Bed Bug 101 – The Truth About Bed Bugs
Most everyone knows the old saying, “good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” Well, just the mere mention of bed bugs can make your skin crawl and have you experience phantom itching. While bed bugs are indeed real and can pose a problem, it is important to know the facts and misconceptions about these little bugs, to understand exactly what you are dealing with. Bed bugs can be found in homes, hostels, hotels and motels, and can live in many different climates.
Many people believe that bed bugs are found only in beds, hence the name. The fact is, bed bugs live on human blood, and sometimes even animal blood, so if there are people in the room, there may be bed bugs. Bed bugs are nocturnal insects, meaning they awaken and function at night. If there are other sleeping areas, such as on the couch or floor, bed bugs can settle in these places, as well. With a more severe infestation, bed bugs can move into furniture, cracks in the floors and walls, and into fabrics such as clothing. Living rooms and other areas where there is a lot of human activity can also be susceptible for bed bugs.
Bring up bed bugs, and many people will be quick to believe that only dirty homes and people get them. This is not true. Bed bugs are not a sign of dirty homes, and can show up in the most sanitary private homes and even five-star hotels. Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt- they are attracted to people, regardless of their level of cleanliness. It can be hard to spot bed bugs, as they are small and flat. Adult bed bugs are usually about the size of an apple seed. The adults are brown until they ingest blood, which turns them a more reddish-brown. Unfortunately, they are hiders, and since they only appear at night, it can be difficult to spot them. If you see reddish or brownish streaks on your sheets, this may be a sign that you have an infestation.
Bed bugs are also thought to transmit diseases, but there hasn’t been any proof to suggest this is true. The World Health Organization conducted extensive research in Africa and concluded that there is no documentation that bed bugs can transmit any disease. Bed bug bites look like small welts or red bumps, and can burn and itch. When you get bitten by a bed bug, you may not feel it for five minutes, so many people experience a good deal of bites before realizing it, especially when they attack during sleep. A bed bug bite should be washed with soap and water, and many people find the use of ice packs and anti-itch creams soothing.
While bed bug bites do not carry disease, they can get infected if not treated properly. You will know this if there is any inflammation or discharge from the bite. You may want to see a doctor if you believe a bed bug bite has become infected.
If you have a bed bug infestation, you will want to make sure you kill them before it gets worse. Wash everything that you think has come in contact with the bugs in very hot water, and dry on very high heat. This includes sheets, pillow cases, blankets, towels, clothes, throw rugs, and bed spreads. Vacuum your area relentlessly, and use a hose attachment to get into hard to vacuum spaces. Unfortunately, if even one bed bug couple escapes your efforts, your infestation can begin again. You may want to speak to an exterminator up front to get rid of the infestation for good, all at once. They may even offer a money-back guarantee if they do not kill the infestation, or will come out again for free if you find any bugs within a certain period of time after the treatment.