Creepy crawlies that want to share your bed - make sure you know how to prevent them or get rid of them. Photo Credit: cuttlefish
While we often jokingly tell our children to sleep tight and not let the bed bugs bite, bed bugs are no laughing matter. Without attempting to give you all insomnia, suffice it to say the nasty little critters are very real, very difficult to find, and not all that easy to eradicate.
Bed bugs like to hide in tight spots and they feed on blood, although they can live up to a year on just one feeding. The insects are typically brown, wingless, and are between ¼ and ½ an inch in length. It’s more likely you’ll find evidence of bed bugs long before you’ll ever be able to spot one in your bed.
Signs that you may have bed bugs include rust-colored spots on your mattress, where you’ve unknowingly crushed one or where their feces has left a mark. You may also be able to find eggshells or shed skin. Different people react to bed bug bites in different ways. Many people are completely unaware of having been bitten, but some people may experience a small, swollen white welt at the site of the biting, an itching sensation, severe inflammation, or a developing infection.
These little bed devils can be more difficult to rid your home of than an infestation of cockroaches. Bug bombs and aerosol pesticides will not work against bed bugs. Bed bugs can lay up to 300 eggs at a time and hatching takes only 10 days. So, it’s easy to see how quickly they can multiply.
Simply vacuuming the mattress and laundering the sheets will not do the trick either. You should start by cleaning the entire room where you know bed bugs to exist. Be sure to get the undersides and backsides of furniture, behind picture frames and inside any tight spaces where they may be hiding - even tiny loose flaps of wallpaper can be a bed bug harbor.
For items that can be laundered, wash them in the hottest water possible. For things that can’t be laundered, wrap them in plastic and set them in direct sunlight - the goal is to kill the bugs and their eggs with temperatures in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours.
Steam cleaning the carpet, mattress, and box springs isn’t a bad idea, but be sure to empty the container or dispose of the bag outside to keep the bed bugs from creeping back into your bedrooms or living room furniture.
If you aren’t sure you can do a good job of eliminating your bed bug infestation, there are professionals you can call who can come take care of it for you. But do take care of it; everyone deserves a good, bed bug-free, night’s sleep.
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