Bedbugs Give Us the Willies

26 05 2010

After a long day of navigating crowded airports and chasing sleep on loud, stuffy airplane cabins, don’t you just heave a sigh of relief when you finally reach your hotel room?

Do you drop your bags and flop onto the bed, just so darn happy not to be sitting in a cramped airplane? When you do head for the bed, do you first check the mattress for bedbugs? We do.

Bedbugs are tiny bloodsuckers that give us the willies. Not only do they suck our blood, they love to hop onto our clothes or our luggage and go home with us.

Bedbugs are small, brownish-red insects with flat, oval-shaped bodies. Despite their names, bedbugs can live in other areas besides your bed including nooks and crannies on bed frames, on curtains, wall plaster, and on other materials.

These little vampires were nearly eliminated through the liberal use of DDT in the 1940s and 1950s. Bedbugs have become a problem again in the U.S. due to international travel and what experts fear is evidence of bedbugs’ growing immunity to conventional insecticides.

There’s a good chance you will come into contact with bedbugs at some point, especially if you travel often or frequently purchase and trade items like used furniture.

Sleeping on a pile of bugs has a pretty high gross factor, but the most that will happen when bitten is a red bump and some itching.

The real challenge is getting rid of them once they’re found, a situation that will probably require the aid of a pest control expert.

Here are some tips for identifying an infestation and alleviating the problem (fingers crossed):

  • Get a positive ID on the bug. You may not have bedbugs and might not need to go through the song and dance required to rid yourself and your home of the infestation.
  • Make sure you have a live infestation and not just signs (dead bugs, blood spots on bedding) of a past infestation.
  • Don’t assume the bugs are living in only one room. Check all of your rooms for bedbugs. Dismantle the bed and check the frame and head/foot boards for bugs. Pull out all of the drawers from the furniture and check behind as well as on the underside of the drawers. Turn the furniture over and check the bottom, as well as all sides and the top. Leave no nook or cranny unexplored, no matter how small. Clean all of these areas you’re inspecting.
  • Clean out the clutter in your room(s). Bedbugs will roam and love to hide in clutter.
  • Roll up your sleeves for some major cleaning. Scrub everything with a brush and cleaning agent to dislodge the eggs. Vacuum where you can’t scrub and, once it’s dry, vacuum what you did scrub.
  • Keep the bed away from the wall and your bedding off the floor to prevent bugs from crawling onto the bed. Put the bed legs into cups of mineral oil to prevent the critters climbing up that way.
  • Look around the interior of the house and seal spots where bugs can get in, such as cracks around baseboards, or holes where pipes come through the walls.
  • Talk to a pest control expert who’s experienced in bedbug infestations. Get references and find out what the plan is for removal, what insecticides might be used, and how those chemicals may affect those living in your home.

Wish we could end on a brighter note…hey, bedbugs aren’t known to carry disease-causing germs. There’s some good news! Right?