Bed bugs are nasty, insidious creatures that like to come out under the cover of darkness to feed on your blood while you’re sleeping. These ugly bugs are attracted to body heat and the carbon dioxide expelled from the mouths of people.
Once they bite you their saliva contains an anti-coagulant so you keep bleeding and they keep feeding, producing nasty and very itchy bites that can take weeks to heal.
If left untreated, these critters will breed like crazy and take over your home. You don’t want that.
Bed bugs are a small oval-shaped brown insect that can quickly infest your home if they have the opportunity. These insects are transported by people on their body, clothing and in luggage from infested hotels and hostels and immediately take up residence in a mattress, on the headboard of your bed or behind pictures on the wall.
Bed bugs do not carry diseases, nor do they transmit them, but they do bite and their bite can be very irritating and itchy, depending upon your sensitivity to insect bites. Bed bugs move quickly across surfaces and hide during the day, so you really need to look carefully for them when you check into a hotel, for example. Check the seams of the mattress and the headboard for small brown oval bugs.
Bed bugs are nocturnal so this means that they hide during the day and come out at night to feed. They have a relatively painless bite so you may not know that you have been bitten unless and until you carefully inspect your body for bites. Some people have a serious and noticeable reaction to bed bug bites with red weals on their skin while others have no reaction at all. It can be disconcerting to wake up in the morning covered in bites and not realise where they came from.
What Are The Signs Of A Bed Bug Problem?
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs have certain characteristics including their shape and size.
A bed bug:
- does not have wings
- cannot fly
- is around 10 mm long
- is flat with an oval body and light brown colouring (which becomes rusty-red after they have had a blood meal)
- has large mandibles (that they bite with) and large antennae
- can remain dormant for several months if there are no live blood meals available
- is very sensitive to extreme temperatures, so using steam on mattress seams can result in the eradication of these pests.
What Are The Signs Of Bed Bug Bites?
Picture source: http://www.bed-bugs-handbook.com/pics-of-bedbug-bites.html
Bed bug bites are:
- red and have a darker spot in the middle
- arranged either in a cluster or in rough line
- generally found on the face, hands, arms and neck
It is important to refrain from scratching them or they may become infected.
Treatment: Cover the bites with an antiseptic cream or lotion and try to numb your skin with an ice pack so that you will not be tempted to scratch it. Antihistamines can also be helpful in reducing the itching and symptoms of bites. See your doctor if symptoms persist.
What Are The Signs of Infestation?
If you suddenly experience bed bug bites, then you should search for the possible infestation. Bed bugs are able to hide quite easily because they have a unique body shape.
- bedrooms (or in a hotel room)
- along the seams and buttons of mattresses
- the wallpaper (especially the seams)
- floors and walls (around the bed especially)
If a bed bug infestation is new, you may only have a small colony in your home. If you think you have bed bugs, keep checking and making a careful inspection of the area, looking for the tell-tale signs of bed bugs which include: small dark or rust-coloured spots (bed bug excrement), small blood stains on bedding, bed bugs in the various areas that are described above, and an offensive odour that is very noticeably sweet and musty.
You won’t find bed bugs in your hair because they do not have the same body modifications as lice and fleas which have special claws that allow them to navigate around hairs. Bed bugs prefer smooth skin that is close to the area where they are hiding so that they can get their blood meal and then get back to their hiding place quickly!
How Did These Bed Bugs Get Here Anyway?
People are always mystified as to how they ended up with an infestation in the first place. The most common cause, believe it or not, is you! If you travel often and stay in hotels, every time you put your luggage down you run the risk of these little critters hitching a ride. They can hide in your clothes and then when you arrive at your home, they take up residence and start to populate by quickly reproducing. Bed bugs are commonly found in accommodations that have a high turnover rate of occupants including motels, hotels and hostels. You may also bring these bugs home when you decide to purchase second hand furniture at a garage sale or from another residence that may have a bed bug infestation.
Always take a close look at second hand mattresses, bed frames or other furniture that has seams where bugs can hide.
Also consider close inspection of art prints with frames and bedding.
How Do I Prevent A Bed Bug Infestation?
Prevention is key to warding off a bed bug infestation: it’s easier and won’t require as much effort as dealing with a full blown infestation. Some of the things you can do to keep these bugs out are:
- Closely examining any second-hand items before taking them into your house such as furniture, bedding and beds.
- Keeping your luggage off the floor when travelling. Place it on something to prevent contamination.
- Repairing cracks in your house and glueing down any loose wallpaper as these may provide hiding places for bed bugs.
- Vacuuming your house regularly including furniture, walls, mattresses and other surfaces to get rid of eggs and mature bugs.
- Isolating your luggage until you wash the clothes and bag. Make sure to dry them on the highest temperature for about fifteen minutes.
To help you prevent bed bug infestation and exterminate those that have already set up base in your home, Pestrol has developed a range of easy to use and effective products.
Prevention is better than trying to deal with an infestation, but if you discover that you have bed bugs, you must deal with them immediately. Upon your return home from a vacation, make sure that you wash and dry all of your clothes and bags (if possible) at the highest setting available on your dryer for a minimum of 15 minutes. If you are very diligent with your housekeeping – vacuuming, dusting and washing walls, etc. this can be a deterrent to infestation too.
Consider using a bed bug mattress cover.
These specially designed covers protect your mattress if you do not yet have an infestation and prevent existing bed bugs from escaping the mattress. The bugs that are on the mattress will eventually die because they cannot escape from the cover which has a tightly woven framework. Protective covers should be left in place on the mattress for one year, since bed bugs can live that long without a blood meal.
Products such as disinfectants that you spray to kill bacteria and odours are not an effective tool against bed bugs. You will need to be careful what kind of products you use around your bedroom as far as poisons that kill insects because you will be breathing those in when you lie in your bed. If you plan to use highly toxic products, it is best to avoid sleeping in the bedroom for a few days until the toxins have cleared the air. A better choice is to use products that are effective on the bed bugs but not harmful to humans or pets. The mattress covers are a great option because they do not harm you or your mattress and are extremely affordable.
Finally, you should know that there is no such thing as a stupid question. There are always topics like this one that many people will avoid because they find it distasteful. The truth is that bed bugs are enjoying a population explosion around the world, thanks to how easy it is to travel around the world in modern society. If you flew to Europe and then home to Australia, you might be packing a lot more than souvenirs with you in your luggage! Always be extremely cautious and check your luggage when you return to your home because bed bugs are tenacious little creatures and you do not want your own infestation problem!
I Have A Bed Bug Infestation, How Do I Control It?
The obvious choice is to call in a professional pest control expert who deals with bed bugs, but there are some things you can do yourself to help combat and eradicate the problem.
Bed bugs have flat bodies and love to hide in your bedding and mattress, bed bases and even under the skirting boards. When it’s time to feed they come out and attack.
What you can do to control and infestation:
- Change bed linen
- Vacuum mattresses, carpets, skirting boards and bed frames
- Wash the curtains
- Check inside wardrobes
- Examine any crevices where they might hide & use steam cleaners to kill any bugs and eggs
There are also bed bug sprays and bed bug dust you can use to kill them off. They’re also repelled by certain smells, such as peppermint and eucalyptus.
You can even get special bed bug traps to place under the legs of the bed (depending on the style of bed) so they can’t climb up the legs and attack.
How Can Pestrol Help With This Bed Bug Infestation?
View a selection of our bed bug control products below: