Bed Bug Bites & How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
What are bed bugs? Bed bugs are the small, blood-sucking pests that usually take over mattresses and couches. They’re reddish-brown, wingless, and can range in size between 1mm and 7mm. While they don’t spread diseases like other pests, they can cause allergic reactions due to their bites and disrupt sleep. As bed bugs reproduce at least once per day, it’s imperative to know the signs of bed bugs, what to do when you get bitten by a bed bug, and what to do after an infestation. Lucky for you, the bed bug experts at Larue put together a guide on everything you need to know about bed bugs!
Table of Contents:
- Bed bug bites
- Signs of bed bugs
- Where do bed bugs hide
- What to do with your mattress
- How to avoid bed bugs when traveling
- How to get rid of bed bugs
The most observed bites are generally raised red bumps or flat welts accompanied by very intense itching. The red mark is the result of an allergic reaction to the anesthetic contained in the bed bug’s saliva, which is inserted into the blood of its victim.
In some rare cases, allergic reactions to the bites may cause nausea and illness. In a large number of cases—estimated to be 50 percent of all people—there are no visible signs of bed bug bites whatsoever, greatly increasing the difficulty of identifying and eradicating infestations.
It’s important to note that people react differently to bed bugs, and individual responses vary with factors including skin type, environment, and the species of bug. Reactions to bed bug bites may appear indistinguishable from mosquito bites although they tend to last for longer periods. This also means the presence of itchy welts cannot be used as the only indicator of a bed bug presence.
While bed bug bites are the most obvious clue that you have bed bugs, it’s possible for an initial infestation within a household to be asymptomatic and go undetected.
Including the red and itchy welts caused by bed bug bites, the signs of bed bugs are:
- Rust-colored stains on bed sheets (blood).
- Darker spots on sheets (bed bug excrement).
- Bed bug eggshells or exoskeletons on mattress, end tables, or floors.
- A musty odor (from excrement and shedding).
Bed bugs are sneaky little things and know how to stay out of the light, preferring to remain in such places as:
- Mattress seams and interiors
- Bed frames
- Nearby furniture, like end tables
- Couches and loveseats
- Under rugs and in the edges of carpeting
- Closets and dresser drawers
- Shoes and purses
- Suitcases, gym bags, and backpacks
- Sleeping bags
- In children’s toy boxes
- Room clutter, like scattered paper
Additionally, bed bugs travel easily and quickly along pipes and boards. Their bodies are very flat, which allows them to hide in tiny crevices such as:
- Door hinges and frames
- Electrical fittings
- Fire alarms
- Lighting fixtures
- Inside electronic devices, like computers and TVs
- Tiny wood holes
- Underneath linoleum
- Curtains and window sills
- Moldings and baseboards
- Inner walls
- Between the pages of books
This usually depends on the condition of the mattress, as well as the size of the infestation. If there are any holes or tears in the mattress, there may be bed bugs or eggs hiding inside. In this case, it’s usually a safer bet to toss your mattress.
Certified Bed Bug Mattress Encasement
You may want to consider getting a certified mattress encasement. This is different from a mattress cover, as the cover just goes over the top of your mattress, while a bed bug encasement zips entirely around it. In theory, it seals up the inside—meaning no bugs are getting in or out. Eventually, the bugs that still live inside will die off because they have no food source. However, this can take at least six months and up to 18 in extreme cases.
Bed bug mattress encasements also decrease the opportunity for dust mites, mold, and bacteria to grow in your bed. They can be found in fabric or vinyl. Fabric is typically much more comfortable and sturdier than vinyl. Vinyl is easier to wash, won’t stain, and is generally cheaper. However, it also tears fairly easily and is not as comfortable.
The bottom line about bed bug mattress covers is that, if you’re just buying it as a precaution to protect your mattress, it is probably a good idea. If you already have a bed bug infestation, you are only trapping them but not really getting rid of them—in which case, make sure to schedule a professional bed bug treatment.
With discount airlines, trains, and the abundance of public transportation, there are so many more opportunities for bed bugs to jump from one set of luggage to the next. This makes it easy for bed bugs to travel between states, countries, and continents in merely hours!
To help stop the spread of these pesky passengers, here are some tips on how to avoid bed bugs when traveling:
- Travel Light – Try to pack only what can easily be kept in your bag when you’re not using or wearing it. Also, remember that extreme heat can be the bed bug’s enemy (though not always!), so try to pack things that can be laundered in hot water.
- Inspect and Survey – Inspect any hotel room or AirBnB for signs of bed bugs, such as spots or streaks on sheets. (Refer to some of the above tips for other signs to look for.) Bring a flashlight and leave your luggage at the door or on a luggage rack while you do the inspection. Be sure to look under the corners of the mattress and box spring, as well as in the sofa and furniture. A basic inspection should only take 5-10 minutes.
- Guard Your Bags – Always elevate your luggage on a rack (be sure to inspect the rack for bed bugs as well). You may also want to consider keeping electronics or anything that can’t be laundered in Ziploc bags when you’re not using them.
- Keep it Sealed – If you are traveling in a car or riding back from the airport, consider putting your luggage in a large lawn bag, tied tightly in a knot. This way, you don’t risk infecting your car.
- Examine and Wash – When you arrive back home, do your unpacking in a utility room or garage before bringing the bags back into your home. Do a thorough examination of your luggage and clothes for any traces of bed bugs. Wash everything in hot water and vacuum out the luggage before bringing it inside.
If you think you may have a bed bug infestation, the only way to truly get rid of bed bugs is with professional bed bug control. Even if you take all the right precautions, remember that bed bugs are sneaky travelers! They can survive extreme temperatures—sometimes up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit—so they are very difficult to kill.
If you’re in the Southwest Florida area, Larue Pest Management is here to help! For over 40 years, we’ve been providing bed bug control services such as fumigation, liquid treatment, steam treatments, and vacuum treatments. We also provide bed bug prevention, so you don’t have to worry about monitoring yourself!