Knowing how to tackle bed bugs (yes, gross) keeps them out of your house. These nasty pests love to travel, so even returning from a business trip can trigger an infestation. Along with preventative measures, there are natural and effective ways you can get rid of these pesky insects. Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep your home bed-bug-free:
What are bed bugs?
These little suckers are scientifically known as Cimex lectularius and are small wingless insects that feed off blood, which makes your bed this bug's favorite places to infest. Starting out around the size of a poppy seed and maturing into an oval around 1/4 inch in size, bed bugs are easy to spot with the naked eye. Adult bed bugs can live over a year between feedings.
Are bed bugs dangerous?
Bed bugs are simply pests that leave itchy, red bites and are annoying and difficult to deal with. They are not dangerous in any way to humans.
Keep reading to learn how to prevent bed bugs.
How can I prevent bed bugs?
The best way to prevent bed bugs is to be smart when traveling or purchasing furniture. Bed bugs love taking a ride on your suitcase or becoming a member of your home while hiding within secondhand furnishings and beds. While traveling, instead of tossing your suitcase on the bed, use the luggage rack provided. Check the bed and furniture for bugs by looking along the seams of the mattress. If any are found, then alert hotel staff and request a new room. After traveling, give your luggage a vacuum — especially around the edges where bed bugs like to congregate.
When considering bringing home that seriously cool couch from the flea market, take the time to inspect the item for signs of bed bugs. Same goes for vintage clothing or even secondhand beds. Because the bugs like edges and seams, check those areas before making the purchase. Along with looking for the small insects, check for reddish-brown stains on the item, which is fecal staining (yes, really gross) from bed bugs.
How do I get rid of bed bugs?
If you see a few critters or find a few red, itchy bites on your body that are clustered together near exposed areas while you sleep, then giving your mattress a serious cleaning is the first step in getting rid of bed bugs. Vacuum the area around the bed, removing the contents of the vacuum cleaner and disposing of in a sealed plastic bag when finished. Bed bugs can't survive in extreme temperatures, so washing any items that are infested at high temperatures, or bagging small items and placing them in the freezer, will naturally kill bugs and eggs.
Bed bugs build up immunity to store-purchased pesticides, which are also harsh to use in your home. To help reduce the spread of the nasty pest, instead mix together a spray of equal parts water and tea tree oil and mist over infected areas. Also, directly spraying bugs with rubbing alcohol kills them on the spot. Cleaning and naturally treating infested areas will inhibit the suckers but may not get rid of them completely, making calling in a pro the best bet.
Will bed bugs come back?
Yes. Although you may feel you have the situation under control, it might be a good idea to say goodbye to the infested item of furniture or toss down the cash and hire a professional exterminator that specializes in bed-bug infestations. You may no longer see any bugs hanging around, but there may be eggs lurking in that furniture that can wreak havoc later.