What Are Bed Bugs?
Have you heard of bed bugs? What are they? What do they look like? Bed bugs are small insects that depend on both humans and animals for blood. They are oval and primarily brownish. Adult bed bugs may seem to have flat bodies, but after feeding, their bodies swell and become red in colour due to the blood.
These pests do not have wings. However, their movements are very fast, making it a great challenge to deal with them. Similarly, the female bed bugs lay many eggs under favourable conditions, producing almost three generations annually. This faster rate of multiplication may encourage bed bug control.
Where Do They Stay?
These insects may easily enter your home or house without your knowledge. Since their bodies are flat, they are capable of getting through the tiniest of spaces into your house. They most likely occupy mattresses, cushions, couches, bed frames, clothes, box springs, and cupboards.
Explicitly speaking, bed bugs will inhabit anywhere that would give them easy access to you or your family members at night. Yes, at night! They are rarely seen during the day. Remember, they quickly multiply, and with time, they may be everywhere, in your ceiling, on the walls, on the floors, in your kitchen, and even in neighbouring houses.
Are they harmful? Yes. These insects bite humans since they solely feed on blood. They have elongated beaks, which enable them to suck your blood. Research shows they feed 3-7 days a week and for approximately ten to fifteen minutes before hiding again. Bed bug bites may seem painless initially; however, they become very painful and itchy with time.
Features Of A Bed Bug Bite
Their bites are curved and about 2 to 4 millimeters. These bites have tiny blisters on top of them and are often found on open skin.
Bed Bug Bite Treatment
Bed bug bites can appear as mosquito or flea bites, but they are treatable. You should always consult with your physician if you are unsure whether it is a bed bug bite. The major remedies are oral antihistamine or topical steroids. You could get other treatments from your physician.
Signs Of Bed Bugs
The primary sign of a bed bug’s bite, which shows their presence, is the itchiness of the skin. Therefore, if you wake up in the morning with itchy open skin, it could probably be a bed bug bite. Other signs of bed bug infestation include:
- Spots of bed bug excretion on your clothes, on the walls, or your bed.
- Stains of blood on clothes or bedsheets and bed covers.
- Their eggshells are in their hiding spots.
- An unpleasant smell from their glands.
Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs
Yes, it is possible to get rid of bed bugs. Is it easy to get rid of bed bugs? No, it is not very easy to get rid of these insects. Even with professional help, eliminating all bed bugs may not be possible in one visit or treatment. So what makes it so challenging to get rid of bed bugs?
- High Rates of Multiplication
Female bed bugs lay hundreds of eggs, and almost all of them hatch. This makes it possible for them to birth nearly three generations yearly. Similarly, the nymphs take a short period to mature. They shed their skins five times before developing into adult bed bugs. After maturity, they are ripe for reproduction.
A high population is a significant challenge in pest control, and bed bugs are no exception. Once they find a good place to hide in your house, with favourable conditions and blood availability, they will multiply so fast, almost doubling their population in a fortnight, making it very difficult to kill them, primarily if you rely on “Do It Yourself” means.
Their behaviour is another factor that deters the ability to get rid of them. These insects hide in small groups in cracks or dark places during the day and attack severely at night. They do not have a constant area of hiding like most insects such as ants or termites. On the other hand, bed bugs like moving from place to place while keeping close to their hosts for easy accessibility.
Similarly, they have flat bodies that enable them to enter tiny places like crevices and cracks. It is not very easy to notice them from such places. This kind of lifestyle makes it challenging to get rid of bed bugs.
- Resistance to Most Pesticides
Most pesticides used in pest control are harmless to humans and other animals. However, these pesticides act so fast and can eradicate most insects by using small quantities. However, entomologists have revealed that most bed bugs have developed resistant features that make them immune to most pesticides. Such resistance to pyrethroid makes it very difficult to get rid of bed bugs altogether.
Bed bugs can cause a lot of havoc in your home, especially at night. They can also embarrass you with your visitors when they find good hiding places in your coaches. While it is possible to get rid of them, it requires a lot of patience. Similarly, you may find it necessary to combine various methods and approaches to eradicate these insects.
Identifying the Areas of Infestation
Initially, the first step in getting rid of bed bugs is to identify all the infested areas in your home. It would be best to find the bed bugs before they multiply into a large population. However, it may not be easy to identify even the smallest bed bug population. Therefore, whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a professional, much work needs to be done to detect these small insects.
