Bed Bugs: Everything You Need to Know

Bedbugs are a living nightmare. Within a short period of time, bedbugs can infest your sleeping area and bite you frequently during the night. Although bedbug bites don’t transmit diseases, they can cause allergic reactions. Stopping a bedbug infestation early is crucial to prevent the bedbugs from spreading to other areas of the home.

If you suspect a bedbug infestation, follow these steps:

  1. Confirm presence of bedbugs by looking for the bugs, bloodstains or fecal matter on mattresses or bedding
  2. Inspect luggage, backpacks and other items bedbugs may have traveled in
  3. Check other areas of the home to determine if the infestation has spread
  4. Launder all clothing and bedding materials with hot water
  5. Call a pest control company for assistance with removing bedbugs from the home

Bedbugs are notoriously hard to eradicate without professional assistance. Bedbugs can easily hide in the smallest of cracks and crevices to avoid detection. Even if you believe bedbugs are gone from the home, they may easily come back if you aren’t aggressive enough from the start.

What are bedbugs?

Bedbugs are parasites that have been around just as long as humans. To survive, they are dependent on human blood. This is the reason bedbugs prefer to make their homes close to humans in mattresses, box springs, couches, and upholstered chairs. However, bedbugs can reside in any type of furniture including dressers, nightstands and desks.

The appearance of bedbugs is dependent on whether or not they have recently fed. They are typically brown with an oval shape and may only be the size of an apple seed. After a feeding, their bodies become engorged and their shells get a reddish tint. They will typically measure no more than ¼.” Bedbugs have wings, although they don’t have the ability to fly. Additional characteristics of bedbugs include pronounced beaks and antennae sectioned in four parts.

Although bedbugs don’t fly, they can move rapidly over surfaces. They also have the ability to move from floors to walls to ceilings. Bedbugs reproduce at startling rates with each female having the ability to lay hundreds of eggs. Bedbug eggs are hard to detect since each one is no larger than a speck of dust.

Young bedbugs, called nymphs, are smaller than full-grown adults and have a translucent color. Until they feed, they retain this color. Nymphs typically take one to three months to fully mature and require multiple feedings to shed their skin for each stage of development. Nymph shells usually have a yellowish tint.

How do you check for bedbugs?

There are several reasons a homeowner may suspect a bedbug infestation. You may have seen a live bug or physical signs of their existence. Or you or a family member has developed symptoms you suspect could be caused by bedbug bites. Symptoms of bedbug bites may include:

  • Red and swollen marks on the skin with a dark red center
  • Markings are grouped together in a small area on the skin
  • Itching or burning sensation at bite site
  • Bites appear on areas of the skin exposed during sleep

If you do have bedbug bites, it’s important not to scratch the area. Scratching the skin increases the risk of infection or scarring. In some cases, bedbug bites do not cause a rash and individuals will not demonstrate any symptoms. When no skin reaction is present, the bedbugs may go unnoticed for quite some time.

When looking for physical signs of bedbugs, you’re going to look for certain characteristics. When examining any bedding or mattresses, look for the following:

  • Live adult bed bugs and nymphs
  • Pale yellow shells approximately 1 mm left behind by nymphs
  • Reddish stains left behind from dead bedbugs
  • Small dark circular spots from bedbug excrement

The first spot to check for bedbugs is your mattress. Remove bedding completely and inspect the mattress thoroughly. Take a close look at any seams or piping. They can also sneak into cracks and crevices found on the headboard and footboard. Bedbugs can also be located within the box spring. Within a room that is heavily infested, you may find bedbugs in the following areas:

  • Cushion seams
  • Drawer and nightstand joints
  • Baseboard cracks
  • Wall hangings
  • Draperies
  • Window and door frames
  • Electrical outlets

How do you prevent bedbugs during travel?

Bringing bedbugs back from vacation brings a houseguest you definitely don’t want to keep around. Bedbugs are resilient and can withstand the elements as you travel from place to place. According to a recent survey from the Pest Control Management Association, hotels and motels are the third most popular spot for bedbug infestations. Bedbugs can infest your home if they get into your clothing or luggage during your vacation stay.

Take the following steps if you’re traveling and want to avoid bedbug exposure:

  1. Check the mattresses and bedding for signs of bedbugs. Also, do a thorough inspection of any headboards, baseboards and couch cushions. If you suspect the presence of bedbugs, notify management immediately to switch rooms.
  2. Store luggage in a large plastic bag during the hotel stay. Seal the bag when not in use to keep out any roaming bugs.
  3. Inspect luggage and clothing while packing your suitcases. Look again closely when you get home and unpack.
  4. Keep luggage away from sleeping areas. Choose an alternate area to unpack after a trip.
  5. Wash and dry all unpacked clothing items at a high temperature. Bedbugs can’t survive in temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep in mind that if you need to change rooms at a hotel don’t allow the establishment to move you to a room next door. If a bedbug infestation was to spread, it could affect neighboring rooms. Repeat inspection of the room after you are moved. If you still see signs of bedbugs, your best bet is to ask for a refund and find another hotel.

Are bedbugs harmful to humans? 

They can be. Bedbugs don’t carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans through their bites, but they can cause allergic skin reactions that result in hives. Secondary infection can occur as a result of scratching bedbug bites. Skin reactions from bites may take several days to appear. In rare cases, bedbug bites trigger a severe allergic reaction that requires emergent medical care. Exposed body parts such as the arms, neck, face and hands are most often where bedbug bites will appear. Antihistamines and antiseptic lotions can help relieve some of the discomfort caused by bedbug bites.

Bedbugs can also become a nuisance since they can interrupt sleep. Individuals may feel lethargic if they are residing in a bedroom that’s infested with bedbugs.

How do you get rid of bedbugs?

A bedbug infestation is very difficult to manage without professional assistance. Store bought sprays and traps aren’t reliable. Once an infestation takes over a room, the bedbugs can start to spread to other areas. It’s very important to notify landlords of the infestation if you reside in an apartment building. The landlord will contact other apartment dwellers and make arrangements with a pest control agency. For homeowners, your first step after identifying the presence of bedbugs is to contact a pest control company.

To prepare for treatment, any items within the infested room should be placed in sealed trash bags. This may include clothing items, bedding materials and draperies. If you have carpet in the room, vacuum the area methodically. Empty the vacuum outdoors after use.

A pest control company will come out to your home and do a comprehensive inspection. The company will make recommendations based on the extent of the infestation. For instance, if a piece of furniture can’t be salvaged, it should be removed from the home immediately. Once discarded, the furniture should be rendered unusable to avoid the spread of the bedbugs. For instance, mattresses are often spray painted red after a bedbug infestation.

Treatment methods performed by a pest control company will vary. Companies may use a portable heating device that raises the room temperature to a point that bedbugs aren’t able to survive. Treatment time may last upwards of four hours and require that pets and humans leave the premises. Any heat-sensitive belongings need to also be removed.

Using insecticides is another approach, one which we prefer. As with our other pest control treatments, the chemicals used are chosen to maximize both environmental friendliness and effectiveness in ridding you of the pests. We use our expertise to find the best and safest  solution to your problem.

Having bedbugs shouldn’t be an embarrassment and doesn’t reflect on your home’s cleanliness. Bedbugs can easily find their way into any type of home at any given time. Get in touch with Carolina Pest Management immediately if you reside in the Charlotte area and suspect bedbugs are inside your home. Infestations can spread quickly and our goal is to offer safe and effective treatment options to eradicate the bedbug problem completely. Our trained technicians will remove the bedbugs from your home within hours. With treatment, furniture items can usually be salvaged. Contact us today for bedbug control services in the Charlotte area.