Unwelcome Guests: Your Ultimate Guide to Tackling Bed Bug Infestations
Have you ever thought about tiny adversaries that might be lurking in the shadows of your cozy bedroom? Yes, we're talking about bed bugs - those stealthy, resilient critters that seem to come out of nowhere. Despite their minuscule size, they pack a mighty punch, making them formidable foes in our homes. These insects are not just hard to spot but are champions at survival, often outwitting many common chemical treatments. So, how do we keep our homes bed bug-free? It's a trifecta of prevention, early detection, and decisive action. Let's dive in!
Bed bugs’ favourite meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is human blood. They usually prefer to feed off of people while they sleep. Living around humans' resting areas is their modus operandi because that provides them with easy access to their food source. When they bite, bed bugs leave behind zig-zag-like red marks on their hosts’ skin. Most of the time, these can be found in the body parts that are mostly exposed during sleep, like the shoulders, neck, and face. If you find bite marks on yourself, take a close look at your bedding and you might also find tiny blood spots over your sheets and pillowcases. These are traces left as a result of the slight bleeding that sometimes happens right after bites take place. Bed bugs might leave behind other unpleasant signs of their presence such as faecal droppings, which are often not much bigger than a dot. They are usually black or brown and can mostly be found near humans’ sleeping areas, as this is where bed bugs tend to eat and digest blood.
More often than not, bed bugs will establish their residence underneath the bed mattress, couch cushions, or in nearby areas. While they do like to hang out in groups, they also often take solo expeditions. This is why when you are cleaning your home it’s important to pay special attention to any wooden furniture and carpeted surfaces in your rest areas. Inspecting rugs as well as carpeted floors for signs of unwanted visitors and cleaning them appropriately can help you detect a bed bug invasion early. Doing the same thing with any wooden furniture pieces that are in your rest areas can also help to catch any bed bugs who might have migrated from the bed or couch onto them.
Bed bug eggs can also be found anywhere where the adults are. They are white, oval, and very small in size, measuring only about 1mm. Because of how minuscule they are, it is often even more complicated to detect them than adult insects. The reproductive cycle of bed bugs is very rapid, with the females being able to lay about 1-7 eggs during the span of 10 days after feeding only once. In certain cases, some female bed bugs can lay even more eggs, up to 20. The rapid speed at which their reproductive cycle goes allows the bugs to spread quickly, making early detection a must.
Causes of Bed Bug Infestations
But how do bed bugs end up in our homes? The most common way is, believe it or not: by hitchhiking! Bed bugs like to catch rides in suitcases, furniture, clothes, and any other object that humans pick up and drop off. More often than not, bed bug infestation cases will start when people end up inadvertently picking up a few bed bugs while traveling. These insects can live in buses, hotels, cruise ships, and other places that travellers frequent.
The best way to avoid them if you are on a bus, train, airplane, or any other form of transportation is to always check your seats before the trip starts and look for any signs of their presence. If you are staying at an Airbnb or hotel it’s also important to check every area like you would in your own home, before you start to unpack. Take a look under the pillows, bed sheets, and mattress before laying down and instead of putting your suitcase on the floor, use a chair, desk, or luggage rack if it’s available. After coming home from your travels, washing and drying your clothes in high heat is a good idea. This will help to kill any hitchhikers you might have picked up on the way.
To prevent bed bug infestations, there are more prevention tips you can follow while being out and about in public places. It’s important to be mindful and cautious because the areas that are exposed to multiple people can often be the ones most at risk of being infested. For example, if you use a laundry-sharing service, transport your laundry in bags to and from the laundromat. Doing this minimizes the contact that your clothes have with the shared surfaces in the place. If you also share a coworking space or a breakroom, make sure to check the furniture periodically like you would in your home. After outings, always check your items when you leave to make sure no unwanted hitchhikers have found a way in!
Dealing With an At Home Infestation
If you are unfortunately facing a battle against these tiny, yet resilient enemies, there are measures you can take to deal with the situation. Contrary to other insects, bed bugs don’t have a preference for dirty spaces, unlike some popular opinions would have us believe. But while they don’t love dirt, they do like clutter. To them, cluttered spaces are the perfect nesting grounds as they provide multiple places for both adults and eggs to stay hidden. For that reason, keeping an organised bedroom and living room can help to spot and deal with them early and definitively. Knowing how to detect bed bugs early on will give you a great advantage and stopping them before they start reproducing at super speed is the best way to control the infestation.
Getting professional help to deal with bed bug invasions is ultimately the best way to get rid of these intruders once and for all. While there are many DIY extermination tips out there, they are often not effective enough as bed bugs are very resilient insects, some of which can even survive certain chemical pesticides. Alan Bossel of Michigan Bed Bug Services, shares, “Using heat allows us to attack and eliminate the whole colony at once. With chemicals, you’re looking at two or three treatments and a months-long process. With heat, a single day’s treatment eliminates the bugs as well as their eggs.” Bed bugs are very resilient insects, which is why they can survive very high temperatures. However, at 52°C, both adult and egg populations are exterminated. The heat must hit the colony quickly and uniformly to obtain proper results. Professional treatments are always the best to ensure proper and full eradication.
If you follow these prevention tips and keep in mind the early detection signs, bed bugs will be no match for you. While their extermination can pose challenges, seeking professional help early on will take care of them before their invasion extends. Keep these tips in mind and your fight against bed bugs will surely turn up only one winner: you!