- What are bed bugs?
- Where do bed bugs come from?
- How do bed bugs look like?
- Why bed bugs should be killed?
- Why it is hard to eliminate bed bugs?
- How to detect bed bug infestation/ signs of bed bugs?
- How do bed bugs feed themselves?
- Types of bed bugs
- Life cycle of bed bug
- Bed bug bites treatment
- Bed bug treatment
- How to get rid of bed bugs naturally?
- Chemicals to kill bed bugs/ how to kill bed bugs chemically?
- Prevention of bed bugs infestation
- When to call for a professional?
- Myths about bed bug extermination
“Baa baa bed bugs, have you any blood? Yes sir, yes sir one human full!”
Well, that’s how terrifying it is! With so much of bed bugs everywhere, sleeping on a mattress is like turning yourself into their buffet!
They are the real life Dracula never missing a chance to suck out your blood! Most of us have gone through this experience with bed bugs regardless of how spotless and perfect our homes are. Once the bed bugs find their way inside your house, they are quick to find their hiding spot. They can choose anything to hide from luggage, mattresses, furniture and couch etc. These crawlers can choose to hide at the tiniest crack in your house which you might not even notice! Bed bugs can easily be transported via beddings, luggage or clothes.
Isn’t it so frustrating when you are bitten by bed bugs and the very next moment they vanish? Moreover, these bites will leave red and pink marks on your body with lots of itching! Getting rid of them might be very difficult and the increasing anxiety and number of restless nights are just unbearable.
So what are bed bugs?
These are tiny insects which fall under Cimicidae family. These parasitic insects has been there since ages and they feed on human blood which is the only source of nutrition for them. These wingless bed bugs appears flat and oval in shape resembling an apple seed. These bed bugs are specialized in staying very close to their prey but not far from their hiding point. So, they hide inside the beds and at night they attack the host and hide in no time. A recent survey reports that about 98% chances are there for mattresses getting chosen for infestation while 94% for baseboards and 93% for box springs. Warm blooded animals like human beings are their primary choice of food.
Where do bed bugs come from?
There is no such place where these bed bugs can’t happen to exist like dorms, used mattresses or furniture, hotels, hospitals, buildings or apartments, vehicles like buses and trains etc. Bed bugs can also be found in dark corners of the room, behind picture frames, in pillows, under furniture, inside crack and crevices etc. All of these spots are good for the bed bugs to infest the whole house. You need to monitor all these places at regular intervals.
How do bed bugs look like?
Bed bugs are oval shaped, wingless, flat bodied, appear reddish brown in color with six legs like any other insects along with a head, thorax and abdomen. Their body color right after hatching appear white and turn to brown by the time they grow as adult. They appear significantly red after feeding on their hosts. The younger ones look more like poppy seeds.
Why bed bugs should be killed?
Bed bugs bite their prey and with the help of their beak-like mouthpart, suck our blood from the host body. These bites form ridge like structure on the body which results in itching. Allergic people face the worst scenarios when bitten by these bed bugs. Hypersensitive reactions can also lead to asthma or similar medical conditions. The anxiety caused by these bed bugs might drastically reduce the hours of sleep which might impact the overall health of a human being.
Why it is hard to eliminate bed bugs?
Considering the size of the bed bugs, eliminating them might not look very tough but reality speaks the other way round! These tiny brown bed bugs by virtue of their size, can hide anywhere they like away from human reach. They become active during the nights and avoid coming out in daylight in a way limiting their chances to get caught. Moreover, these bed bugs although can’t fly or jump around, but they are very quick in moving from one spot to other.
The female bed bugs can lay eggs at a very high rate about 5-7 eggs every week which refers to the fact that they can form a colony in a very short span of time. Bed bugs can stay without food for almost a year! If you think, moving out of your home for a certain period of time would get rid of these bed bugs, then you’re very wrong to think so. Chemicals, which most of the people would think to use and get rid of these bed bugs. But, this isn’t always fruitful.
Firstly, considering areas like mattresses, pillows and clothes which are mostly infested by bed bugs, it isn’t suggested for anyone to use harsh and strong chemicals as human beings would also be at risk. Secondly, these bed bugs are also evolving through generations and they might also be resistant to some chemicals. So if you think that you would buy certain chemicals and you’re done with bed bugs, you might be wrong! For these reasons, it is hard to eliminate bed bugs.
How to detect bed bug infestation/ signs of bed bugs?
Take out your torch and start inspecting all those tiny cracks and crevices and all other areas mentioned above where the possibility of infestation is high. Additionally, keep an eye especially on your beddings. When you’re the host, bed is the best place to attack for the bed bugs. So look out for any tell-tale signs within your beddings. Search for any spots of blood or fecal matters (they might excrete while feeding which leaves black specks) and shredded skin (exoskeleton) of the bugs. Any of these on your bedframes, bed sheet or pillow or any bite marks on your body after you wake up from your sleep, is a confirmation of bed bug infestation.
How do bed bugs feed themselves?
