“Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
My mother used to say this to me every night before bed when I was a child. For a while, I actually ended up thinking that bed bugs were just an old wives’ tale; something mothers say just because their mothers said it. But no, bed bugs are real and they are one of the biggest nuisance pests in the world.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on blood. The species Cimex Lectulariusin in particular feeds exclusively on human blood. The insect requires blood to complete each of its stages of metamorphosis. They use body temperature, moisture, carbon dioxide, and visual cues to locate a sleeping host to feed on. Bed bugs were almost completely eradicated in the developed world in the 1940s. In the mid-90s, they began to reappear, most likely because of increased international travel, bans on certain pesticides, and increasing poison resistance.
What’s The Danger?
If you’re worried about diseases, you can relax – at least a bit. So far, all research indicates that, although they can carry a number of human pathogens, they do not transmit them. While this makes them less worrisome than fleas or ticks, they are still a nuisance. Their bites cause swelling and redness often mistaken for rashes, and scarring. Most bites show no symptoms at all, but occasionally they can cause moderate to severe allergic reactions. If the bites are left untreated, or are scratched, it is possible for them to become infected.
How Do I Spot Them?
If you suffer bites during the night, it’s a pretty obvious sign that you might have an infestation. The bites will appear on exposed skin, most commonly the neck, shoulders, arms and other areas of the upper body. Occasionally, there will be multiple bites in a tight line or cluster. If you experience any reaction, it will usually occur within 1-10 days. If you experience bites, they will usually heal within a few days if you don’t scratch them. Speak to a pharmacist or doctor about getting some anti-itch cream to help.
Since bites often don’t get reactions, you may need to look for other indications. Look carefully in your mattress and linen for eggs. They will look like small, pale poppy seeds. You might also recognize their droppings. Look for small rust-colored or dark brown stains. The material they fall on usually absorbs them, but they may also form small beads. Large-scale infestations also begin to give off a noticeable odor described as being like coriander. At higher concentrations, this odor becomes highly unpleasant.
How Do I Get Rid of Them?
There are four effective methods of getting rid of bed bugs.
1. Heat Treatment
Bed bugs can only survive at a specific temperature range. Direct exposure to temperatures of 120 degrees or higher for 30 minutes will kill them and their eggs. Since many bugs will hide deeper in materials, the suggested temperature is 130-140 degrees to be sure you heat them up enough. A typical treatment will last six hours for a home, or two hours in a car.
2. Chemical Treatment
Chemical treatments can also be effective, but they require more preparation and may take multiple treatments to ensure they all die off.
This is by far the most effective way to get rid of bed bugs. Unfortunately, depending on your location it may also be the most expensive. Still, if you want to be absolutely sure you get rid of them, this is the way to go.
4. Dichlorvos Strips
This option is effective for storage vaults. When placed in a sealed area, these chemical strips attack the nervous system of bed bugs, destroying them and their eggs. Unfortunately, it won’t work for a house or car, as they can’t be properly sealed.
Can Alpine Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
We get asked this question a lot. Unfortunately, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration does not have the proper training to get rid of bed bugs. That requires an exterminator. We personally would recommend 5 Star Pest Control. They have the know-how and tools to get rid of infestations of all kinds, from rodents, to biting insects. Bed bugs won’t stand a chance. It is best to call a pest control company rather than try to do it yourself, as bed bugs can easily stow away on clothing, moving from one room of the house to another as you try to get rid of them, and they can go for days and sometimes weeks or months without feeding, depending on the stage of their life cycle. Without professional assistance, it is very difficult to get rid of them.
While we can’t help you get rid of them, we get asked this question enough that we felt it might be a good idea to give some basic information on how to spot them and what to do about it. For all your other cleaning and restoration needs, feel free to get in touch. We will be glad to help you out with any problems we’re qualified to deal with. If it’s a pest problem, contact a local extermination company.