Bed bugs are flat, small, wingless insects that measure around a quarter inch long when unfed and have a reddish brown colour. They usually come out at night and hide during the day in any part of your bed including the headboard, bed frame, box springs and mattress seams. These pests also hide in cracks and crevices of floors, furniture and walls. Unlike other insects, they crawl rapidly and can hitchhike onto almost anything, thus making it possible to carry them in your home.
Bed bugs love staying in dark and undisturbed areas their host. They are attracted to the warmth and carbon dioxide that the human body emits. The amount of bed bugs, leading to an infestation can grow in a short period of time. They can inhabit an environment that is both clean and dirty. This means that despite your full efforts in keeping your house clean and free from clutter, they can still inhabit your home if you have been somewhere with a bedbug infestation and they have latched on to your clothing or belongings.
Bed bugs can hide in your home at first, but they can travel more than 20 feet just to reach you and feed off your blood. By then, they will find a new hiding spot that is about three to six feet from their host.
Their body structure makes it easy for them to hide in any small or narrow space. You will barely notice them until you start looking for them. When a certain part of your home has a large infestation, the group of bed bugs will give off this sweet yet unpleasant odour. This alone is an indication that you need to act fast and determine how serious the infestation is and if it has already spread to other parts of your home.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
So, how do bed bugs reach you or your home? Bed bugs don’t crawl from house to house, but if you live in a multi-residential unit, they can crawl from unit to unit.
They latch on to your belongings if you stay in an infested area or put your items down for a while in any infested area. From there, they can start moving from their current home to the new one, which will most likely be your home. Remember - they not only stay in homes but also in offices, hotels, hospitals and even vehicles.
How Bed Bugs Get Into Your Home
The following are some of the many different ways bed bugs can get into your home:
- They may come from infested used furniture, clothing or other items you borrow or buy from people living in an infested area.
- You can get them and bring them into your home if you stay in an infested area, such as a hotel or motel. They can hitchhike onto your luggage or backpack.
- If you live in an apartment complexe or multi-unit building, they may come from your neighbours and crawl through crevices and cracks to your unit.
These points explain why no matter how eager you are in keeping your home pest-free, bed bugs can and will find you to feed on.
It’s Not About Sanitation
Many people believe that bed bugs infest only those areas which are cluttered and dirty. Well, to break the news to you, sanitation is never an issue with bed bugs. Being notorious hitchhikers, they can live anywhere and start their colonies over and over again. Even the cleanest places can be a victim of these pests and they will spread rapidly once they get inside.
Fortunately, bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases, unlike other insects. However, their saliva contains proteins causing itchy red welts for some people.
They Love Staying in the Bedroom
Since it is the bedroom where they can have a close proximity to their host and feed without being disturbed, you will most likely find them hiding there. Some of their favourite harborage areas are bed frames, headboards, mattress and box springs. They can also hide in nearby furniture and fixtures.
Bed Bugs Hide Outside the Bedroom
For bed bugs to feed, they look for hosts who are inactive for long periods of time. Though they usually come out at night, they do not always feed at night. Whenever there is an opportunity, they feed off human blood, even in broad daylight. Other places were you can find them include:
- Movie theatres
2 hours of enjoying (or sleeping through) a movie is enough for bed bugs to get an extra large dose of your blood.
Whether you tend to sit all night or all day on your couch binge-watching your favourite series or a few movies, bed bugs will take this as an opportunity to feed on you.
- Usual Means of Transport
Do you take long cab rides or take the train to work? For sure, you already get the idea. Humans don’t only sit during their ride to and from work. They rest and even sleep during their ride, meaning that bed bugs can either feed on you or latch on any of your things.
With this in mind, you need to stay alert and cautious to prevent bed bugs from coming home with you.
How Will I Confirm a Bed Bug Problem? Can They Spread Easily?
Some indications that you have a bed bug problem is seeing live bed bugs, their droppings and shed skins on your mattress or other items. Blood stains on your sheets are also evidence of bed bugs feeding on you while you were sleeping.
Bed bugs spread easily. If they are disturbed from their hiding place or experience a shortage of food and harborage, they will move on to your unit or other neighbouring units to look for new hosts and hiding places. Using commercial laundry machines and vacuum cleaners used for different rooms are also ways for bed bugs to spread.
How to Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Home
A couple of things you can do to avoid bringing home these pesky critters include:
- When staying at another person’s home or in a hotel:
Instead of simply placing your suitcase on the floor or bed, use the suitcase stand and keep it away from the furniture or walls. If possible, don’t leave any of your belongings lying around. Upon returning home, wash and dry your clothes at the hottest setting to kill any possible bed bugs.
- Inspect used and new furniture prior to bringing it inside.
Make sure that you do a full inspection of the furniture including the tufts, seams and cushions. Remember that even new furniture can bring bed bugs into your home, especially if it was from the storage or stock area and wasn’t touched for a certain period of time.
Try to follow these tips to prevent bed bugs from moving into your home.
How to Control a Bed Bug Problem in Your Home
When dealing with bed bugs, you must remember that there is no all-in-one solution to completely exterminating bed bugs. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach is required to control bed bugs and prevent them from multiplying. This technique poses a lower risk to the environment and your health.
The following include some things that you can do to control bed bugs:
- Clean your bedroom thoroughly and remove clutter.
- You can move your bed to a new position and keep it away from furniture or the walls.
- Vacuum every day, focusing on small areas of the bed and furniture. Make sure that each time you use the vacuum, empty it and dispose of it outside using a sealed plastic bag or container.
- Put all bed linens in the washer, then in the dryer under the hottest temperature. Use mattress and box spring encasements to control dust mites and prevent bed bugs from going back to your mattress and box springs.
- Seal all cracks and crevices as well as any openings you see in any part of your home.
Is It Safe to Use Pesticides?
With improper use, pesticides can be both dangerous and ineffective. If you want to use pesticides, some of the things you need to consider are:
- Health Canada approved products.
- Never apply or spray pesticides directly to any part of your body. No repellents are registered for controlling bed bugs that can be applied to the body.
- Never spray outdoor pesticides indoors.
- If you are going to hire a professional exterminator, make sure that you call a company that is known for their experience in the job. They should observe the IPM approach as well as other pesticide applications. Choose a company with registered and licensed applicators.
Click here to find bed bug sprays you can use,
Getting rid of bed bugs takes persistence and time. The collective effort of the neighbours, landlords, homeowners and other authorized individuals is necessary. It can be both emotionally and physically exhausting, as well as being costly. Their presence is more of a nuisance than a health problem. However with vigilance, dealing with and avoiding an infestation.