Many of us who are the embodiment of the earlier generation went to bed with a simple urge,
“Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
It doesn’t imply that we actually saw or experienced bed bugs or their biting’s, but unfortunately this can’t be said for the present. It seems the old saying is more harmonious for our households these days than it should have been. It is only natural that we would think the advancement of science and all that should have made the bed bugs extinct, like we have exterminated so many other species from Mother Nature. However, not only the bedbugs exist, they seem to flourish in 21st – century America, whether we like it or not.
The contributing factors for the rebound are many – the most prominent being the widespread use of DDT along with less virile insecticides, a significant increase in global travelling (ban in international travel during the pandemic notwithstanding), a deprivation of renowned vigilance for keeping the households clean etc.
Whatever the causes might be, bed bugs have become a part and parcel of American daily lives again. And they are going about their sweet ways not only in our homes, apartments, dormitories, hotels, shelters but in hospitals, old homes, day care centers, libraries, theaters, municipal buildings and of course on public transportations as well. In simple terms, wherever you find people, you are going to get bed bugs.
So, it is high time we did something about them. But first, let’s get to know something about bed bugs.
Bed Bugs Essentials You Need To Know
Bed bugs are small-sized insects and they have a brownish color. Blood is the only food for these insects. The bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) which we usually have as unwanted guests unsurprisingly prefer feasting in human blood. They also bite warm-blooded animals like dogs, cats, birds, and rodents. They have been doing it since ancient times – believe it or not, you can find them in medieval European texts and classical Greek writings leading back to the time of Aristotle.
Bed bugs depicted in a book published in 1485.
They have oval-shaped flattened bodies and are usually reddish-brown in color resembling more like apple seeds. Ticks, cockroaches, carpet beetles or other household insects are often mistaken as bed bugs because of similar sizes, but other insects living inside our homes very rarely have the same coloration as bed bugs. Bed bugs don’t fly or jump, rather they crawl fast over smooth surfaces like floors or walls.
We get bitten by bed bugs at night, especially when we are asleep. They do not usually domicile on or get attached to people. As soon as they finish their business of eating blood, they get lost to their preferred location to absorb the meal.
It is unlikely that bed bugs spread diseases even if they can carry different pathogens. The medical implications of bug biting may only be limited to itching and inflammation from the bites. But bed bugs can have profound effects on our quality of life as they can easily cause havoc on our emotional well-being by initiating discomfort and sleeplessness and also harboring anxiety and embarrassment.
Very often we get baffled to find bed bugs in our pristine abodes. It seems they have the ability to appear out of thin air. The truth is bugs are very good at hitchhiking and can go places effortlessly on luggage, clothes and often in our persons. And when they get our inadvertent introduction in our dwellings from elsewhere, they can be transported to the entire building simply by ‘hiking a ride’ on the residents and their belongings and flourish unnoticed. Since they are unlike other insects like cockroaches or flies which usually feed on filths, clean households are as vulnerable as places of squalor.
If that’s the case, if cleaning the house immaculately isn’t enough to deal with them, then what are the other ways to be free from bed bugs?
In the den of Sleepingpark.com, with some sleep-science enthusiasts, we continuously discuss, study and research the things that are helpful for a goodnight’s sound sleep. We regularly review products like mattress, pillows or anything that we think will be helpful for creating a conducive environment for a better sleep. We also spend a considerable amount of time researching about topics that can make sleeping easy or cause havoc on our sleeping. Bed bugs was one such topic and we did our best to let you know all the necessary info that you might need to eliminate them completely from your household. We know pretty well how disgusting the bed bugs can be and what detrimental effects they can impose upon our sleep hygiene.
This article is our attempt to help you fight with the bed bugs.
Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs
Getting rid of the bed bugs isn’t easy, but it surely is possible. Please carry on reading to get a few ideas about how to go about getting rid of them:
1. The Good Old Laundering
Laundering is the first line of defense against the bed bugs. When the bedding and the garments are laundered at minimum 120º Fahrenheit, bugs at their different stages of life will be killed. The dryer is also very effective to eradicate bugs when they are set at a temperature of medium-to-high and for about 10-20 minutes. Dryers are best for toys, backpacks, shoes etc.
The items that are unsuitable for laundering or dry-washing can be wrapped in plastic preferably in black trash bags and left outdoors in a sunny location for a day or two. This will also help remove bed bugs.
2. Discarding and Encasement
Though it is said to be the best to discard the infested items, it is not practical always. When the bedding or upholsteries get infected severely, we need to discard them. But encasing the mattress and box springs with protecting covers is another way to prevent bed bugs infestation and it is also conveniently more economical.
A high quality encasement is durable and comfortable to sleep on and at the same time can keep the bed bugs inside, which ultimately cause their death. However, if the other furniture in the room like sofas or loveseats is already infested, bugs can crawl out from them and bite a person sleeping over the encasement. So, to get the encasements for other furniture where bed bugs can reside is also a very good way to stop the infestation. Bed bug proof encasements for different household furniture made with the suggestions of experienced pest control managers are available everywhere now-a-days.
