Bedbugs are a tenant’s (and a landlord’s) worst nightmare. There’s nothing worse than having your home invaded by insects that can harm you while you sleep. It can disrupt your rest and make your stay at your current place uncomfortable. It can also cause unnecessary long-term problems when you do not deal with the infestation immediately.
To know more about bedbugs and what you can do about it, here’s an all-inclusive guide for you.
What are Bedbugs?
Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, oval-shaped insects, known to infest dwellings. They are wingless creatures that measure 5 to 7 mm in length. Their source of nourishment is from sucking blood from human or warm-blooded animals. That’s why they can be very dangerous to homeowners and pets.
They are also quite adaptable, and can live anywhere inside your house. This includes the smallest cracks and crevices in your furniture or other textiles, even in the upholstery. They also prefer to live in clothing and other soft furnishings – generally places where light does not hit. However, as their name suggests, they are most frequently found in beds. They can live among the bed frames, box springs, or mattresses.
Bedbugs are also night creatures and are most active during the hours most people are sleeping. If you sleep on a bed infested with bedbugs, they can bite any exposed areas of your skin. The most common locations of bedbug bites are the face, neck, arms, and hands. As ectoparasites, they live outside of their host but attach to them to feed on their blood. Bedbugs usually feed between 5 to 7 days when there is a host available.
Up close, you’ll find that the colors of bedbugs range from white to a deep brown or orange color. After they feed on blood, they tend to turn into dark red color or generally, black. Because of their preferred habitat, they are becoming a gradual problem in the country. This especially counts for places most people dwell in, such as residential homes, dormitories, hotels, and shelters.
What are the Signs & Symptoms of a Bedbug Bite?
Unfortunately, some people find out they have bedbug infestation when it’s too late. Some have discovered bedbugs in their home after they are already bitten in their sleep.
If your most recent wound looks and feels like this, you might need to check your home:
- Bed bug bite rash across the localized skin area
- Burning and itching
- Raised, red welts or hives
- Straight lines of multiple bites
Again, it is important to take note that most bedbugs feed on their hosts while they are asleep. Their peak times for feeding is usually between 12 MN and 5 AM. The appearance of bite wounds may vary greatly too, and some take up to 2 weeks to become visible.
If your home is infested with bedbugs, it might be high time to get rid of them immediately. Bedbugs actually need to feed regularly to survive as well as to lay eggs and reproduce. You might find yourself getting bitten every other night by these parasitic creatures.
Discovered that you were just bitten by a bedbug? Primary treatment focuses on relieving the aforementioned symptoms and the slight itchiness, redness, and pain you may feel. You may buy a topical cream (e.g. cortisone) to relieve the itching sensation or drink an oral antibiotic. You can drink antibiotics if an infection appears due to irritation around the bedbug bite.
Should you find yourself having an allergic reaction to the bites, drink an antihistamine. You may also intake prescribed corticosteroids if the bedbug bite allergy is quite severe. Most bites heal within 1 to 2 weeks but you must remember to take a few precautions anyway.
How Do You Know You Have a Bedbug Infestation?
You may be lucky enough to not have been bitten by any bedbug. Nevertheless, it may still be wise to check if your house has a bedbug infestation. Though they are experts at hiding, they still leave evidence behind.
You’ll be able to confirm for yourself that you do have an outbreak. Keep in mind the following bedbug infestation signs:
• Blood stains on your bedsheets and sleepwear
Of course, since their source of nourishment is blood, bedbugs leave blood stains as well. Their feeding process involves sucking the blood out of their hosts. This may result to stains on your clothing (if you’re a victim of their bite), or your bedsheets. Remember to treat yourself immediately to avoid any further complications.
• Cast/shed bedbug shells, skins, or exoskeletons
The best place to find these empty shells would be the corners and crevices of your bed and furniture. These are the places where it’s possible for these insects to hide, aggregate, and feed. The more blood they suck up from their hosts, the bigger they grow. With their increase in size comes the shedding of their shells and exoskeletons through a process called molting.
If you have a bedbug infestation, you might find hundreds to thousands of molted skins in the dark corners of your home. How does one exoskeleton look like, you ask? They are translucent and take the shape of the bedbugs itself. A lot of these molted shells may vary in size too, since the bedbug has different life stages. They grow bigger the more they feed.
• Fecal spots on your bedsheets and mattress
Another way you can find out if you have a swarm of these parasites in your home is through fecal spots. Bedbugs leave liquid waste wherever they go, so there’s a possibility they’ll leave fecal spots on your bedding. These fecal spots are dark brown or black in color, and tend to resemble smears or stains. This is the result of their bloody diet being digested and excreted. If they are able to feed, they’ll surely leave more fecal spots in their stead.
How Do You Get Rid of Bedbugs?
There are several ways of eradicating bedbugs, which you can do either by yourself or with professional help. You may call an exterminator to help you get rid of these pesky insects.
Additionally, you can follow these suggested DIY steps to remove the infestation:
Clean your home and declutter. Vacuum, if necessary.
The first thing you should do is get rid of any clutter or trash near your bed and inside your home. Trash and dirt can become an invitation for parasites and other pests to come live in your home.
Consider bringing out your trash outside at least twice a day so that there’s no way garbage will accumulate. A clean home is unquestionably a safe and sanitary home. This will also prevent you and your family from contracting any diseases you can get from inside the home.
It is also recommended that you vacuum your home as much as possible to get rid of any dust and dirt. Try to focus on the problem areas such as corners and areas where you don’t get to clean much. If you target bedbugs right at the heart of their “home,” you can stop the infestation almost immediately.
Clean your bed and mattress
Since most bedbugs reside in your bed, it may be a good idea to clean it entirely. Take out all the beddings and linens as well as affected clothing and curtains and soak them in hot water. Dry them out in the sun or in the dryer, using the highest setting. Consider washing bedroom items like stuffed animals, sleepwear, and slippers to make certain that any bedbugs are disposed of.
For your mattress, get a stiff brush and use it to scrub the seams. This will help remove the bedbugs and their eggs. Then, vacuum your mattress for the finishing touch.
Take the necessary precautions.
You can also encase your box springs and mattresses inside a tightly woven, zippered cover. You may do this after you scrub and vacuum your mattress. This is also a good way to get rid of bedbugs. Since they can live for up to one year without feeding, keep the mattress covered all through the year. That way, bedbugs won’t be able to enter or leave your bed. By the end of the year, you can be sure that any residual pests are dead.
Take note of any cracks or dirty crevices in your home and repair.
Lastly, make sure that bedbugs would no longer have a place to stay in your home. Check out any cracks in your walls. Any damage in the plaster and wallpaper will help get rid of the dark places bedbugs can accumulate in. Fill in those cracks and glue down or replace your old, peeling wallpaper.
Learn How You Can Outsmart Bedbugs Effectively
Whether you are a tenant or a landlord in an apartment, everyone can agree that a bedbug infestation is a mutual problem. Though the dilemma may seem small at first, it can eventually grow into a full-out plague if not taken care of immediately.
Do not just brush off any potential signs of bedbug presence in your home. Remember to coordinate with local exterminators and fumigators to keep your house clean. A pest-free home is absolutely a happy home!