Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus) are insects that feed primarily on human blood every 5 to 10 days. They’re usually active at night, and their bites often lead to itchy bumps on your skin.
Although they are not known to spread disease, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) – consider them a public health pest.
How to keep bed bugs out of your bed and your home.
Bed bugs get into your home when you travel on the following trips:
- Clothing of your family and your visitors
- used furniture
- unclean bed linen
The EPA suggests a number of precautions you can take to keep bed bugs from infecting your home, including:
- Before letting used furniture in, check for any signs of bed bugs (bed bugs can live without food for a year or more).
- Put a protective cover on your mattress and box spring bed.
- Consider a mattress cover that has been pre-treated with pesticides.
- Consider a simple, light-colored mattress cover that will make bed bugs easier to spot.
- Be careful and vigilant when using shared laundry facilities.
- Vacuum frequently.
- Reduce the clutter.
Prevention tips when traveling
You don’t want to bring bed bugs home from a trip. The U.S. Department of Health suggests some precautions to take when traveling, including:
- Do not put your luggage on the bed. Place your suitcase on a luggage rack that has been removed from the wall or placed in a dry bathtub.
- Bring a flashlight and use it to check for signs of bed bugs. Check the edges and seams of the mattress, box spring and bed frame together with the bed linen.
- Check furniture near the bed, such as bedside tables. B. the bedside tables.
If you discover any signs of bed bugs, notify your host or hotel management immediately.
When you come home from traveling
On your return:
- Keep separately the clothes you have traveled with and wash them immediately in hot water.
- Vacuum your luggage, then empty the contents of the vacuum into a plastic bag outside. Seal the bag tightly and throw it in an outer garbage can.
Besides seeing the insects for yourself, the signs of a bed bug infestation are:
- Rusty stains on your bed linen, caused by crushing bed bugs.
- Small, dark spots on your bedding. Bed bug poop resembles a small dot made with a pen. It may bleed into the fabric, much like a marker dot on the fabric.
- Tiny white eggs or eggshells, about the size of the head of a pin (about 1 millimeter).
- Small, yellowish-white skins, Shed off the young as they grow.
Know what you are looking for
Adult bed bugs:
- are approximately 3/16 to 1/4 inch long (similar to the size of an apple seed)
- often have a musty odor
- If they haven’t been fed recently, they will be brown with a flat, oval body
- If they have recently fed, they will be reddish brown in color and have a rounder, balloon-like body
Young bed bugs (nymphs):
- are smaller than the adults
- are a translucent yellowish-white color
- If they haven’t been fed recently, they’ll be hard to see with the naked eye
Where to look for them
Bed bugs are not large and can fit in small hiding spots. To give you an idea of their size, the EPA states that if you can stick a credit card in a crack, there is room for a bed bug.
Bed bugs usually hide around your bed:
- on the mattress and the box spring bed in gaps created by seams, labels and piping
- in cracks in the headboard and in the bed frame
If you have a heavy infestation, you can find them outside of bed:
- in the seams and between cushions in chairs and sofas
- in the folds of the curtains
- under wall hangings
- at the connection between wall and ceiling
- under loose wallpaper
- in drawer connections
- in sockets
Bed bugs move up to 20 feet from hiding to feeding.
There are several ways to prevent bed bugs. These include:
- Take precautions when traveling
- Checking used furniture
- Use a protective cover for your mattress and box spring bed
- vacuum frequently
If, even after careful examination, you discover bed bugs in your home, act quickly. You want to get rid of the bed bugs in the early stages of the infestation. The longer they are in your home, the more difficult it will be to get rid of them.