BED BUGS – WHAT ARE THEY AND WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
People whose homes have been infested by bed bugs wonder how they got these horrible pests as if they suddenly came out of nowhere. Most people think that good housekeeping is good enough to turn away bed bugs. The truth is, unlike all the other pests that are attracted to unclean surroundings, it does not really matter how clean your home is because bed bugs absolutely do not care about that. Bed bugs are not only nuisance pests, but they are also declared as high health risks by several government agencies, and we are to do well if we prevent the spread of these pests. But the question is, where do bed bugs come from? How on earth did we get them?
Before we dive into that, let us find out what bed bugs are.
Description of bed bugs
Bed bugs are tiny insects that feed on human blood to survive. They are nocturnal, feeding only in the evenings. They are oval in shape and have flat, wingless bodies. They are the size of an Appleseed which is about ⅚ mm long and come in brown, red, or yellow colors. That is before a blood meal; after feeding on blood, however, their bodies bloat and turn red. They are said to be attracted to the heat of the human body. They do not fly or jump, but they can crawl very fast. The female bed bugs lay over a hundred eggs over their lifetime. They spread very rather very quickly so immediate detection and extermination are very important.
Bed bugs do more than just bite and inflict itchiness and pain. They are considered high health risks by U.S. government agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. They are now among the top health hazards in the United States, with their negative effects being felt not only physically, but mentally as well. They do not transmit diseases; their impact on people’s physical well-being goes as far as the bites on the skin, though some exhibit allergic reactions. Psychologically, they torment. Bed bugs are reported to have caused insomnia, stress, anxiety, social isolation, and depression.
Though bed bugs are very small, they can still be seen by the naked eye. Turning on the lights at night may help.
Where do bed bugs come from?
In the United States, Americans usually get bed bugs after traveling to countries where bed bugs are aplenty. Believe it or not, they get these pests after staying in hotel rooms, motels, or other places they stay for days and nights. Note that even 5-star hotels have them. They latch on to luggage, clothes, or anything being carried by people as they travel. They can also latch on to used sofas, used beds or bed frames, and other old items that are bought in thrift stores. Their bodies are so slim that they fit into small spaces can stay there for a very long time. Since bed bugs do not fly, they do not come in through open doors or windows. Bed bugs travel by hitching a ride.
How else do we get bed bugs? Now that you know that bed bugs do not really mind if the house is well maintained or not, can we actually do something to protect ourselves from them? Aside from hitching a ride from our luggage, bed bugs are brought inside the house through household appliances, old furniture, and clothes.
Be extra careful when purchasing pre-loved books from a flea market. Old picture frames might also contain bed bugs and their eggs, and bringing them home would definitely be the start of a bed bug infestation in your home.
Pets can also be a means for the bed bugs to enter our homes. Each time our pets go outdoors to play, they are always at risk of getting bed bugs. When they go back inside the house after a fun time outside, they might already be clutching these bed bugs and carrying them inside.
This is not to demean your next-door neighbor but there are many cases wherein bed bugs get inside someone’s homecoming from, well, the next-door neighbor. Bed bugs spread very quickly, and when your neighbor has them, your house may soon follow.
Once inside the house, where will they hide?
As soon as these pests invade your home, they will soon look for a place to hide. Naturally, they would want to be close to their food source, which is YOU! Therefore, the bedroom is always the first place to look.
They will look for cracks and crevices in the walls, in the furniture, and in the bed frames. They also like to hide in the electrical sockets, drawers, and any small holes that they could find around the bedroom. They will also occupy mattresses, linens, and covers. Eventually, when the infestation becomes heavy, they would find their way to the rest of the house.
Signs that you may have bed bugs
One obvious sign that you have bed bugs is the presence of bed bug bites. Bed bug bites are itchy, followed by a burning sensation on the skin that may last for a few days. Redness on the skin will also be visible. These bites also appear in a straight pattern. Though bed bug bite marks are a 100% sure sign that you have bed bugs, it is not the best indicator. Why? Because bed bug bite marks show up only after 7 to 14 days of being bitten, by which time it would be too late. Bed bugs spread very quickly, so immediate action is needed if you want to control them.
There are other, better ways of detecting bed bugs. If you spot red stains on the mattresses, this could be as a result of the bed bugs being crushed inadvertently by you. You may also notice a sweet, musty smell coming from the bed bugs, which actually come from the pheromones that they expel. You may also find dark spots on your mattress which are actually bed bug feces. Seeing actual bed bugs is also obviously a sure sign that you have a bed bug infestation.
Symptoms of bed bug bites
Bed bug bites usually vanish on their own without any need for intervention, but there have been some instances wherein they become serious and cause an allergic reaction to some.
You do not feel anything the moment the bed bug bites. This is due to the fact that they excrete a tiny bit of anesthesia while they bite, so we sleep soundly even while they go about their business of sucking our blood.
Treating bed bug bites
Like we said earlier, bed bug bites usually resolve on its own. For immediate relief, however, you can do the following:
- Apply an ice pack directly on the affected area. Remember not to use ice directly onto the skin.
- Apple cider vinegar can do the trick. Apply a small amount using a cotton ball onto the affected area and soak in for a few minutes. Afterward, rinse off with warm water.
- Run cold water through the affected area to soothe the pain and itching. You may also use soap and water to clean it.
Can we control bed bugs once they get into our homes?
The short answer to it is yes. The longer answer is that it can be done, but it requires an Integrated Pest Management approach. This means it would require lots of patience if we are to succeed in it. Here are some tips on how to treat for bed bugs.
- Get rid of clutter in the bedroom. Clutter provides lots of hiding places for bed bugs.
- Vacuum clean your bed, couch, sofas, furniture, and other areas where you see the bed bugs. After that, throw away the bag immediately in a garbage can outside the house. Seal the bag to make sure that none of these bed bugs could get back in the house.
- Wash bedding and clothes that are infested at 60 degrees centigrade and put them in a dryer and set it to a high temperature for 30 minutes. This would kill the bed bugs and eggs and nymphs of the bed bugs.
- Move your bed away from walls and furniture.
- Seal cracks, openings, and holes around the house.
- Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around areas where bed bugs might frequent. Diatomaceous earth is made up of fossilized remains of diatoms. This looks like tiny shards of broken glass, capable of inflicting cuts on the bodies of bed bugs, causing them to bleed to death.
If the infestation becomes too heavy for comfort and you need help in getting rid of these bed bugs, then you may simply pick up the phone and call the best charlotte exterminator for bed bugs, Go-Forth Pest Control.
To set an appointment, just dial 336-841-6111. Our friendly operators are standing by.