Bed Bugs Are Coming Back, But Not Where You Might Expect
Who hasn’t heard the saying “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite” at one point or another during their childhood? While the saying is very cute (it rhymes and everything), the saying is much more than a childhood fable, as bed bugs are actually making a comeback.
In the early part of the 1900s, the bed bug was a common problem here in North America, and these little pests were primarily exclusive to the slums and the dirtier areas of America & Canada. By the 1940s, the problem of bed bugs had all but disappeared and the only remnant of the bug was the famous saying that seemed to catch on with mothers and children alike.
Now, these blood sucking insects are making a comeback, but not where you might expect it! While bed bugs are indeed found in some of the low-budget motels in North America, they are also being found in some of the more expensive resorts in the States & Canada as well. Even worse, they are showing up in the homes of Americans from the low class to the middle class, and even within the walls of the ultra rich.
What are they?
Bed bugs are small insects that are a part of the Cimicidae family of pests, and they feed only on the blood of warm-blooded animals, typically at night. Their preferred choice of blood is human blood, but certain kinds of bed bugs have been known to go after family pets and even bats in some cases. The adults only grow to about a quarter of an inch in length, and they hide virtually anywhere, from a crack in the wall to the inside of your mattress.
Why are they coming back?
While it is not known exactly where the bed bugs are coming from, it is largely speculated that their return is due in part to the vast world travel that occurs these days. All it takes is for you to stay at a hotel either here or abroad that has a bed bug infestation, and they can be unwittingly transferred to your home via your suitcase or anything else of yours while you were away. Once they get into your home they set up shop, usually no more than 100 feet from your bed, and will feed on your blood without you even knowing about it. Bed bugs tend to feed on humans while they are asleep during the nighttime hours.
How do you know you are infested?
Detecting an infestation can be rather tricky. That’s because you don’t know that you have been the victim of a bed bug bite until sometime after the actual bite has occurred. When a bed bug feeds on your blood they inject two hollow feeding tubes into your skin. One will have an anesthetic and the other will be used to suck your blood. Because of the use of the anesthetic you won’t feel anything and therefore stay sleeping while the bed bug feeds for about five minutes before returning to its hiding place.
Tell tale signs
There are a couple of surefire ways to tell when you have bed bugs in your home. Bed bug bites look much like a mosquito bite, but bed bug welts tend to be in rows of three. This is either due to the bed bug repeatedly trying to find a blood vein to tap into, or from the bed bug being disturbed while feeding. Another telltale sign is little red spots on your sheets. These can be caused by a bad infestation in which multiple bed bugs are feeding on you at once. Or, as part of your normal sleeping habits, you may roll over, squashing some of the bed bugs into these blood stains.
How do you get rid of bed bugs?
Once you have determined that you have bed bugs, there a couple of steps you must perform in order to get rid of them. These steps include:
- Call a Pro: You will need to call a professional exterminator who has experience with bed bugs and have them come locate the source of the bed bugs and give your home a thorough treatment.
- Wash Your Bedding: Once bed bugs are discovered, you will need to wash all of your bedding and the pillows if they are machine washable. This will kill any bed bugs that may be hiding in the bedding or in the pillows themselves.
- Wrap The Mattress and Box Spring: Bed bugs like to stay close to their meal ticket, which is you. Many times they will hide inside of your mattress, your box spring, or both. You can purchase bed bug mattress protectors that are specifically designed to keep bed bugs out. These are different from regular mattress covers in that they will totally encapsulate the box spring and the mattress. They are typically made of vinyl and fabric, and some are even treated with pesticides that will harm the bed bug but not you. These covers are designed to keep new bed bugs out and old bed bugs in. Eventually those inside will die and your expensive bedding can be saved.
…And Stay Out!
Once you have totally rid your home of bed bugs, simply practice extra precautions to keep them away for good. If you do travel, be sure to clean and vacuum out your suitcase as soon as you arrive home. Also, be sure that all of the clothing that you took with you on the trip gets washed right away, not thrown into the hamper for a later washing. Even after you know the bed bugs are gone, it is still a good idea to keep your mattress and box springs covered with a complete bed bug proof set to protect from possible bed bug infestation, as it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Practice being hygienic and be vigilant while traveling. Keeping these nasty critters out of your home will help you and your family sleep tight without letting the bed bugs bite.