What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small, oval and slightly brown insects that live on blood of humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies around the size of an apple seed. However, their bodies swell and become reddish after feeding. Bedbugs don’t fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs around the size of a dust speck over her lifetime.
Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skin five times before reaching adulthood. They require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under perfect conditions, they can become fully developed in as little time as a month and produce at least three generations per year.
Where do bed bugs hide?
These pests may enter your home undetected via luggage, clothing, used couches or beds and many other items. The flat bodies make it possible for them to move into small spaces. Bedbugs don’t have nests like ants or bees but they tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding spots are usually mattresses, box springs and bed frames and headboards where they have easy access to the human they’re feeding off of.
However, it’s quite possible that over time they’ll scatter through the bedroom to other protected locations of crevices. They can also spread to nearby rooms and apartments.
When do bedbugs bite?
Bedbugs are mainly active at night and will usually feed off of a sleeping human. They do so by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed anywhere from three to 10 minutes depending on how what stage of life they are in.
Most bedbug bites are usually painless, but turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are usually only around the ankles, bedbug bites will be on any area of skin exposed when sleeping.
What are the signs of infestation?
- If you wake up with itchy area you didn’t have before you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you received a used bed or other furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs you may have a bedbug infestation include:
- Bloodstains on your pillow case or sheets.
- Dark or “rusty” spots on your mattress.
- Bedbug fecal spots, eggshells, or shed skins in an area that bedbugs hide
- An offensive, musty odor that comes from the bugs’ scent glands.
Should you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of bugs or their excrement. Remove and examine dust covers, and the seams into the wood framing of box springs.
Also, check the area surrounding the bed, including the insides of books, telephones or radios and even electrical outlets. Check your closet, because they can attach to clothing.
How do you treat bedbugs?
- Clean your bedding, clothing, and curtains in hot water and dry them on the hottest setting of your dryer. Place stuffed animals, shoes and all other items that can not be thrown into the washer into the dryer and run it on high for 30 minutes.
- Use a stiff cleaning brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and the eggs.
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area often. After doing so, immediately place the vacuuming cleaner bag in a thick plastic bag and throw it away in an outdoor garbage bin.
- Cover the mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep the bugs from escaping. Bedbugs can live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on for at the very least, a year to ensure all of the bugs are dead.
- Repair cracks in plaster and glue down any peeling wallpaper to remove hiding places.
- Get rid of clutter around the bed.
If your mattress is infested, you might want to get a new one. Take care to remove all of the bedbugs from your home so they do not infest the new mattress.
While cleaning up any infested areas will be relatively helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them will usually require chemical treatments. Because using insecticides can be harmful, it’s important to use chemical products that can be safely used in your bedroom, and on bedding.
Getting rid of bedbugs is a difficult and time-consuming process and the only real way to be sure you’ve gotten them all is to call a professional pest exterminator.