Here is a very practical guide we have put together that should help you with this bed bug problem
1. Bed Bugs are back
2. What are Bed bugs and are they Dangerous
3. How can you tell if you have Bed Bugs
4. Getting rid of Bed Bugs
5. Preventing Bed Bug Infestations
6. Conclusions: Knowledge and Prevention is the key
BED BUGS ARE BACK
If you want to really shock and surprise the average person, go and tell them that Bed Bugs are once again becoming a major problem in the modern world. When the laughter dies down and the looks of disgust pass, you can calmly explain that in the last 10 years, Bed Bug infestations have almost doubled every year in the United States, Great Britain and Europe. Bed Bugs are turning up with regularity in homes, apartments, hotels, movie theaters and businesses. They have even become a major problem for cruise ships and airlines with travelers often returning home carrying uninvited guests in their luggage.
How is this possible in the modern world? How can an insect that was virtually unheard of in the second half of the 20th century, suddenly reappear to once again plague our sleep? The answer is actually quite obvious. Bed bugs have returned due to easily explained factors. The banning of several major pesticides including DDT is a major reason for the return of Bed Bugs. This, along with over crowding in urban centers and the vast expansion of modern transportation, has allowed Bed Bugs to return with a vengeance.
WHAT ARE BED BUGS AND ARE THEY DANGEROUS
Bed Bugs, scientifically named Cimex lectularius Linnaeus, are a parasitic insect that feed on the blood of mammals. They are nocturnal feeders and they prefer to feed on human beings. They will drink the blood of sleeping victims and leave behind a distinctive three bite pattern that scientists refer to as “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Feeding.” Once they have fed, they will retire to their hiding place, digest their meal, excrete the waste and then return, when it is dark, to feed again and again.
Here is a brief, scientific description of the typical adult Bed Bug. “The adult bed bug is a broadly flattened, ovoid, insect with greatly reduced wings (Schuh and Slater 1995). The reduced fore wings, or hemelytra, are broader than they are long, with a somewhat rectangular appearance. The sides of the pronotum are covered with short, stiff hairs (Furman and Catts 1970). Before feeding, bed bugs are usually brown in color and range from 6 to 9.5 mm in length. After feeding, the body is often swollen and red in color (USDA 1976).” Their larvae are the size, shape and color of a small grain of uncooked, white rice.
Extensive research has been done into the issue of whether or not Bed Bugs are dangerous to human beings. As of 2012, all the results have shown that while Bed Bugs can be a considerable nuisance, they do not transmit any known illness or disease to human beings. While they may cause a great deal of psychological discomfort or fear in human beings, they will not damage our physical health.
You may also wonder if Bed Bug bites are a health concern. When a Bed Bug first bites, they inject some of their saliva into the bite wound. This serves as an anti-coagulant to keep the blood flowing as they drink and as an anesthetic to prevent the victim from feeling the bite or the feeding. The medical consensus is that Bed Bug bites are generally harmless but on rare occasions they can become a problem.
Bed Bug bites are generally a series of small red bumps. More often than not the bites are minor and disappear quickly but they can cause a serious rash if the bites are scratched. If an individual is allergic, they may have a reaction to the bites and a severe rash will result that requires medical treatment but this is quite uncommon. If you are bitten by Bed Bugs, avoid scratching the bites and use an anti-itch cream if the bites start to itch or swell.
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF YOU HAVE BED BUGS
By now you are probably a bit creep-ed out and wondering how you can tell if you are the victim of a Bed Bug infestation. Most often, suspicions are aroused when a person starts to wake up with bites on their body after a night’s sleep. These bites will primarily appear on the parts of the body that are uncovered while you sleep, such as arms and lower legs. If you sleep in the nude, the bites will appear all over, with particular emphasis on the side of your body that was not in contact with the mattress.
After waking up for several nights in a row with bites, you should do an inspection for Bed Bugs. They are most often found between the mattress and box spring of a bed or under the bottom bed sheet but they can also be found hiding in cracks and crevices, cabinets and drawers, picture frames, drapes and curtains, sofas and other furniture.
Take a flashlight and start your inspection. Look between the mattress and box spring and under your bottom sheet. Bed Bugs are quite efficient at quickly processing their meals and will litter the area they inhabit with their droppings. To the naked eye, these droppings will look as if someone dusted the area with black pepper. You should also look for evidence of molt husks in their hiding places and you may find blood smears on your sheets from their bites.
