To prevent a bed bug infestation in your house, it is important to understand what causes bed bugs in the first place. Bed bugs are experiencing a modern day resurgence in the United States, where for many years they were hardly ever seen or heard from. Learn from experts what causes bed bugs and how to control them.
What Causes Bed Bugs
With increases in immigration from countries where bed bugs are still widely prevalent, such as Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa, the removal of DDT based products from the pesticide market in the 1970's, and a thriving import-export industry, it is no surprise that bed bugs, consummate travelers that they are, have found their way back in. Bed bugs are a particularly nasty brand of pest, capable of surviving for literally months without a food source, and able to replicate themselves in short order with little provocation. While initially poor hygiene was often to blame for a bed bug infestation, today hygiene in the home environment is rarely the causative agent. Rather, bed bugs that have infested a hotel, motel, laundromat, movie theater, school, dormitory, or bus will hitch a ride home on an individual's clothing and proceed to infest the home as well.
What are Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are what entomologists term a "true insect", in that they have mouthparts capable of piercing through surfaces to suck out the inner substance for nourishment. They are a brown, relatively flat insect that is approximately 3/16 of an inch long at maturity. They are wingless and hatch from eggs into smaller, lighter versions of what they will become at maturity. There are many different species of bed bugs, and the most common, Cimex lectularius, is most commonly found dwelling alongside humans. Bed bugs feed on blood from animals and humans and that is their sole food source. They are nocturnal, preferring to feed and breed at night.
Determining if Bed Bugs are Present
There are a number of tell-tale signs that indicate a bed bug infestation is in progress. The most obvious is to notice a series of itchy bites grouped near elbows, knees, wrists, and other joint areas, upon waking in the morning. Next, examine the mattress for signs of a bloody substance that dots the mattress near seams. The substance, which is actually bed bug excrement, can often resemble mold. While it is rare to observe a live insect during daylight hours, bed bugs shed their skins and with heavier infestations these can be seen along the baseboards near the mattress or couch where they are living.
Treating Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to treat and control. Encasing a mattress is a staple treatment, as it prevents re-infestations and traps live bedbugs inside with no means of escape. Laundering infested cloth and clothing in hot water is another staple. Hiring an experienced professional to treat the entire space where the infestation has occurred is the recommended approach, as bed bugs are capable of crawling from room to room and infesting couches, pillows, cushions, and other structures as well. A thorough treatment by a professional is the best way to make an immediate impact, and re-treatments may be required before the problem is resolved.
Prevention is always the best defense, and, with these expert tips, you will be prepared to protect your living space from these annoying invaders.