Growing up in the Cape Girardeau area, the only time I heard the word Bedbug was in reference to an overused bed time joke. “Don’t let the bedbugs bite” has become all too serious a phrase for me after my current 6 years’ experience as a professional exterminator. Bedbugs are truly a fascinating little parasite that have caused many problems for humans for over 2000 years. The earliest known reports of bedbugs come from Ancient Greek records. Over time, they have moved through the Middle East, Asia, Europe and eventually to America.

Bedbugs, being parasitic insects that feed exclusively on blood, prefer humans as their host. Generally speaking, bedbugs are nocturnal and feed on their host at night. They use a saw-like method with their stylet mandibles to cut through skin and get their fill of blood, with an average feeding lasting anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. Unbelievably, as they begin the process of sawing through human skin, their saliva injects anticoagulants and painkillers which enable them to feed on their host without the host being aware. Depending on the individual’s allergic reaction, the bedbug bites could range anywhere from small red bumps on their body that are similar to a small mosquito or flea bite, to a much larger reaction that could develop into a small sore. Unlike spiders, roaches and various other insects, bedbugs do not travel too far between their nest and their host. It begs the question, how then have they become so bad through the years?

Many factors play a role when trying to speculate how bedbugs have become so bad in this region and many other regions across the country. One of the most significant reasons is bedbugs are extremely resistant to pesticides. It is commonly believed that over time bedbugs have developed this resistance to pesticides, thus making it harder and harder through the years for pest professionals to provide control methods. There are chemicals available for pest professionals to utilize when performing a bedbug treatment; however, it has been proven pesticides do not eliminate bedbug eggs. Pest professionals have various methods to incorporate with their treatment plans. For example, one method for removing bedbug eggs, since chemical options do not eradicate eggs, is using a special vacuum that has what is called a HEPA filter. Most regular vacuums that consumers purchase do not have a sufficient filter to capture bedbug eggs when they are removed from the nesting site. They could simply blow right through the filter due to their tiny size. So, with appropriate vacuuming and the application of chemicals in the correct places, it is possible for a pest professional to achieve control of the infestation. However, our experience through the years is it could require 2, or possibly 3, treatments over the course of a few weeks to get the desired results. One of the problems with bedbugs is they typically nest on the inner working of box springs, couches, chairs and various furniture items. When this is the case, usually vacuuming and chemicals are not sufficient methods to provide control. Bedbug infestations can be an extremely emotional and psychological strain on an individual. When a problem is discovered, our customers want that problem eradicated as soon as possible. For all of these reasons, we have learned that performing a Heat Treatment is the most effective method for providing total control. We have safe and proven methods for providing this treatment and walk our customers through a step by step guide to prepare. Bedbugs cannot survive in temperatures above 122 degrees. That temperature level not only kills all of the adult bedbugs but eliminates bedbugs in all stages of growth and most importantly their eggs. We utilize a combination of many methods when providing a bedbug treatment for our customers, but the most important key to our proven success methods are the heat machines that we use.

There are many different heat machines available to pest professionals. Some providers will build a heat chamber, which is basically building a tent inside your home and placing as many furniture items inside that chamber as possible. Other companies use powerful heat systems where hoses are run from an exterior trailer unit that houses a large generator with which they begin to heat up the entire space of the home or apartment unit. There are advantages and disadvantages to the different methods that pest professionals provide. Here at Elite Pest Control, when developing our control methods, we found using machines that heat up the entire space of the home or apartment is the best way to provide effective results. Bedbugs, depending on the severity of the infestation, will travel behind wall voids through electrical outlet covers, behind baseboards and other various spaces. In certain building structure situations, when dealing with a severe bedbug infestation, it is important that the company that provides the heat treatment uses a heat machine that can get to the kill temperature in a very quick time. Hiring a pest professional who uses a heat machine that takes over an hour to climb to the kill temperature creates the risk of allowing the bedbugs to run and scatter behind wall voids to save themselves from the rising temperature. Our heat machines at Elite Pest Control provide the kill temperature within 15 minutes. This avoids that possibility of allowing the bedbugs to spread through walls during a heat process. We then hold that temperature for several hours and use thermal high velocity fans to blow the heat all throughout the home so the inner working of all furniture items gets fully immersed with heat.

The subject “How to get rid of Bedbugs” is something that constantly evolves for pest professionals. Continuing education and studying new and developing products on the market is a pivotal tool to help us confidently provide the service our customers deserve. While we do not foresee bedbugs becoming less prevalent in the next few years, there are things you as an individual can do to protect yourself from a potential infestation. When traveling, make sure and check the seams of the mattress and box springs on which you will be sleeping. Bedbugs look very similar to a tick but are reddish brown in color. Even the country’s nicest hotels encounter bedbug issues. When coming back home from vacation, a business trip or even a friend or relative’s home in which you may have resided, make sure and wash your clothes at the soonest availability. If you have the ability to quarantine your luggage to an area away from humans, such as a garage or unfinished basement, take a plastic bag and place the luggage inside that bag for storage. These simple methods will drastically reduce the odds of you infesting your home with bedbugs.

We pride ourselves in our ability to solve real problems. Bedbugs are a very real and serious problem that the Cape Girardeau region and beyond are dealing with. While growing up, you never heard of them being an issue. However, since that is no longer the case, it is our mission to be part of the process in helping our region eliminate these parasites. So, maybe you will think twice before saying “Goodnight, sleep tight…. don’t let the bedbugs bite.”