Creepy and tenacious, bed bugs have caused concern lately in the news. These blood sucking, parasitic insects can become unwelcome house guests for the long term thanks to their persistent. And they don’t just come to stay in homes and hotels. They cling to suitcases, clothing, furniture and ride into schools, theaters, hospitals, airplanes and other public places.
Once they have their claws into a new residence, bedbugs can hide out of sight behind wallpaper, electrical switches and plates, and in seams of upholstery including mattresses.
Here are some tips on how to prevent bedbugs and deal with an infestation.
How to spot bedbugs, and what to do if you find them.
- Check a new or unfamiliar bed for signs of their feces. These will be small black or brown dots on the sheets or mattress. If you find some in a hotel room, ask for a new room far from the original one.
- At night you may see the bedbugs themselves. They normally hide during the day. Adult bugs are oval shaped and brown or red-brown. Babies are almost invisible.
- If you have pets, regularly inspect the places where they sleep for bedbugs.
- An odor similar to coriander may be present in heavily infested areas.
- While traveling, stand your suitcases on hard surfaces if possible, rather than beds, carpet or furniture. If on your return you think you’ve been exposed to bedbugs, thoroughly clean everything you traveled with. Vacuum your suitcase, wash all clothes in water as hot as possible.
If you suspect bed bugs in your home, here’s what to do next.
- Don’t just grab the nearest pesticide. Most shop-bought pesticides are ineffective against bedbugs and their eggs, and will just add unnecessary chemicals to your already infested living spaces. Instead, use professional steam or heat treatments.
- If you are suffering from bites, make sure they really are bedbug bites. They may be from mosquitoes, mites, ticks or fleas. A variety of trapping methods for identification are suggested by IdentifyUS.
- You could hire a trained bedbug-sniffing dog, if you suspect bed bugs are present but cannot find any.
- Clean and treat infested furniture – there’s no need to dump it. But if you do, don’t just leave it in the street or common areas as the bugs could spread to other homes. Use a locked dumpster and label the furniture as “bedbug infested”.
- Clutter is an ideal hiding and breeding ground, so have a clearout. Then if you do need bedbug treatment, there will be less things to clean.
How to clean up to get rid of bedbugs
- Vacuum everything you can.
- Store clothing and other items in sealed plastic bags.
- Use hot water to wash fabrics.
4. Use non-toxic, specialized sprays for controlling bedbugs and eggs.