Chances are this was a familiar phrase when you were a child: “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!” Well, something like that, anyway. When I was a child, I heard that refrain often, but I thought bedbugs were imaginary. Bedbugs are real, and probably more common than you think.
What are they? They are small bugs, most often found living in mattresses, box springs, and even furniture. These little beauties live solely on blood.
The good news about bedbugs, if you can call anything related to them good, is that when they bite you, you can’t feel it. Another bit of good news is that they are not known to carry any diseases, unlike mosquitoes that may be carrying West Nile.
These little bugs are big enough to spot with the naked eye, but you may never notice them if they are present in your home. If you do see one, it will be during the nighttime hours when they are active. During the day, bedbugs are deep in your mattress waiting for you to go to bed. They resemble small kernels of corn or a seed, are reddish brown in color, and are generally no longer than a quarter inch in length.
Bedbugs usually enter your home by hitching a ride on a person or in luggage. Unlike some critters, bedbugs are not the result of an unclean home. They are only interested in one thing, your blood. They can come home with you from your latest trip over seas, or from a visit with your neighbor.
You will usually know you have bedbugs by finding them on your bed. In same cases, you may have unexplained bite marks on parts of your body that are exposed while sleeping, such has neck, face, arms or legs.
Professionals may be able to offer some assistance in ridding your home of bedbugs, but it is more likely you will have to throw out your furniture to get rid of them. A professional can, however, guide you through searching for bedbugs, help you understand how to keep them from coming back, aid in sealing up possible entrance points, etc.
Here are some tips to lower your chances of bringing them home, and what to do if you find some in your home.
– When you come home from a trip, wash everything as soon as you can. Check and vacuum your luggage, as they may be hiding there. Check camping equipment as well.
– If you are in the practice of taking your own pillows and blankets with you on a trip, wash them immediately as well.
– Keep dirty clothes from accumulating on floors and in hampers in your home. This encourages the bedbugs to hang out and multiply.
– There may not be much you can do if you find them in your mattress and box springs, other than buy a new bed. They are not easy to get rid of without removing the entire set.
– If you find them in one bed, you should check the others in your house, along with your sofa and chairs.
– If bedbugs are found, wash everything immediately in hot water to kill any bugs on sheets, pillows, or clothing.
When in doubt, hire a professional to look for you. They are trained to know the signs of a bedbug infestation and can help you eliminate the problem. Don’t feel gross or dirty if you find them in your home, they aren’t a sign of poor housekeeping or hygiene, they are just a pesky fact of life.