A bed bug is a wingless reddish-brown bug that is bloodsucking and parasitic to birds and mammals. Bed bugs infest houses, beds, and household furniture like sofas which serve as their breeding spots. A bite from bed bugs can cause skin rashes, allergic reactions, and psychological effects like stomach-wrenching fear of bugs and sleeping disorders. The bite of a bed bug is characterised by redness of the bitten area, prominent blisters, and itchiness.
Although bed bugs are not known to transfer diseases to the victim through their bites, frequent and numerous bites from bed bugs can lead to systemic poisoning. Bed bugs tend to feed on their human host at night.
How Do Bed Bug Infestations Come About In Your Home Or Office?
To understand the origin of bedbugs, you need to know that bed bugs like staying in hidden places, including under the carpets and beneath wallpapers, in tiny cracks of walls, in joints of furniture, and beddings. Their small body frame enables them to fit into these hidden places and makes it difficult for you to spot them. Here are various ways that you can get them into your place.
1. Frequent Travel
Bed bugs are great hitchhikers that can easily latch onto your clothes, baggage, and backpacks when you visit and settle on bed bug-infested surfaces during a trip. Moreover, sitting on bed bug-infested public taxi seats and lodging in bed bug-infested guest rooms and hotels can get you exposed and vulnerable to bed bug infestations.
These bugs love warm surfaces, which makes the human body their perfect target. They latch onto your clothes; you take them home without knowing; they feed on you, reproduce and start an infestation in your home. This is referred to as cross-infestation. One pregnant bed bug is enough to launch an infestation in your home.
2. Lounging On Public Sofas
Soft sofas made of fabric material, primarily dark red or black, serve as a hotspot for bed bug infestations. This type of sofas are often found in public lounging areas and pose a risk of a bed bug infestation because people from different places sit on them. Among the many people that could sit on those sofas, some might be individuals that lodged in bed bug-infested guestrooms, have bed bug infestations in their homes, or sat on bed bug-infested public transport seats.
They could unknowingly have a few bed bugs latched on their clothes and belongings. They then deposit these bed bugs on the sofas while sitting on them and when you sit on the same sofa, a few of the bed bugs latch onto you, and you unknowingly take them home with you. After that, you begin to experience a bed bug infestation in your home or office.
3. Visiting Infested Places
Most people have a bed bug infestation in their homes without knowing as bed bugs are tiny and not easily spotted, and your friend or a family member can be among such people. Simply visiting a friend whose place is bed bug-infested or working in a bedbug-infested office can cause a cross-infestation from such a place to your home.
4. Contacting Infested Second-Hand Furniture
Some pieces of home furniture serve as a breeding ground for bed bugs. If these types of furniture have bed bugs and are put up for sale or donation by their unsuspecting owners, it can lead to a cross-infestation to the new home or place. Most of us buy the idea of using vintage and second-hand home decors for our new homes as they are considered durable and affordable. However, purchasing second-hand pieces of furniture significantly increases the chances of you taking home bed bug-infested furniture.
Common Signs Of A Bed-Bug Infestation
Below you will find some common signs that can help you detect bed bug infestations in your home.
- Red Bite-Like Spots On Your Skin
A red bite-like spot is the most noticeable sign of a bed bug infestation. These bites are small, can be itchy or even look like blisters, be on any part of the body, and usually appear in a straight line pattern across the skin. The bites are painless and occur on the part of the body exposed at night during sleep. However, not everyone shows a physical reaction to these bed bug bites or knows the difference between a mosquito and bedbug bite. If you fall under that category, it might be challenging to catch a bed bug infestation early in your home.
- An Unpleasant And Musty Odour
If you notice an unfamiliar unpleasant and musty odour within and around your home, that might be a sign of bed bug infestation. This musty odour is a result of the pheromones and droppings produced by the bed bugs. This smell tends to become more detectable months after an infestation and when the bed bugs increase in number. The odour is said to smell like coriander or spoiled raspberries.
- Blood Stains On Your Bed Sheets
As stated before, bed bugs painlessly draw out blood from their victims during sleep. Humans tend to roll over while sleeping and as a result, a few bugs could get squashed in the process leading to bloodstains on your bed sheets, skin, and pyjamas. If you wake up to such, it could be a definite sign of a bed bug infestation in your home.
- Shells And Skins Of Bed Bugs Around The House
Bed Bugs shed off their skin and shells as they grow. These shells and skin can get stuck on the mattresses, under the furniture, and sometimes in the cupboard. The presence of these shells and skin is an indication that their breeding spot is just around.
