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Good Night, Sleep Tight -- Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

( Copyright 2011 Shawn Cole. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Cole Home Maintenance is an exterminator Located in Palatine and serving towns in
Lake County, Cook County, Mc Henry County, Du Page County, Kane County
$60.00 to spray up to a 2 bedroom apt for bed bugs

The public thought that bed bugs were eradicated in the United States but they haved made a comeback with a vengeance!

The name "bed bug" is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of living in houses and especially beds where people sleep.  While bed bugs are usually nocturnal,   be aware that if they find a blood meal during the day, they will feed. These pests  will also feed on your cats, birds and dogs and other family pests.

They have been known by a variety of names including "wall louse", "mahogany flat", "crimson rambler", "heavy dragoon", "chinche" and "redcoat"

You are sleeping and wake up in the morning and see droplets of blood on your sheets.  At first, the victim doesn't know why because he can't find where the blood is from.  There is no indication on his body that he has been bitten or scratched himself in his sleep.  The next day , the victim awakes to more  blood droplets and now sees angry red raised welts on his skin.  This is because he has now become sensitive to the bites of bed bugs and develops an allergic reaction to the bites. 

The bites look like raised red bumps or flat welts (also called a papule or a wheal) and cause intense itching.  They look similar to mosquito bites or flea bites but do not have a red spot in the center.   The welts stay on your upper skin layer for a week.  Bed bugs tend to bite two to three times in a short row and then there are two to three bites about 1/2 inch away from the first series of bites.   The bed bug has spent about 10 minutes slowly gorging itself with the your  blood.  The welts stay on your upper skin for a week. 

About 50% of the population does not develop any signs of the bites and only see the blood droplets on the sheets.  Other people are sensitive to the bed bug bites and will have symptoms that range from the extremely itchy red welts to become ill and nauseous.

The reason that the victim does not remember being bitten is because bed bugs pierce the victim (host) with two (2) hollow tubes.  One tube secretes saliva that contains anesthetics so that the victim feels nothing and the other tube secretes an anticoagulant so that the blood flows out freely.

You may find reddish spots or smears on the bed sheets, pillowcases and mattress.  This material is composed mostly of digested blood and the stains are very characteristic sign that  you have been bitten by a bed bug.  In more severe infestation, bed bugs may be more noticeable.  The accumulation of bugs, cast skins and fecal spots will be very apparent upon close inspection of the bedding and mattress seams.

If you like to take a nap on the couch, bed bugs will use the couch as their dinner table, knowing that you will be sitting there or taking a nap.  During the day  they could be hiding in your living room furniturefurnituer near that couch.  While cockroaches are disgusting, they do not drink your blood as do bed bugs!

Cole Home Maintenance Will Never Show Up With  Big Signs Advertising

 your Bug Problem

Many people put off getting help because they don't want anybody to know that they have bed bugs.  It is like the old school-yard chants of children who taunt other children with the accusation that they have "cooties" (those were actually body lice).   The parents do not want the news to get out for fear their children will be taunted at school with the accusations of "bed bugs".   They don't want the neighbors to see those little white pick-up trucks with the big signs advertising they are bug exterminators that are used by at least two (2) well-known pest management companies in their drive-way.   Pick-up trucks that scream to the neighbors "WE HAVE BUGS!!     IT IS SO BAD WE NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP!"

Cole Home Maintenance will NEVER come to your home or apartment building with a big sign on the vans.   Your neighbors or tenants in othr buildings will never know.

Lawsuits Are Starting to be Filed in Illinois

It started in New York and now there are lawsuits being filed against hotels all across the U.S.  While people have been disgusted with hotels that had cockroaches, it seems that  when it comes to bed bugs, people are starting to file lawsuits after being bitten by bed bugs.    Bed bugs are now found in high-class hotels.  This is no longer the problem of low-class, dirty hotels in bad neighborhoods.

