Bed bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that feed on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bed bugs have a flat body about the size of an apple seed. However, after feeding, their bodies swell and are reddish in color.
Bugs don’t fly, but they can move quickly across floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bugs can lay hundreds of eggs over their lifetime, each about the size of a speck of dust.
Immature bugs, called nymphs, molt five times before becoming adults and require a blood meal before each molt. Under favorable conditions, the bugs can fully develop in as little as a month, producing three or more generations per year.
Although they are a nuisance, they are not meant to transmit diseases.
Where bed bugs hide
Bed bugs can enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and sofas, and other items. Their flattened bodies allow them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bed bugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but live in groups in hiding places. Their first hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards, where they have easy access at night to people who may bite them.
However, over time, they can scatter around the bedroom, moving into any crack or sheltered spot. They can also spread to neighboring rooms or apartments.
Since bed bugs only feed on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirt. You’re just as likely to find them in pristine homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.
When bugs bite
Bed bugs are mainly nocturnal and usually bite people while they sleep. They feed by piercing the skin and drawing blood through an extended beak. The beetles will eat for three to ten minutes to fill up and then crawl away unnoticed.
Most bug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites, which primarily appear around the ankles, bed bug bites appear on any area of skin that is exposed during sleep. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites.
People who are unaware they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as: B. Mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bedbugs yourself.
signs of infestation
If you wake up with itchy spots that you didn’t have when you fell asleep, you may have bed bugs, especially if you got a used bed or other used furniture at the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bed bugs are:
- Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
- Dark or rusty stains from bed bug feces on sheets and mattresses, bedding, and walls
- Bed bug fecal stains, egg shells, or dander in areas where bed bugs hide
- An unpleasant, musty odor from the beetles’ scent glands
If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and inspect carefully for signs of bugs or their droppings. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wooden frame. Pull back the fabric where it is pinned to the wooden frame.
Also check the area around the bed, including books, phones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even electrical outlets. Check your closet because bed bugs can attach themselves to clothing. If you’re unsure about bed bug signs, call an exterminator who knows what to look for.
If you find signs of an infestation, start taking steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent them from returning.
Getting rid of bedbugs starts with cleaning the places where bedbugs live. This should include:
- Clean sheets, linens, curtains and clothes in hot water and tumble dry on the highest setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes and other items that cannot be washed in the dryer on high for 30 minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub the mattress seams to remove bed bugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
- Vacuum your bed and the surrounding area regularly. Immediately after vacuuming, place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and dispose of it in a trash can outdoors.
- Encase mattress and box springs in a tightly woven, zippered cover to prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs can survive for up to a year without food, so leave the cover on your mattress for at least a year to ensure any bedbugs in the mattress are dead.
- Repair cracked plaster and tape up peeling wallpaper to eliminate bed bug hiding places.
- Get rid of clutter around the bed.
If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and buy a new one, but be sure to rid the rest of your home of bugs or they will infest your new mattress.
bed bug extermination
While cleaning infested areas will help control bedbugs, eliminating them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it’s important to use products that are safe to use in bedrooms. Don’t treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use it for bedding.
In general, it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest exterminator to exterminate bed bugs.