Newsroom :: Frequently Asked Questions about Bed Bugs and other Pests
Frequently Asked Questions about Bed Bugs and other Pests
USDA Kicks Off National Moving Month with Campaign to Stop the Spread of the Invasive Gypsy Moth
Since 1970, gypsy moths have defoliated more than 75 million acres across the United States and, to this day, these invasive pests continue to threaten America's woodlands. This month, USDA APHIS is kicking off a program to encourage campers and movers to travel the country gypsy moth free.
Help us stop the gypsy moth by spreading the word, including information about what people moving or traveling out of an infested area can do to protect America's forests and comply with Federal law. Learn more at www.yourmovegypsymothfree.com.
The United States is seeing a resurgence of bed bug infestations. Here is some guidance on training your personnel to dectect infestations, which first appeared in On the Move, the monthly newsletter of the New Jersey Warehousemen & Movers Association:
All employees should be trained when hired or through regular company briefings. The primary message should be that any shipment could be contaminated and should not be loaded onto a truck or into your warehouse if there is any sign of bugs. A carrier and/or shipper may be found liable for possible problems if another shipper's goods become contaminated. All costs for fumigation charges could be charged to the shipper as third party services, provided you could prove it was caused by the shipper and provided it is in your tariff.
Some bugs, such as cockroaches, may be more easily detectable by visible signs of filth and dead bugs; but others, such as bed bugs and fleas, can be more difficult to detect even by a professional. Educate all employees to report any signs of insect activity (including workers with itching or bite marks) before, during or after providing moving services.
Movers must also be educated to the risks of transporting such shipments, such as infestation spreading to trucks or warehouse, and causing other shipper's goods to become cross-contaminated with bugs. Moving crews should check the mattress and box spring. Examine the crease along the cords that run around the top and bottom of the mattress. Look not only for bugs but also for black specks (signs of their droppings) or reddish-brown ones (signs of blood from engorged insects). These can vary in size and shape, from a pencil tip to a large smear (a sign of a major infestation). Visit the entomology website of the University of Kentucky (www.ca.uky.edulentomology) for detailed images of bedbugs and other information on detecting signs of infestation.
Crews should also do a visual check of the bedroom, again looking not only for the bugs, but also the black or blood-colored evidence that signals their presence. Since most infestations begin within ten feet of the bed, examine that area especially closely (paying particular attention around and behind the headboard) but also look at baseboards and carpeted areas.
You should recommend (or require) mattress covers or boxes on all shipments to protect your vehicles. Avoid problems by exterminating trucks regularly!
To help answer customers' questions, members may wish to provide a copy of this one-page document,
To provide members with background information on this issue, AMSA is making available the following FAQs adopted pimarily from St. Clair County, Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
In addition, this article from The Wall Steert Journal is informative.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are blood-sucking insects that feed on humans by piercing the skin. The result is an itchy red welt or localized large swellings on the skin within a day or so.
What do they look like?
Adult bed bugs look flattened with an oval body shape, reddish-brown or mahogany in color, and small—about 1/5 inch long. They do not fly (no wings), do not jump like fleas, and do not reside on people like lice.
Why the sudden resurgence?
Infestations were common in the U.S. before World War II. Bed bugs vanished after that due to improvements in hygiene, and especially the widespread use of DDT during the 1940s and 50s in the U.S., but remained fairly prevalent in other parts of the world. Immigration and international travel have contributed to the resurgence in the U.S. Changes in modern pest control practice — and less effective bed bug pesticides — are other factors.
How does an infestation originate?
Bed bugs are "hitch-hikers” and largely dependent upon people to travel from place to place. It's possible for you to bring bed bugs in on luggage, clothing, beds, furniture, and other items to spread to other locations.
Can they spread among apartment or condo dwellers?
Yes. Hungry bed bugs seek out their hosts. They are attracted to heat, carbon dioxide and other factors given off by their victims. It’s possible that bed bugs can find their way from room to room and apartment to apartment. Occasionally people may also pick up bed bugs in theaters or on buses and trains.
How about through acquiring secondhand furniture?
Yes, this is another way the bugs are transported into previously non-infested dwellings.
Where do they hide?
Bed bugs can live in almost any crevice or protected location. The most common place to find them is the bed. Bed bugs often hide within seams, tufts, crevices of the mattress, box spring, bed frame and headboard. They also like to hide under loose wallpaper, behind picture frames, and inside furniture and upholstery.
Do bed bugs stay close to beds?
Initial infestations tend to be around beds, but bed bugs can spread throughout the bedroom, then to adjacent rooms or apartments. The bugs can travel from room to room or floor to floor either by crawling or via a person.
How long can they live without a feeding?
Young bed bugs can go for months, and adult bed bugs can survive for more than a year without eating.
Do bed bugs transmit diseases?
No, bed bugs currently are not considered disease carriers.
Is regular bug spray effective?
Unfortunately, conventional insect repellents, like those used to deter ticks and mosquitoes, do not appear to be effective against bed bugs
What about vacuuming?
Vacuuming will remove some bed bugs, but it’s impossible to dislodge eggs that are sticky. Bed bugs can also hold on surprisingly well in tiny crevices opposite a vacuum.
Can hot or cold temperatures kill bed bugs?
Yes. Bed bugs surrender to heat easily. Temperatures over 115°F will kill them in half an hour. You may seal an infested mattress or furniture in a large plastic bag and place in the hot summer sun for a few hours. Bed bugs also succumb to cold temperatures below 32°F, but the freezing temperatures must be maintained for several days.
Will laundering sheets, clothes, etc. in a dryer kill bed bugs?
Yes. Placing clothing, toys, shoes, backpacks, etc., in a clothes dryer set at medium to high heat for 10 to 20 minutes will kill all bed bug life stages. This can be done alone or in conjunction with laundering.
Any tips for frequent travelers?
Bring large plastic bags with you. Put your luggage and other stuff into these bags immediately after check-in to prevent bed bugs from spreading.
How can a bed bug infestation be eradicated?
Bed bugs can be very challenging. If you have an infestation, hire an exterminator. Experienced companies know where to look for bed bugs, and have an assortment of management tools at their disposal. Few active ingredients, however, are federally registered for over-the-counter use. And insecticides alone won’t control bed bug infestations. Their use must be combined with a program of removing and cleaning infested beds, bedding, and other harborage sites then following up with a regular detection program to ensure treatment was effective.
What if I suspect my truck has been infested during a move?
Professional fumigation is the best solution, although it may be time-consuming. You may also want to investigate using Nuvan Prostrips, which were approved last year by the EPA for bed bug control. They contain the pesticide DDVP using a controlled release method to slowly diffuse a deep penetrating vapor in enclosed spaces. To be full-effective, however, the van or trailer would have to be sealed for 14 days or longer. Vikane, a powerful insecticide, is also available through professionals.
Some movers are having their trucks heated to at least 115 degrees, and are buying or using commercial clothes driers for their pads.
Are foggers effective?
Pest control companies argue both sides of this question and there haven't been any real studies done to show the effects. It's clear that the chemicals in foggers/bug bombs will kill bed bugs. Most use Pyrethrum, which is an insecticide that definitely will kill them. But while foggers may be effective for trucks, they are not recommended for homes as the bugs may simply flee to another room.
Are there any federal or state regulations that currently apply to the household goods moving industry regarding bed bugs?
There are no federal regulations, and AMSA is unaware of any at the state level as of now.
Anything else I should know?
Some customers are asking their moving companies to produce proof that vans are bedbug-free. In response, some movers are hiring bedbug-sniffing dogs and receiving certificates that the van had been checked by such dogs.