Bed bugs are a growing problem today. There’s hardly a hotel in American that doesn’t have a bed bug somewhere, and people are reading about bed bugs much more in the news. That means people are becoming aware of the problem and are becoming more vigilant. But, what should you be looking for? Does a tiny bug on the sheet mean the room has bed bugs? How do you know what to look for and where they might be hiding?
There are many reasons bed bugs are proliferating around the world, probably because of the rise of global travel and the bug’s increasing chemical resistance, which makes killing them much harder. Bed bugs are not a large bug. An adult bed bug is only about the size of an apple seed, and the nymphs are much smaller. From egg to adult, a bed bug grows in five stages and needs to eat on you every time to grow. As they grow, they shed their skins, called castings. Once they are grown, they will lay more eggs, and continue to spread throughout your house. One good thing is that they don’t reproduce that rapidly. A female lays 15-25 eggs once a month. But, in 6 months, with plenty of food, that one female could end up having 180,000 family members, all of whom would want you to be their food source. Not a pretty picture!
Bed bugs live in cracks and crevices, and many times they won’t even be on your mattress. Until you have a larger infestation, you may not see one, unless you’re up in the middle of the night, since they are nocturnal eaters. They love the bottoms of box springs, the rolled edges of mattresses, cracks in headboards, and bed frames. So how do you find them?
If you’re worried you might have bed bugs, the first place to look is your sheets. Pull them gently off and look all over for small streaks of blood, which come from after you’ve been bit, and then move and get it on the sheets. Next, look at the top of your mattress. Look along the rolled edge of the mattress itself, on both sides of the roll. You are looking for small black dots, which are their excrement, and for the bugs themselves. They are little and black and they like to be touched on all sides, they like to be close to each other. They also have a musty smell, which they release when disturbed. Then, take a look at the box spring. Flop it over and look along the edge of the fabric that is stapled to the bottom of the box spring. Flip back the edge of the fabric, look around the staple holes. If you see black spots or small bugs in an area, you have probably found bed bugs.
What should you do when you find bed bugs? The first thing to do is call an expert. Bed bugs are really hard to treat on your own, and you don’t want to waste time and money treating them ineffectively. DON’T THROW YOUR STUFF AWAY! If the mattress or infested areas are treated, they can be saved. Throwing them away will not solve the problem, and will waste your money. Most pest control companies will do a free inspection, so call one and have them take a look. Then, decide how you want to treat them. There are two main ways to get rid of bed bugs: chemical and heat. At Rock Pest, we use heat to kill them, which avoids issues with chemical resistance. Call several companies and get a quote, and then have the service done. Some companies, like us, also will rent the heaters to do it yourself, which can save you money if you’re a good candidate for that. But you won’t know until you call, so call an expert today.