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Bedbugs | Signs, Appearance, and Extermination

Bedbugs have spread to Spokane, as they have to most U.S. cities. 
  • Consider Bedbugs.  If you start noticing red marks on your arms and legs, marks that itch like mosquito bits, and your dog is digging at the furniture…. you may have bedbugs. 

  • What Bedbugs look like.   Most bedbugs are small, brown, chili-flake size parasitic insects that prefer to feed on human blood. 
  • Signs of Bedbugs.  Look around areas where you spend a lot of time - your bed, the couch, etc.  You are looking for elongated blood-red specks clinging to the side of a mattress, looking a bit like red grains of rice.  Their favorite hiding places are near or inside beds, or other warm areas.  Wherever you spend the most time, the bedbugs will follow.  
Bedbugs are mostly active at night.  When they find exposed skin - faces, necks, arms and legs - they start to feed by piercing the skin and sucking blood.  The whole process takes about 20 minutes.  Once they are full, they go back into hiding and wait a few days before starting the process over again.  This goes on for 6-12 months, the average lifespan of a bedbug in warm conditions.  All the while, the well-fed females are laying 5-6 eggs/day, which take about 37 days to fully mature. 
  • Getting rid of Bedbugs.  Bedbugs are resistant to modern insecticides.  Coupled with their ability to hibernate, they just survive.  Even without feeding on blood, they can survive for a long time, even for more than one year.  

The preferred method to treat bedbugs is to call an exterminator, who will place industrial heaters in your home which blow 120 degree air for 6 hours.  Bedbugs cannot survive in temperatures this high, and this is the only way to make sure all of the bugs are killed.  The process takes half a day, and can cost about $2,000.00.  The family will have to leave the house while it is being treated for bedbugs.  
  • Where do Bedbugs come from?  Bed bugs are found in hotels, motels, rental homes, private homes, hospitals, restaurants, and libraries - anyplace the public regularly visits.  Bedbugs can latch onto clothing (their eggs are especially sticky), so transferring them from one apartment to the next is easy.  Old furniture, used clothing and even library books are prime hiding places.  Bedbugs like hard, confined places to conceal themselves when they are not feeding.  Plastic cases, carpet, shelving and books are some places they like to go.   
(Source:  “Battling Bedbugs,” by Jonathan Glover, The Spokesman-Review, Oct. 23, 2016; Rose Zhu an assistant research professor at WSU’s Dept. of Entomology)