News reports across the country are reporting that bed bugs are being found everywhere from our homes to fancy hotels and it has nothing to do with cleanliness. In New York City, three major retailers temporarily shut their doors after a recent outbreak of the tiny blood-suckers. In Seattle, exterminators are reporting a 70 percent increase in bed bug-related calls in the last two years. In Fort Worth, Texas, bed bugs caused 200 people to move out of their apartment complex.
Bed bugs, no larger than an appleseed, live on blood and blood alone. They're super-resilient and can live just about anywhere. Bed bugs like to hide in crevices and cracks where people sleep or sit still for a long time (as it makes for easy feeding). Bed bugs can go without feeding for 80 to 140 days. Adults can survive without food for as long as 550 days. Bed bugs grow fastest and lay most eggs at about 80 degrees F.
The first sign of bed bugs are small red and brown spots on your sheets. Unfortunately, the next sign may be bed bug bites which occur on exposed areas of the skin. The bite itself is painless and is not noticed. Small, flat or raised bumps on the skin are the most common sign; redness, swelling, and itching commonly occur. If scratched, the bite areas can become infected. The bites tend to be lined up in a row. Bed bug bites may go unnoticed or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other types of rash.
Bed bugs can live anywhere in your home but most prefer to hang out in the bedroom. If you think you may have a problem, check your mattress. They can hide in mattress seams and behind your headboard.
Here are some tips to rid your home of these critters:
Arm yourself with gloves, a flashlight, magnifying glass, index card (for swiping bed bugs out of cracks), tweezers (to help grab the bug) and a ziplock bag. Place a few in the bag to send in for testing and vacuum the rest, disposing of the bag outside immediately.
Using the flashlight, work the mattress, inspecting the piping, sides and underside. Do the same with the box spring. If you can take it apart, do so, as bed bugs could be hiding in the joints.