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How Do You Get Bed Bugs?

Stop Bed BugsEveryone wants to know, how are we getting bed bugs and why are they coming back?

  • In the last few decades there has been a decrease in the use of pesticides as these have become more and more regulated.
  • Traveling has increased due to cheaper flights and countries becoming more industrialized.
  • There is a degree of tolerance of the bed bugs within some cultures and countries.
  • Ineffective remediation.  Companies claiming to work with eradicating bed bugs when in fact they may have very little knowledge, experience or training within this field of expertise.
  • Resistance is occurring in commonly used pesticides such as pyrethroids and carbamates.

So you have figured out that you actually have Bed Bugs and are now wondering, “How did this happen to me?” Bed Bugs are similar to lice in that they are parasites which will hitch a ride on your clothes, jackets, purses, bags, suitcases, back packs, inside a pillow case, on a blanket, etc. The females are often the ones that will hitch a ride in order to escape a nest in which they are being oversexed. Keep in mind that one female bedbug may also be pregnant with anywhere from 5 to 7 egg sacks—being impregnated by several different male bed bugs

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From

We've compiled many true examples of the source and degree of infestations in working with our clients. We have listed them here by South Carolina Counties:

Charleston, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, Sullivans Island

Florence, Lake City, Hemingway, Cades

Beaufort, Hilton Head Island, Port Royal, Saint Helena Island, Pineland SC

Goose Creek, Hanahan, Jamestown, Saint Stephen, Moncks Corner, St. George, Walterboro SC

Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Little River, Conway, Georgetown, Murrells Inlet, Pawleys Island SC

Saluda, Newberry, Lexington and West Columbia SC

Orangeburg, Santee and Columbia SC

How Did I Get Bed Bugs?

Are you are racking your brain and thinking, “I haven’t traveled anywhere in the last two or three weeks”? Since Bed Bugs only eat once a week you may have had the problem for longer than you realize. Now the other thing to consider is, "Who has been to visit you in the last month?"—as someone may have accidently brought them into your home.

Do you baby sit for anyone in your home? Chances are they bring a backpack or diaper bag and this is a common mode of transmission. Have you dated someone new or made a new friend? Do you ride in public transportation vehicles that carry multiple groups around town? Do you frequent movie theaters? Have you been in a high population area or flown on a plane? Have you received any used linens, vacuum cleaners, furniture or other used household décor.

Stop SignDumpster Diving Can Spread Bed Bugs!

  • No Used Furniture
  • Be Aware of your surroundings
  • Decrease Clutter
  • Inspect Luggage after a Trip
  • Inspect Hotel or Rental before staying there: Check mattress, box spring and headboards. (You can run your hair dryer along the back of the headboard and if there are bed bugs there they will start to run.)
  • Keep luggage on bathroom counter or tub (or use a packtight zippered bag)
  • Hang up clothes instead of using drawers
  • Seal up cracks and crevices with 100% Silicone or Butyl Caulk
  • Pac-Tite (good to heat luggage: up to 180 degrees)
  • Heat clothes from travel in dryer (high heat for 30 min.) then wash and dry them.
  • Pay attention to your child’s classroom, day care, friend’s homes, movie theaters, nursing homes, college dormitories, public transportation (subway, taxi, bus) hotels, and vacation rentals.
  • Don’t let your concerns ruin your travels. They are only bugs and do not transmit diseases.

How Do You Get Bed Bugs In Your Home?

Bed Bug Detection Dog
Scarlet's Certification/

A close friend of the family was an avid dumpster diver and loved picking up other people’s used furniture to refinish. Unfortunately, she ended up getting bedbugs and believes they came from a used couch that she had picked up months earlier. She called me and said, “How did we get bed bugs in our home?”

I took Scarlet (our bed bug canine) over and was able to confirm that she had bed bugs in the couch and also in her bedroom. I do not think she has even taken a second look at items which have been thrown out. Honestly, there are so many different ways that you may have come in contact with Bed Bugs that you may never know the answer to, “How did I get Bedbugs?” The point isn’t really “How did we get bedbugs, but rather being made knowledge about their existence, habits, and understanding the urgency in dealing with the problem. If you have any questions feel free to give us a call and we can talk with you over the phone or schedule an appointment with you.

