How to Recognize a Bed Bug Infestation

It is hard to sleep tight when thoughts of bed bugs keep you up at night. Mostly eradicated from developed countries after World War II, these pests are making a comeback with the ban of the toxic pest control substance DDT.
Getting rid of these pests is easier said than done and will probably require the help of a pest control service. In addition to practicing pest prevention techniques, learn to recognize the signs of an infestation in your home so you can control the problem early.
Recognizing a Bed Bug Infestation in Your Home
Bed bugs like to live where their hosts, which are mammals, sleep. They survive by consuming their host’s blood, feeding up to three times per night. The most important step to eliminating them is making sure you aren’t actually dealing with a different insect, like fleas. Bed bugs resemble a reddish-brown, flat apple seed with a small head and six legs. However, they can appear rounder in shape after they eat. These wingless insects have segmented antennae between the two main eyes.
When they bite, the host usually does not feel it. They are nocturnal insects that hide during the day in your bed’s nooks and crannies, including the headboard, frame and box spring, which is why you do not see them after you wake up. However, if you do have an infestation in your home, you will find their feces, which will appear as small, reddish-brown stains, on the linens, mattress and surrounding wall.
Symptoms and Treatment of Bed Bugs
The most common parts of the body to receive bites are the face, hands, arms and neck, but a bed bug will bite any exposed skin. Upon waking, an individual may find a few red bumps lined up in a row on the skin. They may appear slightly swollen and are usually accompanied by painful Bugs Attracted To Garbage itching. Occasionally, a bite can cause an allergic reaction and, rarely, mental health problems. Scratching the skin where the insect bit can lead to an infection. In addition to fecal stains, individuals may notice an odor, which the insects secrete from their glands.
Bed bugs can harbor infectious microbes, so it is important to keep the skin clean and avoid scratching the bites. Typically, there is no need for treatment when bitten; however, when itching is severe, a doctor may prescribe an antihistamine or steroid cream. In more extreme cases, when a person develops a secondary bacterial infection from scratching at the bites, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Bed Bug Prevention
Bed bugs are hitchhikers and may enter your home on clothing, pillows brought for a slumber party, luggage, moving boxes and used furniture. Before allowing any used furniture into your home, always inspect it for bed bugs.
When you go on vacation and stay at a hotel, practice caution before unpacking your luggage. Inspect the room’s mattress and pillows to see if you can spot signs of an infestation. This extra precaution can help prevent the chance of you being bitten or taking an extra memory of your trip home with you.
Remember this rule of thumb: When in doubt, check it out. It is worth the time to look for them in your home, hotel, second-hand store or garage sale.
Eliminating Bed Bugs
It is virtually impossible to get rid of bed bugs on your own, as pesticides sold at retail locations often prove ineffective. If you notice them in your home, call a professional pest control company. If you are worried about the use of chemicals in your home, ask the exterminator about green pest control methods. In the meantime, before the professionals arrive, vacuum your home, wash all your bed linens in hot water and dry them in medium- to high-heat in a clothes drier. In serious cases, you may need to throw your mattress and/or couch away.
Bed bugs are more than just a children’s nursery rhyme. They are a global problem that is growing across the United States. However, if you take the time to inspect furniture and hotel rooms, thoughts of these pests do not have to keep you up at night.
~Flora Richards-Gustafson, Pest Control Bed Bugs 2010