Bed bug activity in the Okanagan appears to be increasing

Charles Miller


A recent news report cited a research survey of Canada health inspector had indicated bed bug complaints are up from 20 to 50 per cent in the last three years.

The Okanagan is also seeing an increase in bed bug activity in recent months.

As a licensed pest control technician and owner of Bed Bugs Only and GoPro Pest Control, I receive a number of calls weekly from across the Okanagan Valley enquiring about how to deal with bed bugs.

Most people imagine they will never have an experience with bed bugs, and are horrified when they find they are being bitten while they sleep in their own home.

Bed bugs are very resilient and hard to eliminate.

As they can’t fly, they   spread from location to location by “hitching rides” on clothing, purses and luggage.

Then they walk from room to room in your house or apartment and establish themselves in and on your mattresses and bedding, furniture, cracks in walls, behind baseboard moldings and even electronics.

Bedbugs are very small and move quickly for their size, zipping across a bedroom carpet at about a metre a minute.

During the day, they hide. They search out the piping and creases of mattresses, the tufted pleats, between the mattress and the boxspring, in the bedside table or other nearby furniture, alarm clock, in books and headboards, and even behind the art hanging on the wall.

At night (their favourite time is between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.) when you are fast asleep, they come out for a meal.

Bedbugs like to dine every seven days, but they can go without feeding for up to a year.

Bedbugs hone in on their target by your body heat and the carbon dioxide that you breath out.

They don’t like to hang out in your hair or on your body like lice do. They prefer to stay snuggled in your clothes—so you won’t feel them crawling around your skin. As you sleep cozy under the comforter, they will drive their spiky nose into your skin, secrete a mild anesthetic to take away the sting and have a tasty meal at your expense.

Depending on the infestation, a person can have as many as 500 or more bed bugs on them at one time feeding, and they won’t know it until they wake up and see the effects in the mirror.

Although bed bugs bite humans, the B.C. Ministry of Health and Health Canada have not traditionally classified bed bug infestations as a public health concern because the bugs have not been known to transfer disease.

The health risk primarily comes from secondary infection and scarring.

Getting rid of them can also be stressful. The best way to manage a bed bug infestation is to prevent it from taking hold and getting out of hand.

Below are some tips to help you deal with bed bugs:

• When you become aware of bed bugs in your home, it’s time to go through all your belongings and get rid of your clutter. Cluttered conditions can offer the bed bugs a lot of excellent hiding places very near their human blood-meal hosts. Do not forget to put the items you are getting rid of, in sealed plastic bags or wrapped in plastic so you are not dropping and spreading the bugs, as you discard them. Thoroughly de-clutter, clean and vacuum all areas (bedding, couches, bed frames etc.) where you have been bitten by bed bugs

• When removing sheets always carefully roll them off instead of pulling or yanking them off. Pulling causes the removal of any eggs and bed bugs attached to them. Vacuum up any visible bed bugs and eggs. Always put clean white or light coloured sheets on the bed. Light colours make them easier to see

• Wash all bedding and clothes in the hottest water possible (at least 120 F). Use a hot tumble drier at the hottest setting possible. Research has shown bed bugs can possibly live through the washing but the hot dryer will kill them.

Thermal remediation-heat treatment is the most effective solution to eradicate bed bugs and their eggs—an environmentally-friendly process with no pesticides.

One treatment is all it takes to kill all phases of bed bugs—from egg to nymph to adult.

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