No one wants to itch and scratch all day or worry about getting bitten while they sleep. But if you and your family are living with itchy, irritating bed bugs, this might be why you’ve all been suffering.
Not anymore! The Natural Patch Co. is here to tell you that you can get rid of your bed bug problem fast and keep them away. Those bites and welts, well, bug us out, and you shouldn’t have to live this way.
So we are going to break down what a bed bug is, why they stick around, how to identify them, and inevitably how to get rid of them for good. You’ll be sleeping soundly in no time.
What Is a Bed Bug?
In order to beat your enemy, you have to get inside their mind and figure out what they want. For a bed bug, they want you, the humble homeowner. Or, more specifically, they want human blood.
A bed bug is a small, oval, brown insect that is around the size of an apple seed. The bed bug lives on the blood that it drinks from our bodies while we sleep or lie in bed. A common misconception is that these reddish-brown bugs are only active at night, but this is false.
What Do Bed Bugs Do?
Plainly put, bed bugs bite you and drink your blood. They hide in your bed or box spring (or even your sofa) specifically because the time you spend there usually means you are asleep and not moving. Very similar to other insects like mosquitoes or fleas, roaming around at night becomes the norm due to the lower likelihood of being squished.
But make no mistake, bed bugs will bite you anytime, anywhere they can, whether this is at night or during the day. As long as you stay still long enough, they will drink their fill. They burrow in your bed sheets or in other hiding places around your home and will hide there until it’s safe to feed and roam around.
7 Early Signs of Bed Bugs
If you’re worried all that itching lately is from bed bugs, you’ll want to check the standard hiding spots ASAP. Getting to the root of the problem fast is so important for safeguarding your family from pesky intruders without having to call a pest control company.
Join us as we review seven ways to identify the warning signs of a bed bug infestation. Then, read on to learn how to get rid of them immediately.
The first sign something is awry is all that itching and scratching. You may have noticed small red bumps on your skin lately, and they seem to be getting more frequent as opposed to less. Bed bug bites can resemble an allergic reaction, causing hives and blisters in some cases.
This could be a sign of bed bugs. If you went hiking over the weekend and came back-scratching, you may have been feasted on by a female mosquito or two. But, if you notice more and more bumps springing up, then something closer to home is the culprit.
Another big sign of bed bugs is finding blood stains on your sheets. When bed bugs bite, they abandon ship in a hurry to avoid detection. This means that your skin may not have healed over yet, and you will leave a few dark spots that end up in your linens.
These won’t be huge stains, so the traces may be hard to notice at first. If you’re worried about bed bugs, pull back your sheets and use a flashlight to find any small red spots on your fitted sheet.
Bed Bug Excrement
Bed bugs aren’t the best house guests; they will relieve themselves and leave some droppings in your bed. In addition to the red stains, look for small brown or black fecal spots on your bed where they have left behind their excrement or feces.
Bed Bug Eggs
Bed bugs are small, and so are their eggs, but they are large enough to see with the naked eye. The best place to look for eggs is in the corners of your mattress frame. They will lay their eggs in areas that are the least likely to be disturbed, and these little corners are barely bothered.
Eggs are oblong or oval-shaped and have a pearly white sheen. After one blood snack, female bed bugs can lay up to seven eggs per day for ten days straight. These eggs usually hatch within ten days, so these guys can spread fast.
Bed Bug Casings
While you likely won’t feel yourself roll over and squish a bed bug, this instance happens often. Adult bed bugs also molt and release their shells or casings, so there may be partial exoskeletons in your bed that you are certain weren’t there before.
These won’t be whole bugs, but you will notice black or dark brown flecks in your bed when you wake up in the morning. This can be a big clue to a bed bug infestation.
Maybe you haven’t seen any hard evidence, but you have noticed that your bed seems to smell lately. That musty odor could be from a colony of bed bugs skilled at not getting caught.
As bed bugs settle into their surroundings, they release pheromones. These odors, which many experts say are slightly sweet, acidic, and musty, warn other bed bugs about any possibility of being preyed upon in their immediate surroundings.
They use these odors to send these signals to let other bed bugs know if it’s safe or to keep waiting for the right time. However, due to their size, this may not be the first sign you notice, but if there is a sweet damp in the air all of a sudden, you may want to rule out the possibility of bed bugs first.
Live Bed Bugs
Bed bugs prefer to wait until the evening when you’re asleep to attack so as to avoid any unnecessary squishing. But, a desperate bed bug won’t care how or where the meal is coming from, just as long as it can eat.
