How to Get Rid of Bedbugs
Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) are tiny parasites that feed on blood. They usually come out to feed at night, which is why people living in homes with bedbug infestations tend to wake up with bites.
Bedbugs can cause allergies, psychological effects, skin rashes, itching, and other uncomfortable symptoms. If you think you have them in your home, it’s important to take steps to eliminate them.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE BEDBUGS?
If you’re waking up with bites and think you’ve seen small insects around your bedroom, you may be alarmed. How can you be sure what’s biting you? Is there a chance you have fleas or another biting insect in your home, or are there bedbugs?
The simplest description of a bedbug is that it is a small, brown, oval-shaped insect. They subsist on the blood of mammals, like humans or pets. While these insects are small, they are big enough to see with the naked eye. An adult bedbug is around the size of an average apple seed.
Bedbugs can look red in color if they’ve recently eaten, which may correlate with bites on your body. After eating, they can swell up, too, so if you search to find a strange insect and the one you find is bigger than an apple seed, it could still be a bedbug.
A single bedbug doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infestation. You may have just brought one home on a bag or in a suitcase. If you squish it or otherwise get rid of it, that could be the end of the story.
That being said, one is often a sign of many, so it’s best to take action immediately and see how bad the infestation is.
WHAT DO BEDBUG BITES LOOK LIKE?
Bedbug bites look similar to flea or mosquito bites. They are red and inflamed. Many people get itchy welts from the bites.
It’s most common to see bites in a zigzag pattern. The reason for this is that the bugs feed in a few spots (a cluster), move on, feed in another cluster, and move on again. There could also be multiple bedbugs feeding on you, which would leave several clusters of bites around your body.
Unlike flea bites, which are normally only on the ankles and lower legs, bedbugs are more likely to bite you anywhere you have exposed or easily accessed skin in bed. If you see clusters of three to five bites, a bedbug may be responsible.
HOW TO CHECK FOR BEDBUGS
Figuring out if you have bedbugs requires you to do a little searching. Before you start, there are a few things you should know.
Unlike some other kinds of insects, bedbugs don’t make nests. You won’t find any kind of structure they’ve built that gives you a hint at an infestation. You need to lay eyes on the bug itself, which should be fairly easy. Why? Bedbugs usually live in groups. Where there is one, there are many.
They can also crawl onto clothing, get into your luggage, or crawl into your living room furniture, so don’t forget to check those places as well during your inspection.
INSPECTING FOR BEDBUGS
Start by taking the bed linens off your mattress. Look at the mattress and see if you find any small insects. Tilt the mattress up so you can look underneath, too. Look for bugs along the zipper (if there is one) and mattress seams. Check the box spring, too, because it has plenty of space for bedbugs to hide as well.
Your bed isn’t the only place bedbugs can make their home. They’ll also spread around a bedroom or throughout the home. They can go into crevices, like the spaces between floorboards, or they can get into fabrics like curtains. Look on the floor, walls, and in the crevices of sofas. Be sure to also check around light switches and window edges. A flashlight can be useful to make sure you’re getting a good look into dark, tight areas.
SIGNS OF BEDBUG ACTIVITY
To check for bedbugs, look for these signs.
- Look for reddish spots left on the sheets or the mattress. These could be blood stains from bugs being crushed.
- Look for small, dark spots that could be bedbug excrement.
- Search for shells. Eggshells from newly hatched nymphs are around 1 mm long.
- Look for adult bedbugs. If you happen to see one, use a piece of sticky tape to capture it or take a photo. You can then use it for identification.
- Smell the room. Is there a musty or sweet odor? That kind of scent can signify that bedbugs are present.
If you can’t find any insects but are still getting bitten at night, try using a UV flashlight. UV flashlights are helpful for finding bedbugs because bedbugs’ shells will glow under the light, making them easier to spot.
HOW CAN I GET RID OF BEDBUGS?
No one wants to wake up finding they’ve been a midnight snack for a bedbug. The good news is that you can take steps to prevent them. And, if they do show up, there are ways to get rid of them.
HOW TO PREVENT BEDBUGS
The best way to avoid bedbugs is through prevention. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are several precautions you can take to prevent bedbugs from making your house their home.
- If you’re buying secondhand furniture, make sure to check the items for signs of bedbugs before you bring them home.
- Always use protective covers on your box springs and mattresses. By doing so, you eliminate the spaces where bedbugs can hide, and you make it easier to see them if they are present.
- In shared laundry facilities, be cautious about the risk of other people’s belongings. Put your clothes directly into the washer and dryer, and use high heat when possible. When you’re done, take your clothing home and fold it after you arrive.
- Vacuum regularly so you can remove any bedbugs that may have come in on bags or other items.
- Keep a tidy home so bedbugs have fewer places to hide.
- When staying at a hotel, inspect the room for bedbugs before unpacking. Important places to check are the luggage rack, dresser drawers, mattress, and box spring. You can place your luggage on a hard surface or in the bathtub while you perform your inspection.
- When you live in multi-unit complexes or condos, consider taking steps to isolate your particular unit. Go around the home and seal up cracks or baseboards with caulk or other sealants. Remember, small pests can move through voids in the walls.
These steps can keep bedbugs from infesting your home. Regular cleaning and maintenance is a top tip to minimize the risk of pests establishing themselves there.
HOW TO ELIMINATE BEDBUGS
Once you have bedbugs, you need to take action as soon as you can. They lay eggs quickly and can spread faster than you think. In fact, a female bedbug can lay up to seven eggs per day for around 10 days after her last blood meal.
While there are some treatment options you can try at home, the reality is that bedbugs are pervasive and hard to get rid of. These are not DIY pests—it’s better to call your local pest control company (like our experts at Moxie Pest Control) and have them take care of the problem before the infestation spreads throughout the house.
For containment, there are some steps you can take, however.
As soon as you see a bedbug:
- Wash and dry your clothes, bedclothes, and other linens on hot cycles.
- Vacuum the floor and molding around the room. Throw away the vacuum bag outside, or, if you’re using a bagless vacuum, empty it outside. Clean filters and containers thoroughly.
- Move your bed out into the middle of the room. While bedbugs can crawl, they’ll have a harder time getting onto the bed without walls to assist.
- Put a mattress cover over your mattress and box springs after vacuuming them. Put duct tape around the zippers so any bugs inside can’t get out.
- Close the infested rooms off from the rest of the house so people or pets aren’t going in and out, accidentally carrying the bugs into other rooms.
Take these containment steps while waiting for our field experts to come and meet you at your home. We’ll help with the next steps while planning treatment options that work best for you and your family.
DON’T LET BEDBUGS CAUSE RESTLESS NIGHTS
We know that the mere thought of having bedbugs is enough to make people itch, so seeing one can cause a great deal of stress. We’re here to help you take back your space and remove the bugs that are bothering you. With good prevention and treatment options, you’ll soon be resting easy again. Contact the experts at Moxie Pest Control for reliable, thorough bedbug removal.
Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!