AchooAllergy.com Blog

Bedbugs


Posted by Rachel P. on Sunday, November 17, 2013
This week's blog will not be as cute or cuddly as my previous blog. Today I'm going to discuss the difference between dust mites and bed bugs. I've had many calls and questions about dust mites and bed bugs and how to treat them. However, people often use these terms interchangeably, but they are very different pests! So here of some of the major differences between the two.

Dust Mites
House dust mites are tiny arachnids (kin to spiders and scabies), commonly found in carpets, mattresses and upholstered furniture. At about 0.25-.3 mm in length, dust mites are not really visible to the naked eye. If you can see dust mites, you've Normal, Non-Godzilla Sized Dust Miteeither got bionic eyeballs or godzilla-like dust mites. The Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, of the University of Virginia explains their diet consisting of human skin scales and the moisture of "human shavings", which we naturally shed, all day, every day. Sometimes they diversify their diets with fungi, cereals, crumbs and fish food.

"Well, Rachel this is pretty gross. How is this relevant to my asthma and allergies?"

Well, digestive enzymes found in dust mite excretions trigger allergic reactions such as wheezing, airway hyper responsiveness (AHR), nasal congestion, cough, hay fever, etc. Most of us breathe in this allergen to no effect, but for people with allergies, asthma, COPD or other respiratory problems they can trigger reactions. Where, specifically is the allergen found? Considering the ubiquitous nature of dust mites, it is found everywhere! If there are people, there are dust mites, but specifically, the allergen is found in their their dead, decaying body parts as well as their feces. You read that correctly, dust mite poo.

Young children and senior citizens are the most vulnerable to these allergens, but as the most common household allergen, dust mite allergies affect a wide variety of people. However, there are a few limiting factors to these cosmopolites' survival, and controlling these is something we'll discuss below.

Bed Bugs
These parasitic six-legged creatures are flat rusty colored insects that are about the size of an apple seed, which means they are visible to the naked eye if you are unfortunate enough to spot these elusive creatures of the night. Cimex lectularius comes from the the insect genus Cimex, which are known to be hematophagous (bloodsucking insects). So to recap, they're tiny vampires.

Bed Bug in Later Stages of Life CycleA bed bug infestation can happen anywhere, but usually happen in love messy households or apartments and hotel/motel rooms. Mess affords them better opportunity to hide, and areas where there are frequently visitors provides greater opportunity to travel and spread. They can and do travel anywhere, usually by hitching a ride in suitcases, pillows, or any travel items really. So, they're also hitchhikers (except these ones simple hide in your trunk without thumbing for a ride!).

Bed bugs are most active at night, and tend to hide in crevices, mattresses, behind headboards, base boards, nightstands etc. Their activity mainly consists of coming out from their hiding spots and doing their best Count Dracula impression, feeding directly off of us, and leaving small itchy bites all over your skin. The one small upside is they do not create allergic reactions (they lack the enzymes that we react to). The bites can be itchy and physically painful, and knowing you have a hidden infestation of tiny, hitchhiking, blood sucking vampires can be psychologically disturbing.

During World War II bedbugs were a huge problem in the U.S. military, and in response, they used cyanide-based pesticide, Zyklon B to exterminate them. As a "safer alternative" DDT was later used to fumigate these pests. Both of these toxic treatments are not longer in use. Oh the good ole days.

Limiting or Eliminating These Pests
Bed bugs are repulsive but more importantly, very difficult to get rid of without professional help. If you rent, call your landlord or property manager. If you own, this is something you'll be paying for out of your own pocket, but despite some websites and people offering cheap advice on how to rid yourself of bedbugs, most are simply looking to make a quick buck at your expense or worse, offer dangerous or banned substances. When you travel, check your luggage and personal belongings. Bag luggage and clothing and store it outside or in the garage until you can wash and inspect it. When staying at a hotel or motel, report any bites to management ASAP, and keep your bags elevated. Avoiding them is your best bet, and in that vein, you can use bed bug proof mattress covers to seal up your mattress and box spring. In the event you do find bed bugs, you often have to discard a lot of things, and covering your mattress like this can avoid the pain and cost of potentially having to purchase a new one.

Dust mites are easier to rid of with the help of dust mite bedding covers, cleaning products that denature the dust mite allergen or kill dust mites, and general cleaning methods to reduce house dust (the primary component of which is dust mites). Hot can be very useful when it comes to dust mites. Wash your bedding in hot water of at least 113° F but ideally warmer (140°). It will work wonders for killing not only dust mites but also bed bugs. For dust mite allergen that might linger, the use of an anti-allergen detergent or a dust mite laundry additive to denature the actual protein allergen in the bedding.

