Bed bugs hide in small cracks and crevasses, but they’re often found in mattresses and box springs – hence, the name. Once thought eradicated, the lowly insect is making a comeback.
“We have a lot more calls today than we’ve had in the years past,” said Jimmy Strickland, owner of Gulf Coast Pest Control in Panama City.
Bed bugs hitchhike on suitcases, boxes and shoes in their search for food. That food is the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts. Adults are about a quarter-inch long.
“If you do an inspection and you look in the cracks and crevasses of your mattresses along the sewn edges… they are visible to the naked eye,” said Strickland.
According to the National Pest Management Association, there are several ways to prevent bed bugs. Vacuum suitcases when returning from vacation; hotels and motels are breeding grounds. Check bed sheets for blood spots – a tell-tale sign of their presence. Never bring second-hand furniture into your home before thoroughly examining it for infestations. And, regularly inspect areas where pets sleep.
A polyurethane mattress protector can also help. “It will give a nice soft feel but it won’t allow the bedbugs to penetrate your mattress,” said Richard Branham, owner of The Sleep Center, a mattress retailer in Panama City.
Although do-it-yourself treatments are available, it’s a good idea to call a professional once bed bugs invade.
“It’s very intense and very time consuming and of course, the more knowledge the applicator has, the better chance of him finding the bugs,” said Strickland.
And it can be expensive. According to Strickland, treatment can cost $300-$500.
“Usually it’s a one time treatment,” said Strickland. “If they’re deep into furniture, in the cracks and crevasses of furniture… more than one treatment is necessary.”
Bed bugs don’t carry diseases, but their bites can become red, itchy welts. Beyond that, they just don’t make good bedfellows.