Bed bug (cimex lenticularis) infestations have become increasingly common.
These reddish-brown wingless insects have 3 pairs of legs are about 3-5 mm in size and big enough to see with the naked eye.
Bed bugs come out of hiding at night to feed on the blood of those resting nearby. They inject a local anesthesia that numbs the skin so that its bite is painless. This means that its victim can sleep through the night and is usually unaware of having been bitten until later.
People react differently to bed bug bites. The reaction depends on the individual’s immune reaction to the bed bug’s saliva.
Many people experience itching bumps, often in a row, similar to severe mosquito bites. These may appear immediately the next morning, or several days later. The swelling and itching tends to last for several days. Rarely, severe allergic reactions can occur that result in hives (urticaria) and asthma.
Some do not react at all, explaining why they have no symptoms despite having slept in the same bed as others who are covered in bed bug bites.
Bed Bug Bite Treatment
Wash the bites thoroughly with soap and water to help prevent a skin infection (cellulitis).
To relieve the itching, try applying ice or a cold damp cloth to the bites. An antihistamine may also be used.
Seek immediate medical attention if:
- the itch becomes unbearable
- the skin appears to become infected with redness and tenderness around the bite and a discharge from the wound.
- you experience a severe reaction with large blisters, a fever, and generalized fatigue.
Fortunately, bed bugs do not transmit any infectious diseases, so there is no risk of developing Lyme disease or other insect-borne illnesses.
Bed Bug Prevention
Bedbugs are well adapted to traveling. They can hide in packed clothing, suitcases, or furniture and can survive for many months without a meal.
Because it can be very difficult to rid a home or apartment of a bed bug infestation, it is very helpful to take measure to try to avoid bring them into your home.
Measures to take when checking into a hotel.
- Place your luggage on the luggage rack (not the floor). Bedbugs can hide in the carpet and crawl into your suitcase.
- Examine the mattress and box spring. Lift up all the blankets and sheets. The bugs themselves are wingless, oval-shaped insects that are about one-quarter inch in size. If they have not had a meal for a while, they are flat and brownish in color. After feeding on blood, they become red and swollen. There may also pinprick-size drops of blood or tiny blackish dropping. Be sure to check underneath the mattress buttons, seams, crevices, and the area between the box spring and the headboard, or the box spring and any wood or metal.
Bed bugs may appear in the finest hotels luxury suites so don’t be comforted merely by the price you paid. Should you find evidence of bedbugs, don’t be shy about requesting another room on another floor.
Bed bugs are not just in beds.
Bed bugs can be in chair cushions, sofas, behind electrical outlets, cracks and crevices around baseboards, or even behind picture frames. In other words, they can be live pretty much anywhere
Heat Kills Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are very sensitive to heat. Clothing, sheets or other items that can be machine-washed in hot water (at least 120° F) water or placed in the dryer for 15-20 minutes can be cleared of any possible bed bugs. If luggage cannot be washed, it should be thoroughly vacuumed before it is stored. Use a crevice tool to clean all seams and crannies. And, then empty the vacuum cleaner. Do not discard the contents from the vacuum cleaner inside.
Call a professional
Bed bugs can be extremely difficult to eradicate once they settle in. If you think you may have a bed bug infestation, contact a pest control professional. Bed bugs cannot be easily controlled with do-it-yourself measures.
The Return of Bed Bugs
This common scourge of the past was nearly forgotten over the last forty years as bed bugs were eradicated in the U.S. However, they have returned and once again we are having to learn how to recognize, treat and prevent bed bugs.
In August of 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint statement on the importance of bedbug control.
The increased incidence of bed bugs is likely due to a rise in international travel and the elimination of various pesticides, including DDT, which provided long-term control of bedbugs. Bed bugs are presently resistant to many pesticides that are now available.