Bed bug season in Maine typically lasts from September to August. That is roughly 12 months or, if you're into math, 365 days a year! Why is this season so long? Because the insect we call the bed bug (Cimex lectularius) lives almost exclusively with humans inside our homes. While their cousin the bat bug chooses to stay in caves and feed on bats, Cimex lectularius has decided to feed on humans and has been dwelling with us for centuries. Unlike ticks, these are not a pest that is going to climb onto you while you're in the woods, hitch a ride on you when you walk through tall grass. Bed bugs aren’t a pest that your dog or cat is going to pick up while playing in your yard or that will squeeze into your home through cracks in your exterior walls. Instead, these insects are going to catch a ride into your home on people, their clothing, and their personal belongings. Oftentimes, the humans that bring these bugs into your home are people who live in your household and, if you're not watchful, even you! So, bed bug infestations can break out all year long. If you're looking to keep bed bugs from infesting your South Portland home, it is important to understand how humans are a vector for these bugs and how to avoid them being introduced to your home.
Bed bugs spread passively. They don't sit in hiding and wait until you're not looking to climb into your pocketbook or duffle bag and catch a ride home with you. They don't watch you from the hotel bedpost and wait until you go to sleep to lay their eggs on your clothing or in your belongings. These insects just go about their normal day-to-day activities and spread inadvertently. Here are a few characteristics of bed bugs that help them spread:
- Bed bugs prefer to come out at night. While this is not always the case, it most often is. These bugs need to feed multiple times and they have a better chance of doing this when humans are sleeping. For this reason, you may not be awake when they sneak into your stuff or begin biting you.
- Bed bugs usually wait until the CO2 in the room rises before they come out of hiding. When CO2 levels rise, it is an indication that humans are sleeping. If you're thinking, "I stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning, I'll see bed bugs when they try to get into my stuff," you may want to reconsider that line of thinking. These clever pests may be one step ahead of you.
- Bed bugs are small. Wait, what do bed bugs look like exactly? While they're not microscopic or invisible to the eyes as some myths suggest, they're still pretty tiny and hard to spot. A full-grown adult bed bug is only about 4mm in length, and newly hatched bed bugs are a mere 1mm long. So, they're not easy to see when they try to hitch a ride on or inside your belongings.
- Bed bugs love creases, cracks, and pockets. If a bed bug crawls into your stuff or onto your clothing, they're going to look for some tight place to safely lay their eggs. Therefore, most of the time, you're not going to see bed bug eggs.
- Bed bug eggs can develop on their own. When a bed bug crawls onto your clothes or into your stuff and lays her eggs, she doesn't have to travel with those eggs and tend to them until they hatch. Those eggs will hatch on their own and, if the newly hatched bed bugs find a blood meal, they can develop into adults and begin an infestation.
- Bed bug bites aren't usually bad at first. When immature nymphs feed on humans, the bites they inflict aren't usually as bad as those of adult bed bugs, and these tiny bites can go unnoticed. This helps bed bugs spread because you or someone who lives with you could visit the home of a friend or relative and have a run-in with bed bugs without noticing or worse, pick up bed bugs in the early stage of an infestation without even knowing it. And once in your home, it’ll be only a matter of time before they find a blood meal, develop into adults, and the once small bed bug problem in your home will become a full-blown infestation!
Protecting your home from bed bugs becomes a little bit easier when you understand how these pests behave. While spending time out in public or traveling, be on the lookout for these insects in all their stages of development. When inspecting your clothing, bedding, sleeping bags, luggage, pocketbooks, and other items, be sure to look in the cracks and creases for bed bugs or bed bug eggs. And be aware that bed bugs are sneaky by nature. Just because you don't see them, doesn't mean they aren't there!
Bed bugs are also wired for survival. It is extremely difficult to get rid of a bed bug infestation with DIY pest control once they’ve invaded. If you ever find bed bugs in your Southern Maine home, let the pest experts at Big Blue Bug Solutions eliminate those bugs for you. We use the most advanced and eco-friendly bed bug solutions available to get those bugs every time!