The Ultimate Guide to a Bed Bug Infestation
Itchy patches on your skin, trouble sleeping and the possibility of destroying your clothes and furniture are all potential consequences of having to live with a bed bug infestation.
The most common form of bed bug, known in scientific circles as the Cimex lectularius, is one of the world’s great pests, terrorising unassuming victims in the spaces that are meant to be their most comfortable. To put it plainly, you don’t want to have to deal with a bed bug infestation, with the consequences going beyond the loss of material goods and the sensation of itchiness into psychologically harmful territory.
To avoid having to deal with a bed bug infestation, you have to properly understand how they come around, the telltale signs of their presence, and the nature of the creepy critters themselves. As the old saying goes, know thy enemy. While a bed bug infestation is unlikely to threaten your life or even make you ill (in the absence of a serious allergy), your bed is your sanctuary, and the last thing you want to deal with is uninvited visitors.
We’ve put together this guide to explain the ins and outs of bed bug infestations, so you can feel confident in identifying one, treating one, and hopefully, preventing it from happening altogether.
Bed Bug Infestation: Signs of Bed Bugs
Knowing how to check for bed bugs is an important part of managing infestations.
The sad fact when it comes to spotting infestations is that you generally won’t be able to identify them until it’s already too late. This isn’t to say that hope is lost for peaceful nighttime rest, as there are plenty of treatment options out there, but it does mean that the battle will now be one of extermination and damage control, rather than prevention.
Bed Bug Bites
The most obvious sign that your bedroom has become infested with bed bugs is, of course, the bites. Bed bug bites are fairly small, but they can become rather uncomfortable and itchy, especially when scratched. They take the form of small, red bumps, generally scattered fairly randomly around your body’s top half, while also sometimes being collected in small straight lines.
Reactions to the bites will vary from person to person, with some becoming instantly incensed with itchiness and others being relatively unbothered, in terms of sensation at least.
Along with the dreaded bed bug bites, there are also some visual indications of a bed bug infestation.
- The Bed Bugs Themselves
At 5mm in length, bed bugs are just about visible to the naked eye, so if you suspect you might have picked some up, then check around seams and your bed frame for small, brownish, ovular little crawlers.
- Eggs & Shell Casings
Similarly, they can leave behind eggs and shell casings, which are a similar size and shape but with more of a translucent colour.
Finally, check your mattress and sheets for stains. As if their invasion wasn’t enough in terms of disrespect, bed bugs will also defecate on your mattress and sheets, leaving small, rusty stains. They might also get crushed by you in your sleep while engorged with blood, which can also leave similar marks.
Bed Bug Infestation: How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Getting rid of bed bugs is a complicated beast, with there being so many choices on the market. The option to hire a professional exterminator is an attractive one, being that they use powerful pesticides and chemicals that should, in theory, eradicate the problem. Some might even treat your home to a thorough steam cleaning that can also do wonders for killing bed bugs.
However, using a professional isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, with their presence often making your home uninhabitable for some time due to the fumigation process. Also, they can often leave without truly completing the job. However, this isn’t the only method for getting rid of bed bugs, with our advice being to use DIY pest control solutions.
You can find a wide variety of extermination and prevention tools these days. These solutions include organic bed bug-killing powders, personal steamers, mattress casings that lock bed bugs in until they starve to death, and even physical barriers that can keep the bugs from climbing up your bed frame.
We recommend using these options as they’re not only effective but also free from harsh, dangerous chemicals that it’s best to avoid in general. Otherwise, you can always throw out your mattress, bed frame, pillows, and clothes and then start from scratch, but that might get a little expensive.
Bed Bug Infestations: Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?
Bed bugs can be transferred from all sorts of things, ranging from old furniture to dirty clothes. You’ll basically only pick up bed bugs if you bring them into your home from outside, meaning you’ve either visited a tainted area or brought a tainted item home with you.
Places like hotel rooms are often rife with the little blighters, while you could also pick them up from an unassuming acquaintance. Other classic sources of bed bugs include ‘alleyway sofas’ and other pieces of discarded furniture. Ideally, the person getting rid of the furniture would label it as tainted, but if it isn’t, it’s probably better to just leave it.
A good rule of thumb is that if something looks like it might have bed bugs, it’s likely it does.
Bed Bug Infestations: Can They Take Over the Whole House?
Where do bed bugs hide? The obvious answer is “in your bed”, but sadly life is not often that simple. The fact of the matter is that bed bug infestations can spread fairly quickly to areas all over the house. Basically anywhere that they can bunker down and hide with some shelter from their meal ticket (you) is seen as a suitable habitat for burgeoning bed bug families.
Some typical hiding spots for bed bugs include:
- Seams and tags of mattresses
- Under the bed frame
- In the headboard of the bed frame
- Underneath sofas & chairs
- Within upholstery
- Cracks and gaps in wooden furniture
- The folds of curtains
- Drawer joints
- Between cushions
If they can wriggle their way in there, the likelihood is that they will.
Bed Bug Infestation: How Many Bed Bugs Make an Infestation?
This one might sound a little bit scary, but for bed bugs to be considered an infestation, all you need is one. One pregnant female can give birth to up to 500 eggs in her lifetime, meaning that within very little time, your bedroom or even your entire house could be overthrown by six-legged freaks.
Now, this is a little bit daunting, but infestation is a big word. If you get control of the situation quickly, your infestation could be dealt with within a few days.
Remember that bed bugs have no queen, meaning there are plenty of potential females that could become pregnant within the nest of any infestation. Stem the population early to ensure their spread doesn’t become overwhelming.
Bed Bug Infestation: How Long Does an Infestation Take to Manifest
So, while you technically only need one pregnant female to start an infestation, it actually takes a little while for an infestation to really show itself in your home. In fact, for an egg to hatch and develop into a fully-fledged bed bug, it takes up to seven weeks, meaning that you could have just a couple of adults and a few hatchlings in your home before you even realise that there’s a problem.
If you discover a fully-fledged bed bug, you can assume that there have been at least some adults and eggs in your home for at least seven weeks, if not longer.
So how quickly do bed bugs spread? Well, it depends on when the first pregnant female in your home laid her eggs, and whether there’s been a staggering in the laying and hatching with other females. The annoying thing is that if you don’t get rid of all the eggs with your preferred bed bug treatment, then you could be dealing with hatchings on a rolling basis.
Bed bug infestations are about the last thing you want to deal with, so be vigilant. Avoid places and furniture that you think could be suffering and look out for the signs early on. If you think you might see some of those signs, get started sorting things out as soon as possible, as before you know it, the problem could have spread like wildfire.
It’s hard to sleep tight when the bed bugs bite, so for more information on the world’s worst houseguests, visit our blog today.
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