Cats, Bed Bugs and What To Do About Them
Watch the news or pick up a newspaper and it doesn’t take long to realize that bed bugs infestations have reached epidemic proportions. There are weekly news stories, particularly in certain areas of the country, involving bed bugs populating retail clothing stores, hotel chains and even movie theaters. For a new homeowner, bed bugs can be devestating and seem impossible to get rid of. A general understanding of how these parasites are introduced to a home and the steps required to exterminate them can help put one’s mind at ease.
Bed bugs are hitchhiking parasites. Traditionally, they lived and fed in hotels and traveled on unsuspecting guests’ clothing or luggage. Bed bugs are often erroneously associated with the cleanliness of a particular location when in fact, even the best hotels and resorts fall victim to infestation. They populate at a massive rate and will continue to thrive as long as blood is available to them. Bed bugs tend to make their home in mattresses, any fabric furniture or carpets.
There are many ways to reduce the risk of bed bugs in a new home. Prior to moving into a new home, a thorough cleaning, particularly carpets, can kill any bugs or eggs still living in the rugs. As money-saving as it may be, do not bring second-hand mattresses or furniture into a new home. Bug proof mattress covers are a great investment as well. Pets, particularly dogs and cats, are a great mode of bed bug transportation as well. Keep pets indoors or, in the alternative, examine them thorougly with a tick comb when they return from the outdoors.
Realize that even with the best preventive measures, bed bugs can still find their way into a home. The first step is to determine if the problem is indeed these parasites. Bed bugs are visible to the naked eye and although they tend to burrow deep into a mattress during the day, they do come out during the evening to feed. Following a feeding, a slumbering victim may bleed small amounts which will also be visible on the mattress. After stripping the mattress of any bedding, thorougly inspect both the mattress and the boxspring for small stains, either blood or bed bug fecal spotting. If stains are located, inspect the mattress with a flashlight in the pre-dawn hours when bed bugs are likely to emerge.
Once bed bugs are determined, there are many methods of eradicating them. All methods can be costly and time consuming. The most expensive, and permanent, way to rid a home of bed bugs is to simply call an exterminator. If a homeowner is unable to expend the cost associated with a professional, there are still options. All infected mattress should be immediately discarded, or at the very least, placed in a bed bug proof mattress cover. This includes any sofas or pet bedding that may have been affected. All clothing, sheets, comforters and pillows should be washed in hot water and once clean, kept at a separate location. The entire home should be vacuumed wall to wall, as should all living room furniture. All furniture should be pulled to the middle of the room so along the baseboards of every room can be cleaned. Be sure to spray the entire home, not just the infected rooms with an insect sprays designed specifically for bed bugs, available either online or at a local home improvement store.
Once a home is cleaned and furnishings returned to normal, remain vigilant. It only takes a few missed eggs to facilitate another infestation. Regularly inspect mattresses and pets and treat at the first sign of bed bugs. Bed bugs are difficult, but not impossible, to exterminate. Prevention and/or immediate treatment is the key.