What are Bed Bugs and How To Get Rid of It?
Nowadays, on our normal routines, we spend on average a third of the time in bed. Either sleeping, navigating the internet or simply relaxing, the bed has become an essential element in our day. Since we spend so much time laying down in bed, it is important to ensure that its quality and sanitary conditions are adequate for a healthy living. In this sense, an infestation of bed bugs can be the biggest threat to a night of healthy sleep. Bed bugs are a common occurrence in modern housing and can cause several different health issues for you and your family but, what exactly can you do about it?
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are a small brownish insect that feeds on animal’s blood. They get their name because they tend to live in beds and feed off of humans by biting their skin. The Cimex lectularius is the most common type of bed bug and some people wonder if they can see a bed bug with a human eye. With size varying from 1.3 mm to 7 mm, the adult bed bugs can be spotted with the naked eye after careful analysis of the area. However, because of their particular habits to keep themselves hidden in dark spots; it is hard to find them.
Bed bug infestation is normally hard to control and due to their small sizes, even hard to identify. Moreover, female adults usually deposit one to five eggs a day with the size of a dust spec that is invisible without magnification. Hatching after only a week and maturing fully in a month, these insects can produce multiple generations within a year while also surviving months without eating. Interestingly, bed bugs will survive in temperatures as low as 7 oC but will die after the temperature reaches as high as 45 oC. This high level of resilience adds an extra difficulty into finding ways to control bed bugs in your house.
How can you identify bed bugs infestation?
Bed bugs have been reported for thousands of years and due to the increase in traveling they can be found worldwide. Identifying bed bugs is not always easy and matters of how to tell if you have bed bugs have puzzled families throughout generations.
Having nocturnal habits, these bugs tend to hide during the day in cracks and dark spaces. Their tiny and flat bodies allow them to squeeze into tight spots and hide from the human eye. However, they do seem to agglomerate in certain hiding spots that become marked by dark spotting and staining which is associated with their constant excrement, eggs, and shedding of their shells in the area. In some cases, they will provide a reddish smear to the bed sheet and in more severe infestation a typical odor will be noticed. For large infestations, the chances of the bed bug spreading out to other areas are high and eliminating them is more difficult.
Where can you find bed bugs?
Although they are called bed bugs, these insects can be found in several different areas of the household. Having no wings, these bugs rely on humans and other animals to transport them from one environment to the next. They can easily crawl to backpacks, boxes, pillows, and other materials that are constantly moved around. Their rapid dissemination allows them to establish themselves even in the cleanest environment.
All that the bed bugs need to survive is a small crack, and they can find those in the baseboard, wallpaper, furniture, and even clothing. Other common spots to find bed begs are: between cushions and in the folds of curtains, in drawer joints, in electrical appliances, at the point where the wall and the ceiling meet and sometimes in spots as small as the head of a screw. So, if you are wondering how do you get bud begs in your bed, the answer can be much harder than you think.
What are the health issues caused by bed bugs?
Being so hard to control, some people wonder why they should treat their bed bug infestation in the first place. Bed bugs are small creatures and because they feed off human blood having an infestation in your bed or in other spots of your house will allow them to bite your skin and create rashes and itchy welts.
One of the main concerns with bed bug bites are due to the chances of transmitting diseases. Because their bite is painless and normally does not create any reaction on humans, they can be hard to detect and sometimes mistaken with mosquito bites. However, it has not been proven that bed bugs transmit diseases of any sort yet. Mostly, the biggest health issue promoted by them is itching and inflammation of the area which can be treated with antihistamines and corticoids.
On the other hand, these reactions to their bites can cause serious discomfort and induce to lack of sleep and restlessness which further develop into several side effects of sleep deprivation such as: memory issues, trouble with thinking, mood changes, weakened immunity, high blood pressure, risk of diabetes, weight gain, low sex drive risk of heart disease and so on.
How can I test my house for bed bugs infestation?
Because they are so small and can be hidden in so many different areas, identifying the presence of bed bugs is the biggest challenge in handling them. Visual assessment of the edges and piping of your mattress can be the initial step to identifying them. Because although they hideout in dark spots during the day, they leave behind their shells and feces on the area in which they inhabit. The pods are detached from the bug naturally in the process of feeding, and this process can happen over five times during their lifetime. These shells are generally translucent and will be present in the feeding area.
Due to their fast reproduction, a bed bug infestation can escalate rapidly, and in a matter of months, over 10,000 bugs can be found in a new environment. Besides visual assessment, certain tools are available in the market that will monitor the night activity in your mattress and help detect the bed bugs. In this sense, a Do It Yourself (DIY) monitor can be a viable solution to detect insects’ parts and identify the presence of bed bugs.
Ideally, reaching out to a specialized team that can rapidly and effectively identify the presence and location of bed bug infestation in the house would ensure that the problem is treated properly. It is important in these cases to keep in mind that these bed bugs can get easily transported from one space to the next and assessing the entire household is important to ensure that the infestation does not reappear. In cases, where several cycles of treatments are required to solve bed bug infestation, it is common if the presence of these insects in other areas of the house is overlooked. Therefore, a detailed inspection throughout the perimeter is essential to treat a bed bug infestation properly.
How can I reduce exposure to bed bugs?
Through time bed bugs have become more and more resistant to pesticides. Use of pesticides that include pyrethroids, dichlorvos, and malathion are found to have a decreased effectiveness in the treatment of bed bugs. Additionally, the side effects caused by these chemicals limit their use in closed environments. In this sense, vacuuming processes, heat treatment and wrapping the mattresses are more commonly recommended.
Due to their sensibility to high temperatures, processes of clothes drier or commercial steamer is suggested to kill the bed bugs that are present in bed linens and other fabrics. For areas around the house that are also contaminated, vacuuming the area weekly to prevent the spreading of the infestation is also recommended.
Close assessment of all materials in the house that might allow for places for the bed bugs to hide is an essential step in reducing the exposure to bed bugs as well. Moreover, thoroughly examining second-hand furniture before they enter the house is also important to avoid inserting bed bugs in the environment.
Finally, in cases of large or persistent infestations, reaching out to pest control firms can provide a more effective solution. By applying commercial steamers and spot-freezing equipment, these processes penetrate fabric, wood and other materials that might hold bed bugs and help to treat the bed bug infestation effectively .
How can IAQ help?
With a specialized team, IAQ can help you treat your bed bug infestation by providing technical assessment of the area, identification of the contaminated zones, and proper treatment of the outbreak. Through thermal treatment, that is harmless to humans, IAQ can ensure the safety of your environment without the use of any additional chemicals avoiding further side effects, providing a clean, green and effective solution.
Clearly, bed bugs are present in every modern household and should be continuously monitored to avoid high degrees of infestation. Although they do not transmit diseases and normally only cause slight itchiness or rash in the areas that have been bitten, the long-term exposure to a bed bug infestation can cause sleep deprivation that leads to several other health issues and impairs your productivity and overall health. So, feel free to reach out to IAQ for proper assessment of your household or working environment if the presence of bed bugs is suspected.
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