In Illinois, a brother and  sister (Burl and Desiree Mathias) were visiting Chicago for a trade show and staying at a local Motel 6 in November of 2000.  After being bitten by bed bugs, the siblings filed a lawsuit (Mathias v. Accor Econ. Lodging, 347F.3d 672 (2003) and won.  The jury awarded each plantiff $5,000 in compensatory damages and $186,000 each in punitive damages.  The Seventh Circuit of Appeals (juristiction is Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana), upheld the award for the compensatory and punitive damages.  Judge Posner found that the evidence was sufficient to show  willful and wanton conduct because the owners had known they had bed bugs for two years prior to renting the rooms to the siblings.  Judge Posner stated in his decision the hotel should have taken action to eliminate the bed bugs.

The federal government has banned the use of DDT,  which  was used during the 1940's and 1950's,   that all but eliminated bed bugs in the U.S.  There are very few pesticides  left that will kill bed bugs.   The Illinois legislture is  discussing the possibilty of petitioning the federal government to waiver previouisly banned insecticides in order to treat bed bugs in residential units.

When the owner of an apartment building is told by his tenant that there is a bed bug problem, it is no longer an option to ignore the problem and blame it on the tenant.  While the lawsuit in the previous example was for a Motel 6, it will only be a very short leap to extend that line of reasoning to owners of apartment buildings.  Even though an apartment owner may feel that the tenant caused the problem,  there is now a court precedence that the owner of a hotel was held liable for not only compensatory damage but punitive damage  -- and lawyers will argue why shouldn't apartment building owners be held liable too.  Courts tend to side with victims.    There are a few internet web sites published by personal injury lawyers who are writing articles and advertising that they  specialize in suing for bed bug bites.  It won't be too long before personal injury lawyers will be advertising on television seeking victims. 

The victims may have had their blood sucked by bed bugs but the lawyers will be sucking your blood. 

It appears that it is now extremely important that an owner of  an apartment building  to hire a pest management professional (exterminator) to rid your building of bed bugs or face possible lawsuits for ignoring the problem.  As a practical note, it is cheaper to hire a pest  professional to eradicate the bed bugs than to hire an attorney to defend you in a personal liablity lawsuit.

What Bed Bugs Look Like

Bed bugs are nocturnal and are very small.  Although you can see adults and older nymphs with your eyes, seeing the eggs requires a hand-magnifying lens.  Newly hatched nymphs are also small you need a magnifying glass until they through several molts as they grow.  Even though newly hatched nymphs are small, they are able to feed on blood in order to grow.


An adult beg bug is approximately 1/5 inch in length and about 1/8 inch in width.  They are brown in color and oval and flattened in shape.  After feeding on blood, the body enlarges to 3 times it size in 15 minutes of feeding and its color changes from brown to dark red with your blood.  Fully engorged beg bugs look so different than they did before feeding on your blood, that you would think that you are looking at two different bugs.  Bed bugs feed on humans, dogs, cats, birds, rats, cattle -- anything that has blood.  You beloved  family pet may be suffering bed bug bites  without your knowledge.  Your young children will be bitten too.  Your tenants are suffering.   Even if your tenant hires an exterminator for his apartment, that does not mean they won't come back if other apartments in the building are infested.  Your tenants will move and that leads to economic problems of having an empty apartment.

Bed bugs are very flat.  They can hide in very small crevices and cracks that may not be readily apparent.  They can crawl into your clock radio or computer if it is near your bed or couch.  Most bed bugs make their home within 15 to 20 feet of their blood meal.  If your tenant's workplace or co-worker  has bed bugs, they can hide in a computer, under a chair.  They can crawl from your co-worker's coat onto to your coat.  Then you wear that coat home and your apartment is infected.  When young, they are so small they are very hard to detect.  Even the adults are small and can go un-noticed.

Adults can live up to 18 months.

