How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs at Homeby Julia Gabriel
Bed bugs have been around for thousands of years! By now they have perfected her traveling and hiding skills. They are unwittingly picked up by an existing infestation - they attach themselves to your clothing, bags, backpacks, luggage and hide in fabrics, furniture, and cracks and crevices in used furniture.
The most common type of bed bug is Cimex lectularius. Males and females suck blood from humans, but the females tend to bite more often because they need blood to develop their eggs.
Bed bugs are a growing problem around the world as the likelihood of encountering these pests and accidentally spreading bed bugs increases enormously as people travel more, both for business and pleasure.
Bed bugs are also becoming an increasing problem in student accommodation, nursing homes, and apartments as they can easily spread between rooms once they are introduced.
Even if they are very small (usually between 4 and 5 mm), it is possible to see adult bedbugs with the naked eye. Also, if you can see bed bugs, then you have a bigger infestation problem.
Because of their flat build, bed bugs can nestle in the tightest of cracks and depressions. Wherever there is room for a small pinhead, a large bed bug can also find shelter. Pretty impressive, isn't it?
Facts about bed bugs
- Bed bugs lay 200-500 eggs over a period of 2 months
- Adult females must have a meal in the form of blood before laying eggs.
- Eggs are usually laid in cracks and crevices and can be attached to furniture or furnishings through a transparent substance.
- There are 7 phases of the life cycle from egg to adult, which in the best case last 45 days.
- The typical lifespan of a bed bug is around 50 days to a year, depending on the conditions.
- Bed bugs can survive for weeks even months without food.
Why are they called bed bugs?
Bed bugs get their name because they are nocturnal and usually suckle their hosts at night. Our sleeping place is therefore often used as a practical combination of a hiding place, nest, and feeding place.
However, that does not mean that they only affect the bed. Pretty much every crevice in furniture, walls, floors, and other furnishings can serve as a hiding place for them.
Unfortunately, there is no point in leaving the light on during the night. The crawlies will haunt you anyway if you slumber deeply.
Recognize bed bugs
To spot bed bugs, you should be able to tell them apart from other insects. The bed bug has the following features:
- Rust-red to dark brown color
- Flat physique
- Six legs and two antennae yellowish in color
- The oval rear part with horizontal stripes and partly black coloring
- The body length of about 5 to 9 millimeters in the adult stage
Knowing the appearance of the bed bug gives you an advantage, but you will hardly see a specimen if it is slightly infested. As already described, the insects are nocturnal and spend most of the time in their hiding places when they are not sucking blood.
Identifying bed bug infestation: what can I do if I suspect it?
This is the question asked by people who believe they have bed bugs around the house. No wonder people are quickly confused. Usually, a small, supposed bite is enough and the association with a bed bug infestation is established immediately. In many cases, however, it turns out in the end that the supposed sting has a completely different cause.
In this article, have therefore put together a few tips that may help prevent bed bug infestation. This can certainly not be a 100% guarantee, but it at least helps to pay attention to certain signs and to understand them.
Identifying bed bug bites
The first sign of a bed bug infestation is waking up with bed bug bites on your arms, legs, torso, and other parts of your body. Bed bugs need a blood meal on a regular basis. When they bite, they inject some chemicals to ensure blood flow. This includes an anticoagulant and an anesthetic so you don't feel the bites and the blood doesn't clot too quickly. Bed bugs want two things: to hide and to feed on blood. The anatomy of a bed bug is designed to do both of these things.
Bed bug bites are not known to be harmful in terms of disease transmission. However, being bitten can lead to rashes and secondary infections from scratching. Some people initially have no physical reaction to bed bug bites and may not be aware of an infestation until it becomes established.
When bed bugs eat, they excrete excess blood, which can be seen as bloodstains on bedding and furniture. Bed bugs have stinging and sucking mouthparts that are recognizable in all life cycles. The mouth part is very long and lies under your body and tucked into a special opening when not in use.
A bed bug prefers to find hiding places and hates being outside. They want to be undisturbed when they digest their blood meal.
Bed bugs don't have to eat every night - several days can pass between meals. However, they do need a blood meal every time they enter a new life cycle and shed their skin.
Bed bugs can't jump or fly, but they can crawl very well and get into small spaces. If you have a tiny crack in the wood around your bed, e.g. B. in the headboard, bed bugs can hide there.
When the bed bug is full of blood, it will change from its brownish color to a darker color because you can see the blood inside the insect as it digests. They also start out flat but get rounder the more blood they get.
