It's no secret that bedbugs can wreak a lot of havoc in your home.
If they get into bed with you, they can leave red, itchy marks all over your body.
Bedbugs live solely on blood and having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.
Fortunately, you can get rid of bedbugs.
Bed bugs can be persistent, so you'll need to demonstrate a greater level of persistence if you want to eliminate them.
You may have to try a few different chemical and non-chemical approaches, especially if you have a large infestation.
If you can’t rid your home on your own, you may have to call in a professional exterminator.
Read on for a step-by-step guide on getting rid of bedbugs.
What are bedbugs?
Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans.
Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed.
After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish colour.
Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings.
Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.
Where bed bugs hide
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items.
Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card.
Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees but tend to live in groups in hiding places.
Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
When bedbugs bite
Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping.
They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak.
The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.
Most bedbug bites are painless at first but later turn into itchy welts.
Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping.
Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the centre like flea bites do.
People who don't realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes.
To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.
Signs of a bedbug infestation
If you wake up with itchy areas you didn't have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started.
Bloodstains on your sheets or pillowcases.
Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bedclothes, and walls.
Bedbug faecal spots, eggshells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide.
An offensive, musty odour from the bugs' scent glands.
If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement.
Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing.
Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets.
Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.
If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.
Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live.
This should include the following:
Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting.
Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can't be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
Get rid of clutter around the bed.
If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.
Finding a professional
Professional pest controllers can effectively remove an infestation of bed bugs.
Pest control professionals can be expected to:
1. Confirm the infestation
2. Inspect the location and possibly neighbouring areas
3. Use a combination of nonchemical control and insecticides
4. Review treatment to check that it is successful
5. Recommend or put preventive measures in place
Bed bugs are found worldwide, and they can affect anyone in any place, although they are more common in urban areas.
It is worth remembering that bed bugs:
Do not spread disease.
Are not more common among low-income households.
Occur in both clean and unsanitary environments.
Are visible to the naked eye.
Being observant and treating an infestation early is the best strategy.
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