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Signs of a Few Bed Bugs Versus an Infestation

a bed bug on skin

If you have ever woken up with itchy, red bumps on your skin, you might write it off at first. But if the bites continue or you receive a lot of the bites at once, your thoughts might turn to bed bugs as the cause. Anyone can suffer from a bed bug infestation, no matter how clean they keep themselves and their home.

Bed bugs are parasites that rely on the blood of human or animal hosts for the food they need to survive. You can get the bites anywhere on your body. However, you are most likely to be bitten anywhere your skin is exposed while sleeping, such as on your arms, back, face, neck and legs.

It can be hard to tell the difference between flea or spider bites versus bed bug bites. Generally, the bites will have a dark red center and a small blister in the center. and you won’t feel them right when they happen. When bed bugs bite, they also stick you with a numbing agent and an anticoagulant (to stop bleeding). The bites don’t always show up immediately, further complicating matters. It usually takes a few days for them to appear.

Bed Bug Bites

For some people, the bites of bed bugs show up in a zigzag pattern, while for others, there really isn’t a pattern. You will generally feel like the area is burning and have some mild pain or discomfort. It is rare, but some people have severe reactions to these bites. This can even be life-threatening for some.

It can be difficult to know from bites alone whether you have a bed bug infestation. That is because the symptoms, as stated here, are very similar to the bites of many other insects. To know whether bed bugs are truly the cause, your best bet is to call in a pest control professional. They will be able to see the signs of an infestation.

Bed Bugs Appearance and Habits

Bed bugs are flat, brown to reddish, depending on whether they have fed, and about the size of an apple seed. Their eggs are white and no bigger than the head of a pin. A female bed bug lays about 200 to 250 eggs over her lifetime. Their lifetime is usually between 6 and 12 months. And, of course, the eggs each female lays will quickly be able to lay eggs of their own, so it doesn’t take very long for a minor infestation to become a big problem.

These pests can fit into very tight spaces, so you might not even see the bugs themselves. Check your bedding for small reddish dots. That is bed bug waste and a sure sign you have a problem. The adults have to feed at least every 14 days to continue to mate and produce eggs. You might also see very small yellowish-white or translucent dots. Those would likely be their eggs. This situation isn’t something that will resolve itself. Once you have bed bugs, you need expert help to control them fully.

It’s helpful to know bed bug hiding places so you can find them faster. Besides bed linens, bed bugs will hide in the piping on the edge of a mattress, cracks in a headboard or bed frame or in the tags or edge of a box spring. If the infestation has gotten severe, they will live around electrical outlets, window casings, the folds of curtains, in drawer joints or even under loose wallpaper.

two bed bugs on a wall

Can You Get Bed Bugs From a Person?

Though bed bugs need a human or animal host to live, they don’t spread from person to person like other insects. They can enter your home through luggage, clothing and furniture, including used mattresses and box springs. There is a greater risk of toting these bugs into your home if you often travel or live with many other people. About 20 percent of the population has had a bed bug problem at some point.

That doesn’t mean that an infestation is inevitable, though. You can do some things to make it less likely that these pests don’t make your home theirs. First, wash all your bedding, including a dust ruffle if you have one, and any clothing that touches the floor. Be sure to heat-dry all of it because you need high heat to kill any bed bugs.

If your bedroom has carpeting, vacuum it thoroughly and regularly. Though it won’t necessarily prevent an infestation, it can reduce the severity of the problem if they visit. Encase your mattress and box spring in plastic protective coverings as well. Removing clutter around your bed also helps reduce the chances of an infestation.

Deterring Bed Bugs

If you travel, first check the beds and surrounding areas where people will be sleeping. Pull the sheets back and check the frame and other spaces where the bugs might be hiding. When you get home, immediately get all clothing into the laundry and wash them in hot water if possible. Run them all through a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes.

Secondhand items can be a hotbed for bed bugs. If you bring home any used furniture of any kind, give it a close inspection before purchasing. For used clothing or linens, check them closely before purchase as well, and then run them through the laundry routine as soon as you get them home. If you get bed bugs and toss your mattress and box spring, slash them with a knife to prevent someone else from taking them home and infesting their own home.

People living in apartments or other multi-family buildings should try to seal their space off from others. You will want to try to seal around baseboards, electrical sockets and doors if an inspection yields any cracks.

It’s a good idea to get a regular home inspection by a pest control professional to check not only for bed bugs but any other insects and pests in your home.

a clothes dryer

Why Are Bed Bugs So Hard To Kill?

Bed bugs can be notoriously difficult to control. Many people will try to freeze their clothing, bedding and other items to eliminate them, but that isn’t an effective solution. Using chemicals is often necessary, but do not use chemicals on your mattress and bed linens unless their labels specifically say it is okay! It can be dangerous to get chemicals into the fibers where you will be breathing them in later.

If you live in an apartment or other multifamily unit, you have to worry about your space and adjacent units. If you treat your bedroom and it backs up to a bedroom next door, the bugs can travel through any shared electrical spaces in the walls and reinfest your home. You might have to work with neighbors and your landlord for a complete treatment plan.

Even then, some adults or eggs might survive, meaning you will have to go through the cycle all over again to ensure that the bugs are gone for good. It takes multiple chemical treatments to kill them, and these pests have even become resistant to some pesticides on the market. That is why calling in a professional to deal with bed bug control is the way to go.

If you’re struggling with an infestation, it can be helpful to learn what attracts bed bugs and what makes it easier for them to hide. You may have left too much clutter around the bed, or the bugs might have come from another room or unit that didn’t get treated. If you have boxes in a closet, inspect them before spraying any chemicals so the bugs lurking in them don’t start the cycle all again. And if you treat the affected room yourself, it is possible that you just didn’t use the right products or techniques.

Make sure bed bugs are getting evicted from your home by hiring a pest control expert. You can help the pest control specialist by washing clothes and linens and decluttering as much as possible.

It can be a long and trying process to fully eliminate a bed bug infestation. And it can also be expensive if you try homemade remedies or other DIY processes because you likely will still need to get the help of a pest control professional.

ABC Can Control Your Bed Bug Problem

Bed bugs are annoying pests that are hard to eradicate on your own. When you notice an infestation, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services for pest control services. We have multiple strategies to control bed bugs, so you and your family can be comfortable again.

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