Bedbugs are something many of us fear having come into our homes, however they are also something a lot of people don’t really know much about, besides the fact that they are a common domestic pest. Whether you are currently concerned you may have a bedbug problem, or just want to educate yourself about what to look out for and how to prevent getting bedbugs in the first place, here we have gathered together everything you need to know about these annoying little creatures!
Bedbugs and Their Habits
To clue yourself up on bedbugs as a household problem, first you need to know about the beasts themselves. Bedbugs are small bugs that are oval in shape, and brown in color. They are also very flat. A bedbug is so flat in shape that it can slip into a gap no thicker than a business card, which helps them to hide away in spaces as tiny as cracks in plaster.
Like most bugs, bedbugs reproduce by laying eggs. A mature female bedbug is able to lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime. As you can imagine, this means that a bedbug population can increase very quickly. Just by bringing a few bugs into your home, you can soon end up with a serious infestation thanks to how prolifically they can reproduce.
Bedbugs shed their skin as they grow. Their hard outer shell is shed five times during the process of a new bedbug reaching full size. Each time it needs to shed, it has to eat first, causing it to become engorged and the old shell to come off. One sign that you may have bedbugs in your home is finding these discarded skins as debris in your bed or other spots in your home.
Bedbugs feed on blood, much like the fleas that cats and dogs can get. They eat at night, which is how come they end up making their homes in and close to beds where humans sleep. They pierce the skin of the person they are going to feed from, and then use their skinny, straw-like mouths to draw out blood. A bedbug can stay on your skin feeding for several minutes. As it eats, it becomes larger and engorged with blood. You typically won’t wake up while a bedbug is biting you to notice this, as the bites themselves are painless when they happen. Later, they turn into the irritating, itchy bites you see in the morning when you have a bedbug problem.
Bedbug bites are not particularly problematic – they do not spread disease, and so unless you are allergic to them they are really only an unsightly annoyance. The problems with bedbugs are more how hard they can be to get rid of, and how easily they can spread – as well as of course the general nastiness of the idea of having the little creatures crawling over you and sucking your blood while you sleep!
How Bedbugs End Up in Your Home
You may think that having a bedbug problem means that your home isn’t clean enough, but that isn’t the case with bugs that feed off of living humans and animals. While pests like cockroaches, ants and mice may arrive in your home because there are particles of food waste lying around, and dust mites that feed on dead skin cells are more prevalent if you don’t get rid of dust, bedbug infestations have no correlation to how clean a home is – they will live anywhere where there are people.
So how do they get there? Normally, bedbugs arrive on something, for example on a piece of furniture you buy and bring home, or on your luggage after visiting somewhere with a bedbug infestation. They can also come home with you on your clothes if you come into contact with something like a couch that has bedbugs in it. Another way that bedbugs can arrive in a new area is simply by crawling there. They can’t fly, but can spread from one room to another or to neighboring properties by walking. This means that an infestation will often not be limited to only the room you first find it in, and it is also a good idea to tell anyone who has visited you and the people who live next door to you that you have had a bedbug problem.
What Are the Signs Bedbugs Have Come Into Your Home?
For most people, the first indication of bedbugs is waking up with itchy bites that weren’t there the night before. Other creatures can cause itchy bites too, such as fleas and mosquitos, But these bites tend to have a swollen ‘core’, which the bedbug bites don’t normally have. Also, bedbugs will bite you anywhere they can, so the bites could be on any part of your body, where other pests tend to bite more in certain places such as on the ankles. If you notice bites on yourself, then the first thing to do is check the other people who live in your home (starting with your partner if you share a bed with someone, then moving to people who sleep in other rooms like your kids). You should then start looking for evidence of the bugs themselves.
Bedbugs are not too small to see with your eyes if you are looking for them, and their eggs, as well as debris from old eggs and skin, can also be spotted. You can also inspect your sheets for further signs of a bedbug presence. You might find small spots of blood caused when they bit you, as well as, unpleasantly enough, bedbug excrement.
The first and most obvious place to look for signs of bedbug life is in your bed, and you should check everywhere, including the underside of the mattress and inside any hard to see areas in the bed’s base. However, if you find bedbugs, this may not be the only place they are. Bedbugs don’t form a single big nest when they live somewhere, but congregate in groups in different spots, so once you’ve found bedbugs you’ll need to start checking everywhere else – first in the same room, and then other rooms, to judge the extent of your problem.
If you can’t see any evidence of bedbugs then perhaps your bites were caused by something else. Keep checking for bites, and if they persist, it is a good idea to call a professional in the pest control field to come and check your home for you.
Getting Rid of Bedbugs
So, once you have found positive proof that there are bedbugs living in your home, what should you do? As we discussed earlier, there is no significant health risk from the bugs and their bites, but you won’t want to wait too long to do something to get rid of the bugs because infestations quickly worsen over time.
Your best option is definitely to get a reputable pest control company like Go-Forth Pest Control on the case. This is because while you can attempt to get rid of the problem yourself by cleaning thoroughly, it only takes a few bugs being left alive to take you back to square one. Worse still, cleaning – if not done carefully – can even end up moving bugs around to new areas of the home on your hoover and other cleaning tools. A pest control company will be able to reliably wipe out your bedbug problem and leave you assured that all bugs have been taken care of.
If you do decide to try and deal with the bedbugs by yourself, be sure to clean and inspect everywhere, even strange sounding crevices like electrical outlets, and patches of peeling wallpaper. Bedbugs can and will hide almost anywhere. You’ll also need to thoroughly clean all of your clothing, curtains and other upholstery, as well as bed linen. For things that can house bedbugs, but which you can’t really put through a wash cycle, such as plush toys, heavy coats, and bags, you have a couple of options. You can put them through a cycle in your dryer, allowing the high temperature and movement of the machine to kill and shake out eggs and bugs, or you can try vacuum packing the item for a couple of days. This suffocates the bedbugs.
Remember to use this suffocation technique also on your hoover and other things you used for cleaning that can’t be washed – wrapping them in plastic bags with no air allowed in will do the trick.
Of course, even after you have gone to all this effort you will still need to be on your guard for a couple of months in case you missed any bedbugs and their population starts to reinstate itself, so be sure to keep checking for bites and other evidence.
Bedbugs are a reasonably common household pest, but if you know about how they live and how to tell if you have them, they needn’t cause too much trouble in your home.