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Bed Bugs

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Think You Might Have Bedbugs? You are not alone…

Health Canada reports that in recent years there has been an increase in the number of people experiencing bites from bed bugs throughout the country, including here in Montreal. The presence of bed bugs is not related to cleanliness. They can be found in homeless shelters as well as 5-star hotels. They cannot fly or jump and are therefore transported from one place to another through clothing bedding and even luggage. 

Bed bugs are a nuisance but they don’t spread disease. However, like mosquito bites, the bites of bed bugs can cause redness, swelling and itchy bumps. Sometimes these bites occur in groups of 3 in a line. Bed bug bites most commonly occur on exposed areas of the body, including face, neck, hands, arms, lower legs or all over the body. Like mosquito bites, bed bug bites will generally go away by themselves, but scratching them may cause the skin to break, which can lead to infection if bacteria is introduces into the broken skin. Some people have no reaction to bed bug bites. You may have bed bugs if you see these itchy bumps on your skin or blood spots on sheets and/or black or brown spots on mattresses, bed frames or walls. Bed bugs are small (about 6-10mm in length), with a paper-thin, flat body, which swells after they have fed. 
(reprinted with permission from Health Notes, Concordia Health Services)


Why have bedbugs returned? Why is this happening to me?


In the past, insecticides such as DDT helped to keep the bed bug population at bay with residues that continued working after the product was sprayed. Now, with the increase in use of bait traps instead of broad spectrum sprays, specific pests such as ants and cockroaches are being targeted, and bed bugs are no longer being eliminated.

In addition, people now travel more than ever before. Places that see a great deal of turnover such as hotels give bed bugs the opportunity to travel to new locations on luggage or clothing.

How to Kill Bedbugs


Bed bugs can survive periods of sub-freezing weather for at least several weeks, but succumb relatively quickly to high temperatures. A temperature of 45°C for one hour is reported to be lethal to all stages including eggs.

Infested clothing can be washed in hot water and dried on the hot cycle of the clothes dryer. Delicate materials can be placed into the freezer.)

The Montreal Insectarium suggests the following (translated from their website): "All developmental stages of bed bugs can survive for at least five days at -10oC.  Only temperatures from -32oC for a minimum of 15 minutes OR 46oC for more than 7 minutes can kill them."

 

How to help yourself get rid of bedbugs

Don’t panic, bed bugs are not life threatening

  • Call your building manager or landlord immediately if you think there may be bed bugs in your room or bed.
  • Follow all instructions given to you.
  • Wash and dry your clothing and bedding on hot. 30 minutes of heat kills bugs and their
  • eggs.
  • Wash donated clothing before wearing.
  • Do not take furniture or items from the street, they may have bed bugs!
  • Do not try to use pesticides on your own.
  • “Bug bombs” are not effective for bed bugs.
  • Talk to others about it; bed bugs are common today in all types of housing. Everyone should be aware.
  • Cooperate with those trying to help you.
  • Try using eucalyptus oil and apply to the body, which may offer some protection (Montreal Insectarium website)

How to Make Your Own Bedbug Inspection Toolkit 

Find out once and for all if you have bedbugs by collecting and using the following inexpensive items.  The recommended inspection tool kit includes:

  • Magnifying glass
  • Strong flashlight
  • Plastic zip-top bags for collecting specimens
  • A probe, such as a “credit card tool”, made by cutting any plastic card into a long
  • triangle, for checking in narrow spaces.
  • Pyrethrin or compressed air (for cleaning computers) for flushing bed bugs from cracks and crevices
  • Screwdrivers for removing light switch and electrical plates
  • Other tools (a small tool kit) for disassembling furniture
  • Alcohol, glass-cleaning or baby wipes, for evidence that stains are bed bug droppings.
  • Droppings appear as dark colored stains on cloth or bumps on hard surfaces
  • Cotton swabs for checking stains in crevices
  • Sticky traps may be useful if placed under the bed and checked regularly.


How to Move and Leave Bedbugs Behind

If your current apartment  or roommate has bedbugs, you are in danger of carrying those bugs with you when you move. Follow these instructions to ensure your new place is yours alone!

Once bed bugs have been confirmed in the living area of an individual or family, there may be good reason to move them to a different area or apartment while the infested one is treated. However bed bugs may be transferred with personal belongings, causing more
trouble in the new living space. Some suggestions for moving to a new location without
bringing bed bugs are as follows:

  • Place all belongings in clear plastic bags that are sealed tightly. Sort items by type
  • (clothes, towels, sheets and blankets) and keep things that are known to be infested
  • away from clean items.
  • Have each individual shower and change into clean clothing and shoes and bag up the
  • current (possibly infested) clothes for laundering.
  • Before personal belongings can be accessed in the new home, they MUST be bed bug
  • free or the process will be repeated.
  • Follow all laundering and cleaning steps for personal belongings, these include:
  • Washing and drying all clothing on hot settings. Drying on HIGH for at least 30 minutes is more important than washing to kill bed bugs.
  • Washing and drying bed sheets, blankets and pillow cases at high temperature. Again, drying on HIGH is most important
  • Shoes, pillows, curtains, coats, plush toys can all be placed into a dryer at a medium to high temperature.
  • Picking up and organizing your personal belongings to reduce the amount of clutter in your living space.
  • Keep items that cannot be sanitized inside clear plastic bags (electronics, appliances, books, etc.) and ask a professional pest manager how these items should be treated.
  • Aerosol pesticides may be recommended for a faster solution. Storage of these items for one year is a non-toxic choice, but may be difficult due to space or needs. If items are kept warm, storage time is reduced.
  • Provide vinyl or bed bug proof covered mattresses for the beds of each member of the household. Also cover box springs if they are present.
  • Provide contact information for a person who will respond to bed bug complaints, in case bed bugs show up again.
  • Whether you move permanently or temporarily, leave furniture behind if possible to allow it to be treated. Treat furniture before moving it. Take with you as few items as possible at first.
  • Pets must be relocated during treatment. Leave behind their bedding and cages, unless these items can be thoroughly washed.

Other Bedbugs Resources

HOJO's Bed Bug Information postcard In English  and Mandarin

How to Prepare Your Apartment for a Bedbug Extermination

Toronto Public Health Bedbug Resources

BedBug Registry

BedBugger

UNM Bedbugs Resource

Mayo Clinic Bed Bugs & your health 

City of Ottawa Resource

Bedbug City 

Health Canada Bed Bug Resource

Expert Pest Identification & Guidance 

See our interview on the CBC website.  
Download the CBC Radio Day Break interview about Bed Bugs

 

 

References
Gangloff-Kaufmann and C. Pichler, “Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in Shelters and Group Living Facilities” Cornell University, 2008.