“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a common phrase that has become a reality for both the rich and poor. Many people may not even realize that this reference is about an actual bug. Bed bugs have become an increasing problem and are not selective about who they feed on. As long as you have blood running through your veins you are a perfect meal for them. The good news is that bed bugs are not known to transmit any disease, therefor they are not a public health concern. The bites can create an itchy, red reaction and scratching the bites can introduce bacteria to the location of the bite and create an infection. Bed bugs are found across the globe and are making a comeback especially in hotels and other forms of lodging in America.
Adult bedbugs are reddish brown, wingless and can grow to about 1/4-inch long. Before feeding their body is flattened, but it will expand after feeding. These blood meals are what allow them to grow from larvae to adult and provide the necessary nutrients for females to develop and lay eggs. Given ideal conditions the larvae can go through their five larval stages and develop into an adult within a month. A female adult can lay as many as 500 eggs in her lifetime as long as she is well fed.
At nighttime they are most active and they usually hide during the day. Attracted to the carbon dioxide that you breathe out and the heat of your body, bed bugs will feed on exposed skin such as your face, neck, arms and hands. Their bite is painless, and they only need 10 to 15 minutes to become full. Bed bugs can live for more than a year without feeding. They can be found in numerous hiding spots since their flat body allows them to access hard to reach spots. Some of their favorite places to hide include mattresses, box springs, upholstered furniture, behind loose wallpaper and or under loose flooring. The can also hide in electronic appliances like DVD players and behind electric outlet switch plates. In hotel rooms, a common place they can be found is behind headboards that are attached to the wall and behind baseboards.
Bed bugs are good hitchhikers. People are traveling more and more these days so it is important to check for them while traveling, unless you would like to invite them over to your home as well. After arriving at a hotel and checking into your room there are a few precautionary measures that can be taken. Place your luggage and personal items in the bathroom temporarily, since this location is the least likely to have bed bugs since there are not very good hiding spots for them. Then check the mattress, box spring, and headboard for signs of bed bugs. Be careful not to place your luggage on upholstered furniture or bedding, since these are the locations that are prone to have bed bugs. It never hurts to do a second check of your belongings and the room before leaving as well. If you find bed bugs it is important to report your findings to the hotel so they can take the necessary steps to prevent a larger infestation.
If you are unlucky enough to have brought bed bugs home with you there are steps that can be taken to get rid of them. First and foremost, get in contact with a professional pest control company. Bed bugs can be difficult to get rid of so it’s best to leave it to the professionals. The pest control company will usually use either an approved pesticide treatment or a heat treatment. It can be a good idea to declutter your home prior to treatment. It may also be necessary to replace your mattress (or mattresses). If you do decide to replace your bedding, be sure to wrap the mattress in plastic wrap before disposing of it and put a large X or warning on the bed itself, so others don’t unknowingly bring an infested mattress into their home as well.
Picking up discarded, infested upholstered furniture on the side of the road is another common way for bed bugs to spread from home to home. Be careful when purchasing used upholstered furniture at yard or garage sales and look for signs of bedbugs. A common sign to look for would be masses of small yellowish to reddish black spots that are actually the feces of bed bugs that contain leftover digested blood. You can also look for eggs, shed “skins” of the bed bug larvae that are still growing, and live bed bugs.
Remember that bed bugs are not picky about where they live. They can live in the cleanest and dirtiest of environments. They prefer to feed at night while you’re sleeping, but they can’t transmit any diseases to you. They can be difficult to get rid of, so it’s important to use a professional pest control company. Taking precautionary actions and checking for signs of bed bugs can help you sleep a lot easier at night and forget the last part of the old rhyme “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”