The bed bug belongs to a group of blood-sucking insects, the Cimicidae of the order Hemiptera. Bed bugs can be compared to the size of an apple seed with a reddish-brown colour, which may appear darker after feeding on their host. However, their nymphs appear almost colourless. An adult bed bug's length could range from 5 to 7 mm.
Anatomically, bed bugs have three distinct body parts: a short and broad head, a thorax attached to the head, and an abdomen.
Some of the structures found in these parts are as follows:
- A pair of antennae serves as a sensor guide to direct them to their host.
- A proboscis—this is a short tube used to penetrate their host's skin, injecting saliva and allowing them to suck blood from their host. Other insects, such as mosquitoes, also use the proboscis.
NB: their saliva contains anticoagulating constituents and chemicals to prevent blood clotting while they feed.
- Wing pads: Although they are wingless, their wing pads only indicate the site through which they could have developed wings in evolution.
- Compound eyes allow them to avoid danger.
- The abdomen consists of 11 segments. The abdomen enables them to store blood because it is segmented and thus capable of expanding. It also distinguishes a male bed bug from a female bed bug—males usually have a pointed tip at the end, while females have a rounded tip.
- They have six pairs of legs—a pair of which is attached to the thorax and two pairs attached to the abdomen. These legs allow them to move fast away from a threat and towards their host.
Side effects of bed bugs
Bed bugs pose no significant threat to human life, as they do not transmit any disease. Although research has shown that over 45 disease pathogens could be present in bed bugs, this may include but not be limited to plagues and hepatitis b. Because they are blood-sucking insects, they may also cause anemia, indirectly leading to organ dysfunction. Aside from that, they can affect your lifestyle as they disrupt sleep, which may affect your efficiency at work and make you less productive. In addition, a bite from a bed bug could cause allergic reactions and, at times, if left untreated, could be infected by other dangerous microorganisms, which could pose a severe threat to your health.
How to detect bed bugs in the house
The moment you spot a single bed bug, it could mean there are hundreds or even thousands like that. So it is essential to take bed bugs seriously to prevent them from building colonies in your home. You can often find them in areas where you dwell, including your mattress, furniture, wall frames, old books, electric sockets, and clothes. Bed bugs also leave traces, ranging from blood stains on your bedsheet to dark spots. Once you notice these signs, you can start searching for cracks in your furniture and walls. You can also check under your rug or carpet if you use one.
Next, search the following places for blood-filled holes or live or dead bed bugs:
- Bed frames
- Bed covers, pillows, and other bedding items
- Curtains and window frames
- Chairs and sofa
- furniture such as dressers, tables, beds, bookcases, and cabinets.
- Bedding, mattresses, and box springs
- Bedroom furniture
- Bathroom and hallway furniture
- Check closets, bedside tables, desk drawers, desks, chests, cabinets, and other storage areas.
- Check for bed bugs in the home you are moving into-Do a thorough job of checking every room and every potential harborage site before you leave.
Once you can spot a group, don't hesitate to take the necessary steps to deal with them. More details will be provided below on how to deal with bed bugs.
What to do when you spot bed bugs
A single bed bug should keep you on alert. It tells you to keep yourself aware of an incoming infestation or already present infestation. Well, nothing to worry about. This paragraph will provide essential information about protecting yourself against bed bug invasion.
Bed Bug Prevention: Take note of the following.
Before You Go
Bed bug prevention and treatment begin with a thorough inspection. The best time to do this is during the day before you leave home for work. First, look for signs of infestation. In the preceding paragraph, you can find a familiar site to check.
Decide to inspect as well carefully;
- Doors and windows have cracks or crevices that allow bugs to enter your home.
- Rotted paint and wallpaper
- carpets, draperies, and window covers.
- Behind baseboards, shoes and other objects are brought into your home.
- Remove and discard items suspected of harbouring bed bugs, such as mattresses, box springs, pillows, linens, and luggage.
What to do next
Seal cracks and crevices
Cracks and crevices are the perfect places for bed bugs to hide. Try to seal these up before you move your belongings to a new location. Cracks and holes can be sealed using caulk, duct tape, glue, etc.
Use airtight containers to store food.
