a pest management professional.   

It looks like this is going to be a multi-part topic. Enjoy your “Guests”!

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.