Clean and spotless, with no creepy crawlies in sight. That is the picture of my ideal home. The very idea of bed bugs is enough to make my skin itch. To even consider that your house could be infested with these nasty critters is enough for any homeowner to break out in a rash.
How big of a problem is it, though?
97% of pest professionals have treated bed bug infestations in the past year. A majority of them are for repeat services. It’s clear that beg bug issues are on the rise. What are the reasons for this?
One of the main problems is that most people are unaware of a bed bug infestation in the first place. When bitten, not everyone develops a skin reaction. For others, it could take a few days before visible symptoms appear. By that time, these pests continue to spread as you carry your belongings from place to place.
Bed bugs are not confined to only homes. They’re often labeled as ‘bugs without borders.’ These insects can also be found in hospitals, hotels, schools, retail facilities, office buildings, libraries, airplanes, and other public areas. So the next time you travel, take a few precautionary measures:
- Check the reviews to see if there are any complaints
- Store your luggage on racks instead of the floor
- Do not place clothing in drawers, hang them instead
Because bed bugs are so small, the adult bed bug measuring approximately 1/4″ to 3/8″ long (5-9 mm), they are champions of hide-and-seek. They can hide anywhere and avoid detection, attaching themselves to your luggage or any of your clothes and invade your home.
If you suspect a problem, here are some of their favorite hiding places that you should check right away:
What does all this imply?
It means that people do not realize there is a problem until a full-blown infestation has taken root. Contrary to belief, bed bugs do not reproduce quickly. The female lays an egg a day whereas other insects such as the common housefly produce 500 eggs over a span of three to four days. Besides, a bed bug egg will take almost 10 days to hatch and another five to six weeks to develop into an adult.
That being said, do not wait around with the hopes that your bed bug problem will magically disappear. So waiting them out is not an option. You have to snip the problem in the bud, the sooner, the better. You have to take action – actively and consistently – to eradicate these creatures from your home. If a single adult female survives, the infestation will simply start all over again!
Signs of a bed bug infestation
Hang on, no need to get paranoid. Bed bugs are easily confused with other pests. So just because you have an insect bite doesn’t mean that you have a bedbug problem.
How can you be sure if bed bugs are the culprit?
There are certain telltale signs that you should be on the lookout for.
- Bite marks
While 30% of people do not exhibit any skin reactions, most have red, raised, and itchy welts. Bites can be confused with other insect bites. But if the bites appear in clusters, noticeable upon awakening typically on exposed skin, such as the neck, face, arms, and shoulders, you can be pretty sure that you are sharing your bed with bed bugs.
- Sleepless nights
If more than your love life is causing sleepless nights, look into the matter. Bed bugs are rarely seen during the daytime or out in the open. And it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get bitten as soon as you lay down.
Since they are attracted by warmth and carbon dioxide, we make perfect dinners. It’s when we go into a deep slumber that these critters join us. Surprisingly, you won’t feel a thing when a bed bug bites you. The allergic reaction to the bite is what makes you uncomfortable afterward.
- Search for the culprits
The first place to look is- of course- your bed. Just because you don’t see them, it does not mean that they do not exist. Signs of an infestation include shed skins and specks on linens as well as the edges or corners of mattresses. After a bed bug feeds, it leaves behind small stains of blood or feces resembling rust spots.
Secondly, because bed bugs molt several times during their lifecycle, look for oval brown exoskeletons. It’s a sure sign of their existence. Remember also to inspect all upholstered furniture in your home.
- A distinctive smell
If you detect a strong, unpleasant, musty odor like a dirty locker room or a wet towel, give your residence a closer inspection. Bed bugs release pheromones – the reason behind the smell.
I want to get rid of them NOW!
Okay, so you’ve identified a problem. But there is no need to become a recluse, avoiding family and friends. Even though these pests are notoriously difficult to get rid off, here are a few ways to contain and eliminate an infestation.
- Vacuum and steam-clean every inch of your home.
- Launder everything using the hottest settings, including linens, drapes, and clothing.
- Safely heat items to 115°F (46°C)
- Seal anything that can’t be washed or heated in plastic bags for several days
- Seal gaps and cracks in the flooring, walls, furniture, etc.
- You may also need to bring in professional exterminators to deal with the situation. Since they have the proper equipment and the strongest bed bug killer in the market, you can get rid of bed bugs once and for all.
What to do if you have bed bug bites
Usually, you won’t need treatment. Though it can take a few weeks, the welts do disappear on their own. Typically, most people complain of intense itching, irritation, or swelling.
You can use the following to reduce the symptoms:
- topical steroid creams or calamine lotion
- oral antihistamines
- OTC pain relievers
In the meantime, the best you can do is keep the bite sites clean with soap and water. Avoid scratching them to prevent secondary infections from developing. Just remember that some treatments are not suitable for young children. Make sure to consult a pediatrician before attempting any of the above.
There are some home remedies that you may want to try as well:
- Cold compress
- a thin paste of baking soda and water
- essential oils such as camphor or chamomile oil
If however water-filled blisters appear, may need to consult a physician. He may prescribe you antibiotics to manage the condition.
Just like any problem, you need to find a solution without going haywire. There are several fast and effective ways to deal with bed bugs. Start by treating the family members who have been bitten.
Only when they are feeling better will you be able to resolve the situation calmly. Decide on a plan of action that can help you quickly and safely eliminate these critters from your home. Begin by looking for pest control professionals in the local area.