There are a few insects that truly make our skin crawl. Head lice have been bugging parents for thousands of years. Hundreds of years ago, we domesticated wolves and have been inviting fleas into our homes ever since. But only one bug has been so pervasive, left such an impression, that they are one of the few insects that have their own nursery rhyme:
“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
There’s a good reason for this – these pests can leave itchy welts, skin rashes, or cause allergic reactions in some people. Bites are usually made in threes in a line and heal themselves within a week or two. While they aren’t known to carry infectious diseases, they have been known to cause psychological issues in some victims.
There’s even a creepy term used for when bedbugs bite a host: a blood meal. After they’ve had their fill of blood, the bugs will turn a darker brown. Bed bugs are usually brown in color and get to be ¼ of an inch big. So they are visible to the naked eye – if you know where to look.
Bed Bug Beds
Although they can be found in the cracks and crevices of the upholstered furniture, there’s a reason they’re called bed bugs. Most common bed bug hiding places include mattresses and box springs, the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) feed while their hosts sleep. If you feel like you might have an infestation, take all the bedding off and check mattress seams, pillows, and other fabric like pajamas and clothes.
Contrary to popular belief, an infestation is not caused by a lack of hygiene. In most cases, bed bugs are brought to another location via clothes or luggage from infested areas. Once bed bugs feed, they don’t remain on the host, retreating to a safe place to hide.
That means no matter how clean your home is, you may still get an infestation. Some steps you can take to prevent these little visitors from overstaying their welcome is to place all the clothes in the dryer and run on high. This includes coats, hoodies, and anything else that could be housing the pests.
Bed bugs also only attack exposed skin, so consider wearing long-sleeved pajamas when going to bed. However, it is extremely difficult to starve the bugs – they can go without eating for up to a year in the right conditions. The best way to manage the invaders is with heat. An hour in the dryer should kill all stages of the bed bug life – eggs, adolescents, and adults.
The Bed Bug Inn
In some cases of a bed bug infestation, renters or hotel guests in the United States can sue if they have been affected by the little brown bugs. If a landlord has been notified of a bed bug problem but does nothing to remedy the situation, they can be held liable for any issues arising from bed bug bites.
In the hotel industry, the little brown buggers have spawned a cottage industry. There are lawyers that specialize in bed bug cases and settlements for hundreds of thousands of dollars are common. There was even a $7 million lawsuit brought forth by a hotel guest who shared her bed with hundreds of bed bugs.
However, some homeowners go to great lengths to keep any bed bug mentions under wraps so to speak. Aside from the potential for embarrassment, there’s a fear that the insects may cause their property values to plummet. For such a small bug, they cause a lot of consternation!
Bed Bug Control
Earlier we mentioned high heat for killing bed bugs. One study showed temperatures of over 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes is 100 percent effective for killings bed bugs. Which is fine for linens in the dryer, but doesn’t really help if you have bed bugs in a mattress of other pieces of furniture.
Water used in a steam cleaner can reach temperatures of up to 230 degrees, so it’s a viable option if you know where the bugs are holed up. Although it can be difficult to handle a steam cleaner, especially when trying to clean a mattress or box springs. You may also not get every offending bug, either.
In cases of large infestations, it makes sense to contact professional pest control companies for a thorough inspection. They know what to look for, such as fecal spots or even the smell of a large bed bug nest. Once discovered, the pest control expert will know how best to deal with the little buggers.
The Bug Man has been dealing with bed bugs – and several other pests – for many years. We use the most advanced methods to remove infestations, using only EPA-approved products. Just get home from vacation and notice bug bites that weren’t there before? Contact the Bug Man and we’ll see how we can help.