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Bedbug Infestation: How to Identify, Eliminate, and Prevent It

Avatar of author Ismael Girard
Ismael Girard
5 min read
Introduction

Ever woken up to itchy, red welts and wondered what's going on? You're not alone. Bedbug infestations are a common, yet often misunderstood issue, affecting countless households.

They're sneaky, hard to find, and even harder to get rid of. But don't despair, we're here to shed light on this issue.

In this text, we'll dig into the world of bedbugs, exploring their habits, how they invade your home, and most importantly, how to send them packing.

Here's an overview:

✔️ What bedbugs are and look like?

✔️ What's a bedbug infestation?

✔️ Bedbug identification tips

✔️ How to eliminate a bedbug infestation?

✔️ How to prevent a bedbug infestation?

✔️ Myths and facts on bedbugs

We've done the research and we're ready to share our knowledge, so you can reclaim your peace of mind.

So, if you're ready to turn the tables on them bedbugs, let's investigate in. You're about to become a bedbug-busting expert!

What Are Bedbugs?

Bedbugs, in essence, embody small, brown insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. Living right under the darkness of beds, furniture crevices, and even clothing.

Characteristics of Bedbugs

Appearance & Size

Bedbugs are comparable to the size of apple seeds. They have a dark, flat, and oval body — But will swell and become red after feeding on the blood of their preferred hosts. You might find their skins or eggs discarded in the infested rooms.

💡 They are often mistaken for regular bugs, so make sure to identify them properly.

Life Cycle

A bedbug's life cycle includes several stages: From egg to nymph, eventually transforming into a mature insect.

Females can lay hundreds of eggs, each about the size of a dust particle.

Nymphs, after hatching, must feed on blood to molt and reach the next level.

While this life cycle may span over a few months, under conducive conditions, a generation of bedbugs can multiply within a month, making a bedbug infestation a perturbing, rapidly escalating over time.

Bedbug Bites

Unlike other pests, bedbugs feed solely on blood, with humans being their most common and preferred hosts. Their feeding process (usually performed when we're asleep) includes biting the skin and drawing blood for about ten minutes.

So, bedbug bites result in itchy, red welts on the skin, causing significant health discomfort and requiring prompt extermination.

What Is a Bedbug Infestation?

image of a bedbug infestation in a bedroom

A bedbug infestation occurs when bedbugs spread in places where humans frequently sleep or rest, such as mattresses, bed frames, and furniture.

Given the typical feeding habits and hideouts, these insects infest homes, hotels, apartments, and even modes of public transportation like cars, buses and subways.

Bedbug infestations pose significant health issue, with 70% of people develop related allergies, according a Nature research

What Are the Signs of a Bedbug Infestation?

Recognizing the signs of a bedbug infestation aids in speedy control measures. Such signs include the following:

  1. Bites on body: Waking up with red, itchy bites often arranged in lines or clusters across the skin is a common indication.
  2. Blood stains on sheets or pillowcases: As bedbugs feed, they can leave behind traces of blood on your bedding.
  3. Fecal spots on bedding: Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excreta on bedding or surrounding rooms serve as hints.
  4. Discarded skins: As bedbugs mature, they shed their skins. Finding such small, pale-yellow is a strong sign.
  5. Egg shells and nymphs: Tiny, about 1mm in size, they signify an active infestation.

What Are the Causes of Bedbug Outbreaks?

The primary causes of bedbug infestations are the high rate of travel, both local and international.The ease with which bedbugs can hide in luggage, clothing, or personal items facilitates bedbugs spreading from infested areas to other rooms.

Frequent turnover of guests in places like hotels and apartments creates an ideal environment for bedbugs to multiply.

While clean properties can also have bedbugs, cluttered spaces provide more places for bedbugs to hide, so making the control more challenging.

Where to Search for Bedbugs?

Detecting a bedbug infestation involves several steps, as these parasites are known for being elusive and can hide in various places. Here’s how to check for them and what tools to use:

  • Bedding: Bedding: Check all the seams, creases, and folds of your mattress and box spring to uncover where bedbugs hide.
  • Furniture: Inspect chairs, couches, dressers, and drawers. Pay special attention to cracks and crevices.
  • Walls and Carpet: Examine the edges of carpets and baseboards, as well as behind wallpaper and picture frames.
  • Electronics and Appliances: Bedbugs can hide in small spaces like clocks, phones, televisions, and smoke detectors.
  • Other potential hiding spots: These include books, newspapers, clothing piles, and even power outlets.