Remember, they have flat bodies that enable them to squeeze into cracks and crevices or other smaller spaces. Therefore, it would be best if you begin by inspecting such places. Further, you need to check for any signs of infestation mentioned above, including clothes, bed frames, cushions, box springs, etc. You could use a flashlight to find them in their dark hiding places.
Containing the Infestation
You need to first trap the bed bugs before containing them for extermination. You could use a vacuum or a net to trap them. However, the fastest and easiest way to trap bed bugs is by using a vacuum. You will have to position your vacuum over all the possible hiding places of bed bugs.
When satisfied that you have gone through all the possible hideouts and trapped the present bed bugs, you need to contain your items properly. You could pack your items in plastic bags and put them together with other items in areas with higher temperatures. Bed bugs cannot survive under high temperatures. Therefore, if there is any bed bug you did not manage to trap, the high temperatures would probably kill them.
Preparing for Extermination
Once you have contained the trapped bed bugs, you need to prepare your house for treatment. Therefore, you might consider cleaning all your items and the hiding places for bed bugs. If possible, remove all the other items such as old books, extra clothes, carpets, etc., out of the house.
However, you should avoid moving your items from infested areas into non-infested areas at all costs. Remember, even a single pregnant bed bug could be disastrous. Additionally, it would be best to close any open areas, move your furniture a few inches from the wall, sweep the walls and the ceiling and seal any open electrical equipment.
Extermination of the Bed Bugs
Here’s how to kill bed bugs dead:
Do It Yourself Method
Other people prefer getting rid of the bed bugs by themselves. Well, it is possible to exterminate them by yourself. You could use high temperatures above the room temperature, for instance, 50 degrees Celsius, or extremely low temperatures, like zero degrees Celsius, to kill bed bugs. Similarly, you could use a vacuum after scrubbing all their hideouts and dislodging bed bug eggs.
However, make sure you clean the vacuum outside the house after vacuuming all the possible hiding places. The easiest way to kill bed bugs by yourself is by using a powerful heat steamer. By passing your heat steamer over their hiding places, you could manage to kill most of them. However, always keep the heat steamer away from the wall outlets.
This treatment has proven to be the quickest and most effective way of killing bed bugs. Most professional bed bugs exterminators prefer this to other methods. The process involves subjecting the room to temperatures between 57.2 degrees Celsius to 62.7 degrees Celsius.
At slightly above 50 degrees Celsius, all the bed bugs would have died. The high temperatures attract the bed bugs from their hiding places. Professionals exercise great caution, ensuring that the temperatures are high enough to kill the bed bugs but not damage any of your items.
The process takes six or more hours of careful inspection, guidance, and cooperation from the homeowner. However, heat treatment does not have any residual effect. Therefore, it would be best to apply a residual pesticide alongside heat treatment to prevent further infestation should any bed bug survive the treatment.
Non-Chemical and Chemical Treatment
Even though it is a traditional method of killing bed bugs, chemical treatment may still be effective. Besides, it is more budget-effective than heat treatment. This method kills bed bugs quickly, especially those that come into direct contact with the insecticides. Similarly, those that get into contact indirectly with the insecticides will die as well.
Consequently, some insecticides do not kill all the bed bugs. Some bed bugs develop resistant features making them immune to these insecticides. Therefore, you should consider a pesticide application after insecticide treatment to exterminate the nymphs before they mature into adult bed bugs.
Here are some examples of possible insecticides to use:
- Pyrroles – Disrupt the cells of the bed bugs, thus killing them.
- Pyrethroids – The primary insecticide used in terminating bed bugs. However, most bed bugs have shown signs of resistance to it.
- Neonicotinoids – The perfect insecticide for bed bugs that are resistant to other pesticides. They destroy the nervous system of the bed bugs, thus killing them.
- Desiccants – These solutions destroy the outer coating of the bed bugs exposing them to heat. They thus dry up and die. Even though the effect of desiccants is gradual, the bed bugs cannot become resistant to them.
- Diatomaceous Earth – This is dust that sticks to the bed bugs and dries them up from the inside, hence killing them. However, it would be best to be more cautious when using this since some types of DE are toxic to humans and pets. One effective type for killing bed bugs is an animal food additive.
What about alcohol rubbing? This method is inefficient in killing bed bugs and could also be harmful to you or your family.
An Expert In Bed Bug Control Could Be The Answer
In conclusion, the presence of bed bugs in your house does not mean that you are dirty. It simply means that bed bugs are hitchhikers and can get into contact with you from anywhere. However, they are not very pleasant, and the sooner you get rid of them, the better. You could always kill them by yourself. However, if you do it improperly, you will cause more problems and suffer more expenses. Why not hire a pro to help you once and for all?