It’s a wonder why we compare bats to blood sucking vampires, in fact, we should compare them to blood sucking bed bugs. In my experience, these are the most intelligent and stubborn creatures ever created. They creep up on you from any corner of the house, hide away in the day and surface predominantly at dawn to find us and enjoy their first meal of their day.
They are not only difficult to get rid off but it is extremely difficult to find their nests. They do not build a nest but live in groups in any nook and cranny of your room, hide away in electrical sockets, curtain rods, travel cots or simply your bed.
First and foremost, bed bugs are not a sign of filth in your home. These insects live on blood and hence they can be found in the cleanest of homes. So be rest assured your cleaning process is not the cause. They also do not transmit any diseases, so a bed bug bite can lead to scarring and irritation of the skin but not any disease. These can enter your home through luggage, used furniture or clothes. Their first hideouts tend to be beds as that is the closest access to their ‘food’ and slowly they spread to other possible crevices in the house.
Before we get into the details of how to manage a bed bug infestation in your home, it is important to understand if you do have a bed bug infestation. Like mosquitos, these can bite anywhere on your exposed body while you are asleep and it does not hurt but leaves behind a reddish patch. Key things to look out for:
1. Itchy areas on the skin after you wake up or red spots
2. A musty odor from the bed bugs glands
3. Black ‘apple seeds’ looking bugs crawling on the roof, in your wardrobe or on the bed.
4. ‘Dust specs’ looking particles in different corners are possibly little eggs or shed skin of bed bugs.
5. Blood spots on the sheets/pillows.
6. Black stains of excrement. 7. Or just call a pest control professional.
Now that you have identified that you may have an infestation, it is important to understand the lifecycle of a bed bug so that you can plan your mode of attack.Female bugs lay up to 5 eggs a day which are visible to the naked eye as white/beige dust specs. These eggs take 10 to 15 days to hatch. They feed immediately after hatching and need to feed a minimum of 5 times, shedding their skin each time to reach maturity and start reproducing. They thrive at room temperatures and are affected by high temperatures.
So, what are the possible modes of treatment? The following are possible approaches to take that are home remedies and professional, you can choose to adopt one or a combination.
- Wash all linens, curtains in hot water and put it out in the sun or in the dryer at the highest temperature
- Items that cannot be washed should be run in the dryer as well at high temperatures
- Use a hair dryer in corners and crevices of beds, tables, mattresses where you see black stains
- Vacuum regularly and ensure you throw the vacuum bag immediately wrapped in a plastic bag
- Plaster/glue down openings in skirting/openings in your furniture
- Encase your mattress so that the bugs that are in will eventually die and new ones do not get a haven to hide in
- Discard your mattress and furniture, but this will not necessary mean that all the bugs would be eradicated as some maybe hiding elsewhere
- Pest control services with safe insecticides. These should be repeated every 10 days as they do not kill the eggs and hence needs to be repeated once the eggs hatch. Repeat this at least 3 to 4 times every 10 days and observe the level of infestation. When you do plan the pest control, ensure you empty your wardrobes and tie up your clothes, shoes in sealed bags and pull down all curtains, linens.
- Many companies offer specialized heat treatment delivering dry heat to a targeted area. This is chemical-free but can be expensive. These kill the eggs, larvae, and adults.
Bed bugs are difficult to get rid off and it’s important to ensure you adopt the right approach for your home with a lot of patience and perseverance.