If you wake up in the middle of the nigh scratching itchy arms and legs, you may have a bed bug infestation. These small, reddish-brown bloodsucking pests can cause a number of health issues if they are not eliminated quickly.
A single bug is no larger than an apple seed. This is why you may not be able to detect them till it is too late. They can remain hidden between cracks, crevices, box springs, the headboard, and any furniture that is near your bed.
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How Do Bed Bugs Get In Your Home?
These pests don’t materialize out of thin air and land on your bed. Bed bugs are notorious hitch hikers – they can get on you and you won’t even realize they are there till they multiply on your bed. Here are some common places where these bloodsuckers can come from:
- Office buildings.
- Daycare centers
- Nursing homes
- Police station
- The theatre
- Bus depots (from seats)
In fact, bed bugs can also transfer from one person to the next so you aren’t safe even if you avoid the aforementioned locations.
1. Doesn’t Matter If You Are Clean
What causes bed bugs to come? Let’s get one thing straight – no matter how clean you are, you are still susceptible to an infestation from these pesky insects. Their main diet is human and animal blood and they can live almost any place that has a ready supply of either of these. So no matter how pristine your home is and even if you don’t have pets, you may have these bugs.
Even though bed bugs prefer to remain hidden, they venture out when they sense a suitable source of food nearby. These are quite caution though which is why they come out in the middle of the night. Plus, there is a reason why you don’t feel them biting you when you are asleep. When they bite, they inject a weak anesthetic into their host so that they can eat their fill without being noticed.
2. They Are Master Hitchhikers
As mentioned before, for bed bugs to get in your home, they have to hitch a ride on you or anything you are carrying. Normally, they don’t remain on a host after they have fed their fill but they may crawl onto them and ride to a new location.
Needless to say travelers are the ones who are the most susceptible to this. If you stay in a hotel that has a bed bug problem, you will probably take some home with you on your luggage, purse, backpack and coat.
3. They Prefer High-Activity Areas
Since bed bugs travel from one feeding ground to the next by hitching a ride on unsuspecting people, they are usually found in populated areas. This includes shelters, dorms, hotels, apartments, etc.
In other words, if you have a lot of guests coming over for dinner or a party, chances are at least one of them are hiding pesky uninvited guests so to speak. People who live in single family residences are at a lower risk.
4. They Love Clutter
Once bed bugs get in your home, they immediately start searching for hiding places. This can be anything from baseboards and wallpaper to your sheets, under switch plates and especially clutter. This spells bad news for hoarders – the more things you have lying around your home, the harder it will be for you to get rid of them.
Once they find a decent hidey hole, they spare no time multiplying and they do this quite fast. In fact, a single female can lay over hundreds of eggs at a time. With a ready food source and isolation, it can produce eggs as many times as it needs.
5. They Can Be Found In Second Hand Furniture
If you prefer to buy furniture second hand, chances are you will get more than you bargained for. If it comes from a home that is infested with bed bugs, it will definitely have a few that can infest your home as well. This also includes rented furniture which is not deep cleaned and inspected for pests after it is returned.
Unfortunately, isolating an infested piece of furniture may not resolve the problem. Bed bugs can survive for months without feeding after all.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes bed bugs and how to get rid of them?
To summarize, bed bugs are caused by clutter, infested furniture and travel. Here are some ways that you can prevent an infestation and/or get rid of them:
- Be diligent when you are traveling. When you are staying at a hotel, place your bag on your suitcase, not on the floor or the bed. Plus, keep it away from the furniture and the walls.
- Before purchasing new or used furniture, examine it for bed bugs by lifting the seams, cushions and tufts.
- Vacuum your home frequently
- Cover all power outlets. Bed bugs hide in the holes during extermination and come out when the coast is clear.
- Store clothing in vacuum sealed bags while traveling. This will prevent these pests from hitching a ride on you all the way back to your home.
How do I know that my home has bed bugs?
- You see small, red bumps on your skin that itch when you get up in the morning.
- You see blood stains on the sheets.
- You see black droppings on furniture, in crevices, in your bed and in cracks.
- You notice a musty odor in your home
- You see dark spots on the walls.
- You see bed bug shells (white, husk-like specks) on your mattress.
- You see small, white spots in the furniture.
I have a bed bug problem. How do I control it?
- Get rid of clutter and clean up your home.
- Move the bed well away from the furniture before treating it.
- Wash infested sheets, pillows, blankets etc and dry it in a hot dryer for at least half an hour. This should kill the eggs as well. After that, consider using spring and box spring covers to prevent re-infestation.
- Seal all openings such as cracks and crevices especially where the pipes and wires are located.
- Remove all the drawers from a dresser to search for the bugs and pull it away from the wall to block escape routes.
- To dislodge eggs, scrub infested areas with a stiff brush and then vacuum the room extensively. A vacuum hose attachment will be effective especially in cracks and small holes. Since bed bugs latch on tightly, use the nozzle of the vacuum to scrape them lose and then suck them up.
How do I use pesticide to eliminate bed bugs?
Only use pesticides if the infestation is too large to manage. Plus, make sure to use a product that is made specifically for eliminating it such as Temprid FX. Follow the directions that are mentioned on it carefully. Use only the amount that is prescribed and place it in a spray bottle.
Spray the pesticide in areas where bed bugs are usually found such as in corners, around thresholds, and window frames, under the furniture, the bed and furniture legs, the edge of carpets and baseboards, etc. Whatever you do, do not spray an entire carpet or floor and allow it to dry on areas that you do spray before removing dead bugs.
What health risks do bed bugs carry?
Bed bugs affect each person differently. Some people may not even see any red spots or signs of an infestation on their body while others may either get small, red and engorged marks on their body or a full-on allergic reaction which may require medical aid. The worst case scenario may be burning and an anaphylactic reaction. Some people may also suffer from insomnia if they know that their bed has bugs in it for fear of being bitten.
How do I prevent bed bugs from returning after cleaning them out?
Even if you evacuate your home, some bugs may return and feed off other pests such as rats and mice. In other words, make sure that you get rid of them as well as the bugs at the same time.
How do I prevent an infestation after returning home from a vacation?
- When you get home from a vacation, take your luggage into the garage or any area that is not near your home and shake out everything in it.
- Place all of the clothes in your luggage in a plastic bag and wash them separately in the washing machine even items that you never wore during your trip. Use hot water for this.
- Vacuum your empty suitcase from the inside out thoroughly and dump the contents outside. Take extra precautions by rubbing the suitcases with rubbing alcohol. Apply it to a cotton ball and rub it around the crevices and cracks.
- Items that should not be washed can still be treated. For example, you can leave the shoes you used in your travels out in the sun for a couple of days to drive out any bed bugs in it.
If you see a single bed bug, chances are there are more behind it hiding in your home. Take the threat seriously by taking the mentioned preventative/elimination measures and you will be free of the pesky critters in no time.