Common signs of bed bugs include:
- Molecular debris - bed bugs go through several stages in their life cycle and leave sloughed skin behind.
- Fecal stains - they leave fecal deposits that look like tiny black dots from a felt-tip pen.
- Bloodstains - If the parasite is crushed, it leaves behind and bloodstains or the wounds they leave on may bleed. Tiny bloodstains on the sheets are a tell-tale sign.
- Odors - if the infestation is very severe, even a human nose can detect the unpleasant, somewhat sweet odor of a bed bug invasion. Bed bugs also give off a hormonal odor when disturbed. Dogs can recognize these scents with minor infestations and are much easier than humans.
How do they get into our bed?
Even if it seems that way, bed bugs don't just pop out of nowhere. Most of the time we drag them into our apartments through infested objects. In addition to goods bought second-hand (furniture, picture frames, CDs, etc.), pests also use our suitcases as a means of transport through which they can get into our apartments. Because they are so tiny, they can hide in almost any object and nestle with us unnoticed.
Another option would be to move from a neighboring apartment that is already suffering from a severe infestation. The widespread opinion that bed bugs are especially comfortable in dirty surroundings is wrong.
Although there are more hiding places in littered apartments, which means that an infestation can remain undetected for a long time, the bed bugs are primarily attracted to our body heat and our blood. They don't care about the condition of the apartment.
Bed bugs are always introduced by someone. Since the animals only crawl out of their hiding places at night when the host (i.e. the person) is sleeping, an overnight stay away or (in rarer cases) a guest is necessary in order to introduce bed bugs. If none of the above apply, you can be fairly certain that bed bugs are not involved.
As a rule of thumb for the distance between overnight stay and bed bug infestation at home, you can aim for roughly 14 to 21 days. If the distance is greater, bed bug infestation is also unlikely. That's because bed bugs suck blood when you get the chance.
By sucking the blood, these pests can develop and lay eggs. The nymphs that emerge from the eggs again need around 14 days to hatch. If you sleep at home continuously and have no complaints during this period, but significantly later, bed bug infestation is not very likely.
Where are bed bugs hiding?
These are the most common hiding spots we find bed bugs in:
- Bed boxes (frames, headboards, cracks, etc.)
- Mattress hems
- Skirting boards/spaces
- Drill holes
- Wooden plank spaces
- Wallpaper hems
- Drawers and cupboards
What do the supposed bed bug bites look like?
It gets a bit more difficult here. Everyone reacts slightly differently to bed bug bites. Therefore, not every dermatologist can clearly prove whether it is bed bug bites or something else.
Scratching the puncture sites can also significantly change the appearance of the skin, which can make a diagnosis more difficult.
In general, however, it can be said that bed bug bites usually occur in so-called streets (several puncture sites in quick succession). In addition, the so-called bites should be more painful than a mosquito bite, for example.
How to deal with bed bugs
In order to be able to unequivocally identify a bed bug infestation in your home, it is important to know the typical signs and correctly interpret the first signs. This also includes the knowledge of frequent hiding places of bed bugs, as they usually hide in all conceivable cracks, crevices, and cavities during the day.
If such detection is successful at an early stage, the chances of a quick and uncomplicated control increase since otherwise, bed bugs can spread rapidly to neighboring rooms and ultimately throughout the house. What are the signs or traces of a bed bug infestation? What are typical bed bug hiding spots like?
Find the typical hiding spots for bed bugs
Bed bugs can be found near your host. But they are not always right in the bed box. Baseboards, sockets, or picture frames can serve as hiding spots for bed bugs. Examine these areas for bed bug droppings or even live animals. The excrement (small black dots) in particular is not always easy to identify as a layperson, but it is definitely worth a try.
Wardrobes or drawers are also less typical hiding spots, but bed linen should be inspected more closely. Often there are also small stains of blood from the bed bugs.
Detection and control of bed bugs
Most people are initially downright shocked when there is a concrete suspicion of a bed bug infestation. Although annoying red stitches or bites are repeatedly noticed on the skin, bed bugs are usually not seen. For this reason, it makes sense to first know which opponent you are dealing with and what effects a bed bug infestation has.
Fight bed bugs yourself?
Admitting to having a bug problem is associated with many concerns for those affected:
- Am I not paying enough attention to my hygiene?
- What if the neighbors get wind of it?
- Do I have to report the infestation to the landlord?
For the reasons mentioned, you choose to try to fight the bed bugs themselves. However, if you are toying with the idea of trying it on your own, keep the following points in mind:
- If used incorrectly, insecticides can have adverse health effects.
