Bedbugs can be found in all 50 states in the US. These insects are known to be problematic and can make sleeping in your home a nightmare. Infestations have become more frequent in many parts of the US, and has led to a lot of concern over these insects.
Sleeping peacefully can be difficult when you are worrying about bedbugs crawling over you or your family. Although bedbug infestations are still relatively uncommon compared to some other insects, it is believed that one in five Americans has either experiences bedbugs in their homes, or know of someone who has had to deal with these insects at home or in a hotel.
Those who live in urban areas and rent their homes are three times more likely to have run-ins with these pests.
According to a 2011 survey on bedbugs, it was found that the majority of Americans who encountered bedbugs were in warmer states. The Midwest and South experiences more bedbug encounters than anywhere else, with around 20% of the population coming across these insects. No matter where you live in the US, however, you can still come across these pests.
Because of this, it is important to know what to look for when you suspect a bedbug infestation, as well as how to deal with it.
In this section, we are going to go through what bedbugs actually are and what they do, as well as how to identify and deal with infestations. There are a number of things you can do to avoid bedbugs from coming into your home, and we will also go through these towards the end of the post.
If you have problems with bedbugs, or know someone who does, this post will tell you everything you need to know.
What Are Bedbugs?
Bedbugs are small insects that are reddish-brown. They are parasitic, and rely on humans for the food. These pests will bite any exposed skin of sleeping people to feed on their blood. Although they can also feed on the blood of animals, humans are typically easier targets due to easy access through furniture, and softer skin.
Before feeding, adult bedbugs have apple seed sized, flat bodies. Once they have fed and gorged themselves with blood, their bodies swell up and appear red.
These pests cannot fly, but can run over surfaces at an impressive speed. Before reaching maturity, the inmate bedbugs (nymphs), will shed their skins five times. These young insects have to feed before they shed their skin each time, meaning that when the females lay hundreds of eggs across their lifetimes, their young will feed many times before maturing.
When they live in suitable conditions, bedbugs can develop and reach maturity in a month.
What Harm Can They Do?
Since bedbugs feed on blood, they can cause itchy welts wherever they feed. These welts resemble that of mosquitos, but have distinct differences to flea bites, which typically occur around the ankles. With bedbugs, any area of skin that is exposed while sleeping could be a bedbug’s next meal.
Many people think that bedbugs spread disease, but there is no evidence for this. The bites from bedbugs are a nuisance, but there is thought to be no danger to them besides the discomfort and itching. You do not have to worry about diseases being transmitted to you if you have a bedbug infestation.
Where Do They Hide?
Unfortunately for us, it is very easy to get bedbugs inside the house. They can enter through clothes, second-hand furniture, and even luggage. Because of the flat shape of their bodies, they can easily remain undetected and fit into tiny spaces to be transported to their next home.
Unlike insects such as bees and wasps, bedbugs do not have nests, but rather stay in hiding places in groups. These hiding places are usually places like bed frames, mattresses, headboards, and box springs, since they have easy access to sleeping humans that way. As time passes, however, they are likely to spread all over the room to anywhere else that is hidden and protected.
They could also move to different rooms in the house, or if you live in an apartment complex, different apartments.
Bedbugs are not a sign of unhygienic practice or dirtiness. Since these insects survive on blood, the cleanliness of the environment plays no role in their presence. You are just as likely to find bedbugs in luxurious and clean spas and homes as you are in messy, disorganized ones.
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Identifying A Bedbug Infestation
In order to identify a bedbug infestation, you will have to see the bugs around the house and be bitten. There are no other signs that they are infesting the property, as they only usually come out at night and are rarely seen by people.
What Attracts Bedbugs?
Bedbugs are attracted by blood and shelter. Blood is their only source of food so, if there are warm bodies available to feed from, they will make use of them. However, there are things we can do to reduce the chances of bedbugs picking your tome to live in.
How To Avoid A Bedbug Infestation
There are no steps you can take to avoid bedbugs from coming into your home like you can other pests. As these insects are drawn to homes by humans and their blood, all we can do is keep an eye out for any signs of infestations. While there are things you can do to reduce the chances of experiencing problems, these are not fool-proof methods and could still result in bedbug infestations.