Even though your food does not move them, it is less likely to find them there. Nevertheless, they can attract bed bugs in one way or another. So, to prevent bed bugs from entering your home, store food in airtight containers. To ensure proper sealing, line the inside of your container with aluminum foil before placing your food in it. Ensure you clean any residue or debris from the lining after storing food. You can also seal up other items, like boxes and suitcases.
Make use of bed bug pesticide
Use this to eliminate bed bugs and their larvae. The bug's eggs are less susceptible to this method and often hatch weeks later. Again, getting an inspection by a professional is recommended.
Hire a pest control professional
The most effective approach is to call a professional pest control company to perform a detailed inspection of your home and treat it with an effective insecticide. A licensed, trained professional will give your home a thorough once-over search and identify any bed bugs and other problems. Sometimes, the professional will remove the furniture from the room and inspect all the crevices and cracks for possible harbourage.
This is also an excellent time to make sure you have your insurance company contact them to cover any claims for the damage caused by bed bugs if any occur.
Vacuuming is an excellent way to get rid of bed bugs. Before vacuuming, check the floor and furniture for blood spots or stains. This could indicate that there are already bed bugs present. Next, vacuum all surfaces for at least 15 minutes, then wash the vacuum bag in hot water. Cleaning the load prevents any future eggs from being deposited onto your carpet. Continue to vacuum until you feel satisfied that there is no sign of bed bugs remaining.
Wash your clothes
Laundry can help reduce the chances of transporting bed bugs into your home. Always hang your clothes outside or in the garage to dry. Never leave dirty laundry lying around.
Best ways to get rid of bedbugs
Getting rid of bed bugs can be pretty challenging, especially when you don't have enough information on how to go about it. Consider the following methods for dealing with a bed bug infestation in your home.
A female bed bug can lay up to seven eggs per night and could lay between 200 and 500 eggs in her lifetime. Imagine the kind of disaster hundreds of female bed bugs will cause. Once you spot any area with bed bug eggs, spray pesticides designed for bed bugs on the site right away. Since bedbugs don't have much mobility after being outside, spraying should kill them almost immediately. However, some people may experience skin irritation if they accidentally touch the pesticide. To avoid this, wear gloves, wash your hands thoroughly afterward, and put any pesticide residue in a sealed container.
Prevent them from getting to you!
Bed bugs need blood meals to survive. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that you provide them with such a delicious meal. Lol. So, if you can find where they live, seal off the area with plastic wrap, tape, etc., until you've got rid of them.
Keep surfaces clean
Keep all surfaces clean—especially those around your bed—and vacuum often. Wipe down furniture and appliances weekly with alcohol wipes. Make sure you don't leave items out; store them in drawers or cabinets.
Use heat treatment at a high temperature
As mentioned above, heat treatments work best if you know where the bugs reside. Then, spray the affected area with insecticidal soap, let it dry, and apply heat by setting blankets or other heating devices over the place for three hours. Repeat this process two times per week until bed bugs are gone.
Sprinkle citronella oil
Some claim that sprinkling citronella oil in their rooms helps keep bedbugs away. Citronella oil is derived from lemongrass, which repels insects in general. You can buy citronella oil online or even make your own by steeping dried lemongrass in water (lemon grass makes an excellent natural deodorizer) overnight.
Alternatively, you can combine nard grass and olive oil, heat it in the cooker for up to 7 hours, and sieve the mixture.
Home remedies for bed bugs
Home remedies for bedbugs are safe and non-toxic but should be used on a small area at a time. Applying them on any surface is not recommended unless you are trained and know what you are doing. Always do thorough research and follow the instructions carefully.
Wash with hot water
Bedbugs can be found hanging in old clothes or textiles that have not been used for so long. You can use hot water to get the bugs out. However, be very careful when dealing with hot water, as it can burn you. The clothes should be washed well, usually at a temperature of about 60 degrees. You can then spread them in sunlight until they are completely dried.
Make use of DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide)
For treating the mattress, spray or dust the treated area with this chemical. It is very effective in dealing with bed bugs. A study revealed that just 10% DEET concentration was able to deal with more than 94% of bed bugs in 9 hours. It can be done by vacuuming, but you should dust the treated area with a dry cloth to get the chemical on everything. Do not spray on any furniture. You can get it on, and it will not help. If you apply it to the furniture, make sure you clean it up and do a final clean-up.
