Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus) are insects that feed every 5 to 10 days, mainly on human blood. They are usually active at night and their bites often result in itchy bumps on your skin.
Although not known to spread disease, they are considered pests of public health. Here’s how to keep bed bugs out of your bed and your home.
How do bed bugs get into your home?
Bed bugs get into your home by traveling on:
– the clothes of your family and visitors
– the boxes
– used furniture
– messy bedding
How can I prevent bed bugs from entering my home?
A number of precautions you can take to prevent bed bugs from infesting your home, including:
– Before letting used furniture into the house, check for signs of bedbugs (bedbugs can live a year or more without food).
– Put a protective cover on your mattress and box spring.
– Consider getting a mattress cover pre-treated with a pesticide.
– Consider getting a plain, light-colored mattress cover that makes it easier to spot bed bugs.
– Be careful and vigilant if you use a shared laundry room.
– Vacuum frequently.
– Reduce clutter.
Travel prevention tips to avoid bringing back bedbugs
You don’t want to bring bed bugs home after a trip. Here are precautions to consider when traveling, including:
– Avoid putting your luggage on the bed. Consider putting your suitcase on a rack that has been moved away from the wall or in a dry tub.
– Bring a flashlight and use it to check for signs of bedbugs. In addition to bedding, check the edges and seams of the mattress, box spring, and bed frame.
– Check furniture near the bed, such as nightstands.
If you spot signs of bed bugs, notify your host or hotel management immediately.
Iwhen you return home from a trip
When you come back :
– Separate the clothes you have traveled with and wash them immediately in hot water.
– Vacuum your luggage, then, outside, empty the contents of the vacuum cleaner into a plastic bag. Seal the bag tightly and dispose of it in an outdoor trash can.
Do you already have bed bugs in your home?
Besides the presence of the insects themselves, the signs of a bedbug infestation are:
– Rusty stains on your bedding, caused by crushing bed bugs.
– Small dark spots on your bedding. Bed bug stools look like a small dot made with a pen. It can rub off onto fabric, like a marker dot on fabric.
– Tiny white eggs or eggshells, the size of a pinhead (about 1 millimeter).
– Small yellowish-white skins, which the young shed as they grow.
What do bed bugs look like?
Adult bedbugs have:
– a size similar to the size of an apple seed
– often a musty smell
– not recently fed, they are brown and have a flat oval-shaped body
– if they have fed recently, they have a reddish-brown color and a rounder, balloon-shaped body.
Young bed bugs (nymphs):
– are smaller than adults
– are translucent yellowish-white
– if they haven’t fed recently, they are almost impossible to see with the naked eye.
Where to look for them
Bed bugs are not large and can crawl into small hiding places. To give you an idea of how big they are, if you can fit a credit card through a crack, there’s room for a bed bug.
Bedbugs usually hide around your bed:
– on the mattress and box spring, in crevices created by seams, labels and piping
– in the cracks of the headboard and the bed frame.
In case of heavy infestation, they can be found far from the bed:
– in the seams and between the cushions of chairs and sofas
– in the folds of the curtains
– under the wall hangings
– at the junction of the wall and the ceiling
– under peeling wallpaper
– in drawer joints
– in electrical outlets
Bed bugs can travel up to 6 meters from their hiding place to feed.
Key points to remember
There are several ways to try to prevent bed bugs. Here are a few:
– take precautions when traveling
– check second-hand furniture
– use a protective cover on your mattress and box spring
– vacuum frequently
If, despite all these precautions, you discover bed bugs in your home, act quickly. You will need to get rid of bed bugs in the early stages of the infestation. The longer they remain in your home, the more difficult it will be to eliminate them.