A look at how you get bed bugs, how they spread in your home, where the bugs live and hide as well as how to check for the symptoms of bed bugs.
Most people heard this little ditty growing up: “Good night, sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite!”
As kids, most of us found that amusing. Bed bugs are no laughing matter, however; they are repulsive blood-sucking parasites. Their scientific name is Cimex lectularius. Like mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs are insects that feed on blood. They are small (an adult is about a quarter-inch long), flat and oval-shaped.
Where Do Bed Bugs Live And Hide?
Bed bugs are particularly well-adapted to live parasitically on humans. So where do bed bugs live and hide? No bigger than apple seeds, they typically hide in tiny cracks in headboards, on bed frames, deep in mattresses, inside electrical outlets, as well as in furniture. Bedding and mattresses provide the ideal breeding ground for these pests; the warmth and moisture – plus the warm bodies of hapless sleepers to feed on nightly – make the bed a perfect hiding place and home for them.
How Are Bed Bugs Spread And How Did They Get In My Home?
Bed bugs spread when an individual comes into contact with them in an infested room or apartment. Contrary to common belief, bed bugs are not attracted to dirt or filth and do not discriminate when it comes to infesting homes of both the rich and poor.
They have been reported to be found from the dingiest budget motels to the swankiest five-star resort – and these tiny pests spread by hitching a ride back to the victim’s home through the luggage or clothing.
Bed bugs can also sometimes spread through secondhand clothing bought at yard sales, from used furniture picked up off the curb or from refurbished items sold in stores.
Once the bugs are in your home, they will crawl their way into bedding or furniture upholstery where they stay dormant during the day but come out at night to feed on their victims.
How To Check For Bed Bugs: Signs And Symptoms
Like mosquitoes, ticks and vampire bats, bed bugs have evolved the remarkable ability to generate a natural anesthetic; as a result, people rarely actually feel the bites when bed bugs are feeding. Once bitten, however, the result is fairly noticeable. Like a mosquito bite, the bitten spot tends to produce a reddish welt that itches a great deal.
One of the specific markers for bed bug bites is the presence of welts in rows; three or four welts that often appear on the skin very close together. This is because the insect responds to small movements as people sleep. It pulls out of the skin and continues with another bite right next to the first. In addition, several of the critters may be feeding side-by-side.
Another way of detecting the presence of bed bugs is to inspect your mattress and bedding. Are there any unusual small, reddish-brown stains on the bed sheets? These could be indicative of bed bugs which were fed and were subsequently crushed, spilling their blood meal on the mattress or mattress cover.
To sum up, if you suspect you have been bitten by a bed bug, look for the following:
- Rows of red, itchy welts on the skin that appear in a linear or clustered pattern
- Consistent new bite marks or bumps that appear on your body every day
- Reddish or brownish (dried blood) stains on mattresses or bedding
Tips To Prevent And Keep Bed Bugs Out Of Your Home And Bed
With rising reports of bed bugs infestation across various cities in the United States and around the world, the following are some simple prevention steps one can take to protect oneself:
- Do not pick up second-hand furniture off the street even if it look great. If you bought or rented a used furniture, have it inspected before bringing it back home.
- If you travel, first check out Bed Bug Registry for any reports of bed bugs in the hotel you intend to stay. Once in the hotel rooms, always inspect the hotel mattress, sheets and headboards for any signs of bed bug activities.
- When returning home from your travels, immediately have your luggage inspected in the bathroom tub and dump all the clothing to be washed in hot water (minimum 120°F) for at least 20 minutes.
- Reducing clutter around the house and regular vacuuming to limit areas where bugs can hide.
- Invest in a bed bug proof mattress encasement to protect against an infestation inside the mattress as well as guard against bed bug bites.
- Apply pesticides like bed bug spray and powders to defend your perimeters around the apartment, house or bed.
You May Also Be Interested In:
Bed Bugs Travel Prevention Tips – How to avoid and prevent bed bug infestation while you travel.
How To Kill Bed Bugs — Discover what are the best ways to get rid of bed bugs for good.
Bed Bug Pictures — See and identify what bed bugs and their bites look like.