When it comes to bedding, bedding that is simply labeled "hypoallergenic" is probably a complete waste of money. What actually helps though, are bedding covers. Quality mattress, pillow and box spring covers actually create a physical barrier between you and the dust mites that are most certainly in your mattress and pillows. These specially woven covers block the allergen and keep it out of the air you breathe. This, as part of an overall environment control regimen (washing regular bedding in hot water, dusting and vacuuming more frequently) can help to reduce allergic reactions without the use of medication.

All of these things can help you not only determine what type of pest you're dealing with but how to best to rid yourself of it or reduce its impact. Remember, if you can see the critter, it's not a dust mite, and there are other bugs and pests that can move in besides dust mites and bed bugs.

Good night, sleep tight, and don't let the bed bugs bite!

Author: Rachel P.

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Bedbugs Get Up Close and PersonalGoing along with the idea that this year is likely to be a veritable "Insectapalooza," Atlanta based pest control company, Orkin, recently released its top 50 cities for bed bugs. Unlike most other top 50 lists, this one isn't much cause for celebration - unless you're not on it. Unfortunately for local residents, Atlanta is movin' on up!

Sitting at number 21, Atlanta moved up 24 spots from last years rankings. Now much of this may be due in large part to the Hartsfield Jackson Airport, but with so many people moving through the city daily, the number is only likely to climb.

Bedbugs spread easily by hitching rides in luggage and in clothing as people move about and travel. Once they settle in a home, whether your bedroom or a hotel room, they can be very difficult to eradicate.

Since these little vampires only come out at night and feed on blood, their bites are generally noticeable, as are spots or smears on bedding and bedroom furniture. When traveling to areas where bedbugs are a problem, remember to inspect your surroundings before unpacking. Keep you luggage elevated up off of the ground and on a luggage rack. Bag clothing and luggage before returning home, and toss clothes in the washer (use hot water) or in the dryer (on high for 15 minutes) to kill any potential bedbugs.

Other noteables on the list: Cincinnati (1), Chicago (2), Detroit (3), Devner (4), Los Angeles (5), New York (9), Boston (14), Charlotte (33).

Other factors for the increased rankings are increased public awareness (making it easier to indentify the actual problem) and an actual increase in the overall bedbug population in the city. Rankings are based upon the number of treatments Orkin performed from January to December of 2011. For more on the rankings, visit Orkin.

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, April 03, 2012
By now, allergy sufferers are feeling the full effects of very mild winter and early year, summerlike conditions. Sneezy, runny noses, itchy and watery eyes are abundant in homes, schools and offices across the U.S. Beyond allergies, there's another issue we alluded to a couple months ago - insects.

February saw repeated record high temperatures across the nation, and with this coming hot on the heels of a warmer, wet winter for much of the country, conditions are ideal for insects to flourish. But aside from ants invading your pantry and carpenter bees feasting on your deck, there are some specific pest problems to look for and hopefully prevent.

Bed Bug FeedingBed Bugs - The warmer temperatures can actually reduce the amount of time it takes for a bed bug egg to hatch, from 1-2 weeks to a little as 6 days. Warmer temps also mean more people are out and about, traveling and potentially picking up these little vampire hitchhikers (bed bugs) and bringing them home.

The best thing you can do is remain vigilant. Bag and store luggage and clothing outside until it can be unpacked and inspected. Wash clothing in hot water to kill any bed bugs that may be hiding in your clothing. While staying at hotels or motels, do a quick inspection of the room prior to unpacking, paying attention to tell-tale signs of bedbugs (small dark spot which can be bedbug droppings and blood spots on the mattress, sheets or furniture). If you find something, report it and look for a new place to stay.

For more information on bed bug prevention.

Ticks and Fleas - Nearly all insects love warm, humid conditions, and ticks and fleas are no exception. Not only do these little blood suckers bite, but ticks can carry a variety of diseases. Before coming in after being outside, check yourself for ticks. Pay particular attention to your pets. They can very easily pick up ticks and fleas. Regular bathing and brushing are two very easy ways to prevent and detect and possible tick or flea problems your pet may have.

For ridding your pet of fleas, try natural flea repellent pet shampoo or for getting rid of fleas in the carpet or furniture, try Dust Mite and Flea Control.

Mosquito Having a Light SnackMosquitoes - Like ticks and bedbugs, mosquitoes also feed on your blood and can transmit disease and viruses. While some areas spray insecticides to mosquito populations down, this can release harmful toxins into the air and water. Around the home, be sure to drain containers or anywhere water can puddle and become the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. And when looking for a suitable repellent, look for cintronella and other citrus extracts in the ingredients. Both are powerful, natural insect repellents.