Nymphs (young bed bugs)

The young are much smaller than adults.  They are 1/16 inch when they first hatch.  They are nearly colorless until they feed on blood and then turn red.  Nymphs go through 6 stages from the egg to adults.  Nymphs go through five (5) molts (shedding their exoskeleton) after the hatching from the egg stage  and do so after a blood meal until they reach maturity.  The temperature of the room can affect the amount of time between molting.  A room that is 86 degrees F. will take up to 21 days for the nymph to molt; while a room at 65 degrees F. may have the nymph take as long as 120 days between  molts.  If  food is scarce, the time between these molts will be extended because molting can only occur after a blood meal.

How Did the Bed Bugs Find You in Your Bed?

Bed bugs are active in the middle of the night, although if they see an opportunity during the day to feast on your blood they will take it.  The bed bug doesn't fly.  It hides in the mattress, bed frame, the crevices of wooden floors, behind the baseboards between the wall and the fllor, behind loose wallpaper, in closets -- hiding in your clothes, unworn shoes and boxes.   It crawls on the floor to reach your bed.   It comes out and crawls on the walls and ceilings until it senses the carbon dioxide of the victim's breath.    If it is on the ceiling, it will drop down onto your bed where you are sleeping to get its blood meal.

The Bed Bug Life Cycle

After mating, females lay white, oval eggs about 1/16 inch long into the cracks and crevices near their victims (host).  Adults live for about ten (10) to twelve (12) months.  A single female can lay 200 to 500 eggs in her lifetime.  The eggs hatch in about 6 to 10 days and the nymphs start to seek a blood meal.  After several  feedings, the nymphs will molt.  This means that the nymph sheds its exo-skeleton because it has outgrown it and forms another larger  exo-skeleton.

Bed bugs have six life stages.  The nymph will molt five (5) times as they mature to adults with molt occuring after a blood meal.

It takes approximately 1 month to go from the egg stage to the mature adult stage.    Immature bed bugs can live for 3 to 4 months without feeding, while adults may survive as long as one (1) year without a blood meal.   Since it only takes a month to mature if a victim (host) is constantly available to feed upon,  it is a very short time until the nymphs are able to mate and lay more eggs.   The entire time, the adult female is laying more eggs so it is possible to have several generations of bed bugs from the one original single female in your apartment.

Female bed bugs lay from one (1)  to twelve (12) eggs per day, after they feed.  The eggs are deposited on rough surfaces or in cracks and crevices.  The eggs are coated with a sticky substance so that they adhere to the surfaces in the cracks.  The eggs hatch in 6 to 17 days.

Bed bugs initially are not spread evenly through a building or apartment.   They prefer to hide in cracks and crevices very close to their victim (host) -- usually within 15 to 20 feet of a bed or sleeping couch.  These pests are not like cockroaches which congregate near sources of water and organic food.  As the bed bug population increases, these bugs will travel from beds to couches where their victims sit and watch television and sleep and to other apartments to seek more food sources that have less competition for food.  As visitors sit on the couches, the bugs can crawl onto their clothing and be transported to the visitor's apartment in another building.

You have probably always been told that humans are at the top of the food chain, but with bed bugs, you are the food!

While bed bugs do harbor pathogens in and on their bodies, there is no scientific data that these pathogens have been transferred from person to person.  In people who show an allergic reaction and have red welts, these welts can become infected so care should be used to keep the welts clean and free from secondary infections.  Remember that bed bugs were almost extinct in the U.S. until very recently.  Whole generations have never seen one.  Scientific research was probably not a top priority.

While these pests bite at night, it does not work to sleep with the lights on.  Bed bugs will bite when they are hungry enough whether or not the light is on.

Unlike cockroaches that feed on filth, bed bugs can be found in otherwise spotless apartments, homes and hotels.

How Are Bed Bugs Making a Resurgence?

