Bed bugs may be one of the hardest infestations to get rid of -- but they are also one of the worst to endure.
Not only do they live where you sleep, but they also suck your blood while you're trying to get in a little bit of shut-eye.
Mike Londry, owner of Westside Pest Control, says bed bugs are the most traumatic pests for people who must live with them. And it isn't always obvious when they emerge, either.
While they tend to bite in clusters, meaning you might generally see a line with a few bites in a row, the vampirish insects don't always leave the same trademark. Instead, each person has their own reaction to the bites, which can range from undetectable or barely noticeable to severe. In some cases, people may also suffer an allergic reaction.
"Everybody reacts differently to a bed bug bite," he notes, adding that a general practitioner might not even be able to diagnose the insect bite but that "a dermatologist could be 90 per cent sure."
Regardless of how the bites look, they are traumatic to endure. "Silverfish you squash with your foot in bathrooms, moths you'll get angry if you have holes in your clothes, but bedbugs will literally keep you awake all night," added Londry.
How do infestations occur and does Metro Vancouver weather play a part?
Many people believe bedbugs are adept hitchhikers, but catching rides in suitcases and on public transportation aren't frequent behaviours. For the most part, they are content feasting on blood and a bed.
But the females eventually flee their mattress abodes -- and for an alarming reason.
Disturbingly, male bedbugs impregnate females through a process called traumatic insemination. This happens when a male "stabs the female in her soft exoskeleton" to impregnate her. She will then have offspring and the cycle will repeat, Londry explains.
If there is a plentiful food supply, the pests will multiply in greater numbers. Other animals, such as rats, experience similar population growth trends. Their numbers increase during warmer months when food sources are abundant and decrease as the mercury drops.
Bed bugs don't depend on the weather in Vancouver but they do depend on people. If they have a blood source and their population grows, traumatic insemination happens more rapidly to the females -- and then they leave, Londry said.
The female bed bugs don't just journey across the bed. Instead, they may travel to an adjacent apartment, spreading a rampant infestation to previously untouched places.
How do you check for and get rid of an infestation?
Bed bugs are attracted to warmth and CO2 and will generally congregate on the upper half of the bed near the bed board and in the mattress seems. They are about the size of a watermelon seed and tend to be brown or dark yellow, depending how how much they've been feeding.
If you don't see evidence of adult bodies, you may see droppings, that "look like someone has taken a fine tip sharpie and dapped it in multiple locations," Londry highlights.
While it can be embarrassing to have a bed bug issue, tell your apartment building manager immediately. Telling them after an issue spins out of control may mean that you suffer much more and the infestation spreads to adjacent units.
Londry notes that he's "came across some incredibly horrible infestations" that had spread through entire buildings. In one instance, the pests were being spread through a building by a cleaner's vacuum.
The critters may require several treatments and you may have to move out while this process occurs. However, identifying the issue and acting swiftly may prevent a more severe infestation.