If you're like many children, your parents tucked you in at night with the words, "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite." For a long time, bed bugs were rare in developed countries and this was simply a quaint saying from long ago. Unfortunately, these nasty little critters have made a strong comeback recently. Bed bugs aren't only a problem in the third world or for the very poor. You can get them from hotel rooms, used furniture, or even on public transportation. If you even suspect you have bed bugs, you should take immediate action. Otherwise, the problem can quickly spiral out of control.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small insects that live in places such as furniture, rugs, luggage, clothing, and other materials. Their sole source of nutrition is blood from warm-blooded animals. They love beds primarily because their favorite prey (that's you) sleeps in them. The awful thing about these creatures is that they can live unseen for a long time and lay their eggs almost anywhere. These insects live on blood. They tend to bite people at night while they're sleeping. Although they can also feast on pets and other animals they prefer humans. You can acquire these unwanted guests in a number of ways.
While traveling. Hotels, dorms, hostels, Airbnb and other accommodations can all host bed bugs. As they are expert hitchhikers, they can even infest apparently clean and upscale hotels.
From furniture. As their name suggests, bed bugs often inhabit mattresses and box springs. They can also hide in other types of furniture such as upholstered chairs and sofas. The safest way to avoid them is to stick with new furniture. Never take in discarded furniture from the street even if it appears to be in pristine condition.
On clothing. Bed bugs can easily hide in clothing especially the lining of coats. As with furniture, you have to be extra careful with used clothing. If you like to shop in thrift stores, your safest bet is to wash the garments in hot water or have them dry cleaned before wearing them. It's even possible to pick up bed bugs in public places if they jump on your clothing.
Some people are more sensitive to bed bug bites than others. The most common symptom is a red welt that may be itchy. Fortunately, these bites are usually harmless. Bed bugs at least don't spread diseases. However, some people are allergic to their bites and may experience severe welting and itching.
Preventing Bed Bugs
Benjamin Franklin's adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" applies to bed bugs as much as illnesses. If you take certain precautions, you can minimize your chances of ever having to deal with these awful entities.
Inspect used furniture. Shopping for vintage items is now trendy. If you like to pick up furniture and knickknacks from thrift shops, yard sales, or other places that sell used items, you need to be extra careful. You should visually inspect all areas of furniture, especially drawers. Take off and inspect any cushions. Bring a flashlight. Vacuuming the furniture before bringing it into the house is an extra precaution worth taking.
Wash and dry used clothing. The same rule applies to used clothing. In this case, however, there's a simpler way to avoid problems. Throw any used items in the wash using hot water and then dry them at high heat. This should kill any bed bugs that may have followed you home.
Be careful when traveling. While you can never be 100% certain, it's good to read online reviews before you choose a hotel. If bed bugs are a recurring problem, it's likely that prior guests will mention it. Always inspect the room, including the bed, sheets, and pillows before unpacking. One of the biggest dangers with travel is that bed bugs can hide in your luggage and become stowaways, following you home. One way to minimize this danger is to store your suitcases into large plastic trash bags. You can also buy special bags for this purpose.
How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are arguably the toughest pests in the world to get rid of. They are hard to see, nocturnal, and quite resilient.
What Doesn't Work
As a brief Google search will reveal, there's no shortage of bed bug solutions. Unfortunately, they almost never work.
Poisons and natural remedies. There are many over-the-counter bed bug killers. These will kill the insects upon impact. However, it's hard to know that you're getting all of them. Unhatched eggs are another big problem. There are also many natural solutions ranging from vinegar to essential oils, none of which are effective.
Throw out your bed. Another approach is to discard your bed or wherever bed bugs have made their home. The problem is, once they've settled into your home, they aren't usually confined to a single location. In all likelihood, they'll have moved beyond one location.
Moving. An extreme solution to bed bugs, especially for renters, is to move. Even this doesn't work, however, as bed bugs are likely to follow you to your new home.
Self-help solutions are rarely effective when it comes to bed bugs. They are prolific breeders so even if you manage to kill most of them, there's a good chance that there are still eggs waiting to hatch. You may think you've solved the problem only to have them return a few weeks later.
One of the worst things about bed bugs is that if you don't deal with the problem promptly, they will breed and you may soon experience an infestation of nightmarish proportions. The more bed bugs there are, the harder it will be to get rid of them.
Call a Professional
Bed bugs are a problem that requires professional help. An experienced pest control operator will be able to identify the problem and suggest the best option for bed bug control. If you're not familiar with bed bugs, you may not know what to look for. Very often, you don't actually see the bugs until the infestation has gotten quite severe. Bites can be hard to differentiate from fleas or mosquitoes. The pest control service can confirm if you have bed bugs. If so, they will recommend the best treatment and give you an estimate.
If you have bedbugs or suspect that you might, Cal-Cam Termite and Pest Control is a Lake Charles pest control company that can diagnose and get rid of your problem. We also deal with other pests such as termites, roaches, ants, and rodents.