What to do if you find bed bugs

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Proper health protocol: what to do if you find bed bugs

One can pick up bed bugs almost any place these days: gyms, stores, hotels, offices, and beyond. Travelers can even bring home unwanted house guests which can then multiply causing headaches and discomfort for everyone in the house.

How can you tell it's one of these bloodsuckers? Well, bed bugs are reddish-brown creatures, both flat and thin, and about the size of an apple seed. They feed on warm-blooded hosts, humans included.

Check out the picture above to get a better idea of their look. They can grow up to 4-5 mm long when fully developed; other names for them include chinches, red coats, or mahogany flats.

How then does one keep their home safe from these decidedly unwelcome interlopers if they're next to impossible to find due to size and hiding capability? And what to do if you find bed bugs? Keep reading!

What Are They?

Belonging to the family of Cimicidae, these nasty critters look to hide in cracks or crevices within the house or apartment.  Some common hiding places may include:

  • Mattress seams
  • Furniture
  • Sheets
  • Baseboards
  • Picture frames
  • Electrical outlets

Females tend to drop around 200 to 500 eggs in their lifetime; one to five eggs a day can be deposited. Due in part to both adequate temperature and enough sustenance (blood) these nocturnal, wingless insects can live over 300 days.

How To Protect Yourself

First, how do you know if there's an infestation? Here are a few suggestions for locating evidence on these hard-to-find critters:

  • There may be tiny blood-spotting on either mattresses or nearby furnishings, according to Orkin
  • The insects like to stick together and emit a sweet, yet unpleasent odor
  • Itchy, red bites on the skin which can result in severe itching or other allergic reactions

The nearly undetectable critters can hide in floor cracks, under carpets, behind baseboards, and underneath loose wallpaper. So, what can you do to lower your chances of an infestation?

When traveling:

  • Keep an eye out for hiding spots
  • Check for signs of an infestation in the hotel quarters
  • Elevate your luggage on a rack away from the mattress and wall
  • When you return home, be sure to place your clothing in the dryer on the highest setting for around 15 minutes to kill any unwanted insect house crashers

At home, be sure to:

  • Cut down on clutter like wood, paper trash piles, and other such debris in order to make spotting the insects easier
  • Use the hottest temperature allowable when washing and drying your linens and sheets
  • Check your place of residence thoroughly after a return from travel, having guests over, service worker/s, and the like

How To Get Rid of Them

But what to do if you find bed bugs? Even after all your vigilance?  According to Web MD:

  • Clean all furniture and bedding; wash and vacuum cracks and other potential hiding spots
  • Place potential problem items, such as pillows, stuffed animals, jewelry boxes, etc. in a dark plastic bag and let me them sit outside in the baking sun for 2 to 3 days
  • Toss mattresses or bedsprings which contain the insects. If you cannot throw these items out, be sure to cover in a plastic mattress bag which will trap the critters inside
  • Wash all clothes and bedding in hot water and dry in the hottest cycle in the dryer

You can find bed bug kits, mattress covers and other pest control remedies. Now, if all of these things are for naught, it may be time to call the professionals in order to stem the tide and prevent an even larger infestation.

In the end, to eradicate the scourge of bed bugs it may be imperative that you go to a professional pest control expert in order to limit the possibility of an even larger infestation.


WebMD: Bed Bugs.

Above photo attributed to StarMaster

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