Bed bugs are small parasitic insects (meaning they survive off the blood of a host) – and they are about the size of an apple seed when fully grown, and thus can often go unseen. But, do not minimize the effects bed bugs can have on your sleep health! Bed bugs can cause tremendous problems; physical, emotional and financial.
Detecting them early is really the key – as well as taking preventative measures, which actually assists in that early detection. If you wait too long to catch a newly introduced bed bug infestation, it can suddenly be catastrophic. Four bed bugs can turn in to 4,000 in just four months. Not a pretty prospect.
Bed bugs are notorious travelers, easily transferring themselves to non-infested areas. This means the odds of you getting a bed bug infestation are ever on the increase. Once that barrier is broken, and you get a breeding pair of bugs in your home, it usually takes large infestations of many bed bugs before a person even discovers that there is a problem.
So, why are these bugs back suddenly? Bed bugs have become resistant to pesticides that are in use today, and since DDT, which was very effective, was outlawed decades ago, bed bugs have been on the increase and are now at epidemic levels. Part of the problem is that bed bugs are very efficient and prolific breeders - females can lay eggs five times a day for her entire life – a startling 500 offspring. Bed bugs can also survive for more than a year without a blood meal.
So, as you can see, there are some bad combinations lining up here that make bed bugs a very difficult and very real threat to you and your family. So, what can you do to protect yourself?
As mentioned, early bed bug prevention and early detection is the key. While you can certainly do some self-inspection, it may be wise to enlist the services of an experienced, licensed pest management professional. Home inspections for bed bugs are usually not free, but are certainly a whole lot less than a bed bug treatment program, which can run into the thousands of dollars.
Another very important aspect of prevention and detection is anti-bed bug encasement. These products are much more than just your run-of-the-mill mattress covers. They are scientifically designed systems that will keep bed bugs from taking root in your bedding as a preventative measure, and will lock them in and keep you and your family from getting bitten if you deploy these protectors as part of a total pest management solution.
But, again, avoiding them in the first place is obviously the best approach, so how do you do that? First, go to the Bedbug.com Knowledge Center, where you will find a host of informative articles on what bed bugs look like, their preferred hiding places, how they breed, etc. Also, you should know what bed bug bites look like, in case you are already being bitten. Many times, the bed bug bite is mistaken for a mosquito or spider bite. A dermatologist can often tell the difference, so checking in with one might be a good move.
To conduct a self-inspection, start looking on and around your mattress, bedding and box spring. Statistically, about 80% of all bed bug infestations occur within two feet of your bed. Some obvious signs are some reddish brown spots or streaks on the surface of your mattress. These are fecal droppings mixed with blood. Also look for he discarded shells of molting bed bugs. They shed 5 times before reaching adulthood. To spot a bed bug egg is a bit trickier. They are small, white and tubular, about the size of a small grain of rice - of course, live bugs are an instant clue you’ve got a problem.
If bed bugs are detected, there are some important measures you can take to protect yourself and your mattress. One of the only ways to get rid of a current case of bed bug infestation is to have a professional pest control specialist get involved immediately after you confirm the presence of bed bugs.
Chemical applications may be required for severe cases of bed bug infestation. Along with this treatment, however you should immediately encase (cover) all your bedding – your mattress, box spring and pillows. Plus, you should protect your laundry – bed bugs typically hang out on the floor, where a lot of folks tend to leave their clothes. Encasements are a critical part of the total over-all solution that includes professional pest control treatments.
But, consider this – anti-bed bug encasements are particularly effective in protecting your expensive bedding before an infestation ever occurs. When you protect your mattress and box spring with encasement, you are essentially eliminating access to the bed bug’s food source (blood), which will eventually lead to their death. It’s no secret that mattresses are expensive, so make sure you protect this investment.
In addition, there are some side benefits that you will get when you cover your bedding – and no small benefit, to be sure. We’re talking anti-allergy here. Most people suffer from allergies of some sort or another – and dust mites are one of the most common. Over 50 million Americans suffer from this. Dust mites are microscopic parasites that live inside your pillow and mattress. They feed off the dust that builds up there. Encasement will keep the dust mite particles that cause those allergies away from you and your nose, allowing you to create a really healthy sleeping environment. Think about it. This is where you spend about 1/3 of your life. Might as well be healthy AND bed bug free.