To help reduce the chance of having issues with bedbugs, you can:
- Use a mattress protector – protecting the mattress you sleep on as well as the box springs reduces the number of places that bedbugs can hide.
- Carefully check all second hand furniture – any second hand furniture you get should be checked for any signs of infestation before being brought into the home.
- Seal entry points – this should be done, especially if you live in an apartment or multifamily home. Install door sweeps and seal cracks wherever they are. Areas around light sockets and baseboards are likely to be ideal entry points for bedbugs.
- Vacuum often – vacuum the property regularly so that you can suck up any bedbugs who may have successfully made their way into your home
- Get rid of clutter – getting rid of or reducing the clutter in your home leaves fewer places where bedbugs can seek shelter and hide from you
- Get a portable heating chamber – you can use the portable heating chamber to treat items that you think might be infested with bedbugs
- Be careful if you share laundry facilities – use plastic bags to carry dirty laundry if you know that you have an infestation and get new, clean bags after washing and drying. Do not fold laundry at the facility. Make sure you use a high heat on the dryer if you have bedbugs, as the heat will kill the pests.
Avoiding The Spread
To avoid spreading bedbug infestations, you can:
- Empty vacuum bags after every use – after vacuuming bedbugs, ensure that you seal the bag as tight as you can and discard it in a trash container that is outdoors.
- Remove all infested items – put all infested items in a sealed bag to be treated.
- Get items collected quickly – if your infested items have to be discarded, ensure that they are collected quickly to reduce the spread.
- Destroy infested furniture – if you cannot eliminate bedbugs safely, rip the covers and remove any stuffing. This will ensure that no one else can bring the infested furniture into their homes and continue to spread the pests. If you can, label the furniture as being infested with a spray paint to further warn people.
- Keep furniture if you can – if you can safely treat your furniture, do not throw it away.
You can try treating a bedbug infestation yourself. However, if the issue gets worse or does not get resolved, call in the professionals. We will be able to solve your problem, so you will never have to worry about it again.
Non-chemical treatments you can try to include the following:
- Steam cleaning – you can use a steam cleaner to combat your bedbug infestation. This can be done wet or dry. To use this method to effectively get rid of bedbugs, all fabrics need to be treated, including baseboards, carpets, bed frames, and all other furniture. In order to kill the bedbugs, the stream treatment needs to be at least 130 °F. You should not use any strong airflow, or else the bugs could scatter and avoid the steam. To avoid this problem, use a diffuser to gently spread the steam and kill the insects.
- Cold treatments – if you are able to isolate infested items, place them in a sealed bag and put them in the freezer. If bedbugs are put in conditions of 0 °F, they will begin to die. You will need to keep the bedbugs in the freezer for four or more days to ensure the method is effective. During this time, you need to frequently check the temperatures to make sure that they are cold enough to be killing off the bugs.
- Heat treatments – heat treatments are among the most effective, but they can be difficult to do at home, especially for larger pieces of furniture. If your clothes are infested, they can be put in the clothes dryer on a high heat, which should kill the bugs. If you live in a hot climate, you may be able to put the infested items in a sealable black bag and place them in the car, where it will heat up dramatically.
Chemical bedbug treatments you can try to include the following:
- Desiccants – desiccants will dry out the insects and kill them. While this method can take several months to work, it is highly effective. If you do decide to use desiccants, ensure that you only use products that are registered as pesticides by the EPA.
You should NOT use:
- Food-grade diatomaceous earth
- Pool-grade diatomaceous earth
Food and pool-grade diatomaceous earth are made from the tiny fossilized remains of diatoms (aquatic creatures). As this can be harmful if inhaled, it should never be used to combat a bedbug infestation. There are pesticide versions of diatomaceous earth available, which uses larger diatoms. These larger diatoms are less hazardous as you are unlikely to breathe them in.
While these at-home methods can help your situation, they may not solve the problem entirely. There is a good chance that some bedbugs will escape and continue to be a nuisance to you. Professionals have the equipment to deal with these infestations and eradicate the pests from your home entirely.
Because of this, it is likely that the need for professional pest control services will be required to solve your problem.
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