Chances are good that it's going to be a very buggy summer, but this doesn't mean it has to ruin your time outdoors. With some very basic precautions you can enjoy the sun and outdoors with less worry about ticks, fleas, bed bugs or mosquitoes.

Tags: Bedbugs, Fleas
Posted by Shifrah on Monday, December 19, 2011
You're probably aware of the resurgence in bedbugs that has plagued apartment buildings, hotels, and homes throughout the country, regardless of social class. Bedbugs are notoriously easy to get, and infestations happen quickly and pervasively, often filling entire apartment complexes from the initial infestation of just one unit.

If you've ever wondered just why infestations happen with such speed and intensity, a study discussed in Fox News article Inbreeding Reason for Bedbug Spread provides some insight.

Entemologists led by Coby Schal and Ed Vargo of North Carolina State University presented a study at the recent American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in Philadelphia. The scientists studied "the genes of bedbugs infesting three multistory apartment buildings in North Carolina and New Jersey and found very low genetic diversity, meaning most of them were very close relatives."

The upshot of this finding is that it may only take one or two bedbugs hitching a ride on some furniture or a suitcase to begin an entire infestation. Imagine how quickly a mated female can proliferate: Once her eggs hatch, the new bedbugs mate with each other and with their mother – and bedbug populations soar.

Interestingly, this type of inbreeding (without the detrimental genetic effects that occur when some animals inbreed) is also found with cockroaches, another insect that can lead to allergies.

For more on bedbugs and bedbug prevention, see:
Allergy Armor Bed Bug Bedding Packages
Bed Bug Prevention Tips
How to Avoid Bringing Home Bed Bugs


Tags: Bedbugs
Posted by Shifrah on Monday, October 03, 2011


In today's blog, we bring you a summary of tips from RealSimple.com about how to prevent bed bugs:

  • "Prevention is key." Bed bug extermination can cost upwards of $1200 and the physical and emotional toll the process exacts can be costly as well. Prevention is not only obviously desirable, but easily attainable. Bedbug-proof bedding, such as mattress covers and box spring covers, laundering your clothes, and the hiring of pest interceptors to advise on bed bug infestation prevention are all recommended. Early detection of a problem also saves money, so becoming educated about how to prevent and spot bed bug problems is an integral component of prevention.


  • Inspect your hotel room. As much as even just thinking about the possibility of bed bugs in your hotel room might give you the heebie-jeebies, it's important to take the time to inspect for them when you're staying at a hotel – no matter how nice the establishment. Pull back the sheets to look for signs of bedbugs on the mattress and box spring, and also inspect the headboard.


  • Don't bring bed bugs into your home. After a "suspicious" hotel stay, where you may have encountered bedbugs (and for sure if you know you did): unpack your suitcase outside of your living area (like in a garage or outside); put all clothes through a hot wash or dry cycle to kill bedbugs; disinfect your suitcase with no-pest strips.


  • Recognize bedbug bites. Bites are often the first sign of a bed bug infestation. But what do bedbug bites look like? They look like mosquito bites but typically come in clusters of at least three. In addition, they tend to affect areas of the body that are exposed while sleeping, like arms, the neck, face, and shoulders.


  • Call a professional bedbug exterminator. The key word here is professional. While you're waiting for the professional's visit, do what you can at home, including steam cleaning and vacuuming the mattress. Be sure to empty the vacuum cleaner outside the home. DO NOT use over-the-counter pesticides, which can make the problem worse. Bedbugs that aren't killed by the pesticide sense the chemical and flee, thereby spreading the infestation to other areas of the home.


  • Don't panic. Horrifying as it would be to confront a bedbug infestation in your own home, RealSimple.com reports that only about 10 percent of cases are considered severe enough to require disposing of all furniture and cleaning each item of clothing. As a rule of them, the article indicates, it's safe to only consider your case severe if you actually see the bedbugs walking around your home. Yikes.


Tags: Bedbugs
Posted by Jamie on Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Bedbug
Last week, newspapers and web sites across the country reported on a growing bedbug problem that our company has been talking about on this blog since the summer of 2006.

Bedbugs have made a tremendous resurgence in the United States. According to this article from NPR, bedbug reports have increased over 70 percent in the last five years. The problem finally has reached the attention of the federal government. The Environmental Protection Agency hosted its first ever bedbug summit in Arlington, Virginia.

Bedbugs are small wingless insects that feed on blood. These insects seek shelter in dark cracks and crevices in the home. Bedbugs are not known to transmit diseases; but their bites can cause infections and allergic reactions in some people. The insects release an anticoagulant to get the blood flowing. They also excrete a numbing agent so that their bites do not often wake their victims.

For more information and to answer some specific questions about bedbugs, visit the CDC's Bedbug page.


Tags: Bedbugs
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