Certified K9 Bed Bug Dog

If you are not sure that you actually have Bed Bugs you are smart to be online doing your research. If you have recently traveled and feel you may have come in contact with bed bugs it would be better to have a certified bedbug K9 dog search your home, suitcase and bags sooner than later. Certified bed bug dogs and their trainers can be very effective at finding even one bedbug. Dogs are only as good as their handlers so it is important that the handler work with the dog daily in order to read their dogs behavior.

I can say this, as I am Kandace Parker, an IBBMA certified bedbug dog handler and my dog’s name is Scarlet and she is a yellow lab mix. I am quickly able to determine if the dwelling we are in has a high bed bug infestation. Lower infestations require a more thorough search with Scarlet. One memorable K9 bedbug search occurred when I was asked to meet with a local hotel manager. While we were meeting in the manager’s office to discuss the rooms that she had concerns about, Scarlet walked over to a basket of remote controls and gave a strong alert. That was an eye opener for the manager as she quickly realized that the problem had spread much further than she had imagined. 

In a different hotel Scarlet gave a strong alert on a box spring, the maintenance supervisor was doubtful as to what a dog could find that he could not. He quickly pulled out his pocketknife and cut the bottom of the box spring fabric while I held a flashlight in the area that Scarlet had alerted on. At first he didn’t see any bed bugs and doubted the dog. I asked him to wait another minute and gently tapped the frame and then we both saw the bedbug scurry out and run away. I’m from the old school that believes even though the dog alerts you must do a visual inspection and find a bed bug or bed bug evidence before making a decision when at all possible.

If You Detect A Bed Bug Infestation You Must Act Right Away

Bed Bug On the other hand, if you are already seeing a bug that looks similar to a tick and you have been bitten you can do a search yourself. You should look for the actual bed bug on the bedding, mattress, box spring, headboard, and linens. Watch for small blood spots on linens, bedbug castings (i.e. their shells), excrement which may look like roach feces or even a little bit like mold. You will still need a professional and experienced pest control person to identify and help guide you in your options. Do not ignore bed bugs as they will not go away on their own and the larger the infestation the harder it is to get rid of them.

If you pay attention and act quickly you will be able to treat the infestation before the bedbugs set up a nest and begin breeding. In an infestation, the number of bedbugs can double every 14 to 16 days, so finding the bugs early is key to being able to successfully get rid of them in a timely manner—before you deplete your savings and or lose your sanity.

Bed Bugs Hotel / Motel

In my opinion, it is good practice that any establishment which houses large numbers of guests (especially international groups) be on a monthly bed bug detection scan schedule. Some hotels now have signs that indicate they are proactive and have monthly K9 inspections. Look for these signs near the front lobby or at the guest registration desk. Any hotels that act like they don’t know what bedbugs are should be a cause for concern. Either they are being dishonest or they are not educated about the high increase of bedbug infestations which was almost 500% in 2012. The importance of being proactive in their industry cannot be emphasized enough.

Establishments should also spend time training their cleaning staff on the things to watch for and perhaps have an incentive to report any suspicious findings. I would also recommend that they invest in high quality bedbug certified mattress and box spring encasements (these should say bedbug certified on the package) as these make it much easier to see the bugs when they are on a mattress or box spring. Housekeeping should mark on their list any rooms in which the beds have a compromised mattress or box spring encasement.

Professional Bed Bug Inspection

In summary, it can take two trained technicians up to two hours to search one bedroom for bed bugs visually and they only have around 25% accuracy. Inspecting an entire home with an IBBMA certified canine and handler can be completed in a number of minutes with accuracy of 90% or greater. Bed Bugs are excellent hitchhikers and just like lice they are parasites and need people or animal blood to survive. 

Bed Bugs do not discriminate and infest five star establishments as often as three star hotels. However, five star establishments may have more of an incentive to save their reputation and the financial ability to treat their problem professionally versus those with little to no budget to rectify the situation. The legal and financial impact can be enormous when the problem gets out of hand so be proactive and stop bedbugs before they stop you.

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Pictures of Bed Bugs

Bed Bug Detection Remediation Services of South Carolina is a division of FFR, Inc.

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  • 30 day follow-up to ensure bed bugs are gone (by K-9 Team)
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