Wow! We are hearing about Bed Bugs everywhere. From department stores in NYC to radio talk shows! Bed bugs have been found inside the Indiana University campus library? It truly looks like we need to declare War on Bed Bugs!
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small little wingless insects that feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded mammals. Humans are the ideal host. They can be light tan or burnt orange in color. Just after molting most of them are plane white. Bed bugs have evolved over millions of years as nest parasites – inhabiting the nest of birds and bats for instance. Some of them have learned to adapt to the human environment and live in “our nest”.
They are called bed bugs because they prefer to live in our beds, mattresses, sofas and other soft furniture.
Bed bugs feed for about 5 minutes, then go into hiding for about 5 to 10 days then feed again. If there is no food readily available (human blood), bed bugs have been known to lie dormant for months waiting to feed again.
Are Bed Bugs Dangerous to Humans?
Not really. Other than a mosquito bite type look or a small rash, there is not much danger to bed bug bites and they are not known to carry any diseases. In extreme cases people can have an allergic reaction. Bed bugs bite by injecting a small amount of their saliva into the human host which results in a painless reaction. Quite often the bite does not manifest itself for an hour or two, maybe much longer. Therefore, sometimes it is hard to detect that you have bed bugs right away because you don’t have symptoms.
How do Bed Bugs Get in to Your Home?
Although studies have shown that bed bugs can travel in one’s luggage, the most common way to bring them into your home is via used furniture and mattresses.
How to Eliminate and Prevent Bed Bugs?
Once you detect that you have a bed bug problem you may want to call a pest removal professional first as they can help in the detection and recommend a removal process for your particular situation.
If you decide to do it yourself the first step would be to remove the coverings on any item of furniture or mattress that is infected. If you are able to wash the fabric in hot water do so, if not, wash normally but set the dryer on hot – at least 120º. If in the winter, you may take these coverings outside and leave in the freezing weather for 24 hours.
Then vacuum the mattress or sofa all over especially in the folds and cracks. Then use insecticides to kill the bugs.
Preventing Bed Bugs by Encasing Your Mattress and Box Spring.
You could encase both the mattress and box spring as a proactive measure. As soon as you put the encasement on your bed any bed bugs trapped inside will eventually die, provided you do not unzip shortly after putting them on. Some people encase their new beds as it prevents bugs from getting in and makes it easier to clean.
Bed bug covers can be purchased online and from most reputable retailers. Make sure you are buying “bed bug specific” and that you cover both the mattress and box.