Sleep tight don’t let the bed bugs bite! This phrase is said to children all over the United States without us really thinking about what it means and what bed bugs are.  Unfortunately, bed bugs are increasing all over the U.S. at a rapid rate of 500% per year and are now in all fifty states. They started over in Europe and have made their ways over seas in luggage from travelers.  Major U.S. cities were some of the first to experience the major boom in bed bugs.  Exterminators in Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. were some of the first to deal with their resurgence, and now, they have spread across most of the country.

Bed Bugs are very small wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals.  They come out wonderlessly throughout the night feeding on a few drops of blood from their hosts. Hatching bed bugs are about the size of a poppy seed, and adults are about 1/4 of an inch long.  Because of their size, flat bodies, and hardy nature, they are able to survive in people’s homes without being detected.  The adult bed bugs are especially hard to get rid of. They are not seen through the day where they can be recognized.  Instead, they do their feeding during the nighttime hours when their host is fast asleep. 

Bed bugs can get into your home through anything that is being boxed from place to place such as luggage being moved between apartments, homes, and hotels.  Used furniture has the greatest risk for carrying bed bugs and their eggs.  Once infested they will nest inside your room awaiting for their hosts, and come out most likely when your sleeping.

These are bed bugs found in a mattress.
These are bed bug bites on skin.

Bed Bugs will leave little red bites on you without you really knowing why.  Most people have no idea that they have bed bugs because they hide so well.  The red bumps can be confused and thought of as bug bites from earlier in the day and sometime acne. But when you keep waking up with them night after night it’s probably a good time to check under your sheets.

If you suspect you have bed bugs you should examine areas in your bed, linens, mattress, box springs, curtains, corners of rooms, loose items around the room, as they are most likely found under any crack, crevice, or loose area around a room.  Some things to look for are dark brown or reddish fecal spots on the linens, mattress, or walls near the bed.

If bed bugs are found, then you must take steps to get rid of them.  There are no bed bug spray repellents to put on your skin that will keep them from biting, the matter must be taken directly to the bed bugs themselves.

He is spraying the baseboards with bug repellent.

There are many ways to help prevent and kill bed bugs.  The first tip is to vacuum as much as you can around your bed, in your bed, and in all cracks around the room.  Another tip is to caulk off all cracks in the walls and floors in your room, and checking behind light switches where they will sometimes hide.

Bed bugs die at temperatures over 113 degrees, so steam cleaners and hot water should be used to wash out all areas of your bed. Using a steam cleaning everywhere around your room is very important in killing off the bed bugs (as this is what the professionals do). Steam cleaners are relatively cheap, and a much better route then throwing away you mattress and bed.

This is what a bed bug looks like.

Bed bug sprays, bed bug repellents, or general purpose sprays should be sprayed on carpets, furniture, baseboards, mattressed, box springs, and bed framing.  After the spray is dried, you then need to spray everything over again with an insecticide dust to complete the final step in getting ride of bed bugs. 

While this is not 100 percent effective because bed bugs can be found anywhere in the house, it will at least cut down on the amount of bed bugs that you have.  You can always prevent them by not bringing traveling bags into the house, and by avoiding used furniture or cleaning the furniture very well before it is brought back into the home.  When traveling to hotels, never set your bags on the bed or on the ground, because they will find their way into your luggage and travel back home with you.  Most hotels have elevated luggage racks that are a much safer place to set your luggage on.  Bed bugs are a very disturbing problem for people to have in their homes and in the comfort of their own beds, but by taking the steps necessary they can be eliminated and you can once again rest easily. 

Some recommended products for bed bug extinction include:

  • A general multi-purpose spray for carpets, furniture, and baseboards.
  • Insecticide dust like Drione Dust.
  • Insecticide spray solution
  • Foggers such as BP100-Plus