What are bed bugs?
The scientific name for bed bugs is Cimex lectularius. They are small, brownish red, flat bugs. They can live for months without feeding.
The physical symptoms of bed bugs are the presence of bug bites. However, some people do not react to the bug bites and may not notice them. Others may have a stronger allergic reaction to them that may require medical attention. Most people do not notice the bug bites until a few days after they occur because the insects inject an anesthetic, a substance that induces insensitivity to pain, before biting.
Bed bugs spread by traveling on items from infested areas. They often travel in clothing or suitcases, but can also travel on furniture, boxes, or linens.
There are many ways you can lower the risk of getting bed bugs:
- Inspect used items before bringing them into your home
- Inspect hotel rooms, especially the mattress and behind the headboard before bringing your luggage in
- Use a protective cover on your mattress
- Vacuum frequently
Who can get it?
Anyone can get bed bugs. Getting bed bugs is not related to the cleanliness of your environment. They have been found in luxurious hotels, at movie theaters, and on airplanes, all of which are cleaned regularly. They gather where people sleep, hiding during the day, and coming out at night to feed.
Diagnosis for bed bugs
There are a few different way you may notice the presence of bed bugs:
- Small red and brown stains on sheets or mattress (crushed bed bugs)
- Dark spots the size of a punctuation mark period (bed bug excrement)
- Small pale yellow husks (eggshells and shed skins)
If you think you have bed bugs make sure to check in the places bed bugs like to hide, such as:
- Seams of furniture
- Behind picture frames
- Corners of drawers
- Where the ceiling meets the wall
- Behind the headboard
Treatments for bed bugs
The best way to get rid of bed bugs permanently is to work with a pest control professional to come up with a plan that combines home remedies and professional pesticide solutions.
Here are things you can do at home to help bed bugs stay away:
Wash and dry clothes and bedding in temperatures of at least 120 degrees
Heat is one of the best ways to kill bed bugs. Pest experts use professional heating elements to kill bedbugs. You can also use a steam cleaner with a diffuser to kill bed bugs hiding in fabrics and baseboards.
Vacuum frequently - at least a few times per week
Vacuuming can suck up bed bugs but it doesn't kill them. Make sure to seal the vacuum bag or trash bag with tape and immediately throw out in the garbage outside of your house.
Freeze items you can not heat or launder
Heat kills bed bugs and so does prolonged exposure to cold temperatures of zero degrees Fahrenheit. You can freeze items like electronics that do not have LCD screens, pictures, books, shoes, and toys. Place the items in a sealed plastic bag prior to freezing and make sure to freeze items for at least four days straight.
In order to keep bed bugs at bay, you need to be vigilant. Keep checking to see if your efforts have worked. If any bed bug eggs are present after treatment, they can come back, so vigilance is key. Experts recommend checking at least once a week for a while after the primary infestation is gone.
Bed bugs are a nuisance for most people. However, some people who have allergic reactions to bed bug bites may need medical treatment for the bites. Getting bed bugs doesn't mean you or your home are dirty. You can get rid of bed bugs with the help of a professional using pesticides, and at-home treatment with vigilance.
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Pests: "How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs."
United States Environmental Protection Agency: "Do-it-yourself Bed Bug Control."
United States Environmental Protection Agency: "Protecting Your Home from Bed Bugs."
University of Minnesota: "Using Freezing Conditions to Kill Bed Bugs."
University of Minnesota: "Vacuuming To Capture Bed Bugs."