Bed bugs are hematophagous i.e feeding on blood. They are mostly active during nighttime and they simply hate sunlight. The warmth of the host body and carbon dioxide guide these bugs to their prey. They prefer exposed skin areas to attack. With the help of their strong beaks also called as rostrum, they penetrate the skin, introduce anesthetic substance so that the host doesn’t feel anything along with an anticoagulant agent to ensure free flow of blood and suck out the blood. It takes around 5 minutes for a bed bug to be fill its stomach. The aftereffects of the bite various person to person. This might produce just a swelling in some people and for some there might be itchiness with red spots on their skin.
Types of bed bugs:
There are around 90 different species of bugs present and out of those about three types are known to feed on human blood.
The common bed bug or the household bed bug: These are the most common species found at homes located in temperate climate regions. These species target human as their prey and thus they’re very much adapted with human habitats. Different species of bed bugs might appear the same, the differences has to be identified by magnification. But for people who are looking to get rid of bed bugs from their homes, just to identify whether common bed bugs are there or not, is all that is actually required.
The tropical bed bug: The ones which prefer to stay in tropical regions. As per the feeding habit, even this species feed on mammalian blood.
Bat bugs: As the name suggests, bat bugs are more likely to feed upon bats but can shift to human blood too. This species are there in both temperate and tropical regions.
Chicken bug: The Mexican chicken bugs mostly feed upon poultry birds and domestic birds. This can often be confused with common bed bugs.
Swallow bugs: This species can also be mistaken with that of common bed bugs. They live in swallow nest but they can target humans also.
Life cycle of bed bug:
Eggs: Like every other living organism, bed bugs also begin their journey from an egg. The eggs of bed bugs are white in color and measures just about 1mm. A female bed bug can lay up to 5 eggs a day and about 500 in a lifetime. That is too much for such a tiny insect! The eggs are very carefully placed within tiny cracks literally unreachable. These eggs hatch within a period of two weeks and right from that moment, the newborns starts their feeding.
Nymphs: The younger bed bugs are called nymphs. Five molts and these nymphs get matured. The nymphs appear whitish in complexion although the older nymphs appear brownish. Nymphs are not sexually mature. In order to pass through each molts, these nymphs require a blood meal. Considering room temperature, a nymph takes around five weeks to turn into an adult.
Adult: After attaining adulthood, bed bugs become sexually active, appear reddish-brown in color. They have a life span ranging from 4-6 months or even more considering optimum surrounding for a bed bug to thrive.
Bed bug bites treatment:
Do bed bugs bite? Hell Yeah! As mentioned earlier, the bed bugs use an anesthetic agent
while sucking blood out from human body which results in raised red bump on the body with an accompanied itching and bed bugs rash. These might look like mosquito bites. Bed bugs cause harm only to the surface of the skin however, Sensitive skins might have some allergic reactions to it but with no major issues. Experts say that there is no exchange of pathogens been carried out by the bed bugs and thus the chance of spreading diseases is minimal.
Bed bug treatment:
Although there is less chance of any disease being transferred but skin irritation and itchiness can be relieved through medications. Application of topical creams would do well in the treatment for bed bug bites. Scratching should be prevented as much as possible because it is this way how an infection can occur. If that happens, then some oral antibiotics will help. Although rare, but in case of some serious allergic reactions such as fever, blisters, swelling of tongue, difficulties in breathing or irregular heartbeats, it’s better to consult a dermatologist. In normal situations, it might require a couple of weeks to resolve bed bug bites.
So, now as we came to know pretty much everything about bed bugs, it’s time to get our hands dirty and seek revenge! So just as the Hollywood actor Liam Neeson said, “Find them, and Kill ’em.” We would begin with some natural ways of eliminating bed bugs from our homes.
How to get rid of bed bugs naturally?
Below are the best ways to kill bed bugs and some home remedies for bed bugs which you should try.
- Always start with a deep inspection in all the areas of focus as mentioned earlier. Start by vacuuming. They’ve sucked a lot, now it’s payback! Suck them up in your vacuum machine from all the hidden areas. Check out the curtain edges as the legs of the bed bugs would help them to firmly grip themselves on the curtains. Use a stiff brush if you need.
- Bed bug heat treatment: Wash all your clothes even the unused ones to make sure these bugs aren’t hiding there. Also try to keep the temperature as high as possible as these bugs cannot bear with a temperature greater than 120 Fahrenheit or 50 degrees.
- Once you disturb the hideouts of these bugs, they might want to change their location quick. Meanwhile taking advantage of this chaos, you can ambush them with the help of some paper towels or sticky tape. But if the infestation level is high, then this process might not be so handy. Please note that isolating them for some time won’t help to eliminate them as we all know that these vampires can ‘stay hungry and not foolish’ for a long time too!
- Kidney bean leaves: Kidney bean leaves has been used for a long time to trap bed bugs by spreading them all over the floor. Due to the presence of trichomes (hooked hairs) on the leaves, once the bed bugs step on these, they get trapped on the surfaces despite of their struggle.
