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Many of us have heard the old saying “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” The truth is that bed bugs do bite and it’s one of the first signs of an infestation. For many homeowners or renters, there’s nothing worse than discovering that you have bed bugs.
Though they are difficult to get rid of, you can and must kill bed bugs. If you think you might have bed bugs in your home, read more to see what you can do to get rid of them and how you can prevent them in the future.
The best way to be sure you’ve gotten rid of bed bugs is with the help of a pro. Contact a contractor today for up to four quotes from pros in your area for free.
Signs Of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs can occur anywhere and to any person, even if you keep a clean home. Bed bugs feed on blood, which is why they are attracted to homes. They can be carried from place to place on clothing, luggage or other items in transit. While they haven’t been an issue since the 1960s, in the last 10 years, they’ve become more common, especially in urban areas.
If you suspect that you might have a bed bug infestation, the first thing to check for are signs. You’ll have likely noticed small, itchy bites on exposed places on your body. These bites are in a line of three. You may have multiples of these on your body.
If you’ve discovered these, check your sheets and pajamas for other signs. You may find small blood stains on your clothing. Or, your sheets may have small, dark brown smears. This is bed bug waste and is a sure sign that they have entered your home.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
The last step to examining if you have bed bugs is to find them. First, you must know what they look like. Adult bed bugs are brown and flat, about a fourth of an inch long. Unfortunately, young bed bugs can’t be seen due to their small size and translucent color. Eggs are the size of a pinhead and are usually laid in clusters in nooks and corners of bedframes, furniture and other small areas.
Where to Find Bed Bugs
Finding the bed bugs can be a challenge, but it then is proof that you have an infestation that needs to be taken care of. When they are not looking for their next meal, bed bugs tend to hide nearby, for when the source returns. The first place to check is your mattress and box spring. Next, the bed frame and headboard. Look for the adult size bed bugs that are brown and flat.
If you find bed bugs there, it’s best to continue your search. Bed bugs like to hide in dark, small spaces. Check nearby couches and chairs as well as any baseboards and frames. The EPA advises to check anywhere your credit card could fit, as often they are about that size.
Even if you find a few, you must get rid of them as soon as possible. According to the EPA, one female bed bug can lay between 200 to 500 eggs in her lifetime of six months. So, a few bed bugs now could mean big problems now and increase the risk of the problem spreading to neighbors, friends and your community. Additionally, you will continue as their food source until the problem is taken care of, meaning itchy bites for months to come.
How To Get Rid Of Bed bugs
As you can see above, bed bugs are no joke. At the first signs, you should start taking measures to kill them. Unfortunately, bed bugs are highly resilient and can grow exponentially. While there are a few DIY methods you can try for a small infestation, but the only true way to eliminate bed bugs is with the help of a pest control pro. The average cost to hire an exterminator is $211, with most homeowners spending between $134 and $198.
If you’d like to try a DIY pest control solution first, here are a few to choose from:
- Remove all linens and bedding to put in a sealed plastic bag. Bed bugs can spread easily if not contained.
- Wash linens, bedding, stuffed animals and clothing that may be affected in hot water and high heat, as bed bugs can’t survive in temperatures above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Vacuum rugs, mattresses and other items including furniture. Dispose of debris immediately in a sealed plastic bag.
- Remove and clean any frames and drawers.
- Pull furniture away from the walls and clean behind and under them with a stiff brush.
- Use pesticides that specifically say they kill bed bugs, but under extreme caution.
Bed bugs do not go away instantly. They can last for days without eating if necessary. It may take a few days or even weeks for you to confirm they have disappeared, and you may have to repeat some of these steps. An exterminator can help guarantee they've left your home for good.
If you do have to throw out your mattress or infested furniture, be sure to use spray paint to mark “bed bugs” on the item, so they don’t transfer to another household and can be safely disposed of.
Bed Bug Prevention Tips
Though a bed bug infestation can happen to anyone, you can take steps to prevent it. If you travel often, you need to pay even closer attention because one of the top ways bed bugs spread is by hitching a ride on your luggage. Here are a few tips you can use to prepare your home against a bed bug infestation:
- Use a protective cover on mattresses and box springs.
- Check hotel rooms for bed bugs and use luggage racks when traveling.
- Utilize the Bed Bug Registry before choosing a hotel.
- Frequently wash your sheets and linens in hot water.
- Keep your bedroom free of clutter, eliminating hiding spots.
- Vacuum rugs and carpet regularly.
Bed bugs are a serious problem to have and if you find them, act immediately. A small infestation is far less costly on your wallet and overall well-being. Know the signs and work to prevent them from entering your household.
Looking for more pest control tips? Read DIY Pest Control Prevention.