Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Tips
Get ready for the worst case of the willies you have ever had. If you are lucky enough never to have experienced bed bugs, you may think of them as a mythical creature your parents mention at bed time when they say, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” But for many, these pests are a harrowing and fretting reality that must be disposed of with great haste.
Signs of Bedbugs
When there is a bedbug infestation in your home, the signs are obvious. You will have a row of little white welts, often around your waist. You may notice dark brown spots on your sheets from the bugs’ fecal matter, or possibly red spots from your blood. Bedbugs feed on humans much in the same way as mosquitoes. They inject an anti-coagulant and anesthetic into your body. This means you will not feel the bite. They can then feed on your blood until they swell. If you roll over onto a bed bug that has fed, you are likely to crush it, leaving a blood stain on your sheets. You may also notice their molten skins in or around your bed. These bugs do not usually cause disease, although some people may experience an allergic reaction.
The scientific name for bed bugs in temperate climates is Cimex lectularius. Tropical areas have another species called Cimex Hemipterus. These brownish-red bugs are oval-shaped and flat, about 4mm long and are common everywhere humans and animals live. These bugs dwell in the cracks and crevices of your mattress and couch, feeding on human hosts. Because they are flat, they easily skitter into cracks in and around furniture and bedding. They often hide in wood and fabric and will choose it over plastic and metal surfaces. These nasty little pests can remain dormant up to a year, making them particularly difficult to get rid of.
Where do they Come From?
Bedbugs are on the rise, especially in large cities where foreign travel is common. They hitch a ride on the clothing and luggage of travelers and find their way into homes, hotels and dormitories. It is believed that the comeback has been aided by the banning of DDT. This chemical worked well in killing bedbugs and they do not seem to respond to the commonly used bait traps that control other bugs.
In rural areas, bedbugs can be brought home after a stay at a hotel or dormitory. They can also enter your home by hiding in cracks and crevices of used furniture that you bring into the home. Other types of bedbugs that normally feed on bats and mice may begin feeding on humans and their pets if the primary food source disappears.
How to Get Rid of Bedbugs
If you notice the telltale row of welts and stains on your sheets, it’s time to look around and positively identify the critters. This means tearing apart everything in your bedroom to find where they are hiding. Dismantle the bed frame and inspect all cracks and crevices. Look near seams or tears in the mattress and box spring. Look in desk and dresser drawers and turn over furniture to inspect the bottoms.
Use the crevice tool with your vacuum cleaner to get bugs out of baseboards and furniture. Go over every little niche and cranny in the bedroom and surrounding rooms, since bedbugs are known to wander. Seal the vacuum bag in plastic and dispose of it in the outside trash when you are done.
These bugs will even hide behind pictures on the wall, in books and in your laundry hamper. You will need to wash all your clothing and bed linens and dry them in a hot clothes dryer (at least 120 degrees) for about one hour to kill the bugs and eggs. Try to identify any areas that might be letting the bugs come in from the outside. Seal up any cracks or holes where pipes and wires come into the house.
The best way to treat bedbugs without chemical pesticides is to get a high-powered steam cleaner that can usually be purchased for around $50. Use it to clean every crack and crevice in your mattress, steaming each area for two or three seconds. Do this every week for about nine weeks to ensure you have killed all bugs throughout their life cycle.
Bedbugs lay eggs in many different areas near the host, so everything must be washed. Anything that cannot be washed should be sealed in plastic for at least two weeks. Because the bugs can remain dormant up to a year, non-washable items s are best kept in a freezer (if possible) for two weeks to kill the eggs and insects more quickly. Carpets need to be scrubbed with a brush and then vacuumed to clean the dislodged eggs. Afterwards, the rug should be cleaned with a hot steam cleaner to ensure any remaining eggs are killed. This is the best way to kill bedbugs without using chemicals.
Do I Need a New Mattress?
If you have tears in your mattress, the bedbugs may be deeply entrenched within. Because they can remain dormant so long, it is generally best to throw away the mattress if you can afford to buy a new one. Otherwise, seal the mattress in a plastic cover to prevent the bugs from escaping and then hope for the best. Use a high-mil plastic, to prevent a tear in the plastic from allowing the bugs to escape and re-infest your home. Thicknesses typically range from 1.5 to 4 mil. Get the best cover you can afford.
Should I Call in Pest Control?
Pest control services are an option, but are usually not necessary unless you have an infestation that is out of control. Most well-kept homes will never get this bad. Simply by cleaning your home on a regular basis, you reduce the numbers of these critters. If you do have a bad infestation, covering several rooms in your home, it is best to enlist professional help.