- Diatomaceous Earth (Silica Dioxide): This rock powder when used on the bed bugs can destroy the exoskeleton of the bugs and dehydrates the bed bugs to death. This is very effective when used in a dry environment. But make sure you use the food grade one as it is non-toxic.
- Pyrethrum: This is a natural chemical extract from dried flower heads of chrysanthemum and coccineum. The insecticide is called pyrethrin which attacks the nervous system of the bed bugs thus killing them.
- Oil treatments: Oils from tea tree, oregano oil, cedar oil, orange oil or manuka oil are all effective in eradicating bed bugs. Few of these oils like orange oil and cedar oil will work upon contact. These can be used as bed bug spray over suspected areas.
- The mighty Sun: Exposing beds and mattress or furniture under the sun for a long time can also help in getting rid of the bed bugs
- Sealing cracks and crevices: Use caulk to seal tiny cracks and crevices in the house and any form of gaps within the furniture to prevent bed bugs from infesting.
- Using scented dryer sheets is also a good option. Place these sheets on your couch or sofas and even between box springs and surfaces of mattresses. These act as repellant for the bugs
- Dispose: In case of heavy infestation and when you know that the eggs are beyond your reach, it’s better to dispose those belongings of yours. It isn’t always possible to throw away costly belongings but sometimes it’s unavoidable depending upon the level of infestation.
- Using bleach and lavender as cleaning agents is growing in popularity these days. Bleach consists of diatomaceous earth agent and thus can dehydrate the bugs and kill them. While lavender scent repels bed bugs and keeps them away.
- Use of alcohol: No, you don’t need to get them drunk! Just spray alcohols on walls and cracks and this will dehydrate the eggs of the bed bugs. But before you do so, try spraying it on small portion of furniture or walls just to check any unfavorable reactions caused.
- You can also seal mattress with the help of plastic covers which will prevent them to infest.
Don’t directly jump for bed bug removal by using chemicals, instead try out these home remedies to get rid of bed bugs.
Chemicals to kill bed bugs/ how to kill bed bugs chemically?
Chemical treatments should always be performed under the surveillance of experts. Chemicals falling under the category of pyrethrins, pyrethroids, desiccants, pyrroles and IGR (Insect Growth Regulators) are effective in killing bed bugs. But with children at homes, these chemicals should be only used by professionals. Additionally, one needs to know about the mode of action of all the chemicals before applying them as it is different for every chemicals.
Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are commonly used at indoor areas. Although it might happen that the bed bugs generate resistance to these. In that case, you might want to switch the class of the chemicals.
Desiccants after coming in direct contact with the bed bug, can destroy the exoskeleton and dehydrate the bug and eventually kill it. Diatomaceous earth and boric acid falls under this category. Interestingly, as these are contact killing chemicals, the bugs cannot create resistance against these.
Biochemical like cold pressed Neem oil are very good pesticides to eliminate bed bugs.
Pyrroles are comparatively complex compounds which impacts the cells of the bed bugs thus killing them.
IGR: These affect the growth of the bed bugs. Some of these might hamper the exoskeleton of the bugs and some might directly stop the bug from growing.
These all are some effective products to kill bed bugs.
You can find some good bed bug killer pesticides to kill bed bugs from these links:
Prevention of bed bugs infestation:
Prevention is always better than cure. So try the below steps to keep these vamps away from your home.
– Inspect any second hand beddings or furniture before buying. Although it’s better not to buy those
– Check your belongings if you’ve stayed in a hotel or motel etc. before entering your home
– After returning from a trip or cruise, do wash your clothes and belongings well at a higher temperature and dry those carefully
– Use garment steamer to dry out your clothes
– Attach double sided tape around the bottom of your bed, sofas or couch. Once they get stuck in that tape, even your kitten could kill them!
When to call for a professional?
Well, following all these steps and learning a bit about these bed bugs can really be helpful in killing bed bugs. Try the natural methods at your own and even if the problem persists, consult a professional for help with using chemical methods to remove them. It’s better even to consult a professional to inspect the infestation level based upon which you can decide whether you want to give it a try or just allocate the job to the professionals.
Myths about bed bug extermination:
- The DDT myth: DDT is not always the good option to choose. It might happen that the bugs are already resistant to DDT. Besides, considering the harmful effects of DDT usage, it’s better not to go for DDT alone.
- Foggers are not the best solutions against bed bugs. Reports say that these can’t reach deep into the harborage.
- Bed bug sniffing dogs: This might dig a deep hole into your pocket. Moreover, the efficiency is a question.
- Moving out of the house would kill the bed bugs: As already mentioned, these bed bugs can stay without feeding for a long time. So even going out for a vacation won’t help getting rid of these bugs.
- All you need is a pesticide: That is not always the correct statement to make. Rather, you should attack bed bugs with a combination of methods. That would actually be very impactful.
Hope you’ll get the right method to overcome these bed bugs forever and save your healthy blood!