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While bed bugs have been around for a few thousand years, they have been virtually undetectable since the 1950’s. In recent years bed bug infestations have become more and more common with the decrease in pesticide effectiveness. You may be wondering how to detect bed bugs in your home or where you are staying. Below you will find more information about bed bugs, what they look like, where you may find them, and how and where to look for them.
What is a bed bug?
A bed bug is a blood-sucking nuisance and pest. It will feed on the host’s blood. Generally the host is human, though bed bugs have used chickens, mice, and rabbits as well. There are various stages of growth for this bug, which identifies its age.
What does a bed bug look like?
An adult bed bug is oval-shaped. It can vary in length slightly, but generally is about ¼ of an inch long. The color is reddish-brown and the insect has no wings. Their bodies are entirely flat but become slightly engorged directly after feeding on blood. The entire growth cycle from larvae to adult occurs within a month if the conditions are ideal. The life cycle varies, but these bed bugs don’t last long. A female can lay up to five eggs a day, but generally only does one or two. The eggs hatch in about a week, beginning the life cycle.
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How to detect bed bugs
You may be wondering how to detect bed bugs. What are the signs of a possible infestation and what do they mean? Below you will find the signs bed bugs leave and the places where you should look for them to be hiding when it is daylight.
- Check your mattress. This is generally where bed bugs hang out. The corners and the seams will likely show signs of the pests. Look for casings from when the bugs molted and any stain-like areas. If you aren’t finding anything, move on to other places in your home or office.
- Check your box spring. The same thing goes for the box spring that you did for your mattress. You will need to look in the corners and the seams. Box springs should be easier to detect bed bugs on, but they are sneaky bugs. Make sure you tip it over to check the underside as well because many overlook this step and miss signs of an infestation.
- Upholstered furniture. Usually bed bugs like to find a home in the seam of the furniture. Couches, chair, and recliners seem to be the optimal places for the pests to take up residence.
- Interception devices. These work similar to ant hotels. When the bed bugs catch wind of the scent, they are enticed inside and trapped. These should be placed near the legs of furniture, near the bed, and anywhere else you think is necessary. Check these devices once every few days for any activity.
- Mattress and box spring covers. If you have a little bit of extra money, you should definitely get zip covers for your mattress and box spring. This will not only help you detect bed bugs, it will help to prevent them. Check the outer parts of the covers for any signs of bed bugs. They will have no other place to go and if there is a problem, you will be able to see it.
- Call in an exterminator. This is going to be one of the only ways you will be sure whether or not you have a bed bug problem. An exterminator knows how to detect bed bugs and will be clear about where they are located and the next steps you will need to take.
How can bed bugs get into your home or personal space?
There are several ways bed bugs may find their way into your home. From traveling to a friend coming over with one on their clothing or items, the possibilities are endless. Below you will find some of the ways the bed bugs may have entered your home.
- From a visitor. While bed bugs typically don’t attach themselves to hosts, they can travel on one from time to time. If you have invited someone into your home who has an infestation, their bed bugs may also end up in your home.
- Bringing used furniture or clothing into your home. With social media hyping up buy, sell, trade sites, used items are being transferred more easily. Avoid buying used couches, mattresses, and upholstered furniture if you can. These are prime spots for bed bugs and sometimes their presence is not easily detected. If you are buying used clothing, place it in a sealed bag and take it directly to be washed and dried.
- Dumpster diving. This is when you see something on the side of the road with the trash, or next to a dumpster. Generally furniture like that shouldn’t be touched. Many people throw out items that have been infested.
- Traveling and staying in a hotel. If you are going to be staying at a hotel, make sure your items stay away from the bed and furniture and are kept high off the floor. Keep your personal items in a sealed clear bag to avoid bed bugs tagging along with your luggage on your way home.
How do you get rid of bed bugs?
After you have detected bed bugs in your home or office, you will need to take the steps necessary to get rid of them. Below you will find suggestions on how you can get rid of bed bugs once they are present in your personal space.
- Call an exterminator. This is going to be quite costly, but worth it in the long run. Many local companies will offer competing rates. Call around and find the best one, and also ask about guarantees offered. You want to make sure your issue will be addressed thoroughly and a call back will be honored if necessary.
- Vacuum. It is said that vacuuming will collect the bed bugs instantly. While this is only a temporary solution to a large problem, it is a good place to start.
- Over the counter chemicals. There are several brands that you can buy at hardware stores to try that offer the solution to bed bugs. Make sure you read the directions and caution labels thoroughly, especially if you have pets or young children.
- Make sure all of the furniture you are getting rid of is slashed. Sometimes buying a new mattress or piece of furniture is worth the money to know the bugs will be leaving your home. If you are putting out infested couches, chairs, or mattresses, slash them up with a knife. This will help avoid anyone else picking them and spreading the bugs.
Ways to keep bed bugs away
Whether you are trying to prevent bed bugs or refrain from having a recurrence, there are some steps you can take.
- Place all furniture legs in glass dishes. This will prevent bed bugs from getting to couches and other upholstered furniture. Bed bugs cannot climb on smooth surfaces.
- Vacuum frequently. Ideally you should vacuum every other day but if bed bugs are worrying you or you are just recovering from an infestation, you should be doing it daily.
- Use mattress and box spring covers. This will allow for no access to the items, and will bring an infestation to light much easier. A pillow cover that zips up is also a good idea – like this one.
Learning how to detect bed bugs is important. What was almost extinct for nearly five decades has been coming back rapidly. Because of the decreased effectiveness in chemicals, bed bugs are beginning to make a fierce comeback. They used to be associated with less than ideal living conditions, but now that is no longer the case.
If you believe you have an infestation and have used the how to detect bed bugs guidelines mentioned above and found signs, you need to address the issue immediately. The earlier the infestation is caught, the easier it will be to deal with.
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