Everyone likes getting something for free, but if you’re talking about a mattress or a couch, Jason Wheeler recommends just saying no.
“A free mattress might cost you a bedbug treatment a couple months down the road,” said Wheeler, the owner of Amarillo-based Ace Pest Control. “And I can’t tell you how many houses I’ve treated because of a free couch.”
Contrary to their name - and Wheeler’s examples above - bedbugs don’t only affect beds (though they definitely love bedskirts and pillowtop mattresses). They can also infest office chairs, recliners, clothing and nightstands and can infiltrate areas behind baseboards, crown molding and wallpaper. In other words, once they’ve gotten inside, they can - and will - make themselves at home. And they’re probably going to spread out.
“Where you feel like the bedbugs are is very seldom the only place that they actually are,” Wheeler said.
More about bedbugs
Most people think that bedbugs are too small to be seen by the naked eye and that’s not the case at all. In fact, adult bedbugs measure ¼ - ⅜ inches in length - a little smaller than your pinky fingernail - and can get even longer after they’ve fed, kind of like a mosquito would.
“They’re absolutely visible, especially when you uncover a mass of them in a nest,” Wheeler said, noting that they also leave behind telltale signs such as droppings, shed skin and shells from their eggs.
And speaking of eggs, bedbug eggs hatch within a week to two weeks, especially in optimal temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees. When they hatch, they need to feed quickly and in order for them to molt and grow, they have to get a blood feed. By the time a female bedbug is six weeks old, she is considered a mature adult and can lay three to four eggs a day. In her lifetime, she will lay about 200 eggs, though egg production depends on her ability to get a blood meal.
What do they eat? Well, unfortunately for us, humans are their favorite source of food. However, they will feed on pets and a variety of other animals if they can’t find a human.
“Just think of a food that you love and a food you hate,” Wheeler said. “If the food you love is present, you’re going to eat that first.”
That’s not to say that bedbugs need to eat constantly to survive. They can actually live for several months without a feeding and their lifespan is generally between three and four months.
How do bedbugs get into a home?
Bedbugs, Wheeler said, are hitchhikers and they can get into your home in a variety of ways.
If you stay in a hotel that has bedbugs, you could end up bringing them home in your suitcase. Or if you sit in a movie theater chair that was recently occupied by someone who has bedbugs on his clothes, they could easily end up on your shirt and inside your closet. Having a lot of houseguests also raises your risk of bedbugs, as does the aforementioned free mattress or couch.
And contrary to popular belief, bedbugs don’t only inhabit filthy homes or seedy motels.
“They don’t care how clean, how expensive or how dirty the place is because we are their food source,” he said. “Hygiene makes very little difference to their survivability.”
Treating for bedbugs
Because bedbugs are so invasive and can infest so many areas of a home, the treatment for them is extensive.
“You have to go into every nook and cranny because that’s where they’re at,” Wheeler said. “If you don’t treat just one nook or one cranny, then that’s going to be where they were.”
Wheeler and his team will go in and remove as much of the bedbug nesting and as many of the eggs as possible. While temperature treatments can be viable, Wheeler doesn't do them because it’s very difficult to kill bedbugs that way.
“You could walk outside when the temperature is definitely cold enough to kill you, but it won’t kill you instantly,” he said. “With bedbugs, it’s the same thing.”
In order to take care of a bedbug problem, Wheeler uses high-quality products that are specifically designed to control bedbugs and, ideally, keep them from coming back.
“We have a very good success rate,” Wheeler said. “The vast majority of the time, we can control the bedbug population with one treatment and if we do need to go back, we can do a focused treatment that’s much less invasive.”
Ace Pest Control provides a 120-day warranty on every treatment with the option to sign up for a bedbug program that offers an unlimited warranty.
“Our program will keep your home under warranty in perpetuity so that you can have complete peace of mind when it comes to bedbugs,” Wheeler said.
To learn more about Ace’s bedbug program and the other services they offer to protect your home, contact us today.