Bed bugs are the mysterious bugs of the house pest world. You have heard of them but you are not sure if you have ever seen one. The most you have heard of bed bugs is probably hearing about them when someone wishes you good night and reminds you to not let the bed bugs bite. But bed bugs are very real. And bed bugs are a very real hassle mainly because an infestation can be quite hard to identify and stop if you do not know what you are looking for.
Fortunately, bed bugs and their telltale signs of infestation can be seen with the naked eye. Just know where and what to look out for and with the right techniques, you will be able to free your home of this blood-sucking bed menace.
This short read here will help you with everything you need to know about how to detect them, eradicate them, and even stop them from infesting your home.
What is a Bed Bug?
Bed bugs or Cimex Lectularius are a species of Cimicid that feed on human blood. Adults are flat, 6-legged, mahogany-colored bugs that are about ¼ inches in length. They get elongated and get swollen and engorged with blood become a dark, reddish-brown hue when fully fed.
Bed bugs are parasitic and only feed on one thing; human blood. Although they have been known to feed on the blood of other warm-blooded animals when the conditions call for it.
Female bed bugs lay 4-7 bug eggs per cluster a day in the right environment and can lay about 200 eggs throughout their whole lifetime. Eggs eventually hatch into nymphs which are a bed bug’s larval form. Nymphs or young bed bugs are transparent versions of adults that take a blood meal from a human host and molts into its next larval stage. The nymph molts through 5 larval stages before turning into an adult capable of reproduction. A bed bug takes a blood meal at the expense of a human host for each of its 5 larval stages.
What are the Most Common Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation?
The reason you and I don't know what bed bugs even look like is that bed bugs are good at hiding. They only come out when actively looking for food and only do so when we are asleep at night. They hide in the hardest to see and reach corners of your house that it's just really hard to know if you have them already.
How do you say that your home has been invaded by these annoying house pests? If you just want to make sure you don’t have them or are suspicious that bed bugs have indeed invaded, check for these signs of bed bugs:
- Bites – Bed bug bites are probably the first sign that will get your alarm bells ringing. They say bed bugs bite in a specific pattern; a line of three bites at a time. However, this is not always the case. Yes, bed bugs may bite in a line but that’s just because the insect is biting for the right spot on your skin that lets blood the easiest. If a bed bug gets it on its first try, then it will not be probing for that second or third bite. Looking out for a welt of itchy red patches of three may not be a good way to say if you have bed bugs at home. Besides, every person reacts to bed bug bites that they may or may not have signs of these bed bug bites at all.
- It is still worth taking note if you have bites that you suspect are made by bed bugs as these can be early signs of bed bugs. But to know for sure if you have a bed bug infestation, refer to the other signs of bed bug infestation in this list.
- A Sweet Musty Odor – They say a bed bug infestation smells of a musty, mildly sweet odor that is similar to the smell of raspberries. If you detect this kind of smell in your living space, then the bed bug infestation has already reached a more advanced stage that you have surely found more sure signs of having bed bugs like bed bug dander, molted shells, and live bed bugs themselves. By this stage, it is wise to call pest control to eliminate your bed bug problem.
- Rust-colored Stains on your Bedsheets or Mattress – These rust-colored stains of dried-up blood are sure signs of bed bugs on bedsheets. If you have no healing scabs on your body that might have bled on your sheets or mattresses, then these bloodstains might have been caused by newly fed bed bugs being crushed by your bed activity at night.
- You may also find dried-up blood on your pajamas, skin, or blanket in the morning. Frequently finding these kinds of rust-colored stains of blood in your sleeping area may be signs that you have a bed bug infestation in your hands.
- Dark Fecal Marks on your Bedsheets or Mattress – Signs of bed bugs on mattress perimeters are mainly dark fecal marks. These dark fecal marks are digested blood excrement made by bed bugs when they have hidden away after their blood meals. They resemble a blot of ink from a fountain pen. Finding dark fecal spots like these are a sign of a bed bug situation.
- Eggs – Bed bug eggs are like tiny white rice grains that are about the size of a pin's head and are usually found stuck to places around your bed like your bed frame, mattress seams, and box spring. They are usually laid in clusters of 5 to 7. Females usually wander beyond your bed area to other living areas humans frequent where their new offspring will have less competition for human hosts. Wandering egg-bearing females are the usual way a bed bug infestation spreads.
- Nymph Shells and Molting – As mentioned previously, a bed bug molts several times before reaching adulthood. This nymph molting is a bed bug’s exoskeleton that it leaves behind to grow into its next stage. Finding shell molts is much easier to find than the bed bugs themselves. These little bed bug-shaped casings are usually found around the infested area.
- The Bed Bugs Themselves – Finding the infesters themselves is the most obvious sign of a bed bug infestation. This does not sound as simple as it sounds because finding live bed bugs out in the open during the day is highly unlikely. Bed bugs prefer wandering around for their next meal during the night when you are already fast asleep.
