You’ll probably only realize you’ve been the victim of a bed bug attack when you wake up with little red bumps and blotches repeatedly. Most of us will write off that single stay in a hotel as being irritated by their choice in detergent or maybe we got bit by something while seeing some sites or visiting the beach. It’s when we stay somewhere, even in our own home, for more than a day or two and these marks keep appearing that we’ll decide to take action.
You should instead take action immediately because these marks could very well be bed bug bites. If you have these, there’s a possibility you’ll end up taking these little creatures home with you simply by sleeping in an infected area. They could end up in your luggage or simply be somewhere inconspicuous on your body like in your socks and shoes.
Once you get them home, they can slowly but surely make your home into a dreaded and miserable place and can cost you quite a bit of money to eliminate completely. Let’s go in-depth to see what these little creatures are, what they do and how you can get rid of them.
What is a Bed Bug?
A bed bug is just an insect but it’s similar to mosquitos and ticks in that bed bugs feed on humans. These particular creatures are flat and oval shaped and a yellow/brown in color. They are mainly active at night and that’s one of the reasons they can be difficult to identify until the recurring bites appear. Bed bugs don’t breed particularly fast (compared to some insects) so you usually have enough time to wipe them out if you are fairly certain you picked a couple up at a hotel or motel.
Identifying a Bed Bug Problem
Once you think you’ve got them or have come across one or two, it’s time for a full scale inspection. To find bed bugs, the easiest way to do it is to strip your bedding off but leave your bottom sheet. Get at mattress level and shine a light across it. You can usually find tiny brown smears from feces or shed exoskeletons right away. A bed bug or two might be there also. They like to hide in the folds of your sheets so check each one thoroughly for trespassers. Next, take this sheet off and repeat the process with your mattress, box spring and any cloth items nearby like pillows and pillowcases. As you strip your bed, put everything into the washer on HOT and dry it once or two times to be very thorough. Dryers are something bugs can’t tolerate.
If you can’t find any but are still being bitten after washing your bedding, there could be a severe issue with your mattress. Did you happen to pick it up at a yard sale or second hand store? If so, it could be a total loss and your best route is to simply get rid of it before the bed bugs decide to spread around your home if they haven’t already.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Getting rid of bed bugs can range in difficulty from a simple one day procedure to a month’s long battle that is taxing on your mental state and your pocketbook alike. If there’s one or two you picked up somewhere, a good cleaning and wash/dry of your bedding can take care of them. You’ll want to inspect daily for weeks though. If you know there are lots, you’ll need to take extra measures. Buying special items like bed bug repellents, sprays, traps and more will probably be needed and you might even have to call in a professional exterminator if you simply can’t do it by yourself or want to make sure they are fully wiped out for good.
To keep bed bugs from coming back or to make sure they stay gone in the first place, there’s some easy steps you can take. The most obvious is to only buy new mattresses and bedding and wash your bedding completely at least once a week. This includes your fitted bottom sheet. While you’re washing bedding, take a look at your mattress, make sure there are no holes or tears and you can wipe it down with a slight solution of bleach and water or a special bed bug spray.
Repellents like all-natural satchels of cedar or specialized products like Bed Defense can help prevent bed bugs and other insects from coming around and won’t hurt your bed at all. These can usually be placed between your mattress and box spring and are very cheap.
Traps are small plastic devices that any insect can crawl into but can’t get out of. These are typically placed on the legs of your bed frame, futon or couch to keep bed bugs and other pests from being able to reach you. These are very inexpensive and can also provide you a way to show the trespasser to your landlord or exterminator.
Bed bugs have a stigma of uncleanliness associated with them but anyone from any walk of life can get them. It’s just a matter of having bad luck. You can pick them up while traveling, from used furniture or they could be in your home when you move in, especially if you live in an apartment building.