Bedbugs – Education, Elimination and Prevention

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Bedbugs (bed bugs) or Cimex Lectularius Linnaeus, are small, flat, wingless insects that feed on warm blooded animals, mostly humans. They range in color from nearly white just after molting to tan or dark brown. After feeding, they become bright red and swollen resembling an entirely different insect. The skin lesion produced by the bedbug bite resembles that of a mosquito bite, therefore the bites alone do not identify the culprit. Bedbugs have not been found to carry or transmit diseases to their host, however, scratching the bug bite may lead to a secondary infection. Usually no treatment is required for bedbug bites but if itching is severe enough then steroid creams or oral antihistamines can provide some relief.

During the day, bedbugs hide in cracks or crevices near beds or places where people sleep. The majority of bedbugs are found in mattresses and foundations/boxsprings or within fifteen feet of the bed.  At night they emerge from their hiding spots to feed – however if they are hungry enough they will venture out during the day to find a host. These parasites can live more than a year without food, surviving in infrequently used hotel rooms and apartment buildings until their next victim arrives.

Bedbugs do not just appear out of nowhere in a home or apartment. They cannot fly, therefore most of the time bedbugs are transported by people from place to place. The most common ways bedbugs are transported is on luggage, clothing, pillows, boxes and other objects when they are moved between apartments, homes, and hotels. Used furniture has the greatest risk of being infested by bedbugs or their eggs. Bedbugs can also wander between adjoining apartments.

If you suspect you have bedbugs then you should inspect the bedroom and other sleeping areas for bedbug activity. It is advised that you check the following places around the sleeping area for bedbugs and their eggs: folds and creases in bed linens, seams and tufts ofmattresses and boxsprings. Other locations within the room include: curtain pleats, beneath loose wall paper, corners of desks and dressers, within spaces of wicker furniture, behind electrical switch plates, pictures on walls, and wall posters.  Electrical appliances like radios, telephones, and televisions can also be a source of activity. Tack strips under wall-to-wall carpeting, behind baseboards, in laundry and other clutter round out the main list of places to check. Sometimes dark brown or reddish, rusty spots are left on bedding or in hiding spaces from the liquid feces bedbugs produce. In heavily infested areas you can detect a musty, sweet smell from the oily secretions of the bedbugs.

If you have an infestation, do not immediately throw out your furniture. You must take careful steps to stop the infestation in your home and outside of your home. First, limit hiding places for bed bugs by reducing clutter. Dismantle bed frames to uncover more hiding spots. Next, thoroughly clean infested rooms as well as others in the house. Use a stiff brush to scrub infested surfaces in order to dislodge eggs. Use a powerful vacuum to remove bugs from cracks and crevices, along baseboards, etc. Personal items such as stuffed animals, blankets, soft toys, and electronic equipment should also be vacuumed and bagged with special non residual insecticide strips.  Discard the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed plastic bag. Garments and bed linens should be laundered in water that is 120 degrees Fahrenheit or greater. Remove drawers from desks and dressers and turn furniture upside down to find and clean hiding spots. Finally, mattresses and boxsprings can be encased in special mattress bags and still be used, sometimes, depending on the severity of the infestation. Make sure there are no openings or punctures in the bag and the trapped bugs will eventually die.

To prevent future infestations, caulk and seal holes where pipes and wires penetrate walls and floors and fill in cracks around baseboards and cove moldings. To prevent bedbugs from crawling onto a bed, pull the bed frame away from the wall. Tuck in sheets and blankets so that they do not touch the floor and place the frame legs into dishes or cups of mineral oil. When traveling or staying at a hotel, never place luggage near the bed and vacuum your luggage and garments as soon as you return home.

About the Author: Millie Jackson writes for Mattress Warehouse, an online mattress retailer for the mid-Atlantic region. Found at SleepHappens.com, their selection includes a wide variety of mattress and bedding products, from popular sizes like a standard queen mattress to more special sizes like twin extra long and California king. The website also offers a wide range of products, from more standard foam mattresses, to higher-end latex and visco mattresses.

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