Most summer bugs are a nuisance, but bed bugs are among the most persistent pests you could ever deal with. A bed bug infestation can be hard to detect at the early stages, which is when you really need to tackle it!
How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs can hitchhike their way into your home from just about anywhere. Most homeowners want to know how to get rid of bed bugs before this happens, especially when they’re trying to sell a property. If they get a foothold, they can spread throughout the house and even travel into neighboring homes.
How to Find Bed Bugs: Why Is It Difficult?
Detecting the presence of bed bugs in your home is a little more challenging than you’d expect. A visual inspection is rarely reliable, unless it’s performed by an expert. These insects may be mistaken for other summer bugs, such as carpet bugs, and may have spread throughout your property by the time they’re correctly identified.
Nymphs are even more difficult to spot, since they are much smaller than full-grown bed bugs and lighter in color as well.
Feeding, Life Stages and Other Habits of Bed Bugs
If you want to know how to kill bed bugs or even find them, you have to understand how do bed bugs look like, their eating habits, preferred living conditions, reproductive cycles and behavior.
- Feeding and Excretion – Bed bugs usually come out to feed at night, but will also seek a meal in daylight if they’re hungry. It can anywhere from 3 to 12 minutes for bed bugs to feed, and large nymphs or adults will often drop feces from earlier blood meals while feeding. This is what leads to the telltale dark spots on bedsheets and mattresses.Do bed bugs bite animals? Their meal of choice is generally human blood. However, they will also feed on dogs, cats and other mammals or even birds, travelling between 5 and 20 feet from their hiding spots to find a host.
- Bed Bug Life Cycle & Reproduction – Bed bugs have 6 life stages, and they need a minimum of one blood meal to move from one to the next. They also shed skin at each stage, and may feed more than once between stages. Under the right conditions, the lifecycle from egg-to-egg takes around 4-5 weeks.Female bed bugs can lay 1-3 eggs every day, adding up to 200-500 eggs during their lifetime, which is generally 6 months to a year or longer. Both males and females need to feed at least once a fortnight to continue mating and producing eggs.
- Preferred Habitat and Conditions – Common bed bugs can survive in most environments where their hosts can, thriving in temperatures as low as 46°F (7°C). They die if their body temperature goes over 113°F (45°C), but certain tropical and semi-tropical types of bed bugs thrive in higher average temperatures.Heat is often used for bed bug treatment, but it only works if the room is heated beyond 113°F and the temperature is sustained long enough to reach into their hiding places.
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?
Bed bug bite symptoms are not always accurately diagnosed, since they can look like rashes, hives and other skin problems, as well as bites from mosquitoes or other insects. In fact, some people display no reaction when they’re bitten by bed bugs, even if they have an infestation.
If you suspect you have bed bugs and may have been bitten, consult your doctor for bed bug bites treatment.
How to Detect Bed Bugs: What Are the Warning Signs?
Rather than relying on insect bites that may or may not be from bed bugs at all, look for physical signs that may point to an infestation. Conduct a visual inspection while cleaning your room, replacing your bedding and washing your bedlinen (or when you’re staying at a hotel).
Check for these signs:
- Clusters of small dark spots that smear when you wipe them with a wet rag, the way markers do. These are the fecal matter expelled by bed bugs, and will usually be dark brown or black instead of red, since they are basically digested blood.
- Stains that are reddish or rust-colored, like dried blood, on your bedsheets or mattresses. These may occur if you crush a bed bug in your sleep, especially if it was in the process of feeding or had recently fed.
- Tiny eggs or eggshells in your bedding, as well as skins that are shed by bed bug nymphs while they’re growing. Eggs tend to be around 1mm in size, and cast skins from nymphs are usually a pale yellow or tan color.
- Live bed bugs, which are wingless with flat, oval-shaped bodies. They are usually brown, but may seem reddish if they’ve fed recently. Adult bed bugs are 4-5mm in size by the time they’re fully grown, while nymphs are smaller and paler.
Where Do Bed Bugs Live? Where Would You Usually Find Them?
Are bed bugs visible? Bed bugs tend to hide in well-protected areas of your home when they aren’t feeding, which is why low-level infestations often go unnoticed. These tiny insects can get into even the thinnest crack, since they are only about as wide as a credit card!
Where do bed bugs hide? Inspect these areas if you suspect a bed bug infestation:
- Cracks or joints on the headboard and bed frame
- Seams, piping or tags of box springs and mattresses
- Cracks or joints in drawers, cupboards and other furniture
- Between cushions, or in the seams of couches and chairs
- Inside electrical appliances and receptacles
- Between the folds of curtains or drapes
- Corners, edges or junctions of ceilings and walls
- Inside or under the heads of screws
- Under wall hangings or loose wallpaper
How to Prevent Bed Bugs – Arm Yourself with Knowledge!
Knowing how bed bugs enter your home can help you prevent infestations. Where do bed bugs come from? They can get into your home from nearby properties, through wiring and plumbing, and even hitch a ride in your luggage, clothing or shoes when you return from a vacation.
Follow these tips to avoid bed bugs:
- Avoid bringing second-hand furniture, clothing and other used items into your home.
- Thoroughly clean and inspect all new and pre-owned items before using them.
- Seal any cracks on or near windows, doors and walls, as well as pipes and wiring.
- Don’t keep shopping bags, suitcases and clothing on your bed or soft furnishings.
- Monitor your home after bed bug treatment to ensure they haven’t returned.
- Be vigilant in public places, including retail stores, public transport systems, etc.
- Inspect the bedding at hotels when you’re staying anywhere other than home.
- If you’ve been travelling, vacuum your suitcases and bags when you get home.
- Conduct visual inspections for dried blood, droppings, eggs and live bugs regularly.
- Use a flashlight to check for bed bugs in crevices, furniture and other hiding spots.
- Also check your pet’s sleeping area for signs of bed bug activity.
How Can You Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
In order to treat a bed bug infestation effectively, it’s important to catch it as early as possible. Follow these 4 steps if you think bed bugs may have invaded your home:
- Conduct a Visual Inspection – Carefully and thoroughly inspect bedrooms and other areas where you rest or sleep for any bed bugs symptoms. Pay particular attention to beds, mattresses and upholstered furniture in these areas.
- Use Interceptors/Monitors – Install interception devices or active monitors under or next to the legs of your bed, couch and other resting furniture. Leave them in place for 2-4 weeks, and check for bed bug activity every few days.
- Install Mattress/Box Spring Encasements – These tools can help you detect the presence of bed bugs as well as protect your bed and mattress. Bugs are restricted to the outside of the encasement, making them easier to spot during inspections.
- Get Professional Treatment – Minor infestations are fairly easy to treat if they’re caught in time, so call the experts at Take Care Termite to conduct a thorough inspection today.
We offer a wide range of pest control services in California, including professional bed bug treatment and management. If you have a pest problem or want to know how to prevent bed bugs, we’ll be glad to help you. Get expert help from our team today!