- Dark And Rusty Coloured Stains On Walls, Fabrics, And Mattresses
Bed bugs often leave faecal stains around their area of infestation that appear as dark spot stains on these areas. These dark stains are prominent in places where the bed bugs gather in large numbers. Keep an eye out for these dark coloured stains in and around your home.
- Incident Of An Infestation Nearby
If your neighbour has a bed bug infestation, the odds are that you have some or might soon have an infestation problem because the possibility of a cross-infestation is very high. Thoroughly investigate your home and its surroundings for signs of a bed bug infestation.
Treatment Of A Bed Bug Infestation
Getting rid of bed bugs requires a lot of patience and effort. A small bed bug infestation can be easier to control and might not need professional help. However, a large infestation takes a longer time and extra effort to treat. The following steps can help in the treatment and control of bed bug infestations in your home.
Step 1: Look For The Infested Areas
Bed bugs are not easily detected, but early detection of a bed bug infestation helps solve the problem. You can either search for the bed bugs yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. In case you decide to search for the bugs yourself, search for them in places like:
- Furniture joints
- In the crack of bed cots
- Beneath sofa and couches
- In the ceiling seams
- In electrical outlets
To get results, use a flashlight and a magnifying glass during your search because these places are tiny and hard to reach, which means you could miss them. Ensure that you pay attention to corners with dark stains and bug shells.
Step 2: Trap The Bed-Bugs
Containing and controlling the spread of bed bugs in your home is just as important as looking for the areas of infestation. The best way to trap the bed bugs is by running a vacuum cleaner over the identified areas of infestation. After that, seal up the vacuumed content in a plastic bag and set it aside. Ensure to give your vacuum cleaner a thorough cleaning afterward to prevent further infestation. If infested furniture is difficult to clean out, ensure that you get rid of such affected pieces of furniture with the warning sign “bed bug infested” inscribed on them. Moreover, avoid taking things from the infested room to any other part of your home.
Step 3: Get Rid Of The Bed Bugs
There are two methods for achieving this, the chemical and the non-chemical method.
Bed bugs get easily killed with a high heat of 46°C(115°F) and intense cold of less than 0°C(32°F). You can get rid of bed bugs through the following steps.
- Soak any bed bug-infested bed sheets, clothes, and fabrics in a bowl or bucket of hot water for 30-45 minutes or wash them at the highest temperature for close to 30 minutes in the washer.
- Dry the washed materials in the sun for close to 30 minutes or dry them in a dryer on the highest heat setting for 30-45 minutes.
- Use a steamer on the infested surfaces like mattresses, couches, and other surfaces that can not be washed or soaked. Also, use the steamer on all the bed bug hideouts.
- Put any zip lock bags containing the trapped bed bugs in the freezer at a temperature of 0°F and leave them there for several days. You can also put all infested items into black garbage bags, leave them out on a sunny day of about 95° or leave the same out in the cold. However, in the cold season, it might take months to get rid of the bugs.
This method uses chemicals like pyrethrins, pyrroles, desiccants, and other pesticides to kill bed bugs. Some of these chemicals can be potentially toxic to humans. However, some bed bugs have developed resistance to chemicals like pyrethrins and pyrethroids.
Step 4: Keep An Eye Out For The Infested Areas
To ensure that the bed bug infestation is gone completely, you should monitor the affected area because most bed bug infestations are challenging to get rid of even after treatments. Retreat the infestation if you want to prevent the recurrence of infestation.
Step 5: Get Professional Help
If the infestation persists after all your efforts, it is time to seek professional help. Pest control companies have the advantage of having access to chemicals that are unavailable to you and treatment methods unknown to you.
These chemicals can kill bed bugs on the surface and those inside the cracks where other pesticides would not reach. Moreover, these companies have equipment that helps to make bed bug treatment easier and utilise effective techniques. Contact any of your local pest control companies for bed bug infestation treatment.
Useful Tips To Prevent A Bed Bug Infestation
In order to prevent a bed bug infestation in your home or office, you should follow the tips below.
- Clean and get rid of paper, clothes clusters and ensure that you do not leave them lying around on the floor.
- Seal up all cracks and crevices around the walls and electrical outlets to prevent bed bugs from crawling into your home.
- Move your beds and pieces of furniture away from the walls.
- Use zip-up anti-bedbug covers to protect your bed.
- Wash your bed sheets and curtains thoroughly and vacuum every corner of your home regularly.
- Ensure to thoroughly inspect and clean every second-hand piece of furniture you purchase before bringing them into your home.
- Inspect your hotel rooms and guest rooms for signs of bed bugs whenever you travel.
Bed bug infestations have become common household incidents these days. As demonstrated above, the infestations are sometimes hard to identify but can be controlled, treated, and prevented.