- Even if you find a hiding place and eradicate it, other hiding places or eggs can be left behind and re-infestation.
- Bed bugs are very robust and can do without food for several months, so moving them out temporarily is neither practical nor effective.
- The problem could sometimes exist in a neighboring apartment or have spread there.
- Every now and then it happens that other types of bugs (pigeon bugs or bat bugs) temporarily switch to humans due to a lack of hosts.
- If all living specimens and eggs are not completely eradicated, the problem can drag on for years and, in the worst case, get bigger and bigger.
In response to the above concerns, you should know the following. As we have already explained above, a bed bug case does not go hand in hand with a lack of hygiene. There is also no obligation to report in the event of an infestation. As for the neighbors' concerns, it would be better to focus on getting the problem under control and not let it worsen out of a false sense of honor.
So what do I do if I have an infestation?
First and foremost, you should keep calm. According to the scientists, bed bug infestation does not indicate a lack of hygiene, nor has it been possible to prove that the parasites have transmitted pathogens in a natural environment.
A good trick to gather solid evidence of an infestation is to line up the bed with double-sided tape or set up special traps. Tape up any walkways the bed bugs could take to your bed: the borders, headboard, feet, and the area around the bed. If some of the animals get caught in the tape, lock them in a screw-top jar and keep them until the exterminator comes by.
If you only suspect an infestation but cannot find any specific clues, you can first let a bed bug detection dog into the apartment.
Since a sniffer dog can only sniff out the problem in the best case, but not fight it, modern science should come to help in any case. Use an ultrasonic pest repeller from a reputable company to chase the bed bugs from their hiding spots.
While you are using the ultrasonic bed bug repeller, you should by no means move objects (furniture, suitcases, clothes) that can serve as hiding places for the bugs between the rooms. This may only spread the plague and make it more difficult to combat the problem.
In addition, do not simply dispose of affected objects in the household rubbish or put them on the street to take with you. By doing this, you are only helping to spread the plague.
Using double-sided tape to control infestation
Since bed bugs do not crawl out of their hiding spots until you are asleep, it is difficult to catch the animals red-handed. A remedy can be a double-sided adhesive tape. This should ideally be strongly adhesive and yet easy to pull off again. You can use it to mask the area around the sleeping area and possibly catch one or two of the bed bugs on your nightly raid.
The advantage is that the bed bugs won't be able to get to you. However, this is by no means a guarantee that you will catch all bed bugs in this way.
How to prevent bed bugs
Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs do not only occur in places where hygiene standards are low, but also occur more frequently in places where there is a high turnover of people. A hostel could be just as affected as a 5-star hotel. Other vulnerable locations are, for example, dormitories, health facilities, or trains and planes.
Since bed bugs usually get into our apartment in two ways (used goods and suitcases), you should observe the following tips to protect yourself against an infestation:
First, inspect rented rooms for bedbugs. With the help of a flashlight, examine the following places in particular: bed frames and their headboards, mattresses and their seams, upholstered furniture, light switches and sockets, gaps between and behind furniture, and wall paneling.
If you discover bed bugs, traces of excrement, or molting covers, point them out to the staff and request a different room or change hotels.
In case of doubt, keep your suitcase in the car, the bathtub, or the shower in the hotel room and do not unpack your clothes.
Do not put your suitcase on the bed, nor any items of clothing, backpacks, or bags.
If an overnight stay is unavoidable, check all clothes and objects for bed bugs on departure. If possible, pack everything in plastic bags and seal them airtight with adhesive tape.
When you get home, it is best to unpack your suitcase in the bathtub or shower to spot fleeing specimens and kill them straight away.
Then wash all clothes on the hottest setting they can handle and, if possible, put them in the dryer. Other items such as books can be put in a sealable plastic bag and placed in the freezer for three days. This should kill both live animals and eggs.
Alternatively, you can have the entire suitcase and its contents sprayed with special insecticides by ultrasonic pest repellers or let it heat up in so-called suitcase openers to kill the bed bugs.
Everything that you buy used should be subjected to a thorough inspection and clothes should be washed at least 60 degrees.
If the item is already in the house, wrap it thoroughly and airtight in plastic and dispose of it.
Bed bug infestation is a global problem and occurs in even the most exclusive hotels, resorts, and senior and care facilities, as well as on cruise ships and other busy locations. These tiny, nocturnal, blood-sucking insects can seriously damage your brand and reputation, leading to costly inventory replacements or worse effects. Trust the experts of ultimate pest control and chase away the bed bugs in a reliably scientific way.