Bed Bugs: Are You Their Next Victim?

brown red bed bug crawls along fabric

What are bed bugs, anyway?

Bed bugs, or cimex lectularius, as their scientific designation in latin signifies, are small, flat dark-colored nocturnal insects that feed on the blood of humans and occasionally other warm-blooded animals, usually at night.

Bedbugs are about the size of a ladybug and have a reddish-brown color, when fully grown of course and not missing meals. When they are young nymphs, they may appear transparent or even see-through, being really tough to spot with the naked eye until they’ve already gotten a taste of your blood.

The Rise of Bed Bugs

I think it’s pretty safe to say bed bugs have been here pestering people since the beginning of time. Ever since one of the first humans woke up in the morning exclaiming “Ugh, itchy bites!” the precedent had been set.

While bedbugs have been around for millennia, they were a notable pest problem in the USA just last century before they were swiftly eradicated using a now-known-to-be dangerous pesticide like DDT.

Now, with a built-up resistance to many modern day pesticides, bed bugs have roared back and are once again making it hard for people to sleep restfully at night.

bed bug infestations on the rise in USA and world

One of the biggest reasons bed bugs have made such a resilient comeback is the lack of readily available, effective treatments and widespread public knowledge. Governments have not done very much to help folks either, making new pesticides financially unviable after regulation and startup costs.

Life Cycle of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs can reasonably expect to live a whole year but usually not much longer than that. Like other creepy crawlies, they tend to be more active in hotter months.

Because they can survive for up to a year without food, they are particularly hard to get rid of without proactive measures on the part of someone unfortunate to be their temporary roommates.

picture of bed bug and bed bug eggs hatching every 10 days

A female bed bug can lay eggs every 10 days, and they usually produce 10 – 50 at a time. As you can see, it doesn’t take long before your home is experiencing a full-blown bed bug infestation. But by the time that happens, you’ll probably already be crawling up the walls in frustration and anxiety.

How do you know if you have bed bugs?

bed bug bites and rash on baby's arm and skin

Nasty Bed Bug Bites and Itchy Rash

Bed bug bites are often mistaken for mosquito bites, spider bites, love bug bites, ant bites, and rashes caused by dust mites.

However, bed bug bites are usually in clusters and appear on areas of the body that are exposed while sleeping, such as the face, neck, arms, and legs. Their signature is a few prominent bites inlaid between large pink and reddish patches on your epidermis.

Bed bug bites can be itchy and uncomfortable, though they’re usually just annoying and not deadly, fortunately.

Signs of Bed Bugs

About 3/4 of the time, bed bugs enjoy sticking around your mattress, box spring, headboard, or anywhere within a few feet of your body while you sleep. However, they’re not that picky as they will, if they have to, infest your sofa, chairs, nightstand, drawers, wall and electrical outlets, bags, or under desks.

Bed bugs are pretty gross, preferring to live in their own poop and go potty in the exact same place where they hang out or sleep, since that poop likely contains their victims’ blood from a previous meal.

This is why one of the most obvious signs of a bed bug problem is red and brown splotches and black fecal droppings along your mattress or under your bed.

bed bug exoskeleton shells droppings and feces are signs of bedbug infestations
Places you can pick up bed bugs include movie theaters and the bus

Where can you pick up bedbugs and how do they spread?

Bed bugs can be picked up anywhere, but they are most commonly found in hotel rooms, motels, apartments, and other places where people sleep.

But bed bugs don’t necessarily need a bed to survive, though. They can be found wedged in the cracks of seats on city buses, in airport waiting areas, hospitals, libraries, and even courtrooms.

According to Wikipedia, bed bugs can spread through contact with infested furniture, clothing, or other belongings. Beware any second-hand furniture or sofas sitting on the roadside that are free for the taking, or have been put out for heavy-trash removal day.

Prevention and Treatment of Bed Bug Infestations

The National Pest Management Association released a report saying that less than 7% of housing units from apartment to residential homes in the United States are immune from an infestation of bed bugs. 

With this knowledge, could you sleep comfortably at night, knowing that the bed you are sleeping in could already be infested or has a high chance of getting taken over by bed bugs?

If you’ve seen one, you might see 100 more by next week.

But fortunately, there’s a lot of things you can do to get rid of bed bugs for under $100. If an exterminator seems expensive, don’t worry. It absolutely is.

