MosquitoNix Bed Bug Guide
Almost everyone is familiar with the classic good night of, "sleep tight - don't let the bed bugs bite." But while this phrase may seem trivial to some, bed bugs are a serious matter. After nearly being eradicated from the developed world as recently as 60 years ago, these parasitic insects are on the comeback, and they can wreak havoc on a household. Our introduction to bed bugs has the answers you need to deal with this invader. What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are a member of the Cimicidae
insect family. While there are several species that are referred to as bed bugs, the most common is cimex lectulaurius
. This insect prefers the blood of humans. To get meals, it hides anywhere that a person might sit or lie for a prolonged period, including couches, chairs, luggage and yes, beds. In between meals, they hide in any crack, crevice or crease that's nearby, from mattresses to electrical outlets. Signs of Bed Begs
Obviously, one way to spot a bed bug is to see these reddish-brown pests scurrying along or clamped onto you during a meal. But be careful - other insects such as ground beetles, ticks, bird bugs and bat bugs can look similar to bed bugs, and have even fooled technicians. Luckily, there are other ways you can identify their presence before finding yourself covered in bites:
- Shed skin near potential hiding places.
- Brown or black fecal matter stains on fabrics and linen.
- Blood smears or spots on your mattress or sofa.
- Small whitish eggs near hiding spots.
- An odor resembling cilantro. (Note: this is a sign of a heavy infestation.)
Getting Rid of Bed Begs
Contacting a professional pest control company remains the best way to get rid of bed bugs. You should get in touch as soon as your suspicions are aroused - the earlier on you are in the infestation, the easier it is to get them under control. Pest management technicians typically implement one of three methods to remove bed bugs:
Whole Room Heat - This involves heating rooms to temperatures as high as 145 degrees using portable heaters. (Bed bugs and eggs die instantly when they reach 122 degrees.)
Bed Bug Insecticides - This approach involves applying three different insecticides in succession: 1) A fast-acting insecticide for commonly-touched surfaces, 2) A residual insecticide for inside furniture, and 3) A dust insecticide for cracks and voids.
Steam Treatments - Applying hot steam from a commercial steamer directly to surfaces will kill bed bugs. The steam can also easily get into the cracks where they hide and can be used on furniture where insecticide use is restricted.
Preventing Bed Bugs
Once the bugs are finally gone, you certainly don't want them coming back. There are several steps you can take on your own to prevent bed bugs from feeling welcome once again in any part of your life. These tips can also be used by people who have never had bed bugs and want it to stay that way.
- Launder your bedding and clothes at the highest possible temperatures.
- Put a mattress protector on your mattress and box spring to prevent bugs from taking up residence inside them.
- Keep your home neat to reduce the amount of hiding space.
- Inspect furniture and beds - for both humans and pets - on a regular basis.
- Also, inspect any secondhand furniture and electronics for infestation signs before bringing them home.
- Vacuum frequently to suck up visible invaders.
- Leave luggage in places with concrete or tile floors (bathrooms, garages, etc.)
- Cover power outlets that aren't in use.
Detecting & Treating Bed Bug Bites
Part of the reason bed bugs can go undetected for so long is that you don't feel the bites. When they chomp down on you, they also inject an anesthetic to reduce feeling and an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting. As such, you will need to look for the telltale red marks manually. Bed bugs usually bite where there are blood vessels close to the skin. A telltale sign is that the bites are in a line, as they keep coming back to good feeding spots when they find them.
The good news is that bites typically go away on their own. However, people can react to them differently. For some people, the red mark is their only reaction. Others might have itchy bumps, rashes, blood blisters and even allergic reactions in some cases. Antihistamines and hydrocortisone creams have been shown to speed recovery in some cases, but you should contact your doctor before starting any treatment program.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs when Traveling
Those who travel a lot are at an increased risk of bed bugs - both of encountering them on their travels and then of bringing them home. A thorough inspection of your hotel room for bed bugs should be the first thing you do when you arrive, even before unpacking your suitcase. Check all the furniture along with the baseboards, picture frames and luggage rack for the signs mentioned earlier. If you see any indication of bed bugs, alert the front desk right away. Reading some travel reviews before even booking the room can alert you of potential infestations and save you trouble later.
Even if your inspection comes up clean, you should still take precautions during your stay. Put all dirty clothes into plastic bags so bugs can't smell the chemicals our bodies leave behind. You should also never place your luggage directly on the bed. When you get home, wash and dry all your clothes immediately. Vacuum both the inside and outside of your suitcases, and if possible, leave them outside in the sun for a couple days as a makeshift heat treatment.