Talking about bed bugs is often enough to make your skin crawl, but these blood-sucking insects have been around for well over a millennium feeding on the humans they share space with. Unfortunately, once these bugs get into your home, they can be nearly impossible to eradicate without the help of expert professionals that specialize in bed bug extermination. But how do bed bugs get into your home in the first place? Is there anything you can do to prevent them from entering your home? Here we take a closer look at this pest and how you actually bring these bed bugs into your home. The good news is there are things you can do to ensure bed bugs aren’t hitching a ride into your home.
- Learn what a bed bug is and how to identify them.
- See how bed bugs enter your home and what you can do to prevent them from coming in.
- Know what to look for when it comes to a bed bug infestation.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small bugs that get their name from the fact that they typically feed on human blood while a person sleeps. In their early nymph stage, these bugs are nearly colorless, making them difficult to detect. As they progress to adult bugs, they develop a mahogany color and, when engorged with blood, look reddish-brown in color. They are flat and oval in shape but will swell as they feed. Adults measure about ¼ inch in length and have six legs.
Where do bed bugs come from?
Bed bugs can be found on every continent in the world except Antarctica and can be found in any location where humans spend time. This includes places like hotels, public transportation, movie theaters, libraries, restaurants, and more. In order to travel from place to place, bed bugs hitch a ride on everything from purses and luggage to furniture, clothes, hair, and on other animals.
How can bed bugs get into my home?
Once you understand that bed bugs are everywhere and can hitch a ride on almost anything, it becomes clear that these bugs are determined to find a regular food source in a comfortable home. Whenever you travel, your luggage and clothes are the perfect hiding place for bed bugs. Bought a vintage piece of furniture from a second-hand store? This could deliver more than just a beautiful and unique piece of furniture as the bed bugs hiding inside begin to explore after you place it in its new spot. Do you ride the train to and from work every day? You could be bringing home bed bugs when you walk in the house tonight and if that bed bug is a fertile female, you will have a full-blown infestation in no time.
If you live in an apartment or condominium, your neighbors may be responsible for bringing bed bugs into your home. Once they entered a building, they can quickly move from room to room, and that includes neighboring apartments.
Signs of bed bug infestation
So how do you know if you have bed bugs? While these pests are very good at hiding their presence, there are some signs that can point to an infestation.
- Musty odor: Oftentimes, the first sign of an infestation is a musty odor, often in the bedroom, that doesn’t appear to have an obvious source. In addition, pheromones released by bed bugs can also have a slightly sweet smell, often similar to raspberries, coriander, almonds, or cilantro.
- Bites: Are you waking up to small, red, itchy bumps on the skin of your arms, hands, and legs? Do these bites appear in a line of three or four bites? These locations are the most common places for bed bug bites and can often be a sign that you are sharing your bed with hungry bugs.
- Odd stains: Are you noticing small red or rust-colored stains on your bedsheets, pillows, or pajamas? If you accidentally roll over in the night and “squish” an engorged bed bug that just finished its meal, you are likely to find these blood stains.
- Feces: While this one is a little harder to spot, a bed bug infestation will include the presence of bed bug fecal matter. These small dark dots are about the size of an ink dot made by a pen or marker. The presence of fecal marks can also contribute to the musty smell.
- Eggs: Small pinhead-sized eggs are also a major sign of a bed bug infestation. A fertile female bed bug can lay between 1-10 eggs per day, which hatch within 7-10 days. They are oval in shape and pearly white in color. While they can be seen with the naked eye, they are often difficult to see unless you are looking for them.
- Shell casings: When bed bugs transition from juvenile to adult, they shed their exoskeletons. You will often find these in mattress seams or cracks within the furniture.
- Live bed bugs: The most obvious sign of a bed bug infestation is the presence of live bugs. This can be more difficult than you would expect as bed bugs like to hide and stay put until feeding time. Finding these bugs during an inspection can be difficult but the best places to check are along mattress seams, inside cracks and crevices around baseboards and in furniture, inside electrical outlets, or in the folds of your curtains.
How to prevent bed bugs from coming into my home
Because bed bugs are such great hitchhikers, entry into your home is much easier for them than you would think. The good news is there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs into your home.
- Check all used furniture: Before bringing any second-hand or rented furniture into your home, inspect it for signs of bed bugs.
- Keep things off of your bed: Do not place things like your purse or backpack on your bed after coming in from a trip.
- Always check for bed bugs when traveling: When staying in a hotel room, always check for signs of bed bugs. Inspect the mattress, any furniture, and the luggage valet.
- Keep suitcases off the bed and floor: When staying in a hotel, always place your suitcase on the luggage valet and away from the bed or on the floor.
- Seal cracks and crevices: If you live in a multi-family unit, such as an apartment, be sure to seal any cracks and crevices around the plumbing and wiring.
- Wash clothing: After returning from a trip, wash all clothing in the hottest setting possible for the fabric and place it in the dryer at the highest temperature possible.
Don’t let the bed bugs bite!
Treating a bed bug infestation can be almost impossible without the help of professionals so it is important to do everything you can to avoid bringing these bugs into your home. Following these preventative methods and knowing the signs to look for can help you address any potential bed bug problem before it becomes a full-blown infestation.
We are here to help
If despite your best efforts, bed bugs still manage to make it into your home, the expert team at Arrest a Pest can help. We understand bed bugs, their behavior, and how to identify all their hiding spaces. Our technicians can come in, identify the infestation, and eliminate the blood-sucking pests through a combination of treatments that work to disrupt the bed bug cycle. If bed bugs are biting you at night, give us a call today at 760-777-2783 or visit us online to schedule a free evaluation and let us help keep you bed bug-free!