3. Professional Help
Though it is expensive, getting help from the professionals is the best way to get rid of the bed bugs completely. The exterminators have a plethora of ways to eradicate the bed bugs including heating and freezing, insecticides, fuming etc. You need to plan ahead to get the help from the pest-control operators because you might need to evacuate the house for a day or two to avoid any health hazards that might result from destroying the bugs.
4. Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Eradicating bed bugs can be cumbersome and expensive, so it is always prudent to concentrate on taking precautionary steps rather than expending money after the infestation. Let’s have a look at a few ideas about how we can prevent bed bugs in the first place:
- The first thing we should try is to avoid using discarded mattresses or sofas. But if we must, we have to look very carefully for fecal spots and other signs of bed bugs infestation before bringing any second hand items home. Even when we buy new mattresses, we should remember that new mattresses are often delivered in the same delivery vehicle that is also used for carrying old mattresses. So, that is one very unexpected way with which bed bugs can get inside our homes. To prevent that, the new mattress must be sealed before the delivery is made.
- The bed is the primary abode for the bed bugs. So checking the bed regularly is another way to keep the bed bugs at bay. To ensure a thorough check up, start with removing all bed items like linens, pillows, bed covers etc. Start with slowly lifting up each corner of the mattress and then check all the creases, tufts, and buttons one at a time. If there are any piping materials by the sides that are sewn onto the edges, make sure they are free from bed bugs as well. Some mattresses have handles and air holes and bugs can have comfy little habitats in there as well.
- Periodic inspection of the house can go a long way to prevent infestations. For a thorough inspection, you are going to need a few simple tools like flashlight, something with sharp or thin edge (like an expired debit/credit card cut or folded into a triangle), screwdrivers, alcohol, glass-cleaner, baby wipes, cotton swabs, sealable white plastic bags etc. We can use the card in a sweeping motion in narrow spaces to see if any bed bugs remain hiding there. This handy device can also be used to scrape along mattress seams and other crevices. We can use the screwdriver to open electrical faceplates and take the furniture apart to see if there are any infestations going on unnoticed. Alcohol, glass-cleaner, or baby wipes are used to check stains caused by bed bug droppings. Likewise, cotton swabs can check stains in crevices. If there are any signs of bedbugs, then we should widen the area of your search carefully. If there is a pet in the house, sleeping areas should be inspected as well.
- We also need to check other furniture at the house like chairs, bookshelves, wardrobes, couches etc. Creases and especially the seams and the zippers in all the upholstered furniture should be inspected time to time. The seating area and the creases along the sides and back of the chair or couch, the legs especially where they are attached with the upholstery and the covering fabric is tacked to the frame are places where the possibility bed bugs infestations are ripe. So, checking them beforehand is a great way to prevent the spreading.
- We also need to check other furniture at the house like chairs, bookshelves, wardrobes, couches etc. Creases and especially the seams and the zippers in all the upholstered furniture should be inspected time to time. The seating area and the creases along the sides and back of the chair or couch, the legs especially where they are attached with the upholstery and the covering fabric is tacked to the frame are places where the possibility bed bugs infestations are ripe. So, checking them beforehand is a great way to prevent the spreading. We also need to look all over the corners and surfaces of regular wood furniture like bookshelves, cabinets, dressers, tables etc. Start with removing drawers and have a look at the inside, the top, sides, back, and legs. If the furniture is old or weak or cracks are appearing, they can be an ideal spot for the bed bugs to hide.
- We should be careful about giving as little space to initiate infestation as possible. So we need to declutter the living spaces every now and then and vacuum and use the available over-the-counter bed bugs repellent. And when decluttering, we should also complete repairing or removing wallpapers that are about to come off. If there are any cracks or crevices appearing on the bed frames made of wood, between baseboards or anywhere in walls, door hinges or frames, windows, ceilings etc., we should ensure that they are sealed properly.
- If the house we live in is shared or if it’s an apartment, we have to make sure that the entry points or openings (that allow access, places like where pipes, wires or other utility services enter) are without cracks.
Checking every item that we are bringing into our home for the first time is the first line of defense against bed bugs. We should continuously check items like used books, furniture bought from garage sales or antique stores, etc. And as I have mentioned earlier, we need to be extra careful with second-hand or refurbished items.
It is obvious that all the above precautionary measures will let us know if we are already infested with bed bugs. At times, they seem too time-consuming, and a bit too far-fetched. But all of those will help us prevent the money that we might need to spend and from the health and mental hazards that we might incur.
But if all the precautionary steps still prove to be futile, we can always take the steps that I’ve mentioned to get rid of the bed bugs.
Now, get ready to go to war with bed bugs, and make your home a happy and healthy one. Thanks.