For some apartment owners, bed bugs have become the stuff of nightmares. These little critters are notoriously difficult to get rid of, and a single infestation can cause extensive and expensive damage. So why are bed bugs so hard to exterminate? Here are four chilling reasons why.
They are masters of disguise
If bed bugs set up home in your apartment, it can take many months before you even realize the little critters are there. What's more, unlike some pests, bed bugs don't generally hang around where you can easily spot them.
A typical bed bug is around 4-5mm long, which is about the size of an apple seed. The bugs are also rather flat, so their dimensions mean they can squeeze into tiny spaces. Bed bugs may lurk under your mattress, but they can also get between floor boards, in light fixtures and even behind wallpaper cracks. These skills make them extremely hard to find.
They are extremely resilient
Compared to many household pests, bed bugs are difficult to kill. In some cases, this is because the bugs avoid exposure to treatment by hiding, but they're also genetically durable. Research shows that bed bugs possess an array of genes that mean they can withstand an attack from the insecticides that pest control companies use. In fact, one study found that bed bugs have fourteen genes that boost their resistance to pesticide.
Another issue is that people sometimes use insecticides in the wrong way – or the wrong insecticides altogether. For example, pyrethrins and pyrethroids can kill bed bugs, but these chemicals can also cause resistant strains of the critters to scatter and move to other places in the building. As such, you need an effective pest control strategy to effectively kill all the bed bugs in an apartment complex, or you may simply shift the infestation from one place to another.
Just to add insult to injury, bed bugs can also survive without food for long periods. Worryingly, bed bugs can last up to 400 days without food. It only takes one meal, and they can then last without food for the same period again. As such, leaving an apartment without an occupant for long periods often won't tackle a bed bug infestation.
They hide in places you don't want to damage
Bed bug extermination efforts often fail because apartment owners or tenants are reluctant to face up to the situation. Unfortunately, thorough bed bug extermination efforts mean that you may need to damage (or even destroy) items of furniture in the process.
For example, a tiny rip or hole in a mattress may allow bed bugs to nestle deep inside the upholstery. When this happens, most insecticides and treatments won't penetrate far enough to tackle the issue. Sadly, sometimes, the only solution is to remove and destroy the mattress entirely. If an item like this costs thousands of dollars, you can see why the tenant would not want to take this step. Unfortunately, if an infestation is serious, drastic measures are often necessary.
They are willing travelers
Bed bugs like to travel. The creatures only feed at night, but they may move around an apartment complex quite easily, and once an infestation occurs in one part of the building, the bugs will easily spread to other units.
To make matters worse, bed bugs will happily move from one building to another. The bugs will lurk in furniture and upholstery, so new tenants may bring a problem from their old complex into your building. Bed bugs can even move around in people's luggage, so visitors to your building can also bring the problem with them. This willingness to move makes it difficult to eradicate the problem in high-risk apartment complexes. Even if you deal with one infestation, a new outbreak can quickly occur.
Bed bugs are a major pest problem in the United States. Talk to pest control services for more information and advice.