Bedbugs are small insects that feed on blood from humans or animals. They can live in your bed, furniture, carpet, clothing, and other belongings. They’re most active at night, feeding on people while they sleep. Bedbugs can be 1 to 7 millimeters long. They’re flat, oval-shaped, and reddish-brown in color. They don’t have wings, so they rely on animals or humans to carry them from one place to another. Although bedbug bites are rarely dangerous, they can be very itchy. In some cases, they become infected or cause an allergic reaction. If you suspect there are bedbugs living in your home, it’s important to get rid of them. Bed bugs are ectoparasites, meaning they live on the outside of their host and feed on its blood. They feed between five to seven days whenever a host is present.
FIVE SIGNS OF BED BUGS
- Bed Bug Fecal
Unlike blood stains, fecal spotting tends to be black or dark in color. The stains are from partially digesting blood and clustered in groups in areas that bed bugs inhabit. The spots will smear if wiped with a wet rag. Evidence of fecal spotting is usually visible in their typical hideouts, like along mattress seams, box spring edges, and corners. Signs of bed bugs include liquid waste, which is found wherever they go. Bed bug fecal spots differ from blood stains. As bedbugs.net points out: “Because bed bugs generally feast on the blood of their hosts, creeping out of hiding places at night to latch on, some people think that fecal stains from the insects should at least be tinged with the color of blood. This is not, in fact, the case. Fecal spotting tends to resemble smears or stains, which are dark brown or even black. This is because the blood has been digested and excreted.”
- Bed Bug Clusters
Bed bugs are small, oval parasitic insects that are light brown or reddish-brown in color but are hard to spot. Adult bed bugs can easily be spotted with the naked eye. Younger bed bugs are smaller and whitish in color. Nocturnal in nature, they feed and move quickly. As they multiply, bed bugs tend to hang out together until overcrowding forces them into other areas. They are fantastic hitchhikers and can end up anywhere. Bed bugs often hide in the folds of a mattress, the seams of upholstered furniture or along the cracks of the floorboard. Your best bet in home detection is to first look in these areas for living bed bugs.. Look for them along mattress seams, box spring edges and corners, and baseboards.
- Line Bites – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Bites are not initially felt because of a natural anesthetic in the saliva of bed bugs. Often, it is difficult to distinguish bed bug bites from other insect bites, like those from mosquitoes. One sign, however, is that bites sometimes appear in a line of three, known as “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” by disease experts. Bites create small red welts that become itchy and eventually blister. Bed bug bites can occur anywhere on the body, including the face. Almost all bed bug bites will produce some degree of discomfort, typically itchiness and inflammation. Other signs and symptoms of bed bug bites include:
- a burning painful sensation
- a raised itchy bump with a clear center
- a red itchy bump with a dark center and lighter swollen surrounding area
- small red bumps or welts in a zigzag pattern or a line
- small red bumps surrounded by blisters or hives
- papular eruptions or areas of skin with raised or flat patches that may be inflamed
- small spots of blood from bites often dried or stained onto sheets or bed clothing
- reddish or reddish-brown dried stains on fabrics due to bed bug droppings
- white or clear skins, shed by the nymphs as they mature
Individual characteristics of the bug’s bite and the person who is bitten also influence the resulting sore.
- Bed Bug Shells
Look out for empty shells that may exist where bed bugs aggregate and feed. Bed bugs grow with each blood meal on the way to maturity. In doing so, they shed their exoskeletons or shells in order to grow larger. This process is called molting. Each bed bug will molt five times as they progress through each of the five immature stages. Where infestations grow large, there will be hundreds if not thousands of molted skins left behind, regardless of the duration of the infestation. The discarded shells look like clear, empty exoskeletons and can be found in box springs, wood framing, inside books, telephones, radios, and carpe. They are different sizes due to the different life stages.
- Bed bugs leave a scent
Bed bugs release a musty odor because they produce chemicals to help them communicate. Some have described the odor as a pungent, or smelling like rotten meat, but others have also said it smells sweet. Professional bed bug control technicians use dogs specifically trained to detect the order bed bugs produced. Working with a technician, a bed bug sniffing dog is 300 times more likely to locate all areas of infestation. When considering a bed bug exterminator, look for a company that uses canine detection.
GETTING RID OF BED BUGS
If you can’t rid your home on your own, you may have to call in a professional exterminator. Read on for a step-by-step guide on getting rid of bedbugs.
Step 1: Identify all infested areas
If you’ve got bedbugs, you want to find them early before they start to reproduce. It’s much easier and cheaper to treat a small infestation than a big one. Yet smaller infestations can be harder to detect.
Search for bedbugs yourself, or hire a professional to do an inspection. Some inspectors use specially trained dogs to hunt down bedbugs by scent.
Bedbugs’ small, narrow bodies enable them to squeeze into tiny spots—like the seams of a mattress or couch, and the folds of curtains.
Also look for them in places like these:
- near the tags of the mattress and box spring
- in cracks in the bed frame and headboard
- in baseboards
- between couch cushions
- in furniture joints
- inside electrical outlets
- under loose wallpaper
- underneath paintings and posters on the walls
- in the seam where the wallpaper and ceiling meet
Use a flashlight and magnifying glass to go over all of these areas.Once you find a bedbug, put it in a sealed jar along with 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Other types of bugs can look a lot like bedbugs. If you’re not sure what type of bug you’ve found, bring it to an exterminator or entomologist to identify.
Step 2: Contain the infestation
Once you know you have bedbugs, you need to keep them contained so you can get rid of them. A quick and easy way to trap bedbugs is with your vacuum. Run the vacuum over any possible hiding places.