In addition to their droppings, blood smears and molt shells, you should of course look for actual bed bugs. They will most often be found as close as possible to their victims in a dark area. Again, their favorite hiding place will be between your mattress and box spring or under your bed sheets. They may also be living in the bedding of a pet or in a favorite chair or sofa. Take you flashlight and look slowly and carefully inspect any place you, your family or a household pet may have sat or slept. If you find any of the above evidence along with a colony of small, flat, reddish brown insects, you have most likely been invaded by Bed Bugs.
GETTING RID OF BED BUGS
OK. Now all the evidence points to a Bed Bug infestation. What should you do to deal with the problem? The one thing you should not do is panic. Take a deep breath and calmly decide if you want to try to deal with the situation on your own or if you want to hire a professional exterminator to assist you. Be aware that getting rid of a well established Bed Bug colony is a difficult and time consuming job. It will take a great deal of effort and work on your part and if you hire a professional, it may be quite expensive.
If you decide to hire a professional to help you get rid of Bed Bugs, make sure to investigate and hire someone with a good reputation, experience in dealing with Bed Bugs and solid business references. Once you select the professional to assist you, listen to their instructions and follow them to the letter. Do not try to cut corners or disregard their advice. If you hire a professional, let them take charge and act as your guide.
If you decide to deal with a Bed Bug infestation on your own, you must understand that you are in for a struggle. You will have to devote several days of your life to treating your entire home to get rid of your unwelcome insect invaders.
It is important to mention that you should take any live Bed Bugs you find and collect them in a sealed jar to show to your landlord, if you have one, and to a professional exterminator, to verify that they are actually Bed Bugs. This important step may save you a great deal of pain and suffering later if it turns out that they are not bed bugs.
Once you have verified that you actually have Bed Bugs, the hard work begins. Whatever you do, resist any temptation you may have to set off a bug bomb. This is the worst thing you can do and it will not get rid of all of your Bed Bugs. It will drive them deeper into hiding and may contaminate your home or sicken your family members.
You will have to gather all the bedding in your home and wash it in hot water twice and then dry it twice on high heat to kill any Bed Bugs or their eggs. You will also have to do the same for all cushions and coverings on your furniture and even for drapes and curtains. All of this material must be stored in sealed plastic bags prior to washing and then placed in fresh, sealed plastic bags afterwards.
All the clothing in your home will have to be bagged and either washed and dried just like the bedding or sent in sealed plastic bags to a dry cleaner, who has been informed of the problem and is willing to handle your clothing. It is imperative that you are honest with the dry cleaners as you do not want to run the risk of contaminating the store and getting sued later.
The next step involves what will be a difficult and potentially costly decision. You will either have to thoroughly clean and disinfect all your bedding and furniture (especially sofas and fabric covered, cushioned chairs) or throw it out and replace it. If you decide to keep your bedding and furniture, you will either have to steam clean it and then vacuum it or place each item in a special Bug Bug Proof plastic bag. Fortunately, there are quite a few companies that manufacture products specifically for this purpose and they often work quite well.
In addition to disinfecting and cleaning all your bedding, clothing and furniture, you will also have to vacuum and treat all the rugs and carpet in your home. By now you are probably becoming aware of just how difficult it can bed to get rid of a Bed Bug infestation. It is no accident that many families choose to check into a hotel for a week or two and let the professionals go to work getting rid of their Bed Bugs. Whatever you decide, it will be a costly and time consuming effort that will require a great deal of knowledge, patience and elbow grease.
PREVENTING BED BUG INFESTATIONS
After reading this article up to this point, you are probably a bit worried. There is some good news and that is that the best way to deal with Bed Bugs is to learn how to prevent them from ever invading your life in the first place. The information and the tools you need to do this are all easily found and affordably purchased. What you will need to do is to learn the basics of how to protect your home against Bed Bugs and what products will help prevent them from being able to survive if they ever find their way into your dwelling.
Bed Bugs have many ways of moving from place to place. You could say the are possibly the world’s best and most insidious hitchhikers. The most innocent of actions, such as hanging your coat in a check room at a restaurant, could allow a Bed Bug to climb from a coat from an infested home onto your coat. Later, after a wonderful meal, your take your uninvited and quite pregnant female Bed Bug to your lovely house to start a new colony in your home.