But you still have options.

Steps to Getting Rid of Bedbugs

If you think you have bed bugs, it is important to take steps to get rid of them as soon as possible:

  • Inspect your home for signs of bed bugs. This includes pulling back the bed sheets and getting up, close, and personal with your mattress.
  • Wash your bedding in super hot water and dry it on high heat.
  • Use a bed bug mattress encasement.
  • Vacuum your home thoroughly before you treat it with any bedbug killer. The cleaner your home, the fewer hiding spots remain for bed bugs.
  • Hire an exterminator if all else fails and you can afford it, but don’t pass up much cheaper and still effective ways to get relief today. If you’re on this site, you’re already on the right path.
exterminator inspecting a bed and mattress seams for signs of bed bugs
Treating and healing bed bug bite rash and scars

Treating Bed Bug Bites and Scars

Bed bug bites usually don’t need any treatment and will go away on their own within a week or two. However, there are a few things you can do to relieve the itching and discomfort:

  • Wash the bites with soap and water. This will help to remove any bed bug saliva that may be causing the itching.
  • Apply an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-itch cream, such as hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion.
  • Take an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Zyrtec.

If the bites are severe or you are experiencing an allergic reaction, you may need to see a doctor. They may prescribe a stronger antihistamine or steroid cream. To prevent scarring, avoid scratching bed bug bites as they heal.

To speed up healing, ensure that you are getting a diet rich in fresh green vegetables, high protein, and you can even supplement with collagen.

Cost of Bed Bug Treatment and Extermination

The cost of bed bug treatment will vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the infestation, the method of treatment used, and the location of the infestation.

TreatmentCostProsCons
Professional extermination$500 – $4,000Most effective treatment option; Done by professionals who are experienced in bed bug treatment; Can treat all areas of the homeExpensive; May not be available in all areas; May require you to vacate your home temporarily
Heat treatment$1,000 – $3,000Less expensive than professional extermination; Effective for killing bed bugs in all stages of development; Can be done in a single dayRequires the entire home to be heated to a high temperature; May not be effective for large infestations; May damage some belongings
DIY methods$50 – $200Least expensive treatment option; Can be done yourself; There are a variety of methods availableMay not be as effective as professional treatment; May not be safe for use around children or pets; May require multiple treatments
Chemical treatment$50 – $200Can be effective for killing bed bugs; There are a variety of chemicals availableMay not be safe for use around children or pets; May require multiple treatments; Bed bugs can become resistant to chemicals
Bed bug traps$10 – $50Can be effective for catching bed bugs; There are a variety of traps availableMay not be effective for large infestations; Bed bugs can learn to avoid traps

It is important to note that the cost of bed bug treatment is not the only factor to consider when choosing a treatment option. You should also consider the effectiveness of the treatment, the safety of the treatment, and the convenience of the treatment for you and everyone affected.

Cause of Bedbug Infestations

The real cause of a full-blown infestation in any home is that most people are not aware of bed bugs. The reason for this is because bed bug bites are usually painless. Also, if allergic reactions or itchiness might occur, it usually happens a few weeks after the bite.

Then, most of the time, people just blame mosquitoes or fleas.

This gives bed bugs ample time to feed and reproduce; and before you know it, a house becomes fully infested.

Key Things to Remember About Bedbugs

  • Bed bugs are difficult to get rid of, so don’t feel bad.
  • A multi-faceted, total approach is the best way to get rid of bed bugs. Since you’ll likely have to take drastic action anyway, cutting unnecessary costs and solving your problem the natural way is best and safest.
  • Ensure that your home is clean and free of clutter. Having bed bugs doesn’t mean you’re dirty, but if you have an active infestation and haven’t yet cleaned the problem areas and attempted to remove the nasty remains, then you’re really doing yourself a disservice.
  • Inspect your belongings for bed bugs before bringing them into your home, especially after travel or when your kids have a sleepover at their friends’.
  • Wash your bedding in hot water and drying it on high heat. The temperature must reach 128 F in order to eliminate the bed bug eggs.
  • Use a bed bug mattress encasement (optional).
  • Have a longterm solution that kills both bed bugs and their eggs, like DE!.

Don’t Throw Away Your Bed or Couch! Get DE! Instead.

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