INFESTATIONS

If you think your home may harbor bed bugs, then you should check out every crack and crevasse you can find, from the crack behind the baseboards to the folds of drapes and even seams or tears in mattresses or other bedding, clothing, or clutter that may be lying about.  If you can fit a credit card edge into the crack, then a bedbug infestation can be hiding within that innocent-looking crack.

Lest you think that bed bugs are attracted to filth, you should know that infestations can be controlled by keeping a neat home since a vacuum can suck up bedbugs and eggs alike, however they are attracted to living things and feed on blood, not filth.  They can be brought home from hotels in your luggage and can even travel into your unit from other apartments or condominiums in a shared unit structure.

Identifying a bed bug infestation might be difficult since you will need to find and catch one of the creatures to have it identified.  Once you do, controlling the infestation can be just as difficult.

To get rid of your bed bug bites for good, start with a VERY thorough vacuuming, including every crack and crevasse that might harbor the bugs.  Bedding should be sanitized by running it through the dryer at 120 degrees, and the mattress itself should be steam cleaned if possible.  Truly getting the best of the bugs, however, typically requires professional treatment.

There are a variety of simple things that can be done to reduce the accessibility of your home to bed bugs. Calking openings on the outdoor of your home is an effective first step. If your attic has an opening that allows birds or bats to find lodging, you should block any entryways you may find. When birds or bats enter your attic they may also be bringing bed bugs that will drop after a feeding and find a new meal with one of your family members.

To discover the level of infestation you can place a few pieces of double-sided tape in various locations in your bedroom. Bed bugs will stick to the surface and you will get a clear picture in the morning if a more aggressive approach is needed. By adopting a higher standard of household cleanliness you may be able to further reduce infestation levels.

There are many different means by which domiciles become bed bug infested. People can acquire bed bugs at motels, hotels, thanks to increased domestic and international travel, and bring them back to their man domiciles in their suitcases. They also be picked up inadvertently by bringing infested furniture or clothing to their houses. If someone is in a place that is severely infested, bed bugs may actually movel onto and be carried by clothing, although this is not typical behavior. Finally, bed bugs may move amongst units in multi-family domiciles (such as condos and apartments), after being originally carried into the building by one of the above ways. This spread between homes is dependent in part on the level of infestation, on the materials used to separate units and whether or not infested contents are dragged through shared areas while being discarded, resulting in the shedding of bed bugs and bed bug eggs while being moved.

Common areas of infestations

Bed bugs are rather flat, allowing them to hide in tiny creases. A crevice big enough to fit a business card can house bed bugs. During the day they usually stay out of the light, hiding in such places as mattresses, mattress materials, bedding frames, furniture, carpet or baseboards. Bed bugs can settle in the open weave of towles; this will often appear as a grey spindle a centimeter or two long and a few threads wide, with a black dot in the middle. Bed bugs can be discovered on their own, but more often assemble in groups. They are not social bugs and do not build nests.

Groups of bed bugs are very often found in beds, usually either the crevices of a mattress, in the box spring, or within the actual structure of the bedding itself. They can also be discovered in a wide variety of places in a house, such as behind walls, behind pictures, within books (around the bed), in phones, or radios near the bed, within the folds of drapes. Bed bugs are capable of movling as far as 100 feet to feed, but they usually stay close to the host in rooms or on furniture where people may rest. Bedbugs feed every five to ten days.

Size of infestations

Little research has been conducted into bedbug behavior and population dynamics as these bugs weren’t common until fairly recently as to not have much economic impact as a common household pest.

Predictions on extent of infestation by geographic location are not of much value. There may be some climate-related factors of spread in the winter months as the bedbugs are killed in cold. However, it may be that they are also suseptable to heat in warm regions. The fact is that this kind parasite that lives near but not necessarily on or in its host has a highly-evolved method for survival that has been effective for millions of years. Bed bug populations can be huge when control is not being executed.

Detection of infestations

Bed bugs can be found often by looking for black stains on beds, which are the bed bugs’ pooh marks. These marks are easily seen on light-colored bedding.

Sometimes an engorged bedbug is accidentaly killed or disgorged by accidental crushing, resulting in a visible blood stain. Crushing them will produce a unique sickly sweet scent, which can also be detected in the air in a severe infestation situation.

Though bedbug bites can happen singly, they often follow a pattern of a grouping of three to four bite. These patterns of bites are caused when a bed bug is disturbed in feeding by movement, and then the bed bug resumes feeding at a later time. The effects of the bites on humans varies from person to person, but often cause red marks and swelling similar to mosquito bites. Some people have little or no noticeable reaction to bed bug bites. Those whose bodies do not initially react may eventually develop symptoms, however, due to an allergic reaction.

An effective technique for finding bed bugs is to have a light accessible from bed and to turn it on at about an hour before dawn, which is usually the time when bed bugs are most active. Bed bugs can also often be viewed during the day in normal sunlight.

Veterinarians may mistake bed bugs’ pooh on a dog’s or cat’s fur as “flea pooh”.

How Should You Deal with Bed Bugs?

Controlling bed bugs can be a difficult practice if the infestation has already occurred. Once bed bugs have found hiding places in your home, they can be both difficult to detect, and very difficult to remove. They live in dry dark areas and rarely come out to view during the day. Although they are often found inside bed linens or between mattresses, they can also take refuge in wall panels, floor spaces, behind trim pieces, and closet areas.

Sanitation is one of the best methods for preventing and eliminating bed bugs. Vacuuming areas around the bed and frequently changing bed linens is good practice in prevention.  Taking care to clean the cracks and folds of linens and mattresses is an excellent way of both, finding and preventing bed bugs from hiding in those areas.

If an infestation has already occurred, professional extermination services should be considered. Spot treatment of pesticides in common hiding places can have a great impact on an infestation. It is important that home owners assist the exterminator by making all areas of the residence accessible. Allowing the exterminator access to closets, bedrooms, basements, and all other areas of the house will help ensure that they bed bugs hiding places can be treated. In some heavy infestations, it may be necessary to treat adjoining apartments or houses in very close proximity. Bed bugs can disperse over a wide area, and if other homes or apartments are near by, they may become refuge for fleeing bed bugs.

Bed bugs can be a very annoying and disgusting parasite. Although not usually dangerous, bed bug infestations can be a menace. Clean living, and carefully inspecting and cleaning travel items is often enough to prevent bed bugs. Like the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”