Is It Possible That I Have Only 1 Bed Bug?

January 28, 2015 by Doug Moore

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When I receive a call from a potential customer, one of the things I’m told very frequently is, “I think I might have bed bugs.” Not a bed bug, but bed bugs (plural). It’s a natural, commonplace way to describe the issue. Yet, what I’m also asked on occasion is, “It is possible I only have 1 bed bug?” I’ve always felt it’s an excellent question when asked, and a question worth talking about more in detail.

When a person has unknowingly brought a bed bug infestation into their home (or workplace, etc), they’ve either brought in a non-fertile single bed bug, multiple bed bugs, or a single, fertile female bed bug with the ability to reproduce. Certainly, if you’re going to get an infestation, the first scenario is without question the best case to have. You’ll be able to remediate the problem much more quickly.

We recently performed an inspection recently that was quite possibly a 1 bed bug infestation:

When we arrived at the client’s apartment, she showed me the series of bites she had talked about on the phone. Having seen many bed bug bites over the past several years, her bites clearly resembled those inflicted by a bed bug.

She had bites in 2 different areas: first, a 3-bite pattern on her leg, and a couple of bites on her arm. She said she’d received the first set of bites 8 days earlier, and then the most recent ones on her arm the night before (which is why she called us). It’s not good news at all that she was receiving bites, but it was good that she was having a reaction to the bites – her welts were very noticeable, even the ones still present from 8 days ago – and her reaction triggered her phone call.

Scout (one of my bed bug dogs) and I performed a detailed search of the apartment.  Our search yielded no positive alerts (an alert is the indication the dog gives that there is a presence of odor of live bed bugs or viable bed bug eggs) until we entered the client’s bed room.

There, Scout alerted to the right side of her mattress/box spring/bed frame. The alert took place on the side of the bed that the client sleeps on, and it was the only alert we received in that room. We finished the inspection, and Scout didn’t alert anywhere else in the apartment.

Given everything we learned during the search, this was a location where it was possible that only 1 bed bug was present. The client had a bite pattern that resembled the presence of 1 bed bug.

My advice to the client was to still take action to eliminate and control a bed bug presence, because there’s obviously the potential of many more bed bugs being present. She purchased a mattress and box spring encasement, as well as ClimbUp Interceptors and put them in place immediately on the 4 corners of her bed frame legs.

If any more bed bugs were present on either the mattress or inside the box spring, she’d trapped them right away. Any service that ensued could now be targeted within the room, including the areas closest to the bed where there could still be a live bed bug presence.

These actions gave her a great chance of controlling any bed bug presence within her sleeping quarters.

I’ll add here that a professional pest control company service should always be considered when a bed bug infestation exists, because a good company has the experience and resources needed to bring an infestation under control, and well-concealed fertile bed bugs can and will reproduce very quickly.

For more information about bed bugs, heat treatment, and canine bed bug scent detection, click here.

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