Use Detection Tools

  • Interceptor cups: Place these under the legs of beds or furniture. They trap bedbugs attempting to climb up or down from your bed.
  • Adhesive traps: While less effective for bedbugs, they can catch a few and indicate their presence.
  • Bedbug monitors: These devices can attract and trap bedbugs using heat, carbon dioxide, and chemical lures.

Professionnal extermination is recommended upon identifying an infestation. Even though many DIY control methods available, bedbugs are resistant to many home made methods and a comprehensive plan is necessary.

How to Get Rid of Bedbug Issues?

Moving forward, we now pivot to discuss strategies that help address bedbug issues. Notably, these approaches span across a range of DIY home methods and expert extermination methods.

DIY Bedbug Extermination Methods

Initiating the fight against bedbugs at home revolves around a comprehensive process. Primarily, it engages the deep cleaning of infested areas, vacuuming to remove eggs, bugs, and skins, and actual and surgical removal of clutter, which provides hiding spots for these bothersome insects.

  • Vacuum suitcases, furniture, beds, and any accessible cracks. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag in an exterior bin after completing this task.
  • Secure any infested items of clothing by trapping the bugs inside plastic bags before washing and drying at high temperatures.
  • Unlike people, bedbugs cannot withstand high temperatures. Hence, take advantage of the hot dryer cycle or steam cleaner on mattresses, box springs, and furniture.
  • Regularly inspect places they'd invade like behind wallpapers, within electrical outlets, and in all hidden corners of the mattress and bed frame.

Professional Extermination Methods

Addressing bedbug problems escalates to professional extermination methods when home remedies fail to eradicate the issue. Exterminators adopt both chemical and non-chemical methods to safely and effectively rid homes of these bugs.

Chemical Extermination

In Canada, professionally recommended chemical treatments involve the use of specific insecticides, which come with high potency tailored to control bedbugs exclusively. Applied to breeding grounds and hideouts, these chemicals aim to kill the bugs in one efficient swoop.

Non-Chemical Methods

For those apprehensive about using chemicals, non-chemical methods prove similarly effective in treating bedbug infestations. Some of these include:

  • Heat treatment: Bed bugs perish when exposed to temperatures of 49°C and above for several minutes, achievable through hot dryers or grade heaters.
  • Cold treatment: Conversely, freezing infested items below -17°C over a few days effectively terminates the bugs.
  • Steam cleaning: This method involves applying steam directly to infested areas. The high temperature of the steam kills bed bugs on contact, making it a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to chemical treatments.

How to Prevent a Bedbug Infestation?

After understanding the characteristics of a bedbug infestation and ways to treat it, it's paramount to prevent future infestations. Bedbugs can travel from one location to another quite easily, hence implementing preventive measures holds great importance.

Strategies to Block Entry

Stop bedbugs from invading your living spaces by focusing on these proven methods of prevention:

  • Regular inspections: Be vigilant about inspecting new and used items before bringing them into your home. Bedbugs can easily latch onto luggage, clothes, or furniture and find their way into your home.
  • Securing the luggage: When traveling, especially staying in hotels or aboard cruise ships, keep luggage in plastic bags and away from the floor to minimize the possibility of bedbugs finding their way into your belongings.
  • Conscious traveling: Avoid putting your bag or clothes on beds or sofas in public places like airports or transit stations. Bedbugs can crawl into your bag or hang onto your clothes and travel home with you.
  • Buying wisely: Refrain from picking up discarded items, such as appliances or mattresses from the street. Bedbugs often hide in neglected items.

Remember, it's easier to prevent an infestation than to get rid of one.

