How did I get bed bugs?

The desire to understand where you have acquired bed bugs is very practical but nearly impossible to determine. The fact of the matter is that for most, a bed bug infestation is a once in a  lifetime occurrence – so the desire to know exactly when and where it has begun will have no consequence on the effectiveness of any treatment. For those in higher risk situations, whether it be jobs that require close contact with strangers, frequent travellers or residents of building complexes, it’s important to be aware of the signs that can identify and distinguish a possible risk of transference.


What do the bites look like?

Though bed bug bites can occur singularly, they often follow a distinctive patten of a linear group of three bites, sometimes referred to as ‘breakfast, lunch and dinner’. These patterns are cause by human movements that disrupt the bed bug’s feeding attempts. The lines created by these biting patterns often occur in parallel with blood vessels running close to the surface of the skin.

Welts, swelling, redness and itchiness vary from person to person with one in three individuals having little to no reaction to the bites. Delayed reactions and prolonged irritation may also occur in certain cases. Visiting your doctor or dermatologist is always beneficial but there is no definitive way to know or identify the specificity or cause of the bites without a inspection by a trained professional.


Should I throw out my mattress and purchase protectivebed bug covers?

Throwing out any furniture (unless for cosmetic purposes) is not only unnecessary but in some cases counter-intuitive. Bed bugs do not penetrate into fabrics or burrow, they remain on the surfaces of any objects they have infested. This does not mean getting rid of a bed bug problem isn’t difficult in cases where there are folds and crevasses that allow for more intricate shelters. Using a protective cover can be beneficial but unless warranted we tend to stray away from their use as it simply acts as another surface for the bugs to inhabit. We use the most advanced residual spray in conjunction with various other control techniques to erase any concern of concealed bugs, as their movement out of these hiding places will result in continued control on contact.



What does a bed bug look like?

Adult bed bugs present a reddish brown hue (with the red becoming more prevalent after feeding). They are flat, ovular and wingless, with microscopic hairs that give them a banded appearance. Adult bugs tend to be between 4 to 5mm and have often been compared and mistaken with flax seeds and other dark grains. In their nymphal stages bed bugs appear translucent and lighter in colour with the development of darker hues becoming more apparent as they molt and develop into their later stages.


Should I use Diatomaceous earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring siliceous sedimentary rock used in both professional and non professional circumstances. At Merkem we have an aversion to its use for the simple fact that our control practices are more effective and far less detectible. The residue left by diatomaceous earth not only makes detecting future activity more difficult, but is also an eye sore in any interior.



Do bed bugs live in my dresser?

Though it is possible for bed bugs to infest numerous materials and structures within your home, it is highly unlikely that an infestation has initially taken place outside direct sleeping or living quarters. Beds and couches are the initial points of contact for any bed bug population as they are simply the most practical surfaces for their continued survival. Other furniture and objects should be thought of as a last resort as it becomes far more impractical for their detection and feeding patterns. Mattresses, box springs and couches should be considered to be the paths of least resistance.



Can you always see bed bugs?

In the early stages of an infestation, it's highly likely that there are only a few – and more commonly, a solitary adult specimen. Finding a single bug can be difficult for both home dwellers and trained professionals alike so we have invested extensive research and time into creating inspection methods that simply have not been paralleled. It’s important to understand that even with these procedures finding the single bug can be difficult, so it’s crucial to discuss and understand not only the probabilities but the possibilities of future infestations with finite evidence, so that the moment bed bugs have become apparent so has the solution.


Do bed bugs carry diseases?

While bedbugs have been known to harbour pathogens in their bodies, they have yet to be directly linked to the transmission of any diseases. They are however a serious risk for mental health causing significant levels of stress in most cases and other psychosomatic disorders.


How long does it take for one bug to become a problem?

Female bed bugs lay up to 5 eggs a day and 500 in a complete lifecycle. The eggs though difficult to detect are in fact visible with the naked eye measuring 1mm in length and are semi-translucent often described as a ‘milky white’. The eggs hatch within two weeks and pass through five moulting stages before they reach maturity. They feed once during each of there stages (instars) reaching maturity in approximately five weeks at room temperature.


Are there a lot of bed bugs in Toronto?

Any metropolitan centre carries a greater risk of the harbouring and transference of insect populations. Bed bugs thrive anywhere there is human density and lack of understanding or concern for their existence. A large portion of individuals (one in three) don’t show any signs of bed bug bites, which makes the insect's all the more unlikely. When infestations are allowed to develop freely, their potential transference from unit to unit or person to person increases significantly.


When should I launder?

Depending on the circumstances, laundering is highly effective either pre or post treatment. Everything that can be laundered should be laundered as it is the most productive way to protect the problem from spreading. That being said, in most cases and especially in more severe infestations, it is recommended that the bulk of the laundry be done post treatment to avoid potentially infested materials from making contact with other surfaces throughout the home. If something can’t be washed make sure to put these items in a dryer or use steam as it is the heat that kills the bugs.


What about heat treatments?

Heat treatments are extremely time consuming and even more costly. Although heat is a very effective in getting rid of a bed bug infestation it’s not the only way and even further from the best way. We’ve found that using sources of direct heat in specific environments in concert with other control practices is not only more effective, but substantially more economical for both your wallet and the environment – allowing us to maneuver in ways that are far more focused in terms of our application and contact with the desired control group.