Throughout history, man has been plagued with bed bugs.  Bed bugs wsere mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 B.C. and by Aristotle.  Pliny's "Natural History", first published in 77 A.D. in Rome claimed that bed bugs had medicinal value in treating ear infections.  In the 18th century, Guettard recommended bed bugs as a treatment for hysteria.  Some scholars believe that bed bugs wsere  brought to England in the 18th century in ships delivering wood after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

It is only the last 30 years that bed bugs seems to have been  eradicated from the United States.  Before that, entire buildings were sprayed  in the 1940's and 1950's with the banned pesticide DDT to the point that these pests were nearly eradicated throughout the U.S.    The only place to find bed bugs was in very low-end hotels in poor neighborhoods.   Not any more.  Five-Star hotels have been invaded.  While nobody knows the exact reason, it is thought that because of the increase in travel between the United State and other countries, bed bugs are now infesting the entire country from the East and West coast, the northern states to the southern states.

There are entire generations that have never seen a bed bug.  Until recently, even professional pest management technicians did not encounter bed bugs.  The pests had remained prevalent in other regions of the world such as Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe but not the United States.  Now bed bugs have been discovered in office buildings, homes, apartments, hotels, clothing stores and even inside the Statue of Liberty on the east coast.  Large, beautiful buildings housing law firms and  offices of major corporations are finding bed bugs.

As travelers checked into hotels, bed bugs may have crawled into their luggage.  Then the traveler may have moved to another hotel and picked up more bed bugs without knowing it.  That same traveler also probably had bed bugs crawl from his suitcase into the new hotel room.  Upon arrival back home, that luggage was brought into the home or apartment.   Suitcases are stored in bedroom closets.  The hitch-hiking bed bugs are now living in your home or apartment ready to use you as a blood meal.

 It is important for travelers to check their hotel room for bed bugs.  Check behind the headboard, under the mattress, pull off the sheets and see if there are any red blood stains and fecal matter along the seams of the mattress.  If there are, get out of the room as fast as you can run.   
Discovering bed bugs does not mean that you keep a dirty house.   In spite of this, there is a stigma attached to having bed bugs because of the storeis of 50 to 100 years ago that the infestationsa were the result of dense apartment  dwellers in cities in low economic neighborhoods.  Today that is not true.  You can go to the movie theater and bring them home because they were on the theater seats and crawled onto your clothing.

This also means that apartment building owners should know that their tenants do not have bed bugs because they do not keep their apartment clean.  Your tenants pick up bed bugs at work, in stores, theaters, from guests from another building etc.


What Can You Do to Protect Yourself and Your Tenants?

These are serious, tough bugs.    Since the now banned chemicals were used for so many years, and there were not many bed bugs living in the U.S., many are resistant to pesticides that would affect fleas, cockroacheches, ticks, etc.  Bed bugs reproduce so fast that once a tenant tells you that he/she has spotted bed  bugs, it is very important to take action immediately.

There are cases recently arising in the newspapers from the east coast (where the infestations seems to be more prevalent), of tenants suing their building owners/lanlords who refuse to eradicate their buildings of bed bugs.  As documented at the beginning of the article, travelers at a Motel 6 won a lawsuit against the Motel.   

Over-the-counter pesticides that can be purchased by home/building owners don't seem to affect these pests.   You need professional help.

Methods That Do Not Work

There are many companies that are jumping on the band-wagon to make money by making claims their product is a great way to eradicate bed bugs.  There are even articles on the internet written that theoretically will kill bed bugs but in the real-world are impossible to execute:

Get Professional Help Immediately

Bed bugs cannot be eradicated by the building/apartment owner by themselves.  These bugs have such an immunity to pesticides from the years of spraying with banned chemicals, that only a professional, who has acess to the pesticides you, as a building owner, can purchase, can eradicate bed bugs.

Cole Home Maintenance is a licensed Pest Control Professional who knows the proper procedures to eradicate bed bugs in your apartment building or home.

Cole Home Maintenance will NOT come to your home or apartment building  with a big sign on a van advertising to all your neighbors that you have bugs.  That well known company who has the little white trucks with huge signs on the side really advertise to all your neighbors that our bug problem is so  huge that you had to call in  professionals to help.  That will never  happen to you.  Cole believes that his customers are entitled to privacy.  You will never have your neighbors or other apartment building tenants/owners know that you have a bug problem.

Please feel free to call if Cole Home Maintenance can be of service to you.

630-306-7925 Cell 24-7