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How to Identify, Prevent and Treat Bed Bugs | Bed Bug Awareness Week

how to identify bed bugs

Bed bugs are an increasingly common problem in Texas. And summer just makes it worse. As we plan our vacations and get ready for adventure, there are some tiny travelers that want to hitch a ride. For Bed Bug Awareness Week (June 3-9, 2018), learn the tips and tricks for identifying, treating and preventing bed bugs.

Luckily, with some knowledge and quick action, you can identify and treat your bed bug problem and prevent an infestation.

Continue reading to learn about:

  1. Bed bugs, what they look like and how they thrive
  2. Bed bug prevention
  3. How to treat bed bugs if they do occur
  4. Working with a pest control professional

What Are Bed Bugs?

While not completely microscopic, bed bugs (cimex lectularius) are still extremely hard to spot. Bed bugs are very small, wingless insects with a flat, reddish body. Like mosquitoes, they feast on human blood. Because of this, one of their absolute favorite places is bed and bedding, hence their name.

Although bed bugs range in color from semi-transparent beige to brown, the more they feed, the redder they get. Adults can get as large as an apple seed, but most don’t grow larger than half a centimeter.

Can I See Bed Bugs?

closeup of a bed bug - how to identify bed bugs

Bed bugs are visible to the human eye at every level of development. Bed bug eggs are about the size of a fleck of dust. They grow to full adult size in about a month.

To the astute observer, bed bugs are fairly easy to spot, but they can easily be confused with fleas, carpet beetles, spider beetles or some other creature. They are also expert hiders, choosing tiny nooks and crannies.

How to Identify Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are a particularly challenging pest to deal with. They are hard to prevent since sanitation, moisture, and other common attractions for pests are not a factor for bed bugs. They are travelers that can be introduced by anyone.

The best way to control them is with early and proactive identification.

Since bed bugs solely feed on the blood of animals while they sleep, they are often found in areas where people sleep, such as:

  • Apartments
  • Shelters
  • Rooming Houses
  • Hotels
  • Cruise Ships
  • Buses
  • Trains
  • Dorm Rooms

Basically, anywhere around a bed. While they can travel over 100 feet in a night, they tend to stick within 8 feet of their food source (CDC).

Everything from eggs to droppings can be seen with the human eye, however, a magnifying glass will help you properly identify them as bed bugs.

Where to look:

  • Mattress seams (you probably have to pull back the folded tuft)
  • Pillows, sheets and bedding, especially around the seams
  • Headboard and headframe
  • Nightstand and items on top of nightstand
  • Cracks and crevices in furniture
  • Around baseboards and where wall meets the floor
  • Curtains

What to look for:

  • Bed bugs, both dead and alive
  • Shed skins (aka “moltings”)
  • Beg bug eggs
  • Bed bug feces (rusty-colored blood spots)
  • A sweet, musty odor

How bed bugs can enter the home:

  • Suitcases, purses and bags
  • Pillows and bedding
  • Shoes, clothing, furniture and stuffed animals
  • Housekeeping carts

Always inspect used clothing and furniture before bringing it into the home.

When returning home from an overnight trip, leave your luggage in the car for 1-2 days to kill any unwanted hitchhikers, like bed bugs and chiggers.

Are Bed Bugs Dangerous?

While bed bugs aren’t known to spread disease, they can cause anemia (especially in children), itchiness (pruritus), allergic reactions, difficulty sleeping, stress and scarring from scratching.

People react differently to bed bugs. They aren’t considered dangerous unless there is a serious allergic reaction. Allergic reactions to bed bugs deserve medical attention.

Bed bug bites resemble other insect bites, so it’s hard to tell what caused them, even for professionals.

Still, bed bug bites tend to follow a pattern:

  • A row of 3-6 bites, close together and often in a zig-zag pattern
  • Appears on exposed areas of the body, such as neck, face, feet, and arms

This information should not be used as self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional consultation with a doctor. If you have any questions about bites of any kind, consult your health care provider.

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites

Unless you develop an allergic reaction, bed bug bites can be self-treated. The main goal is to prevent itching.

To treat your bed bug bite and make it less itchy:

  • Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water
  • Apply antiseptic or motions
  • Take an antihistamine

The bites will go away within a couple of weeks. But, as long as there are bed bugs around, they will continue to feed and you will continue to get bites.

Contact a pest management professional to confirm and kill bed bugs.

How to Treat Bed Bugs

The most common and effective way to treat bed bugs is quick identification and treatment with a liquid product application.

We recommend a thorough inspection and a liquid product application or heat remediation.

Heat remediation is a chemical-free alternative that raises the heat in the home to around 130 degrees Fahrenheit, more than hot enough to kill all of your bed bugs and their eggs.

ABC Home & Commercial Services specializes in 1-time bed bug inspections and treatments. We are one of the only companies to use bed bug detecting dogs, heat remediation treatment, and 90-day bed-bug-free guarantee.

While people and pets will need to vacate the home during liquid application, once the product dries, people and pets may reenter the space and use it as usual.

20 days after the treatment, ABC will return with our friendly bug sniffing dog to inspect the property and ensure not one bed bug remains.

What Is Cloverleafing?

You don’t just “get bedbugs” out of nowhere. They often hitchhike on clothing, suitcases, bags and purses during traveling.

Cloverleafing is a pest management industry term to refer to the professional inspection of a building to determine the source and make sure bed bugs aren’t present in other rooms.

For instance, if there are bed bugs in a dorm or hotel room, you shouldn’t assume they came from that room or will necessarily stay in that room.

All the connecting rooms/apartments of a building should be inspected. Any reputable pest management professional won’t treat a room unless there was evidence of a bed bug presence.

What does a professional bed bug inspection look like?

To confirm your bed bug problem, our trained inspectors arrive with a cute and friendly bed bug detecting dog. Once we identify your problem, we’ll discuss suggested next steps.

Bed bug season is here! Schedule a professional bed bug inspection with our bug-sniffing dogs and get rid of your bed bug problem for good.

Related Info:

New Study Gives Insight on How Bed Bugs Spread

7 Travel Tips That Outsmart Bed Bugs

Top Bed Bug Myths DEBUNKED

Russell Jenkins

Russell Jenkins is the Chief Communications Officer for ABC Home and Commercial Services in North Texas. Russell has been working as part of the ABC Family since he was 12 years old under the direction of his father, Owner Dennis Jenkins, and has since held several leadership roles at ABC. Russell holds a degree in Agricultural Leadership from Texas A&M University, and is a Food Safety Specialist. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and two children, playing tennis, and gaming.

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