Regular Home Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance can also halt the entry of bedbugs:

  • Filling in cracks: Bedbugs, small as an apple seed, can fit into the tiniest of spaces, including cracks in your furniture and electrical outlets. Seal any cracks to eliminate potential hiding places.
  • Vacuuming: Vacuum regularly, especially spots near your bed. Immediate disposal of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag curtails any chance of a possible infestation.
  • Regular cleaning: Clean your bedding, curtains, and clothes in hot water and dry them on a high setting. Heat kills bedbugs in all stages of their life cycle, from eggs to adults.
  • Professional pest control: If the situation spirals out of control, don't hesitate to contact an exterminator. They're trained to handle bedbug infestations and can efficiently eliminate them from your home.

Don't let bedbugs rob you of your peaceful sleep. Take the necessary steps towards effectively preventing bedbug infestations and maintain your property or apartment as a bug-free sanctuary.

What Are Common Myths and Facts of Bedbug Infestations?

Back to discussing common bedbug misconceptions, let’s address some prevalent myths and disclose essential facts about bedbug infestations. This phase decodes misinformation, setting the stage for better understanding and effective control strategies.

Common Myths

  • Myth 1: Bedbugs, associated with uncleanliness or filth, aren't solely pointed towards an untidy environment, but they do thrive where clusters of people exist, such as apartments and hotels.
  • Myth 2: Bedbugs can't be visible to the naked eye. Yet, contrary to this belief, fully-grown bedbugs size up to that of an apple seed, exhibiting a brown tone.
  • Myth 3: Bedbugs exist only in bedding or mattress seams. But, they extend well beyond, hiding within cracks and crevices, behind wallpaper, or within electrical outlets.
  • Myth 4: Bedbugs can’t travel on people or their clothes. The reality is, they can hitch a ride on luggage, clothing, and used furniture, thereby spreading to new rooms.

Essential Facts About Bedbugs

Transitioning from myths, let's focus on some credible facts about these unwelcomed critters.

  • Fact 1: Bedbugs feed exclusively on blood, irrespective of the host's cleanliness. While humans are their preferred hosts, they won't shy away from feeding on pets.
  • Fact 2: These bugs are nocturnal, feeding primarily during the night when their hosts are asleep, not to be mistaken as a vampire tale.
  • Fact 3: Their bites aren't initially painful. Only later may they develop into itchy welts. But, not everyone reacts severely, an unfortunate fact that occasionally delays detection.
  • Fact 4: Bedbugs are survivors. They can live for several months without a meal, making extermination a vigorous process, often requiring pest control companies for comprehensive eradication.
  • Fact 5: Bedbugs infestations aren't just a significant health concern, but they also pose a substantial mental strain, disrupting sleep and causing anxiety among those affected.

Separating myths from facts serves to empower people with correct knowledge, enabling more competent strategies against bedbug invasions. Remember, it's the accurate information that chips away the bedbugs' best weapon: stealth.

Conclusion

Battling bedbug infestations is no small task - persistency and vigilance are key. Remember, these tiny parasites are ingenious at hiding and can survive up to several months without a blood meal.

And keep in mind, having bedbugs doesn't mean you're dirty or living in a run-down property. Even 5-star hotels and high-end apartments aren't immune, with some located in the worst cities in Canada for bedbugs.

Getting rid of bedbugs isn't solely about the here and now—it's a long-term commitment. Be vigilant, take precautions, and if you suspect you may have an infestation, don't hesitate to contact an exterminator!

Also, consider sharing this information with your neighbors and friends because preventing an infestation is always better than treating one. By spreading awareness, you're indirectly protecting your extermination efforts from the possible re-entry of bedbugs from neighbors.

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Frequently asked questions

How can one distinguish bedbug bites from other insects'?

Bedbug bites are typically red, itchy welts that appear in lines or clusters on the skin, often occurring on exposed areas when sleeping. They differ from other insect bites by their pattern and the intense itching they cause.

What steps should be taken immediately after identifying a bedbug infestation?

Once a bedbug infestation is identified, it is crucial to start by thoroughly cleaning and vacuuming the affected areas. Professional pest control should be contacted for a comprehensive extermination plan.

What are effective DIY methods for controlling minor bedbug infestations?

For minor bedbug outbreaks, thorough vacuuming, washing infested linens in hot water, and using steam cleaning can be effective. Sealing cracks and crevices also helps prevent their spread.