If you or your kiddos are lounging around watching a movie and you notice a bug on your bed, don’t panic. Kill that bug immediately and check your bed for any more insect accomplices. Chances are they aren’t getting full, or came home with you and needed to eat right away, so you could get to them before they have time to unpack.
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?
Bed bugs prefer your bed in your house or hotel room because it’s the easiest place to bite you without notice, but they will hide anywhere in your home where it’s safe. Here are places to check around your home to see if any biting bugs have settled in.
Start with your bed, as they’re likely to settle into the cracks and crevices around your mattress seams. They won’t only hide in between the fitted and flat sheets on your bed. They’ll also nest in the corners of your bed frame and behind the headboard. You might even notice loose wallpaper where bed bugs may be hiding.
If you have a throw rug or a lot of clutter around your room, bed bugs will hide there as well. Big piles of clothing on the floor or a lot of debris is a perfect spot for bed bugs, as it means you’re unlikely to move those piles around or disturb the mess.
Bed bugs will also choose large dressers, couches, or chairs to burrow into if your bed isn’t the bed spot for them. They may prefer your sleeping area, but if you have other furniture in your home that has cracks and crevices for them to hide in, they won’t discriminate.
How Do Bed Bugs Get Inside?
Wondering how you got into this mess in the first place?
Here are a few of the most common ways that bed bugs get into our homes:
Kids don’t carry them in from the backyard, but they could have brought them home from a sleepover or play date. Bed bugs like to move if the food supply isn’t ample enough, so your child may have been a good vessel to find a new spot to claim.
Bed bugs will burrow in clothes or backpacks to get from one place to another, so your child may never have even seen the bug that came home with them.
When your kids get home from a sleepover, check their bags, shoes, and clothes for any hitchhikers. Put dirty clothes in the washer right away and shake out backpacks in case you can’t see into every pocket.
Many people think that dogs and cats bring home bed bugs from their outside activities, but this is actually false. Bed bugs don’t spend a lot of time outdoors, so it is a rare occasion if your dog brings them in from outside.
If you’ve been traveling recently, you may have brought home bed bugs from the hotel. With the amount of traffic in and out of hotels, it can be quite common for an infestation to occur.
To keep from bringing home any unwanted pests, keep your luggage on the luggage racks or anywhere out of the way but off the ground, so bed bugs can’t find their way inside. Also, check sheets immediately for any signs of bugs.
Old furniture that is unused or untouched is an ideal setting for bed bugs. They need to find a place to burrow that doesn’t get disturbed a lot to avoid being exterminated. If you found a great chair or couch recently at a garage sale or consignment store, check for bed bugs before bringing it into the house.
How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs
If you’re worried about bed bugs, or if you have found evidence that you are indeed dealing with an infestation, help is on the way! Here are a few ways to start exterminating any bed bugs that made themselves at home.
Start by taking all the sheets, blankets, and pillowcases off the beds and washing them. Wash them on the hot water setting for the longest amount of time your washer will allow, and wash them in small batches.
Make sure everything goes through twice; yes, it will take some time, but this will help get rid of any eggs in your sheets and blankets.
If possible, hire professional cleaners to steam clean all furniture and any carpet in the home.
Bed bugs love piles of clothes and debris you keep in your home, so declutter your space as soon as you find bed bugs have moved in. Any clothes that you keep on the floor need to be washed, repeat the steps above, and put away as well as any blankets or towels.
Invest in or utilize any shoe racks you already have and shake out all your shoes before putting them away. It is now time to go through those stacks of papers or old bags on the floor that you’ve been avoiding. Chances are a few bed bugs have taken up residence.
Fill In Gaps/Holes
Cracks in baseboards, bed frames, or exposed holes in the walls that you haven’t gotten to yet could be ideal breeding grounds for bed bugs. Start filling in those holes and cracks to make sure that bed bugs don’t find their way in.
Bed bugs aren’t likely to go sniffing around under your clothes to find a suitable meal, so wearing comfortable yet covering pajamas to bed will make you a less-than-ideal target. For kids, this can be hard due to their inclination to get hot at night, so keep the pajamas lightweight, preferably cotton, and keep blankets on the bed to a minimum.
The Bottom Line
Bed bugs are always unwanted guests, but with simple guidelines, your family will stay bite-free in the future. Even if you have dealt with bed bugs in the past, these points can keep them from coming back and keep your family bite-free!