The past decade has seen a rise in bed bug infestations throughout America and the rest of the Western world. Although these tiny insects pose no fatal problems, you still have to worry about the possibilities of losing sleep, waking up to numerous itchy bites, and experiencing stress because of these household pests.
What do bed bugs look like?
They might not be immediately visible to you (adult bed bugs can go as big as ¼ of an inch). But a close inspection on the insides of a mattress, where they usually hide, will expose these nasty little creatures.
There might be other insects crawling underneath your bed, but bed bugs have a distinct flat body and an oval shape. They usually have a brownish shade, but they can also look white after molting.
Where can you locate them?
Aside from hiding in the interior of mattresses, they can also live in the cracks of the bed structure, in the walls where the wires run through, and even inside your own computer. They look for warm places to live in and breed for most of the day. Then, they come out at night to feed on the blood of their victims. Places prone to bed bug infestation are hotels, dormitories and other locations where many people come and go to sleep.
How do they affect you?
As mentioned earlier, they make the simple act of sleeping uncomfortable. You won’t feel the bites because of the anesthesia they secrete when they feed, but you might start feeling the itch later on through the night or when you wake up.
They do not transmit any diseases, but they can cause undue stress because of lack of sleep. They can also be the cause of anxiety, since homeowners have to deal with the infestation, as well as the financial issue of extermination or of moving out.
How do you prevent them from invading your home?
First, you must understand that there is no foolproof method of preventing bed bugs from entering your home. They can be carried by people on their clothes, their luggage, their deliveries or their pets, when they come from places that have already been infested. You can’t always stop these people for full-body check-ups and personal inspections of their things.
A. Look After Your Belongings
What you can do is exercise enough caution on the things you can control, such as your own belongings. Here are a number of things you can do:
1. When staying the night in another place:
• Check the bed including its mattress and frame. • Do not place your bags or clothes on the bed. If there is a luggage rack, put your things in there.
2. When coming back home from a trip:
• Place your clothes on plastic bags to seal bed bugs that could possibly be on them. • Take them straight to the laundry and wash them in the highest settings the clothes can handle. • Vacuum your luggage. • Hand wash in soapy water or scrub the rest of your items with a brush.
3. When bringing used furniture:
• Inspect all crevices where bed bugs might be hiding. • Immediately wash linens, sheets, curtains and the like.
B. Practice proper maintenance of your house
Proper maintenance is also a must in keeping your house safe from bed bugs. You can:
1. Vacuum your bed frames regularly. 2. Wash your sheets and pillows in hot water with a lot of soap weekly. 3. Replace old mattresses ASAP, preferably with memory foam mattresses. This type of mattress work best because of its “solid” interior core. Bed bugs, even with their small size, can’t fit inside such mattresses.
By being ever vigilant through these safety precautions, you can go back to sleeping soundly in the comfort of your own home.