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Got Bedbugs? How to Find Them and Get Rid of Them!
It was not all that long ago that people believed bedbugs only happened to dirty, unkempt houses or the bedridden in nursing homes. However, since somewhere around 1995, bedbugs have moved up in the world and have made themselves right at home…in OUR homes.
Bedbugs are very small, brown colored, wingless insects that are not any bigger than the seed of an apple. They feed on blood, very much like ticks and mosquitoes. Sometimes, if they eat a sufficient amount of blood, they can take on the color of a red brick. Although they don’t fly, they can run very quickly and are smart enough to hide in, you guessed it, beds, blankets, bedding, and clothing. They wait until night to feed on sleeping animals and humans.
Some people are lucky enough that they don’t notice bites on their bodies, while others sometimes become annoyed because the bites are itchy and it makes sleeping difficult. Still others are sensitive to the bites or have allergic reactions that cause them extreme discomfort.
These annoying little bugs have been around for centuries, very much the same way cockroaches have. Bedbugs can hibernate, or fast, not eating for as much as a year, as they wait for a new victim to come into their “bedroom”.
If you are like most Americans, you have probably never been bitten by a bedbug, have never seen one, and you probably never will, however, with the recent re-emergence of bedbugs in high class hotels and apartment buildings, there are a few things you should know about bedbugs and how to avoid them.
Whenever you travel, even if it’s in the US and the hotel has a 5 star rating, or whenever you move, you should learn how to look for evidence of their existence since they are rarely seen in daylight.
First, take a good whiff when you first enter a room. Does it smell a bit sweet or musky? These little stinkers put out an odor when they communicate with one another. Sometimes, if there are enough of them, you can smell them before you ever see them.
Even though these tiny bugs are great at playing hide and seek, they do sometimes leave behind the skeletons of their dead bodies. They are also not potty trained. Look at the edges of mattresses for tiny black specks (which is their poop) and tiny, brown apple seed looking shells of their left behind dead bodies.
Also, look for eggs. These are tiny white specks that might look like sand. They like to hide them in the creases of mattresses, in blankets, and the creases of pillows or other bedding material. Bedbugs are careless mothers as well because when the eating is good, they just leave those eggs everywhere.
How Can You Get Rid of Them?
If you are one of the unfortunate ones who happen to find that your home is infested, you do have some options.
First, if it’s your place, a chemical exterminating company should be your absolute, very last resort. Also, DO NOT use one of those bug bombs or foggers. Bug bombs are completely ineffective against these annoying pests and, in fact, usually just drive them further into the mattress or they run to other rooms. Try these other options first before you fill your place with poisons:
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE) – This is a food grade inexpensive, dry white powder that you can order online in very large bags, should you need that much. When this powder is placed in strategic places, (it’s non-toxic), it actually sticks to the bodies of bedbugs and the fragments of silica cuts their little bodies to pieces. It works so well that you can also mix DE with some water or juice and drink it to rid your body of parasites. Read more about diatomaceous earth you never knew.
- Essential Oils – Try spraying some oregano, manuka, or tea tree oils on your bedding and mattress. You will not have to worry about poisoning yourself or your pets and these have been proven to be pretty effective for light infestations. You can also dab some on those bites to stop them from itching! That’s a good deal all the way around. Find out everything about essential oils.
- Heat – one thing bedbugs don’t like is extreme heat. Washing your bedding in very hot water and then put them in the dryer at its highest setting for at least 30 minutes. This is a good way to clean out bedbug infested sheets, blankets, pillows, and pillowcases. Unfortunately, if your mattress or couch is also infested, this won’t work, of course. You could always get new ones, but that’s an expensive way to go.
- Pyrethrum: This is a natural “insecticide” that is harmless to larger animals and humans. It’s a dried flower extract from Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium and C. coccineum plants.
- BeauveriaBassiana – This is a fungus with a long name that grows in the soil and can be bought as either a powder or a spray. It’s deadly to those nasty little bedbugs but harmless towards pets and humans.
Of course, if your place is rented, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to take action. You might want to think about trapping and killing a few of them for evidence. Pictures are a good idea too, in case you need proof that the place you are renting does have bedbugs. Talk to them about using more natural means before just remotely calling the exterminator.
This would be a good place to mention to you that if you do have bedbugs, DO NOT decide that you will simply spend a few nights on a different mattress, such as the guest room or the kids room, and this is NOT the time to sleep at a friend’s house because these little stinkers are probably traveling with you.
If it’s a hotel/motel/cabin/ or ship’s cabin, then demand another room and be sure to wash everything that might have come into contact with the bedbugs. Those little guys love to hitch rides on your clothing or towels that you set on the bed or the PJ’s you slept in. If in doubt, wash everything in hot water and dry in the dryer.
So nighty night and don’t let the …well, you know.