We have only one word to describe bed bugs- pests. The bed bug, or Cimex lectularius, feed on blood. Its bites are itchy and irritating.
These annoying pests are considered a public health risk by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, and the United States Department of Agriculture.
If you are worried about bed bugs, the best thing to do is to learn more about them. We are going to talk about bed bugs, their life cycle, and the best home remedies to prevent and remove them.
For all your pest removal needs, consider contacting Environmental Pest Management. We are your one-stop-shop for all things creepy and crawly.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs are flat, round, and brown. When they are unfed, they are a dark, mahogany color. But when they are freshly full of blood, they are elongated, swollen, and reddish-brown.
Bed bugs have six legs, and they are about a quarter of an inch long. They have all the characteristics of true bugs, and they include-
- A beak
- Three segments
- Antennae that have four distinct parts
- Wings that they don’t use for flying
- Short, golden-colored hair
One of the least pleasant aspects of bed bugs, aside from the itchy bites, is the musty odor they produce. They have glands on the bottom side of their bodies that produce this odor.
When they are young, bed bugs are called nymphs. Nymphs transition from translucent to whitish-yellow to brown as they grow. If they haven’t fed in a while, they are almost invisible to the naked eye.
It takes about a month for a young bed bug to develop fully. Before they reach maturity, these nymphs shed their skins around five times.
The eggs of bed bugs are tiny, about the size of the head of a pin. They are pearly-white in color. A female bed bug can lay hundreds of eggs throughout her lifetime.
Where Can I Find Bed Bugs?
Because of their small size, bed bugs can fit into tiny spaces. They often enter your home on your clothing, luggage, used bedding, or other items. Generally, they enter your home without your knowledge.
Bed bugs generally do not live in nests, like ants or bees. Instead, they tend to cluster in groups in their hiding places.
The most common hiding places for bed bugs are mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards. Considering their name, this pattern of hiding in your bed is not surprising. They like to be within easy reach of their food, and in this instance, their food is you.
As the infestation grows, the bed bugs may branch out to other areas of your home. They can even spread to nearby homes and apartments.
Outside of the bedroom, you can find bedbugs in your clothes and shoes. They are proficient hitchhikers, and they like to travel. Bed bugs are nocturnal and elusive. Once you have them in your home, they are incredibly challenging to get rid of.
Some of their hiding places include-
- Folded areas of beds
- Furniture- especially if they have cloth coverings
- Electrical switchplates
- Picture frames
In reality, though, you can find bed bugs almost anywhere.
Cleanliness, or lack thereof, is not an indication of bed bugs. Because they eat blood, it doesn’t matter how clean your space is. Bed bugs will infest a clean home as quickly as a dirty one.
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What About the Bites?
As previously stated, bed bugs are nocturnal. They are the most active night, and that is when they prefer to feed. That doesn’t mean, though, that they won’t bite you during the day.
Bed bugs feed by piercing the skin of their host. They suck up the blood through their elongated beaks. Each feeding lasts anywhere from three to ten minutes.
Once they have fed, they scurry away to hide. That feeding will last them around ten days. During those ten days, the bed bug digests its food, mates, and lays eggs.
Initially, the bite is relatively painless. The pain comes later in the form of itchy, red welts. You can find bed bug bites on any part of your skin that is exposed when you are sleeping.
Bed bug bites look similar to mosquito bites or other skin irritations. The only way to confirm you have bed bugs is by finding the bugs themselves.
What Are the Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation?
- Waking up with itchy areas you didn’t notice before you fell asleep
- Bloodstains on your pillowcases or sheets
- Dark rusty spots on sheets or mattresses that signify bed bug excrement
- The musty scent from the bed bugs scent glands
- Bed bug egg shells or shed skin
If you suspect you might have an infestation, you should take action immediately. Be proactive in your search.
- Remove all bedding and check for signs of bed bugs
- Examine box springs and seams in wood framing for signs
- Check the areas around your bed for signs
- Check your closet and clothing
- Call an exterminator if you are unsure
What Are Some of the Best Natural Home Remedies?
Your number one line of defense against bed bugs is to suck them up. When you are dealing with an infestation, you should try to vacuum every couple of days. Use the hose attachment and really get in there.
Make it a one-two punch and steam clean after you vacuum. The heat will help to kill the bugs.
Everything that can be washed on high heat should be washed on high heat. The heat from the dryer will also help. Pay particular attention to your sheets and bedding.
Pour some in a spritz bottle and spray all over your house. This should kill the bugs upon contact.
Baking soda can dry out the bed bugs. For maximum effectiveness, vacuum, and reapply every few days.
Some of the best essential oils for bed bug infestations are-
- Tea tree
Make your own insect repellent by mixing any combination of the oils mentioned above and about 8 ounces of water. You can even add some cayenne to amp up the solution.
Check out this page for a more extensive list of preventive measures.
For more information on bed bugs, check this out.
If you are having a problem with bed bugs, contact Environmental Pest Management for your free estimate.