What Causes Bedbugs on a Mattress? Bedbugs have existed for millennia. Although they feed on blood, they are not known to spread disease to humans, unlike other insects that feed on blood, such as mosquitoes. Besides the usual irritation caused by the bites, some people are allergic to their bites, causing an enhanced reaction to their bites.
Bedbugs are brownish flat insects that are about the size of an apple seed, and similar in shape. Before a meal, they are about one-quarter inch long. Once they feed, they swell up and turn a reddish color. They have no wings and cannot jump, but they can crawl quickly.
They are nocturnal, hiding in all sorts of places during the day before coming out at night to feed. Their favorite hiding places include mattresses, between and under upholstered furniture cushions and other places in furniture, and crevices in walls and floors. If you can insert a credit card into space, it’s a big enough space for a bedbug to hide.
One female bedbug can lay hundreds of eggs during her lifespan.
Bedbugs usually bite people when they are sleeping. They have a beak which they use to pierce the skin. As with mosquitoes, they inject a chemical that keeps the blood from coagulating. They then can suck out the blood with no problems. It is this chemical that causes skin irritation later on. Feeding usually takes three to ten minutes before the bugs are full and leave.
Bedbug bites are small, round, red, itchy welts. They can be distinguished from other insect bites by both their size and form. They are smaller than mosquito and spider bites and don’t have a red spot in the center like flea bites do. They can also occur anywhere on the body, while fleas usually bite around the ankles.
Sometimes you can see tiny bloodstains on bed sheets or pillowcases. Other signs include shed skins in hiding places, spots of excrement at any place on the bed or bedding, or even on walls. They also exude a distinctive, musty odor.
Since the insects are so small, they can hitchhike into your home on all sorts of vehicles. Used furniture is a common source of infestation. They can also travel into your home in suitcases, backpacks, purses, or even in the folds of clothing. If you live in a multi-unit apartment building, the insects can travel between apartments.
Unlike other pets such as roaches, a bedbug infestation does not indicate a dirty residence. Bedbugs can be found in perfectly clean homes and hotel rooms.
Any time you stay in a hotel or motel, keep your suitcase on a suitcase stand. Don’t put it on the bed or floor. Keep the stand away from walls or furniture. When you get home, wash all the clothing from the trip and dry them in a hot dryer. When buying furniture, carefully look under cushions and in seams and tufts.
Bedbugs may even infest new furniture if they have been brought into the store at some point. It’s wise to avoid buying used mattresses or box springs. Mattresses are the insects’ favorite places to hide. They don’t have to search for a meal at night, the meal comes to them.
If you suspect you have bedbugs, remove all the bedding and check it for excrement spots. Carefully examine both the mattress and box springs, including peeling the bottom fabric off to inspect inside the box spring. Check around the bed, such as carpet edges and electrical outlets.
Also, look inside your closet in case the insects are hiding in your clothes. If you have any doubts as to a possible infestation or what to look for, it’s a good idea to call a pest control company.
They know exactly what to look for. If you are a renter, contact your landlord; he is responsible for getting rid of pest infestations. He’ll want to ask you questions about when you noticed them and other things. If they came from another unit in the building, he’ll want to track down the place where they originated.
Clean all bedding, bedroom curtains, and any clothing in the bedroom in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer setting. Any soft items that can’t be washed, such as shoes or stuffed animals, should be placed in a hot dryer for half an hour.
Use a stiff brush on mattress seams any wooden framework to remove the bugs and loosen their eggs, then vacuum thoroughly. Vacuuming both the bed and any carpet in the room frequently. After each vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be put in a plastic bag and placed into an outside garbage can.
Get zippered mattress covers with a tight weave for both the mattress and box springs. Since the insects can live for up to a year without food, you’ll have to leave the covers on for at least that long. You can also get a new mattress and box springs, but if the rest of the home is not completely free of the pests, they will get into your new mattress and you’ll have to start all over again.
If you have any peeling wallpaper or cracks in your plaster or drywall, they should be repaired to eliminate those as hiding spaces. It’s also a good idea to keep the room uncluttered.
After a thorough cleaning, the best way to make sure the infestation is completely dealt with is to treat the area with chemicals. If you choose to do this yourself, carefully read the label on all products before using, as some cannot be safely used in bedrooms. Mattresses and bedding should be treated only with products that state that they are safe to use on them.
Since bedbugs are so small and can hide in so many different places, the best course of action is usually to call an exterminator. Any bedbugs left alive after a treatment eventually will multiply.
Professional exterminators know how to prevent that from happening, and know hiding places for the bugs of which you may not be aware. They can also give you tips on how to prevent future infestations. For peace of mind, it’s probably best to hire a professional, who can keep a small problem from becoming a big one.
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