Bed bugs are nasty little creatures. They come inside our homes, they nest, breed and to top that, they use our blood to feed. Nobody likes bed bugs and everybody tries to protect their homes from this nasty pestilence. The problem is, these pests are tiny, and it’s hard to notice them. They easily get inside the house unannounced. And once bed bugs settle in, it will be a titanic battle to get them out.
Another problem is that it’s hard to predict what homes they may like.
Bed bugs usually infest dirty properties, unseen because of clutter. However, in recent years clean and well-maintained houses get infested. Here’s where bed bugs like to hide and how to prevent having some home:
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small, oval, brown insects, which feed on the blood from animals and humans.
Adult bed bugs are the size of an apple seed and have flat bodies.
When fed, colours turn to dark red and they swell. Bed bugs have small front wings, but they cannot fly. Instead, they can jump and they move quickly throughout all kinds of surfaces.
Female bed bugs lay hundreds of eggs over a lifetime. Eggs are microscopic and can be mistaken for a speck of dust.
Where do bed bugs hide?
Just like every other pest, bed bugs also prefer dark and well-hidden places to nest and multiply. Here are the most common hiding spots you should check:
- Bed frame and headboard cracks. Bloodsuckers can hide inside your mattress. You may not notice them until it’s too late. You should keep your bedroom neat, and check it periodically for blood stains and black spots.
- Under couches, beds and chairs. Bed bugs love dark and hidden spaces, so under the couch or a chair is a very common hiding spot. Sometimes buying antique furniture with an unknown origin can also lead to infesting your home with bed bugs.
- Inside cushions. Different cushions, decorative pillows, and bedspreads are perfect for bed bug incubation. Even the smallest contact with infested cushions is enough to spread the colony all over your house.
- Under rugs and carpets. If you catch beg bugs somewhere outside, they just hide in the first place available once you go through the front door, which is usually the doormat or a carpet.
- Curtains. Thick ones are preferred by bed bugs for being warm, cosy, and dark all at the same time.
- Drawers and shelves. If you put worn clothes in your drawers or on your shelves, there is a risk of bed bug infestation.
- Phones, radio, clock. It’s a little peculiar, but bed bugs can also hide in all kinds of household items, which have cracks and can be used as hiding spaces. So, if your home is heavily infested, check all these as well.
What are the signs of a bed bug infestation?
You can find bloodsuckers or traces of them around and on beds and upholstered furniture – that’s because bed bugs live close to a food source (a human being) so that they could feed at night.
Check mattresses and the bed frame for actual bugs, dead or alive, their eggs or blackish spots – they leave those after a meal and are actually blood spots. The same places can be checked for any signs of bed bug eggs which are no bigger than a rice grain and whitish in colour. Bed bug infestations take various techniques and visits from an exterminator in order to get rid of the entire colony – that’s because they need to treat the infestation in the different stages.
How to treat a bed bug infestation
There are a lot of recommended options such as freezing, vacuuming, using desiccants (such as Diatomaceous Earth which is considered a “green” solution), washing items on high degrees and so on. Unfortunately, many of the natural solutions are helpless against heavy infestations, because it takes them time to start working, while bed bugs spread in a matter of hours.
It’s extremely difficult to remove a bed bug infestation completely without treatment, but there are a few proven ways to control their population.
So, here’s what you can do:
This is a toxic-free way of killing bed bugs in household objects. You can freeze items such as clothes and other textile belongings, decorative objects, toys, books, suitcases & other carry-ons, shoes and basically everything that won’t get ruined by the low temperatures. Bed bugs take extremely low temperatures to die.
- Perfect if you want to decontaminate a few objects, especially if you’re a traveller;
- Easy and cheap to do;
- You can’t treat rooms and furniture;
- Will not get rid of heavy, already spread infestations.
Washing and vacuuming
Another good way to reduce the bed bug population. It’s especially helpful with larger infestations as vacuuming the clusters of adult bed bugs decreases their population drastically.
Here’s how to do it:
- Separate your clothes and other textiles as you normally would and put them in separate plastic bags which you should then seal to prevent bugs from escaping;
- Carry the bags carefully to the washing machine and tip them inside. Dispose of each bag in a new, clean one;
- Wash and dry the clothes at the highest temperature the fabric allows. Put sensitive to heat items in the dryer for at least 30 minutes on a medium-high setting;
- Pack all washed clothes and store them until you’ve dealt with the rest of the bed bugs.
- Turn the power of the vacuum cleaner to the highest and use a precision nozzle to target bed bugs in cracks and crevices of furniture and mattress;
- Now, when you’re finished, bed bugs remain live in the vacuum cleaner so you’ll need to dispose of them appropriately. Remove and dispose of the vacuum bag freeze and boil the vacuum filter.
- Dramatically decreases advanced bed bug populations;
- No insecticides involved and everyone can do it;
- Will not get rid of the entire infestation because most bed bug eggs will remain intact;
- You will have to wash and vacuum regularly until the bugs are gone, so it’s best to use this method alongside any treatment by professionals.
How to prevent bed bugs in your home
Bed bugs are nasty creatures and extremely hard to exterminate. To prevent an infestation, bring nothing used without inspecting it for signs of bed bugs first. You will easily see blood spots or bed bug eggs if you inspect, even living bed bugs are visible at the narrow areas.
Filling all the holes and cracks in your home to help limit their access to the house is not a guarantee that the bed bugs won’t find another way inside, but it’s a start. At least it will limit the possibility, and it’s a kind of prevention.
Make sure the home is always clean and clutter-free, because bed bugs and pests, in general, like to nest in piles of clutter. Proper bed maintenance will also help you avoid infestations, as bed bugs are attracted to the smell of human sweat.
Change the sheets at least once a week and sanitise the mattress once a month. Spread baking soda on the mattress, leave it for a few hours to absorb all the moisture and oils and then vacuum it.
Treatment for bed bug bites
Just like every other insect bite, bed bugs bites are also painful and can cause discomfort. There are a few things you can do to relieve the pain:
- Cream. There are many products created especially to soothe insect bites. Cortisone is one of them. It will help you not only for bed bug bites but also for mosquito, spider, and many other kinds of bites you can get during the summer. After a few days, the bite will disappear and everything will be normal again.
- Avoid scratching. Bed bug bites are not so dangerous to people and they heal in just days. But the situation changes drastically if you scratch the bites all the time. Then the skin becomes irritated and starts swelling and hurting a lot. If you don’t stop scratching it, you can even get an infection, which can be very unpleasant and painful. Avoid touching the bitten parts of your body, if you want them to heal faster.
- Antibiotics. If you notice signs of infection, you should go to the doctor right away, so they can prescribe you some antibiotics for the infection. The antibiotic won’t work right away, so you’ll have to be patient and restrain yourself from scratching.
- Antihistamines. In some rare cases, bed bug bites can cause allergic reactions to more sensitive people. Bed bug bites usually cause just a common allergic reaction, which could be easily treated with antihistamines, but you should never count only on that. It’s always best to be checked by a doctor to avoid the chance of any complications. After all, bed bugs are known to carry 45 sure human pathogens, and even if they don’t transmit them to people, you can never be sure.
When you travel, remember to inspect the hotel room for bed bugs – check the mattress, the sheets, the nearby furniture, and the curtains!