Beg bugs are in the news, and infestations are on the rise. What can you do to protect yourself? What should you do if you have them? Here are 10 things everyone should know about bed bugs.
1) They’re Making a Comeback
The number of bed bugs cases reported each year is on the rise, and the trend is expected to continue. A number of factors may be to blame—people are traveling more, bed bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to pesticides, and the use of certain pesticides has been banned. Whatever the cause, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” is no longer a saying of the past. Being well-informed is one of the best defenses against these unwanted house guests.
2) They’re Hitchhikers
Bed bugs may not have wings or the ability to jump, but they have mastered the art of getting around. These pests are about the size of an apple seed, big enough to see with the naked eye, but only if you’re actively looking. Hiding in the cuffs, pockets or lining of clothing, on luggage, or in the crevices of secondhand furniture, bed bugs can travel with you from one destination to another. Inspecting yourself and your belongings is the only way to prevent them from coming along for the ride.
3) Your Hotel Room Might Be Bugged
Bed bugs thrive in highly populated places. With all the people coming and going, hotels are an unrivaled Bed Bug hot spot. What does this mean for you, the weary traveler? When staying in hotels, it’s smart to do an inspection of your room—before even bringing your luggage inside. Look in the sheets and along the mattress seams for brown, black, or rust-colored spots. These are telltale signs of bedbugs. If you find these, asked to be relocated to a room in an unadjoining area of the hotel. If the coast is clear, resist the urge to throw anything on the floor or bed. Instead, stow your belonging on the luggage racks provided by the hotel.
4) They Don’t Discriminate
Bed bugs aren’t choosey about their victims. They can take up residence with the young or old, rich or poor, clean or messy and anyone in between. Raising awareness, taking precautions to avoid transmitting bed bugs or carrying them into your own home, is the only real ways to protect yourself and others from an infestation.
5) There Are Telltale Signs
Recognizing a bed bug infestation often begins by waking up with red, itchy bites. Though you should be able to see bed bugs with the naked eye, they can be elusive during the daytime. Look instead for brown, black or rust-colored spots on your sheets and along the seams of your mattress. You can also look in these areas, and along the joints and crevices of your furniture (especially if it is wood) for casings, or shed bed bug skins.
6) You Can’t Fight Them Alone
Over the years, bed bugs have become increasingly resistant to pesticides. Eradicating them completely can be a long-term task, and it often requires the help of a professional. Never try to using foggers or flea products—in your home or on your body,—to fight bed bugs, and never attempt to heat your home to high temperatures. These approaches can lead to illness, fire, or the spread of the infestation. The sooner you contact a professional, the easier the extermination will be.
7) Heat is More Effective Than Chemicals
Although bed bugs have become surprisingly resistant to chemical pesticides, they remain unable to withstand extreme temperatures. Heat treatments have proven highly effective in treating bed bugs infestations, but you’ll need a professional to make it happen.
8) You Don’t Have to Throw Everything Away
Given that heat is an effective means of killing bed bugs in all stages of life, heat-treating your possessions can sometimes save them from the dumpster. Clothing, in particular, should be bagged, washing in hot water, then dried on high heat (over 120 degrees) for twenty minutes or more. If you opt for a heat treatment, like that provided by All Bed Bugs Begone, most items can be saved.
9) You Don’t Have to Be Ashamed
Unfortunately, a stigma often accompanies a bed bug infestation. If you have bed bugs, know that you’re not alone. Being open and honest with others about the situation is the only way to educate and protect them. Keep your friends and family members in the loop, lean on them for support and make an effort to maintain your social life. Isolation can be one of the worst side effects of an infestation.
10) There is Life After Bedbugs
Ridding yourself of bed bugs can sometimes be a long, trying process. But, rest assured, it’s a battle that can be won. In these cases, some level of anxiety is not unusual, but in time, should ease. If you notice yourself struggling with high anxiety, or compulsions to treat your home for bed bugs, consider talking with a professional counselor to begin coping with these feelings. With patience and determination, you’ll again be able to sleep peacefully in your home.