People normally chance upon bed bugs when they clean their sleeping quarters, change sheets, or rearrange the furniture. Bed bugs are unintentionally exposed when their hiding places are cleaned. When you find one or a few bed bugs, there is usually a small colony of them hiding in the nooks and crannies of your bed area. To know the extent of your bed bug infestation, be sure to do a spring cleaning of your bedroom for bed bugs. Leave no cervices unchecked and clear your space of these bloodsuckers.
Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs are a species that survive and feed only on one thing: human blood. Although they have been known to feed off other warm-blooded animals, our human blood is their most preferred source of sustenance. They have practically evolved to be exclusively human parasites probably because of how easy it is for them to have their nightly meal of fresh human blood.
Take a bed bug’s life in perspective; a bed bug's only food is human blood and it can easily find a lifetime's supply of it if it takes up residence around our beds. Every day a bed bug's human host comes home to sleep, a fresh meal of blood for it is conveniently available. It sleeps and waits during the day, just to wake up to a sleeping you to bite and suck some blood from. Quite efficient. And quite a hassle for us.
How dangerous are bed bug bites? Studies have shown that bed bugs carry many pathogens. Fortunately, they do not transmit these to their hosts through their bites. Even so, these parasites are surely not welcome in any home.
So, how do you tell if you are a bed bug's nightly meal? Are there tell-tale signs that say so? Unfortunately, bed bug bites may look just like any other insect bite. Bed bug bites cause small reddish welt like mosquito bites and the line patterned bites are not always prevalent in bed bug bites. Symptoms may also manifest immediately after or even days after being bitten. The only reliable action one can do is that if you suspect your itchy welts to be from bed bug bites, take all the necessary actions to spot, stop and prevent a bed bug infestation.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are generally transported into your living space through anything that is brought home from anywhere. There are just too many ways they can get into your house. They sneak into whatever tiny space they can fit themselves into like your bags, clothing, shoes, and furniture that you bring home. Buying second-hand furniture, mattresses, box springs, and the like can put your home at risk when you do not thoroughly inspect them for bed bugs. Coming home from public spaces like hotels, restaurants, and hospitals that have older furniture can also be suspect for bringing home these blood-sucking pests.
Bed bugs may also physically crawl into your house especially if you live in apartments that are just walls apart. A bed bug can wander for as long as it takes just to find its next meal. Studies have also proven that a bed bug can go on for months at a time without a sip of blood. Imagine how far a bed bug can crawl in months to find a warm, host-inhabited place like your home.
There is just no telling how bed bugs invade our homes. What is sure is that if there are ways they can invade, they will. What is important is that we prevent their chances of a bed bug infestation and that if we already have one, we take care of it as soon as possible to minimize the trouble bed bugs can cause in our homes.
Take Care of a Bed Bug Problem: Getting Rid of Bed Bugs for Good!
Having signs of bed bug presence in any home deserves immediate attention. Here is a simple guide on how to take care of a bed bug infestation:
1. Identify All Areas Infested by Bed Bugs
Search all suspected areas to identify the degree of the infestation. A thorough search of these parts of your house will be very helpful:
a. Under sheets and blankets
b. Under your mattress and its every nook and cranny
d. Floors under bed
e. Bedside tables
f. All gaps and cracks around the bedroom
2. Contain the Infestation
Now that you know where they are, contain their numbers through a vacuum cleaner to clean out bed bugs and their eggs. Thoroughly vacuum all visible bugs, eggs, and dander. Vacuum areas around infested areas as well to get everything. Seal up everything you vacuumed and take them to a small fire pit in your yard to be purged with fire.
All linen, carpets, and fabric around your home that could be affected should be washed immediately. Wash them in the highest temperature was and dryer settings.
3. Prep for Treatment
Now that you have removed all physical traces of bed bugs, it is time to prepare your place for treatment.
Take care of all nooks and crannies for hiding bed bugs first. Seal out cracks on floors and bedframes, and re-glue loose wallpaper.
a. Steam-clean all mattresses, couches, and cushions that were infested by bed bugs.
b. Pack all suspected infested items in a plastic bag to be left in a closed car parked under the sun on a hot day.
c. Use chemical Insecticide.
Chemical insecticides are readily available from a store. Just don't forget to thoroughly read instructions when going for these chemical treatments for misuse can lead to harmful effects to humans.
d. Use non-chemical solutions.
Safer alternatives to chemical solutions but just as effective.
5. Monitor the Treated Areas
Observe the treated areas for bed bug presence. Retreat these areas if you see signs of bed bugs presence again.
Keep a Clean House Keeps the Bed Bugs Out
Have tighter upkeep of your home. Replace linen and sheets regularly, vacuum the hidden parts of mattresses, cushions, and couches for a more proactive bed bug prevention. Be careful and treat second-hand purchases before incorporating them into your home. Wash luggage in the hottest settings when coming home from a trip. Do all these and keep your lovely home bed bug-free.