How to Check for Bedbugs
If all of press on bedbugs has left you feeling queasy or paranoid, you are not alone. While not life threatening, the idea of a creepy critter crawling around your bed at night and feeding of off you is extremely unpleasant. Learning how to check for bedbugs will help you find a more peaceful night’s rest at home or on the road.
A Little About Bedbugs
Bedbugs are parasites, in that they live off of humans. These invasive creatures will bite you and your family throughout the night and are extremely difficult to get rid of without costly and possibly dangerous chemicals. Before the advent of chemical pesticides, they were very common and have seen a resurgence in the last 10-20 years. Experts attribute this to a range of sources from banning of pesticides, increased travel, animal factory farms and more.
Bedbugs can come from many sources, and becoming common in many major cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Denver. Unfortunately these little hitchhikers climb into luggage and onto clothing, and then continue spreading once brought home. Accepting a used bed frame, mattress or furniture from a friend or stranger is another form of transportation that should be avoided. Pets can also harbor bedbugs.
One of the first signs of bedbugs people may notice is a small intensely itchy bite. These are often colorless and may at first appear to be hives. At this point, you will need pursue rigorous treatment that can include bug-bombing, replacing furniture and carpets, and more depending on the situation. To prevent this from happening, we’ve put together some tips you can use to safeguard your home and family from infestation and learn how to check for bedbugs.
How to Check for Bedbug Infestations While Traveling
When staying in a hotel or even at a friend’s home it is important to check for bedbugs before settling in for the night. Gracefully bowing out of a friend’s home may be difficult, but it will be much easier to receive a refund and change hotels. You will want to thoroughly inspect your surroundings immediately, BEFORE unpacking or settling in. The following tips will be useful for identifying infestation by bedbugs:
- Carry a small flashlight, magnifying glass, a piece of stiff white paper and a credit card which has had one end cut with a square corner point for scraping.
- Learn to recognize what these disgusting bugs look like. They are dark brown colored until they have fed at which point they become purplish red. Their adult size is slightly smaller than an apple seed. Feces will appear to be about the size of the period on this page, and will smear when scraped. Light colored skin sheds, which look similar to grain hulls may be found as well.
- When first entering the room, pull back the layers of bedding one at a time all the way to the mattress. Carefully inspect the entire area, especially seams, for dead bed bugs, their castings and skins.
- Scrape areas along the edges of the mattress, especially under the edges with the pointed credit card. Carefully examine the credit card using the flashlight and magnifying glass.
- Similar to cockroaches in some of their habits, bedbugs like dark areas. The generally infest mattresses, couches, in bedding, carpet, corners of the room and under areas like picture frames, light switches and fixtures.
- Due to their small size bedbugs can hide easily in the corners of drawers, screw holes and under light fixtures. Thoroughly inspect all these places using the flashlight and credit card to scrape.
- You may want to wear a pair of plastic gloves and rub any small dark spots to see if they smear. If so, they are probably feces and a sign the room may be infested.
- Keep all clothing and suitcases off of the floor by placing it on luggage racks or hanging. Bedbugs may have infested dressers, headboards and carpet, so if you must take your clothing out of your bags the closet might be safest.
- Bedbugs will pop easily if they are pressed, especially after feeding. They are full of blood, and while there have been no reports of them transmitting diseases thus far, it could always be a possibility in the future.
- Placing luggage in large garbage bags may help reduce the possibility of hitchhikers although it is not 100% foolproof.
Tips for Keeping Bedbugs Out of Your Home
Preventing the transportation of bedbugs into your home is much less expensive than eliminating them after infestation. The following suggestions may be helpful in preventing infestation:
- Do not buy or accept old mattresses from friends, hotels, Craigslist, etc.
- Completely encase all mattresses and pillows in a zippered protective cover. Look for ones that are bedbug-proof.
- Be careful about allowing friends to bring pets over, and ensure guest beds have bed-bug proof covers as well.
- Strip mattresses and wash bedding in hot water and dry in the dryer on a regular basis.
- Sleep on memory foam mattresses or latex mattresses as they are more resistant to bed bugs than spring mattresses.
- Inspect everything as outlined above when traveling, or at home if suffering from bites.
- Travel with large trash bags to encase luggage and dirty clothes when staying in hotels. If you fear your luggage came into contact with critters, unpack outside. Immediately place all soft items like clothing and bedding in trashbags and wash on the hottest setting possible. Encase the luggage in tightly sealed plastic bags and leave sealed for several weeks, preferably outside or in a garage.
- If you have to treat your home, ensure the problem is cleared up before replacing furnishings and mattresses.
As the plague of bedbugs continues to grow it is imperative to learn how to check for infestation to prevent them from taking over your home. Always check your surroundings and be aware of any potential warning signs. Knowing how to check for bedbugs and taking a few extra minutes could save you a lot of misery and money.
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