Bed Bugs were a huge problem hundreds of years ago, and have kept people from getting a good nights rest for as far back as there is documented history. The common phrase "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" is evidence of how common they really are.
Bed bugs were nearly eradicated in the 50s, but now, Bed Bugs are back.
Large cities all around the world, including the US, are being plagued daily by one very small, but incredibly troublesome insect: The Bed Bug. But what are bed bugs exactly, and where do they come from?
The Bed Bug Invasion
Over the past 10-15 years, reports of bed bug infestations around the world have been on the rise. During the 1950s, bed bugs in the US were pretty much eradicated by DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). DDT was banned in the US in 1972, and ever since, bed bugs have been making a comeback.
Bed Bugs are so severe, that many cities are banning sales of used mattresses, putting mattress disposal standards in place, putting bed bug disclosure requirements in place. New York City has even established a Bed Bug Task Force to help educate people and deal with bed bugs in the city!
People are literally afraid to go to sleep at night and afraid for their children as well.
Bed Bugs are back and with a vengeance.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed Bugs are small insects, about the size of an apple seed. Adults are reddish brown in color, and contrary to their name, they don't just live in your bed. In fact, bed bugs are incredibly good at hiding and can be found just about anywhere in your bedroom or home in general.
Hungry bed bugs start off very thin, much like a tick. When a food source is detected, they migrate to it, and using a special appendage, they impale the skin and engorge themselves on blood. When full, they are often 5-6 times thicker than normal.
Bedbugs then go and hide, digest their meal, and mate.
Their preferred food source is unfortunately you. Yes, bedbugs migrate to your bed at night, while you're sleeping, and feed on your blood.
>> Read more in our What are Bed Bugs Guide.
Where are Bed Bugs?
Again, contrary to their name, bed bugs can be found just about anywhere in your home, but often in locations near where you sleep. Bed bugs can be found in your bed, box spring, mattress, and pillows, but they are often in other locations as well, including:
- Electrical gadgets
- Behind pictures and wall-hangings
- In lamps
- In Books and bookcases
- and the list goes on.
They also frequently hide in your walls and get in there via electrical sockets and cracks in your molding. Bed Bugs hiding in your wall are particularly problematic, due to being difficult to detect and treat.
The name bed bug is actually very problematic because many think that if they just encase their mattress or throw it out, they have solved their bed bug problem. NOT true, especially given they hide in a number of different locations in your home.
How do you get bed bugs?
Bed bugs love to travel, and in particular to hitch-hike. People often bring them home, after being in a location that was infested or being near someone that has an infestation. You can even pick them up in popular public locations, like movie theaters, public transportation, libraries, etc.
One of the most common ways to get bed bugs is while traveling and staying in hotels.
The majority of people get bed bugs from traveling and staying in hotels that have been infested. The bedbugs crawl into your luggage and come home with you. Bed bugs breed and multiply rapidly, so it doesn't take long to have a bad infestation from just a few bed bugs.
Bed bugs are particularly problematic in apartments and condos. They will travel from one infested apartment to other apartments, and before long the entire building is infested.
Treatment in these situations is difficult, as treating one apartment doesn't solve the problem.
How do you know if you have bed bugs?
Image by: NY State IPM
A misconception about bed bugs is that you can easily see them. Not true.
We've mentioned how good bed bugs are at hiding, and we're not joking. They can often be very difficult to find. So much so, that many exterminators use professional bed bug detection dogs, who are specially trained to smell them.
Chances are when inspecting your home, you won't see any bed bugs, but you will see signs of them. Common ways to know if you have bed bugs are:
- Fecal matter - Bed Bug fecal matter is digested blood. Fecal matter is black in color, very small, and often found in groups. It is soft and will smear when touched.
- Bed Bug Bites - The most common way of knowing you have bed bugs, is to have bed bug bites on your body.
- Use a professional - Bed bug exterminators have lots of experience with inspecting homes and determining if you have bed bugs.
If you're traveling and staying in a hotel, always inspect your hotel room before bringing your luggage in. We recommend placing your luggage in the bathroom while inspecting the room. If you find bed bugs or signs of bed bugs, leave the room immediately.
How to get rid of bed bugs
Bed bugs are incredibly difficult to get rid of, and the process of treating bed bugs can take months, and can often get rather expensive.
The best way to get rid of bed bugs in your home is to hire a professional. Experienced bed bug exterminators have a number of different tools and treatment methods to rid your home of bed bugs.
The problem with a professional is the cost. Bed bug exterminators are expensive, and the costs can really add up, especially when multiple treatments are often required.
Fortunately, there are treatment options you can do yourself, that are successful.
10s of thousands of people are plagued daily by bed bugs. Adults, children, black, white, rich or poor are not immune. Bed bugs do not discriminate and will infest any home they can get into. Bed bugs will also feed on any blood source as well, including infants and even pets.
While often difficult to get rid of, thousands of people defeat them daily, so there is hope. If you have bed bugs or think you might visit our treatment and detection pages for more information. If you want to prevent bed bugs in your home, our prevention page is full of tips and suggestions.
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