Use a pesticide spray
You can use a pesticide spray (designed for bed bugs)around the bed frame and mattress. Make sure you keep all edible substances away, and you must allow them to dry. Also, ensure you read the directions and use them per the manufacturer's instructions. I recommend using a pyrethroid insecticide such as permethrin or fipronil. It is imperative to vacuum or dust everything that has been treated. Do not apply this chemical to the baseboard, where it can be breathed in by anyone. Pesticides can also be dangerous to pets.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural mineral composed of fossilized plants (algae). This mineral is very safe, natural, and non-toxic. You can apply this to the floor, walls, upholstery, and curtains. It is safe to use on all surfaces. As with the insecticide sprays, make sure you clean everything up. You can choose to have two dusters to keep large and small areas clean. If you only have one, you will have to dust off every surface more than once. Again, make sure you do a final clean-up.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is derived from the distillation of an Australian plant (Melaleuca alternifolia). It has been revealed by some users to be effective for killing bed bugs. However, no scientific study has proven it to be essential.
If all else fails, you can try using the vacuum. Most have a bug-killing attachment that you can use. Make sure you do the process one area at a time. If you have a central vacuum, it is a safe method, but make sure you read the user's manual and follow the instructions.
Baking soda—otherwise known as bicarbonate soda. It has a chemical attribute that helps remove moisture, thereby drying up bed bugs. It may take 4–7 days to see the results. After this, you can vacuum the area where their remains could be found.
How to prevent bed bugs
If you have been using any type of furniture lately, whether it be couches, chairs, beds, etc., chances are you have experienced some sharp bites and must have seen those little red bumps that look like mosquito bites, only that they don't cause malaria. According to a study, bed bugs are attracted to warmth, carbon dioxide, and blood, making them perfect hitchhikers. How do these nocturnal critters survive? Luckily, there are ways to combat their presence in the home.
Air Duct Cleaning
The first step to keeping bed bugs out of your home is to remove them from your air ducts. One way to do this is with a vacuum cleaner. However, if you'd rather not deal with vacuuming an infestation, try using an insecticide spray. To ensure that you eradicate the entire population of bugs, use two sprays in each room where bugs were spotted.
Repair Cracks and Holes
Bed bugs can quickly enter homes through small holes and cracks in the walls. If you notice any suspicious spots, seal them immediately to keep them out of your house. You can even use caulk if you want to ensure a good seal. If you're worried about using caulk, try silicone caulk, which won't dry out as regular caulk.
Bed bugs love to hide in dark places, especially behind mirrors. You can eliminate this problem by putting old sheets or blankets in your closet to catch bugs trying to crawl under your clothes. If possible, try to put a bag filled with sawdust or wood chips in the same place.
Clean Your Clothes
If you've noticed bug activity in your laundry basket or around your drawers, you know what I'm talking about. Try vacuuming your clothing after washing it to eliminate potential hiding spots. Bed bugs don't just live in mattresses and pillows; they'll happily stay in your comforter, pillowcases, and socks.
Lighten Your Load
You may already have bed bugs, but if you are moving into a new apartment, check for any signs of previous infestations. Once you find them, take care of them before bringing your belongings over.
What happens when bed bugs get on you?
When you find bed bugs around you, they want to have a meal. Then, they want to bite you and get a sip of your blood.
What kills bedbugs instantly?
The heat of a very high temperature or steam at 100 °C has been proven to kill bed bugs instantly.
How serious is having bedbug bites?
Bed bug bites are not that dangerous, but if you are allergic, you may develop some reactions to the bite. In addition, if the bite is left untreated, it may become infected by other dangerous microbes, which may need medical attention.
How long does it take to deal with bed bugs?
With a professional exterminator, bed bug infestations could be curbed in less than 3–7 days. However, some treatments may last for 3–4 weeks, depending on how badly your home has been infested.
Can bedbugs live in blankets?
Yes, they live near human dwellings, including blankets, bedsheets, beds, furniture, etc.