Creepy crawlers in the bedroom, biting your skin and leaving whelps on your body, during your sleep – when you are supposed to be at your most relaxed! In recent years, bedbug infestations have reached epidemic numbers, showing up in households and literally eating people alive in hotel rooms across the world. These pesky little critters re very difficult to control, especially since many people don’t suspect bedbugs until the infestation is so great.
A bed bug is a very small, oval bug that belongs to the species Cimicidae. These bugs grow to around 5-7mm in adult hood and are very flat in nature. Young bed bugs are clear colored while older bedbugs get brownish red in color after feeding. They resemble ticks, but are actually not in the same family. They feed on human blood, and normally retreat from your mattress or from inside your walls at night to bite you while you sleep. Even though they have wings, they do not fly.
One of the biggest misconceptions about bedbugs is that they only exist in homes that are unclean, or hotels that are unsanitary. The truth is that bedbugs can exist in both clean and dirty environments and are becoming more prominent in nature as heavy pesticide use is being discouraged, and immigration and travel from other countries is at all time highs. When they inhabitant your home, they like to nest in your mattress, or in any other cracks and crevices as well as upholstery. Commonly, they nest in your mattress among the springs and bed frames.
How do you know if You Have Bedbugs in your Bed
The hard part for many people is realizing that their bites are coming from bedbugs, rather than from some other source such as mosquitoes or fleas. Normally, bedbugs are only active at night and they will bite and suck blood from humans while they are sleeping. They don’t normally travel under your clothing, and will likely bite your hands, arms, neck, face, or legs – choosing exposed skin. The bites are not painful, and normally appear on these areas as small, flat or raised red patches. They can become very itchy during the day and can easily get infected when scratched. You might find that the bites are in a row or have a sequence to them, which experts refer to as the breakfast, lunch, and dinner trail – where one bed bug feasted on your body while you slept. Since you cannot feel the bite, you may not recognize the signs of bedbugs until the morning. The bites themselves seem to resolve on their own after a day or two.
If you suspect bed bugs, you should inspect your sleeping quarters. You will commonly see stains and or shed skins on the bed, around curtains or on the furniture. You should also check behind curtains, under mattresses and in heaps of clothing that may be lying around on the floor or in closets. The easiest way to know for sure if you have bedbugs is to spot them. If you get up at night, and enter your bedroom with a flashlight, looking under the bed and under the mattress you may be able to spot the critters in action.
How to Treat for Bedbugs
Unfortunately, one of the reasons that bedbugs are such a menace is because like roaches, and other pests – they are hard to treat. Most of the low dose DDT products you can purchase in stores will not work, and you will be required to treat on a weekly basis. Additionally, if the bedbugs have nested in the mattress, the bedding itself would need to be discarded. But before you purchase new bedding and mattresses, you should take every effort to get rid of the infestation. The surfaces in the room should be scrubbed to remove bed bug eggs that aren’t easily seen with the naked eye, and every surface should be vacuumed thoroughly. You also may need to empty the closets and wash all the clothing, taking care to use pesticides in the closet when it is empty. Even after these instructions are followed, you will need to repeat the spraying of the premises in 7-10 days in case there are eggs in the bedroom that are hatching.
The best way to treat for bedbugs, is to avoid them to begin with. Sealing your mattress in a plastic, airtight bag is one way to help the problem. Additionally, keeping your sleeping areas clean, free of food, and free of debris will ensure that they do not have places to nest and hide. Using preventative pesticides both inside and outside the perimeter of your home are also good ideas. Keeping surfaces, such as those around the windows and any cracks along the floor clean and sealed from the outside can help to prevent bedbugs from coming in your home. Also, if animals lie around the perimeter of your home or you have squirrels, birds or other animals making nests – the bedbugs could be originating from these animals.
Gross, yes! But the good news is that so far, the CDC has not been able to confirm that bedbugs are carrying around any sort of dangerous infectious diseases. In fact, the germs in your hotel room are probably more dangerous than any bedbugs that may feed on your during stay. Still, you should make sure to report any bedbug problems with hotels with the proper authorities to help curb infestation of other areas.