Bed bugs are the stuff of nightmares, and they are making a comeback in the United States.
International travel, places that have a high turnover of guests (homeless shelters, hotels, dorms, hospitals) and the ability to easily travel between hotel rooms and apartments are all contributing factors in the bed bug's resurgence.
These bloodsucking bugs are expert travelers, hitching rides on purses, suitcases, and clothing. The pesky little devils can travel 100 feet in a single night, but they tend to stay within eight feet of where humans sleep.
Everyone is at risk when visiting an infected area. All they really need is a good hiding place and a food supply - human blood.
About the Bed Bug
Bed bugs have a flat, oval shape, are about the size of an apple seed, and are reddish-brown in color. The wingless little pests come out in force in the dark. They are difficult to spot during the light of day, as they hide in cracks and crevices anywhere and everywhere, including behind switch plates, electrical outlets, moldings, and even wallpaper!
The insects shed their skin repeatedly while they grow, a process that requires sustenance - in the form of human blood - although they can survive for several months without a meal.
Bed bugs enjoy a lifespan of up to 12 months, but females lay as many as 200 eggs during that time. It's those eggs and newborns you've got to find in order to rid yourself of the bugs, and it's not always easy because they are almost colorless.
The Bed Bug's Impact on Health
The bites are generally red and sometimes have a darker red spot in the middle. They are usually found in clusters around the hands, arms, neck, and face.
Bed bugs inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from feeling the bite, so you may not even realize you've even been bitten until the bite marks show up.
Anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has an increased risk of being bitten and of spreading a bed bug infestation. No one is spared the risk, and infestation is not necessarily a sign of uncleanliness.
There is no evidence to suggest that bed bugs spread disease, but that doesn't make their bite harmless. While some people show no reaction to the bite, others experience itching, blisters, or hives. Itching and redness subside within a week or two. In rare instances, anaphylaxis can result. Bites can also lead to secondary infection of the skin, such as impetigo, ecthyma, and lymphanigitis. Anxiety, insomnia, and systemic reactions have also been reported. (Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Dispose of infested mattresses and box springs, or cover them tightly with plastic to trap the bugs. Do the same with pillows and stuffed animals.
Wash clothes and bedding in HOT water and dry on HIGH HEAT. A temperature of 120 F (49 C) will kill bed bugs.
Thoroughly clean and vacuum your home, including cracks in floors, etc.
Clean suitcases, tote bags, and purses.
Remove clutter in the bedroom and throughout the house.
Seal cracks and crevices.
If you suspect a bed bug infestation at a hotel or other place you've visited, alert the owners.
If you cannot get rid of the bedbugs yourself, contact a reliable insect control organization for treatment choices. Exterminators rate bed bugs more difficult to get rid of than ants, termites, or cockroaches. This is because bed bugs can become resistant to chemical treatments very quickly. Green pest control companies resort to physical tactics such as heat/cold treatment and vacuuming, with targeted chemical treatment using the least-toxic options if necessary. Learn more about how to protect our homes from pests and green pest control companies in the Seattle WA area.