Updated: Dec 11, 2019
No one knows how long bed bugs have been around, or where they came from. But two things are certain: they’re pests ̶ the EPA, the CDC, and the USDA consider them a threat to public health ̶ and they are here to stay.
The common bed bug, or Cimex lectularius as it is known to the scientific community, feeds on blood ̶ which causes itchy bites ̶ and is extremely annoying to those of us who become their human hosts. Fortunately, bed bugs don’t transmit or spread disease, as far as we know. But they do play an unwelcome role in other public health issues, so it’s imperative that they be controlled and, where possible, eliminated.
Bed Bugs are a Growing Problem
Exactly why there has been an increase in bed bug infestations in the US isn’t entirely clear, but some experts believe that an upsurge in domestic and international travel, combined with the increased resistance of bed bugs to insecticides and generally poor pest control practices, are to blame. That, and inexperience in preventing infestations, has created the situation we face today.
The one bright spot in all of this is that there are effective ways to get rid of bed
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in 3 Steps
The first step is to acquire reliable and accurate information on both prevention and control. Now, while it’s true that there is no quick chemical fix ̶ a definitive dead bug “silver bullet” so to speak ̶ there are reliable ways to kill bed bugs
Step two, you have to make sure that you actually have a real bed bug problem. Bed bugs are fairly easy to spot. After they’ve fed they’re about the size of an apple seed and are balloon like and reddish-brown. If happen to spot them before feeding they are long and brown with a flat, oval-shaped bodies. Don’t assume that flat adults are a sign that the infestation is not widespread. They also give off an unmistakable sweet, musty odor.
If you do find bed bugs, also be sure to look for bed bug eggs. These eggs are very small ̶ if they are more than five days old they have a distinctive small eye spot about the size of a pinhead ̶ and are pearly white in color.
Avoid Easy Mistakes
One caveat: it’s easy to mistake other insects, such as carpet beetles, for bed bugs. And that can be a problem, because while you’re busy hunting down these faux bed bugs, the real culprits may spread to other areas of your house, hotel, office, store, or manufacturing plant. They may even hitch a ride somewhere else (on furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, or clothing) and start a brand new infestation.
It’s also an old wives’ tale that bed bug bites are a reliable sign of bed bug infestation. In fact, a bite from a bed bug can look a lot like other insect bites, or a rash, even hives. And some people may not react to bed bug bites at all.
Knowing What to Look For
So, how can you recognize a possible infestation? The answer is to look for the tell-tale signs: when you’re cleaning or changing bedding, be alert for reddish or rusty stains on the sheets or the mattress, which is bed bug excrement!
The next thing is to hunt them down. Bed bugs can hide virtually anywhere; being so small allows them to squeeze into really, really small hiding places. If you’re searching around the bed, check the tags and seams of the mattress and box spring, as well as crevices on the bed frame and headboard.
If you’re unlucky enough to experience heavy infestation, bed bugs can be found in the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, and in the folds of curtains; in household appliances, kitchen utensils, bookcases, even pictures and wall hangings.
Take Action Immediately
Keep in mind that bed bugs are resilient creatures, and they can go several months ̶ even as long as a year ̶ without feeding. If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation, don’t hesitate. Track down the source immediately and use the appropriate bed bug treatment before the infestation becomes entrenched and spreads to other areas. While it’s obviously bothersome to deal with a minor infestation, better that than the alternative: a major and costly-to-cure wide-spread infestation.
There are many bed bug sprays on the market. One or two are excellent, a number are quite good, and some of them are just ineffective. Just make sure you pick a good one!
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