Bed Bugs: Not Just Pillow Padding

I know reading that title is making you cringe. I’m a little squeamish myself. When thinking about the apple seed sized insects, the first place pest control operators look for bed bugs is on the bed. That’s the typical place to find them, but they had to come from somewhere else. Right?

TAKE A BREATH

I received a call to help a customer rid their bedroom of “those little biting @%€**!”(insert your own expletive). The customer had washed and dried the bedding many times, and tried to treat using OTC products. There was a slight knockdown, but no successful management.

I did my inspection. Looking at the tufts of the mattress, carpet edge lines, lamp shades, curtains, light switch and outlet plate covers. I did find a few, and treated with chemicals and a vacuum. All was good…. for about a week. I got another call.

My brain went into overdrive. I had asked Why? How? What? Where? I forgot about Who? (I took journalism in high school. As the editor of the school paper, I would have gotten scolded)

I started my inspection from scratch. The customer said she was the only one getting bitten while sleeping. This was puzzling. Then, like a cartoon, the idea bubble came over my head. Bed bugs are attracted to the CO2 humans breathe out. The husband hadn’t shown signs of being bitten because he wears a breathing mask to sleep.

TRANSFER EFFECT

So, now that I know why the hubby didn’t have any bites, my challenge was to find Where the bed bugs were coming from. I looked at luggage, inside dresser drawers, laundry baskets, and even the dryer lint filter. I thought… if dryer heat will kill them, they might get caught in there. I doubted the eggs would survive, but ya never know.

It was my inspection in the basement family room where I found the infestation. The husband’s favorite recliner chair had its own family of bed bugs. He frequently fell asleep there and was transferring them to the bedroom. They didn’t stay in him, but made their way to his wife, who was emitting carbon dioxide as she slept.

OTHER HIDING PLACES

I will sometimes find unique places to get away from the hustle and bustle of people. I want.. I need… the peace and quiet. Bed bugs do too, but they’ll be back. They need a blood meal from humans to molt through each lifecycle stage. But where else might we find them? Here are a few outside of the box inspection ideas:

1. The fabric lining in kitchen chairs.

2. The cozy throw blanket and pillows we ALL keep over the back of the couch.

3. Inside your computer keyboard or modem.

4. Children’s toys. Especially those with batteries or fabric.

5. In/around/behind picture frames and wall hangings

6. The motor housing of those fancy adjustable beds.

7. Medical walker boot or cast on a broken bone

8. Around the edges of the HVAC vents.

9. The TV, cable boxes & remote controls.

These are just some inspection points I came up with while looking around my own home. This treatment plan isn’t for the faint of heart, and I don’t recommend that the general consumer take on this situation alone. While there are numerous places bed bugs can be found, they really have no business interrupting your “pillow talk”.

Published by Melisa Arnold, A.C.E.

My career in pest management began while working in a flour mill as the “in-house” technician in 2008. I am certified in multiple states including a DOT CDL/HazMat. I began working full time as a fumigation-pest control tech in 2010. I achieved my Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) in 2018. I have a Master Tech certification from Kansas State University/Kansas Pest Control Association. I hold a Bat Management certification from NWCOA. Every day, I realize how much I DON’T KNOW. My goal for this blog is to share my every day experiences from the field and to make us all think outside the box for solutions to make pest control make sense.

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