This includes your:
- electronics (like TVs)
Seal up the vacuumed contents into a plastic bag and throw it away. Then thoroughly clean out the vacuum.
Seal up all your linens and affected clothes in plastic bags until you can wash them. Then put them on the highest possible temperature setting in the washer and dryer. If an item can’t be washed, put it in the dryer for 30 minutes at the highest heat setting.
Anything that can’t be treated in the washer and dryer, place in a plastic bag. Leave it there for a few months, if possible, to make sure all the bugs die. If you can’t clean furniture, throw it away. Tear it up first and spray paint the words “bedbugs” on it so no one else tries to take it home.
Step 3: Prep for bedbug treatment
Before you start treating your home, do a little prep work to maximize your odds of success. Make sure all your linens, carpets, drapes, clothing, and other hiding places have been cleaned or thrown out (see Step 2).
Next, get rid of bedbug hiding places. Pick up books, magazines, clothes, and anything else that’s lying on your floor and under your bed. Throw out whatever you can. Don’t move items from an infested room to a clean one—you could spread the bugs.
Seal up any open areas. Glue down loose wallpaper. Caulk cracks in furniture and around baseboards. Tape up open electrical outlets. Finally, move your bed at least 6 inches away from the wall so bedbugs can’t climb on.
Step 4: Kill the bedbugs
Home cleaning methods
You can first try to remove bedbugs without chemicals. These bugs are pretty easy to kill with high heat, 115°F (46°C), or intense cold , 32°F(less than 0°C
Here are a few ways to treat bedbugs using these methods:
- Wash bedding and clothes in hot water for 30 minutes. Then put them in a dryer on the highest heat setting for 30 minutes.
- Use a steamer on mattresses, couches, and other places where bedbugs hide.
- Pack up infested items in black bags and leave them outside on a hot day (95 degrees) or in a closed car. In cooler temperatures, it can take two to five months to kill sealed-up bugs.
- Put bags containing bedbugs in the freezer at 0°F (-17°C). Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Leave them in there for at least four days.
Once you’ve cleaned all visible bedbugs, make the area inhospitable for their friends. Place bedbug-proof covers over your mattress and box spring. Zip these covers up all the way. Bugs that are trapped inside will die, and new bugs won’t be able to get in.
If these methods don’t wipe out all the bugs, you may need to try an insecticide.
Non-chemical and chemical treatments
Insecticides can help rid your home of bedbugs. Look for products that are EPA-registered, and specifically marked for “bedbugs.”
Here are a few types of insecticides you can try:
- Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are the most common chemicals used to kill bedbugs. Yet some bedbugs have become resistant to them.
- Pyrroles like chlorfenapyr kill bedbugs by disrupting their cells.
- Neonicotinoids are man-made versions of nicotine. They damage the bugs’ nervous system. This type of chemical works on bedbugs that have become resistant to other pesticides.
- Dessicants are substances that destroy the bugs’ protective outer coating. Without this coating, the bugs dry out and die. Two examples of dessicants are silica aerogel (Tri-Die and CimeXa) and diatomaceous earth. The advantage to dessicants is that bedbugs can’t become resistant to them, but they work slowly. These products can take a few months to kill off all the bugs.
- Foggers or bug bombs kill bedbugs, but they can’t get into cracks and crevices where these bugs hide. They can also be toxic to humans if you use them incorrectly. Read the label carefully. Leave the room before you set off a fogger.
- Plant oil-based products like EcoRaider and Bed Bug Patrolare less toxic than chemical insecticides, and they work well against bedbugs.
Step 5: Monitor the affected areas
Bedbugs can take some time to wipe out. Before you can trust that your treatment has worked, you need proof that the bugs have moved on. Check the infested areas about once every seven days for signs of activity.
To make surviving bedbugs easier to spot, place bedbug interceptors under each leg of the bed. These devices will trap bedbugs before they can climb up into your bed. You may need to keep checking the interceptors for a full year.
Step 6: Retreat as needed
Bedbugs are hardy creatures. Just when you think you’ve wiped them out, you might spot them again. You may have to try a few different treatment methods to control the infestation. And if they still don’t go away, you’ll want to call in a professional exterminator.
Step 7: Get the pros involved
If you can’t wipe out bedbugs on your own, it’s time to get the pros involved. Pest control companies have the advantage of using chemicals and other treatments that aren’t available to you. They have insecticides that both kill bugs on contact, and that stay inside furniture and cracks to kill bedbugs in the long-term.
Pest control companies can also use whole room heat treatments. They bring in special equipment that heats up the room to a temperature of between 135 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit—high enough to kill bedbugs.
Before the pest control company arrives, they should give you instructions for prepping your home. Follow their directions carefully and you’ll have the best chance of wiping out the bugs.
Professional treatments take two to three visits to start working. After each treatment, you may have to stay out of the treated rooms for a few hours until the insecticides have dried.
Step 8: Keep the bedbugs out
Once the bedbugs are gone, you’ll want to make sure they stay gone for good.
- Clear up any clutter. Don’t leave papers, magazines, clothes, or other items on the floor.
- Cover your mattress and box spring with a bedbug cover and zip it up all the way.
- Vacuum and wash bedding, furniture, curtains, and carpets often.
- Seal cracks around light sockets, baseboards, and electrical outlets so bedbugs can’t sneak in.
- Check for bedbugs in hotel rooms when you travel to avoid bringing them home with you.
Bed bugs are external parasite which have a negative impact on human health (as their host) as we have seen. Since bed bugs mutates, they should be controlled as fast as possible both physical and chemically. When containing the parasite we should note various common places where they are likely to be especially on the bed as it has been discussed above. The parasite can be fully eliminated, but first as foremost let’s keep hygiene in our homes.