How to tell if you have bedbugs in your home

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Bedbugs are small, flat, oval insects which feed off warm blooded animals; usually humans. They are nocturnal, meaning they are mostly active at night, and are known for biting humans while they sleep. They are becoming more and more prevalent around the world, especially in areas with high population density and frequent travel, like the city of Bath in the United Kingdom, where I recently experienced them for myself. According to one pest control expert who came to visit the property, he receives around three calls per day due to bedbug infestations, which has rapidly risen lately due to the huge student nature of the city with it’s two universities.

Bedbugs can be transferred on clothing and luggage, making hotels and bed and breakfasts perfect for their spread, especially as it takes just one pregnant female to be taken home for a large problem to occur in the near future. They can live for over a year without a host (someone to eat) , and cannot be killed via alot of the methods used to treat flea infestations such smoke bombs.

As Kaieteur News online reports, Bedbug infestations are not a sign of bad hygiene or cleanliness. The cleanliness of a house has an effect on the control of bedbug infestations, but is not the cause.

Are Bedbugs harmful?

No, bedbugs are not technically harmful, as they are not thought to transmit diseases like mosquitoes or rats. That is not to say, however, they are not a huge nuisance and a massive cause of stress (as I recently discovered), forcing many people to throw away alot of their possessions rather than go through the hassle of getting them treated, or living out of plastic bags. They are also notoriously resilient and almost always cause insomnia stress and alot of anxiety to sufferers who often fear going to sleep and being eaten alive. Bedbug bites are often intensely itchy and can cause scars. It is also rumored that bedbug bites can cause anemia and other blood-loss related condition, especially in the young, ill or old. If they are unable to reach a human host bedbugs are known to bite small animals such as hamster, rats, cats, dogs and other small warm blooded pets.

To many people, bedbugs are a symptomless problem. Around 50% of people, according to Kaieteur News online, do not react to bedbug bites in any visible form. Our property was badly infested with bedbugs and it can only be assumed that the four previous tenants were unaware of the problem. If you are not happy living under such blissful ignorance, there are several methods to check your home…

What to look for in the bed.

Although bedbugs can survive and inhabit pretty much any area with creases or folds (this includes DVD cases and laptops, for example) they prefer to stay close to your bed (or their dinner table).This makes the bed an ideal place to look for bedbugs, and a perfect place to start.

The first thing to mention is that wooden bed frames make ideal bedbug homes. They can live within the grain of the wood. Certain beds which consist almost entirely of material are pretty much unsalvageable and should be disposed of and replaced upon definite bedbug infestation, as bedbugs are likely to be crawling throughout the entire unit. If you have decided to replace the bed frame because of a bad infestation, I would suggest getting a metal frame which is likely to have far fewer hiding places for the little insects.

Probably the first symptom of bedbugs many will experience is little drips of blood on the sheets underneath where you lay. These drips are simply from bites or are caused by the “host” rolling over in the night and squishing the insect underneath them. You can remove the mattress form the bed frame and inspect the frame more closely too. Using a torch may help if light is limited. There are three main things you should be looking for: eggs, shells, fecal matter and actual live insects of varying sizes. See later in the article for information about what exactly each of these things look like.

If you are unsure whether or not you have bedbugs, one method of identification is to sleep with a torch next to the bed. A little while after falling to sleep, quickly sit up and shine the torch down onto the mattress where you were lying. Do this every so often. Best used in conjunction with other methods of identification.

Article sources:

Knews, www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2009/01/25/the-bedbug/ “The Bedbug: Kaieteur News”. Kaieteur News.

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