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HOW TO GET RID OF BED BUGS
Helping rid homes & businesses of bed bug infestations
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are parasitic insects, and their appearance varies at each stage of life: egg, nymph, and adult. Their sole source of nutrition is blood from warm-blooded mammals, with people being their favorite hosts. Adult bed bugs are brownish-red and about the same size and shape of an apple seed. After feeding, their bodies swell and turn a purple-red color. Nymphs are smaller and are transparent, turning bright red after feeding. Eggs are very tiny – only the size of a pinhead –and almost impossible to see.
When bed bugs get into homes, they bring with them sleepless nights and stress-filled days. Their bites produce red raised welts that are very itchy; secondary infections may develop due to excessive scratching. Although bed bugs are nuisance pests, they can harbor some disease-causing pathogens. Bed bug excrement, and blood left from their bites, stains walls, floors, fabrics, upholstery, mattresses, and box springs. With large infestations, you may also notice a sweet, musty smell developing in your home.
What do bed bugs look like?
Bed bugs are brown or red with flat, oval-shaped, segmented bodies, two antennae, and six legs. Fully grown bed bugs are translucent and about the same size and shape as an apple seed (about 3/16 to ¼ of an inch).
After feeding, adult bed bugs’ bodies swell and turn a purple-red color. Nymphs have transparent bodies, which are invisible when they haven’t eaten, but will look bright red after feeding. Bed bug eggs are tiny and also almost impossible to see. They are shorter than one millimeter, about the size of a pin-head or a fleck of salt, and often white in color.
How long do bed bugs live?
An adult bed bug has a lifespan that can range typically from two to four months; however, if unchecked and part of a very favorable environment, some bed bugs can live up to a year.
The life cycle of a bedbug is broken down into seven stages. An adult female lays between one to five eggs a day. A single bedbug can lay 200 to 250 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs can hatch between 6 to 10 days. A newly-hatched nymph will then feed and shed its exoskeleton to grow to the next stage. Nymphs can take as little as five weeks or up to four to six months to grow into a full adult.
As a general rule, bed bugs feed every 10 days. This process repeats until they reach adulthood.
Where do bed bugs come from?
Accidentally encountering bed bugs and introducing them into your home can happen during the travel process or while completing day to day activities. They live and hide in a variety of locations, usually in public places where groups of people come and go each day. Hotels, airports, taxis, movie theaters, hospitals, shopping centers, and libraries are all places people can encounter bed bugs. Bed bugs also hitchhike their way inside of used mattresses and box springs, used furniture or electronics, clothes, or any other single item that was in a bed bug-infested room. If you live in an apartment, bed bugs can spread within a building from the neighboring suite to your home.
How to check for bed bugs
Bed bugs got their name because they gravitate to the sleeping areas near people initially. Common hiding spots for bed bugs include headboards, mattresses, and box springs. If you don’t eliminate an infestation quickly, the bed bugs will travel to other parts of a home, including upholstered furniture, floors, behind baseboards, in wall voids behind outlets, and inside keyboards and electronics.
Bed bugs tend to come out at night and prefer to stay hidden. Catching a live bed bug in the open is nearly impossible. If you do see one crawling over your bedding, the infestation in your home may be so severe that getting rid of them will take more effort and time (and maybe some professional help).
Checking some of their favorite hiding spots more closely is one way to check for bed bugs. Monitoring any bite marks on your family, your pets, or yourself is another way.
Where do bed bugs hide?
Bed bugs thrive in places where people rest long enough to allow the bugs to finish feeding undisturbed. Feeding times for bed bugs are between 3 to 10 minutes.
After feeding, bed bugs tend to hide out of sight in nooks and crevices you may not expect. Knowing how bed bugs eat and survive will help you look at the common living areas below for any indicators of a bed bug infestation.
Your bed is most desirable to a bed bug looking to grow its brood. Food sources are always close by and there are so many places to burrow until it’s time to feed again or lay eggs.
