Last Updated on February 23, 2023 by Kravelv
Bed bugs are tiny, oval, brown insects with flat bodies that are about the size of an apple seed. They have a pair of front wings but they can’t fly. However, they move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. As their name suggests, they live and hide in the cracks and crevices of bed frames, bedside tables and drawers.
Dealing with a bed bug problem needs to be done quickly to prevent it from turning into an infestation. To get you started, this guide will teach you how to identify the signs of bed bug presence in your home and how to get rid of them.
Bed Bug Behaviour
Bed bugs may not initially sound like a big problem, but they feed on animal and human blood. Much like tiny vampires, they come out at night to feast while you’re sleeping. After they’ve eaten, they become swollen and turn reddish in colour.
Female bed bugs can lay over a hundred eggs in their lifespan, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust. In their infancy, bedbugs, also known as nymphs, shed their skin 5 times before reaching full maturity and require a meal before each shedding. Under favourable conditions, they can reach full maturity in around 1 month and produce more than 3 generations in a year. Luckily, they aren’t known to transmit diseases.
Bed bugs are extremely efficient hitchhikers. They travel on people’s clothes or suitcases to transfer from one place to another. They’re able to fit into small spaces because of their flattened bodies and can often be found in hotels, hostels, motels, campuses, hospitals, public transportation, and other busy areas. Another way through which bed bugs can enter your home undetected is through second-hand furniture.
Bedbugs don’t nest like other insects. They typically live in groups and hide in places where they have access to biting people during the night. Over time, they can also spread through the bedroom, nearby rooms or other houses or apartments.
Identifying Bed Bugs
You’ll probably never notice the bugs themselves, but the bites on your skin in the morning should indicate that they’re in your house. The bites and their symptoms are very similar to many other insect bites. Because of that, many people don’t realise they have them in their homes and attribute them to other sources, such as mosquitoes.
To start with, the bites are usually painless but later turn into itchy welts that can become red and swollen. Bed bug bites can occur on any exposed area of the skin that has been in contact with the bedding and mattress. Bed bugs also leave dark, rusty stains behind them, similar to a felt pen mark, that may bleed into the fabric. These are actually droppings. Blood spots that may appear on the bedding or mattress are the result of the bed bugs being crushed and will be more in number if you’re a restless sleeper.
Another sign of bed bugs is cast skins, which are left behind when baby bed bugs turn into adults. They may repeat this process up to 5 times before they reach full maturity. The cast skins look like coloured empty bed bug shells, and you’re most likely to find them in crevices and corners, rather than on the bedding.
Bed bug egg shells are only about 1 millimetre in length, but you can see them with an unaided eye. They are similar in appearance to the dried-out cast skins but are flatter and less shiny. On the other hand, bed bug eggs are shiny and translucent and are typically found away from the main population. They have a sticky film that adheres to surfaces.
The odour that bed bugs leave behind is sweet and musty, and it is more obvious in heavier infestations or when the pests have been disturbed. This is a good indicator of their presence if you’re unable to actually see them.
Bed Bug Extermination
It’s false to assume that someone has a bed bug infestation because of dirty property. Many luxurious hotels have also been infested by these pests, and the issue has nothing to do with the level of cleanliness. You’re as likely to come across them in immaculately maintained homes and hotels as you’re in dirty ones.
If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation, take the following precautions:
● Take everything that may be infested out of the room, and place it into sealed plastic bags to limit the infestation.
● Vacuum the mattress and all furniture thoroughly and empty the vacuum bag outside, so you don’t release the bed bugs back inside.
● Reduce the clutter, keep clothing off the floor, and move the bed away from the wall.
● Place bed bug protective covers on the mattress and bed bug interceptors under each leg of the bed. You can purchase these items online.
● Wash your bedding and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest setting in the tumble drier. Besides that, place any non-washable fabric items in it and run it at the highest temperature for 30 minutes.
● Repair any cracks in the plaster and glue down any wallpaper peeling to eliminate any potential hiding spots.
If you decide to treat the infestation yourself, use non-chemical solutions, if possible. Besides that, you can also try heat treatments, freeze treatments, and only then, if needed, pesticides. Always check and apply them according to the label directions. Keep in mind that drying agents can be very effective, but can take up to several months to work.
Cleaning up bed bug-infested areas will be very helpful in getting rid of and preventing bed bugs from settling in your home. However, if you can’t deal with the infestation using any of the methods mentioned in this guide and the case is severe, call a bed bug control expert. You’ll get a thorough inspection of all your furniture and bedding, and they’ll decide on the safest and most effective solution to get rid of the bed bugs for you. Besides that, they’ll ensure the infestation doesn’t return by scheduling a follow-up inspection after a certain period of time.