Of all the different kinds of pests that might infest your home, for some reason bedbugs is one of the most troublesome to homeowners. First of all, it is quite distressing to think about bugs crawling on you and biting you while you sleep. Second, they are very hard to get rid of and spread easily. Bed bugs are very resourceful at finding ways to hitch a ride into your home. You can bring them home from almost anywhere you find people. For example, bedbug infestations can be found in movie theaters, public transportation, libraries, retail stores, hotels, airplanes, hospitals, day cares, etc. In addition to being able to travel well, bedbugs can go up to two or three months without feeding so they are very illusive and hard to kill because they do not necessarily come out that often. Therefore, people want to do everything they can to avoid bringing bedbugs into their home in the first place and allowing them to stay for extended periods of time. That is why it is important to do regular checks for bedbugs at home and be diligent in hotels and motels in order to avoid bringing the bugs home. Remember that a bedbug infestation says nothing about your cleaning habits or personal hygiene. They are simply a parasite that is very common.
Bed Bug Bites
The first question most homeowners ask when they hear about bed bugs is “How do you know you have bed bugs?” Most people know it when they start to notice bites. Bedbug bites look very similar to a mosquito bites in that they are small red welts that are slightly raised. They usually appear in clusters or lines because bedbugs tend to stay in the same locations to bite over and over again. Many people afflicted with bed bug bites say that they itch constantly and are quite troublesome. As itchy and bothersome as the bites may be, bed bugs do not carry any diseases that we know of so their bites are relatively harmless.
Another one of the interesting things about bedbugs is that they administer an anesthetizing agent when they bite so that you do not feel it. If you start to wake up in the morning with bug bites that you cannot explain, then you might have a bed bug problem. However, not everyone reacts to bedbugs the same way. Some people do not get the welts or do not have any visible signs of being bitten. In that case, you might notice small spots of blood on your sheets or bedclothes that you cannot explain.
What to Look For When Searching for Bed Bugs
Because you may not notice or may not have signs of bed bug bites, it is also necessary to check your home for bedbugs occasionally. Bedbugs are called that for a reason, they tend to infest the area on or around your bed because that puts them in close proximity to their prey. So the beds in your home are the best place to start looking for bed bugs signs. I do an inspection every time I change the sheets because you need to remove all blankets and sheets from the bed anyway to do the inspection. Bedbugs like to live and travel in crevices and places where they can hide so you want to look at the seams in your mattress and box spring. You probably will not see the actual bugs, but rather their fecal waste which looks like brown speckling. Start at the head of the bed and inspect both the top and bottom seams on your mattress carefully. Bedbugs are attracted to heat and carbon dioxide which are both more prevalent at the head of your bed than at the foot so that is the most likely place to find evidence. Continue your inspection around each corner and all the way to the foot of the bed. You should also inspect that top seam of the box spring and the area where the box spring meets the bed frame.
While you have the bed linens off, you should take this opportunity to inspect the corner where the floor under your bed meets the wall for the same brown specks or the actual bed bugs. The bed bugs themselves are the same color as an apple seed and slightly smaller, but it is rare that you find the bugs out in the open. Behind the headboard is another place to look for evidence of a bedbug infestation.
Try to Prevent Bringing Bed Bugs Home
The most likely place to be exposed to a bedbug infestation is in a hotel or motel, so you should take precautions when visiting these institutions. Do a thorough inspection of the bed and areas around the bed before you settle into any hotel room. Take off all of the bed linens and do an inspection similar to the one you do at home. It will be trickier to check around the headboard because hotel headboards are often attached to the wall and are very heavy and difficult to move. If you do find evidence of bedbugs, just call the front desk and asked to be moved to a different room. Calmly explain that you found evidence of bedbugs and you would like a new room that is preferably not next door or close to the one that you currently occupy. Just because you find bedbugs in one hotel room, that does not mean that the entire hotel in infested. However, you are more likely to find infestations in neighboring rooms.
If you do not find any evidence of bedbugs, there are still some precautions you should take. Never unpack your suitcase into the furniture of the hotel room. Keep everything zipped up in your suitcase and only remove items of clothing when you are ready to wear them. Never pile clothing in a corner or next to a wall. Instead, pack dirty clothing in a plastic bag that you can hang in your closet or pack in your suitcase. The zipped suitcase should be stored up high on a flat and hard surface such as a desk or coffee table. Do not store the suitcase next to the walls or on an extra bed. When you get home it is probably a good idea to wash all of the clothing you took with you on your trip so that the heat of the washer and dryer will kill any bugs that might have stowed away in your clothes. The suitcase should also be decontaminated. In order to clean your suitcase, you can wash it by hand with extremely hot and soapy water. Be careful not to burn yourself with the hot water. Heat is the best way to kill bedbugs so if you can somehow get the temperature of the suitcase up to about 120 degrees, then you will successfully eradicate the bedbugs. Another option is to cover the suitcase with a plastics garbage bag and store it in a non ventilated area like the garage for a few weeks to make sure that any bedbugs have been suffocated.
What to Do If You Find Bed Bugs
If one of your inspections of your home turns up evidence of bedbugs or if you have bite evidence that there are bedbugs feasting on you at night, then you should call a pest control service like Terminix for help. Professional pest control companies have the chemicals and the knowledge for getting rid of bed bugs. Chances are that the process will start with an inspection. If the pest control technician finds evidence of bedbugs they will proceed with a treatment plan. Different pest control companies use different methods, but the three most common plans for dealing with a bedbug infestation are chemical treatments, heat treatments, and freeze treatments. Chemical treatments are probably the least effective, but they are less expensive. The alternatives are more environmentally friendly and more effective. Freeze treatments will use dry ice to freeze the bedbugs along with the eggs and babies so that they die and the infestation ends. Heat treatments involve raising the temperature of your home to over 120 degrees in order to kill all the bugs and eggs for the same result.