Bed Bugs may also find their way into your life by hiding in a shipping carton or a grocery bag. They may be on the clothing of a visitor to your home or even in your kid’s school book bag. There are so many ways for a Bed Bug to enter your home that you may wonder if it is possible to keep them out.
Thankfully, keeping Bed Bugs out of your house or apartment is not an impossible job. As a first step, do some research and try to find out of there is a Bed Bug problem in the area you live. Check the internet or call an exterminator you know or may already use. Then establish a safe area in your home at the entrance to your dwelling that is open, well lit and carpet free. Have your guests and family members remove there coats in this area and keep outer garments in a carpet free closet. All bags and boxes brought into your home should be unpacked and inspected in your safe area.
Of course, this is only the first step. The key to protecting your home from any Bed Bugs that may make it past your outer defenses is to use an effective Bed Bug prevention Product like the Bed Defense System through out your home. Place traps in each room of your home, in closets and cupboards, under furniture and beds and between bedding and cushions to provide a solid layer of protection.
When you travel, there are some important guide lines that you must follow. Before you leave home, place a Bed Bug trap in each piece of luggage and bring extra traps with you to place around your hotel room. Always inspect any hotel room you stay in for Bed Bugs before you unpack and NEVER, EVER place your luggage or clothing on a hotel room bed. Keep your luggage on a metal luggage rack that is away from contact with any furniture or walls and place hanging clothes in a zippered garment bag before you hang it in the closet. When you return from your trip, inspect all your luggage and clothing for Bed Bugs in your safe area and seal all unused luggage in Bed Bug proof bags. Place all the clothing from your trip in sealed plastic bags and either wash it or dry clean it before putting it away.
It is also important to mention that you should avoid purchasing second hand bedding and furniture. Buying a used mattress is a risk that is just not worth taking and even used furniture should be fully inspected and treated for Bed Bugs before you even consider bringing any into your home. With Bed Bug infestations on the rise, buying your bedding new may turn out to be the least expensive purchase you ever make if you consider the cost of removing a Bed Bugs colony that entered your home in a second hand mattress.
CONCLUSIONS: KNOWLEDGE AND PREVENTION IS THE KEY
You could probably spend 24 hours a day trying to protect your home from Bed Bugs and there would still be no absolute guarantee that you would be 100% safe. This article is intended to serve as an introduction to the Bed Bug problem and a general guide to the basics of dealing with the resurgence of Bed Bugs. It is imperative, that as a home owner or apartment renter, you make every effort to become educated and informed about preventing Bed Bugs from invading your life and turning your sweet dreams into costly nightmares.
The key is knowledge. There is a wealth of information on Bed Bugs available for free on the internet. The World Wide Web is probably your number one ally against Bed Bugs. There are literally dozens of useful websites and thousands of great articles on the Web that will answer your questions in depth and guide you each step of the way to protect yourself from Bed Bugs
It is also a very good idea to be pro-active and take solid steps to protect your home from bed bugs. Once again the internet is a marvelous guide that will direct you to best and most up to date products to prevent Bed Bug infestations and remove any Bed Bugs that may make their way into your home. There are wonderful, environmentally friendly, child and pet safe products like the Bed Defense System that you can research and purchase from Bed Bug Prevention Websites.
Bed Bugs are making a come back and we can assure you, in no uncertain terms, the last thing you want to do is deal with a thriving, well fed colony of Cimex lectularius Linnaeus. It will be much easier and much less costly, to take some time in advance to become knowledgeable and well informed about Bed Bugs. It will be much easier to use Bed Bug prevention products to keep Bed Bugs out of your home in the first place, rather than to spend a week or two of hard work to remove them later. Even worse, no one wants a bill for several thousand dollars from a professional exterminator in addition to a large hotel bill and the cost of replacing all your bedding and your furniture.
In the end, the choice is yours. You can take a few hours of your time now and learn about Bed Bugs. You can spend a small amount of money now to protect your home from Bed Bugs. You can be pro-active and prevent all the horrors of a full fledged Bed Bug infestation. OR, you can say, “It won’t happen to me” and ignore the problem and hope for the best. It is totally up to you but the wise decision is to take the steps necessary to prevent Bed Bugs from ever entering your life. No one should wake up covered with Bed Bug bites when it could easily be prevented with a small amount of knowledge, effort and affordable protection.