When winter weather hits, all you wants to do is crawl into bed and snuggle with your favorite comforter, favorite pet, significant other… but not with bed bugs!
These tiny insects usually thrive in hidden areas like behind pictures, the hem of mattresses, clothing, bed frames, and beneath loose wallpaper. While bed bugs may not cause serious health issues, their bites become very itchy and may cause a great deal of discomfort. However, some people are more sensitive to the bites and develop itchy, red welts. Scratching the bites can lead to infection. Bed bugs may also affect a person’s mental health; anxiety, insomnia, and irritability have been reported in some people.
Contrary to popular belief, sanitation is not a factor in their appearance. From mass transit to five-star resorts, bed bugs are found anywhere humans are. These miniscule nuisances are considered a public health pest and now infest every state in the U.S. These small, flattened insects that feed solely on blood of mammals and birds have been living with humans since ancient times. And because bed bugs are indoor pests, there are no high or low seasons throughout the year, only continual bombardment.
These tiny insects hide well, though several signs may indicate you have a bed bug infestation. Here’s what to look for:
- Small rust-colored spots of fecal matter on sheets or mattress and around areas where you sleep. These are bed bug fecal stains, composed primarily of digested blood. They also emit a sweet, musty odor.
- Bed bugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places often within eight feet of where people sleep. Their initial hiding places are typically mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards, where they have easy access to people to bite in the night – but don’t let their name fool you. Bed bugs spread away from beds into living areas and can be seen on any surface, including chairs, railings, ceilings and pets.
- Bed bug bites look like a raised red bump or flat welt. Unlike flea bites that appear mainly around the ankles, bed bug bites can show on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do. People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes.
Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. They may enter your house undetected through luggage, clothing, used couches and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card.
If you are traveling, be sure to check out any hotels in advance for possible reports of bed bugs. But if you’re staying home and find signs of them, know that controlling bed bugs takes time and patience. It is not a DIY project. As a homeowner, it’s best to contact a licensed pest control company that has experience with bed bug eradication. If you’re a renter, contact your landlord and know your rights.
If bed bugs are causing you to have sleepless nights, contact a pest control professional and rest easy.