Bed bugs! For some reason, we can’t help but feel slightly offended when we realise that our bedrooms are infested with these blood-sucking parasites.
Perhaps it’s the fact that these little blighters are so incredibly sneaky, terrifically hard to get rid of and leave us with itchy spots all over our bodies. Whatever it is, to deal with them effectively we need to know more about them.
What Are Bed Bugs?
If you see a small, flat, brown/red insect hiding in a dark corner of your mattress – about the size and shape of an apple seed – then that is your first clue that something’s up. These tiny flightless creatures make their homes in the dark corners and crevices close to where their food source is. And as we can guess – their food source is us! They feed voraciously off the blood of humans or animals and leave behind a small trail of itchy spots on their unfortunate victims.
Bed bugs usually live for approximately 6 – 10 months, although it’s not uncommon for them to live for more than a year. Female bedbugs are pretty busy mothers, laying hundreds of eggs in their lifetime. These eggs are almost invisible, the size of a speck of dust, and are carefully positioned in hard-to-reach places where they will lie undisturbed until they hatch.
Nymphs, our dear little bed bug babies, can easily reach maturity in a month, given enough food. And then, of course, the cycle continues.
How Did My Bedroom Become Infested?
So, now we know that these hardy little nuisances have taken up residence in our home, we are probably curious as to how they got there in the first place.
You’ll be relieved to know that finding bed bugs in your home does not mean it’s dirty. These little insects don’t really care about their surroundings and aren’t drawn by a greasy kitchen or piles of unwashed clothing. All they need is a cosy bed and a person to feed them, and they will thrive.
There’s no real way to know for sure how you got bed bugs, but there are some theories. For example, people travel far more now than ever before – between cities and countries. This means that you could have picked up a couple of stowaways at your last hotel, Airbnb or from cousin Frank’s guest room. They may have hitched a ride on your luggage, your towel or your clothing.
If you live in an apartment block or a semi-detached home, then your neighbours may have been (unknowingly) harbouring a family of beg bugs which have immigrated into your bedroom through a crack in a wall or window.
In fact, if you’ve moved to a new house recently and have started seeing spots of blood on your sheets or you’ve woken up with a line of crooked bites on your body, it’s possible that they were already present. Bed bugs can live for up to a year without feeding, which is terrible news and makes them very tricky to get rid of.
Thankfully, they are not known to be carriers of disease, despite being bloodsuckers. However, they are a real nuisance and need to be taken care of before they overrun the home completely.
How Do I Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs pose a real dilemma because we can’t just spray our mattresses, sofas or carpets with insecticide and be done.
Firstly, because they are – literally – the kings of hide-n-seek, there’s a good chance that they won’t be affected by your poison as it won’t reach their hiding place. And of course, who of us wants to sleep on a mattress or sit on a sofa which is full of bug spray?
There is also fairly new information which shows that some bed bugs have built up a tolerance to some insecticides, and those with a thicker cuticle (aka bug skin) can remain unaffected by it.
So, what do we do?
While vacuuming alone won’t get rid of the bedbugs, it does go some way toward curbing the spread of the family. A good vacuum with a bristled brush at the end of the nozzle is a great way to get into some of their hidey holes, such as in the folds of the mattress, down the back of the headboard or between the skirting and the carpet. You will likely get at least some of the adults, and more than a few of the eggs, which is a great start.
More is required than throwing our bedding into a quick wash to get rid of bugs and eggs. It’s recommended that we dry our bedding out in the sun if possible, or at the very least run it through the dryer on a hot setting.
Because bed bugs can hide anywhere, a little maintenance that attends to cracked plaster, peeling wallpaper or rotting wood will reduce their neighbourhood even further, allowing them fewer places to breed.
If you simply can’t get on top of the bed bug situation, then it may be time to call in the professionals.
Combat Pest Solutions
The trick to effectively removing bed bugs lies in the thoroughness of the treatment. Eliminating a fast-moving critter which can live without sustenance for over a year and can hide in a space the width of your credit card is never going to be easy.
Sometimes the correct chemicals will be required to turn their mini haven into an inhospitable landscape. Perhaps the pros may decide to use an industrial steamer to instantly kill both adults and eggs.
If you are suffering from the itching and discomfort that bed bugs bring, then please call your friendly pest control team. We’ll get rid of them for good.