Check for unusual spots on the sheets, pillow, mattress pad, mattress, and every seam and crevice of your bed. This includes your headboard, bed frame, the floor, especially if you have an area rug or carpet, and other places around your bed.
Your average favorite show on TV lasts about 25 minutes, which is plenty of time for bed bugs to feel sated until their next meal. Any upholstered piece of furniture where people hang around on a regular basis works well for bed bugs. This could be an armchair, ottoman, or even a wheelchair. Check every side of your seat and under the cushions for dark spots.
Baseboards and door hinges
So long as it is close to their blood supply, bed bugs will be there. That’s why baseboards, particularly in the bedroom and living areas where you frequently relax, are decent spots for bed bugs to live. They’re not only excellent and convenient hiding spots but also the fastest way to travel from one room to another.
Bed bugs can choose any unusual spot that has crevices, including door hinges, so long as it is close enough to you, their food source.
A spreading bed bug infestation can travel through walls and floors into adjacent rooms. Another access point besides baseboards are light sockets, outlets, and switches. These little nooks are great places for the bugs to hide until they are ready to feed when you’re sitting next to outlet by your desk, in your favorite chair, or fast asleep in bed.
Your laptop can easily house bed bugs in all of your keyboard crevices. Other places that have little electronic spaces for plugs (and bed bugs) are TVs, computer CPUs, and fans or air purifiers. If any of these electronics came from an infested area, bed bugs may be hiding in there.
Signs of a bed bug infestation in your home
Now that you know where to look, the next step is to know the markers of a bed bug infestation. Bites can be a sign you are housing these guests in your home, but a bite from a bed bug may look similar to a bite from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, mites, or lice.
Here are some other signs to watch out for so you can stop a bed bug infestation in its tracks.
When bed bugs finish feeding off of you, they might leave some undried blood on your skin, which may also transfer to your sheets. As you sleep, you can also crush a bed bug if you land on it, which can leave any undigested blood from their body as a smear on your sheets, pillow, or upholstered furniture.
Inspect for black, brown, or dark red spots, which may look like a pen or marker ink on fabric and upholstery. You can also look for dry, beady spots on hard surfaces.
These smear marks are bed bug excrement or bodies of crushed bed bugs. Spots clustered in one area are signs of an early infestation; however, they will spread out over time.
Catching a whiff of that sweet, musty scent lingering in your room means you may have a colony of bed bugs living with you. This scent can also smell rusty due to the oxidized iron in your digested and discarded blood.
Bed bugs also use these chemicals to communicate with each other. Therefore, this scent is more noticeable as the colony grows larger.
Shells or casings
Bed bugs have skeletons outside their bodies. They shed these shells or casings about five times as they molt during their growth phase into adulthood. These translucent exoskeletons can appear yellowish to light brown and can be found near their nesting area. Look for shell-like remains under your bed, in the bed frame, and under the couch cushions.
How can I prevent bed bugs in the future?
In addition to our professional services, the following prevention tips will help you to keep bed bugs out of your home or business:
- Regularly vacuum your home, not forgetting the seams of mattresses, box springs, and upholstered furniture.
- After returning home from travel, wash all clothing on the highest heat setting the fabrics can handle.
- Never purchase used mattresses, box springs, or upholstered furniture for use inside your home.
- Vacuum and wipe down suitcases used during vacation.
- After purchasing clothes from retail stores or second-hand stores, immediately wash and dry them.
- Reduce hiding spots in your home by placing bed bug proof covers over all mattresses and box springs.
- When traveling, use suitcases with hard sides and always inspect your hotel room for bed bugs before bringing luggage and other personal belongings inside.
Eliminating bed bugs is a difficult task, and a job that is best left up to trained and experienced professionals. For home and business owners looking to eliminate bed bugs, Hawx Pest Control offers comprehensive pest control services. Our industry-leading services use the latest techniques and best products to provide our customers with peace of mind and pest-free properties.