The mere thought of a bed bug is enough to make a person’s skin crawl. We all have heard horror stories about hotel beds infested with bed bugs and wish, hope, and pray that we never have to cope with the same nightmare ourselves.
Unfortunately, though, bed bugs, which were previously eradicated in the US, are now back — with a vengeance.
If you see signs of bed bug infestation in your house, don’t panic. It is possible to get rid of them. However, the key is to make sure that the pests infesting your home are, in fact, bed bugs, and not any other variety of small, brown insects. If you confirm bed begs are indeed living with you, there are various treatments we can recommend.
So without further ado, let us educate ourselves on bed bugs.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs are not the most recognizable of insects and many people may confuse them with something else.
A typical bed bug has an oval-shaped reddish-brown body about the size of an apple seed. The bodies are segmented, have antennas, and six legs. These bed bugs are normally flat but when they gorge on your blood, they become fat and long.
Bed bugs do not have wings so if you see a small brownish-red insect flying around, know that it isn’t a bed bug.
Aside from fully mature bed bugs, there are nymph bed bugs which are smaller and may appear pale golden and translucent at some stages of their life.
Female bed bugs can lay hundreds of eggs in their lifetime. These eggs are about the size of a speck of dust and translucent so they are very hard to spot.
Bed Bug Behavior
Although bed bugs do not fly, they can crawl very fast, and can even go up vertical surfaces which have a bit of traction, like walls.
Bed bugs typically come out and feed at night when people are asleep. It is believed that these insects are attracted to sleeping human bodies by triggers like carbon dioxide, warmth, and the scent of the body.
Bed bugs feed on human blood and leave bite marks or welts in a linear pattern depending on how many there are. Once they have fed, they will go back to their hiding spots and spend their time digesting the blood, mating, and producing eggs, after which they repeat the cycle.
During their lifecycle, a single bed bug may shed its exoskeleton five times. This shell is shed whole and looks almost exactly like a live bed bug. However, since it is empty, it is translucent.
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?
Bed bugs are notorious for infesting hotels and for being very good hitchhikers. If you have stayed in a hotel which has bed bugs, it is possible that a few may cling to your clothes or crawl inside your luggage. This means when you go back to your home, you can spread the infestation to your house as well.
In fact, beds are not the only place that bed bugs reside in. These parasites can also be found hiding inside upholstered furniture, picture frames, carpet, and even corners of the walls. They may also burrow inside cracks in the walls of your house.
How Do You Know A Bed Bug Has Bitten You?
Bed bugs feed on human blood by piercing the skin and drawing out blood with their long proboscis. Typically, a bed bug can feed for about three to 10 minutes from a host and then detach and go away unnoticed.
While the bed bug is biting you, you will not feel any sting or pain as its saliva contains anesthesia that will numb your skin. However, after a few hours, the bite may become inflamed and turn into an itchy and red welt. Some people who have bitten don’t even get the welts and so remain unaware they have a bed bug infestation. Others may think they have been bitten by a mosquito.
To confirm you have been bitten by a bed bug, you will need to find signs of a bed bug infestation.
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
Aside from seeing a live bed bug crawling on your sheets, there are other ways you can recognize a bed bug infestation. Some signs include:
- A few spots of bloodstains on your sheet or pillowcase without apparent cause.
- A crushed body of a bed bug underneath you.
- Dark rust-colored fecal spots that you can find on your sheets and near walls, but most commonly will find them on the corner of your mattresses.
- Shed shells and milky-white and translucent eggs in these places
If the infestation is recent, you will probably not find any bed bug casings since the population is mostly adults and they do not molt. However, as time passes by, these adult insects will breed and lay up to five eggs each day. In a little time, the nymphs will outnumber the adults and will go towards their molting phase. When these shells build up, they will become easily noticeable in the corners of your bed or walls.
Unfortunately, at this stage, you are facing a full-blown infestation and treatment is extremely important if you want to prevent the bed bugs from spreading to other areas of your house
Bed Bug Treatment and Prevention
Preventing an infestation requires making sure your living space is clean and there are no places for the bed bugs to hide. Here are some tips you can follow:
- During your stay at a hotel, look for tell-tale signs of an infestation. If you find them, try and book another place to stay.
- When you are leaving a hotel, make sure you thoroughly check your clothes for any clinging bed bugs. Also, make sure all your luggage is secured so no insect can get into it.
- At home, make sure your bed linens, curtains, and clothing are washed in hot water and dried at the highest setting. Place things like stuffed animals and shoes that cannot be washed into the dryer and run it for at least 30 minutes.
- Thoroughly vacuum your carpet and bed mattress to suck out dead bed bugs, shells, and eggs. Remember though that you may not be able to get the live bed bugs with this method. Throw the vacuum bag into a garbage bin outside and secure the lid.
- Get a zipped mattress cover and place your mattress inside it. That way, bed bugs won’t be able to get in or get out of the mattress and infest other places of the house. Bed bugs can survive for over a year without gorging on blood, so keep the cover tight on your mattress for that time at least.
- Fix any peels in the paintwork and cement any cracks so that the bed bugs do not have any place to hide.
- If the wood of your bed is infested, you may need to throw away the bed (best to burn it) and get a new one.
- There are also several types of bed bug traps and sprays that are marginally effective. However, they cannot stop an infestation from spreading. Always be sure to contact a pest control expert right away- Ants Plus Pest Control – we are one of Maine’s most trusted pest control companies and will help get your bed bug infestation under control ASAP.
Call A Bed Bug Exterminator
Although all of this prevention and treatments are a good choice, they are not effective against a large infestation. It can be very tricky to get rid of bed bugs all by yourself, if not impossible. Not only do these creatures reproduce rapidly, but they also have several hiding spots that are very difficult to find. Even missing one hiding spot can lead to reinfestation.
This is why hiring a bed bug exterminator is recommended. At Ants Plus Pest Control, we will get rid of your bed bugs with effective treatments that will have a long-lasting effect. If you suffer from a bed bug infestation, call us today at 207-319-8324 and book an appointment.
Waiting for an infestation to go away on its own is not a good idea and will always result in a worse scenario.