Everything You Need to Know About Bed Bugs Bites, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Bed bug infestation is growing across America and the best course of treatment is prevention, being vigil and professional treatment. This article outlines signs and symptoms of bed bugs and their bites along with facts about how to handle an infestation

Bed bugs happen to be one of the most popular types of bug bites for humans in recent years. Historically this was not true. Bed bugs were previously rare and most people may have heard the term, but had no familiarity with what they really were or even seen one in their lifetime. Now anyone that gets these pests simply wants to know how to get rid of bed bugs. Having some knowledge about the pests can certainly help you make a knowledgeable decision whether or not you have a bed bug problem and what to do next.

Bed bugs hit their peak in America prior to the second World War. With the implementation of DDT and improved hygiene they were extinct in the United States by the 1950s. Other areas of the globe, such as Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia were not as fortunate as America and their numbers didn’t diminish during this same time period. Bed bugs have even been mentioned as far back as ancient times in history.

Bed bugs can be found anywhere and everywhere across the nation. No matter what neighborhood, zip code or type of dwelling, bed bugs can be present.  The number of bed bug infestation cases in America has continued to rise since 2000 without any sign of decreasing.

Where can you come into contact with bed bugs?

Hotels have been notoriously known to reside in hotels and motels. This may be for a variety of reasons. The amount of beds located in these locales, people traveling from one location to another will stay in hotels and the biggest activity people do here is sleep.

Cleanliness does not determine whether you have bed bugs. Although other insects or bugs, like flies and roaches, are attracted to filth these bugs are not. They can show up anywhere.

They can be found in hospitals, houses, shelters and office buildings besides all forms of public transportation such as cabs and school buses. Any place where the public can come into contact with each other can transfer bed bugs from one dwelling to another. For an example, movie theatres, grocery stores or even a place of business can relocate bed bugs from one place to another or one person to another which spreads an infestation of bed bugs. 

Extremely large metropolitan areas were once the haven for these vermin. International travel and increases in immigration account for the continued growth of the insects since the beginning of the 21st century. Less people living in rural areas and more people in metropolitan areas, Green pesticides which are less effective for bugs and other pests combined with mistaking bed bug bites for other insect bites have all played a part in the increase in bed bug cases.

These little bugs can move from one place to another by hitchhiking on anything or anyone they can. Clothes, bags, shoes, furniture or anything that can be moved from one place to another that they can grip with their little legs is a potential threat of infestation.

Bed bug signs

Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures meaning night time is when they are usually most active. They also actively eating during the day light hours but prefer night time or when their victim is asleep. They have discovered that lying in wait where people sleep is where they will find the most food and will most often inhabit beds and bedding for sleeping, eating and laying eggs. Although they don’t have nests like other rodents or insects there are some common places to look to find signs of them.

Check all areas of a bed for bed bugs. Include box springs, mattresses, sheets, blankets and anything else on or around the bed including pillows. Either you can find dark stains of bed bug feces or their dead skin a cluster of eggs. If you have quite a few of them you can actually see them moving. The most common place they happen to live is between the mattress and box spring. Couches and recliners are another area they favor since this is an easy place to find a meal and people will often nap or sleep here as well.

Bed bugs that have been crushed after gorging themselves will leave a reddish blood stain. There is a smell to the vermin, but the odor is difficult to detect by the human nose and shouldn’t be relied on to confirm bed bug signs or confirmation of a bed bug infestation.

Furniture crevices is a place they enjoy hiding out until the next meal. They can also live in phones, along baseboards and inside of light fixtures or switches. You generally will not find one all by their lonesome since they enjoy living together so be conscientious for clusters of bugs.

ed bug symptoms

Most people don’t readily identify a bed bug bite. The bite is generally pain free even though it may last several minutes. After biting they will remove themselves from the victim. They bite any exposed area of skin, including the feet, the neck and face of their victim.

Symptoms can vary with each individual after a bite. Some people will develop welts that itch like a flea bite, while others suspect they have a mosquito bite. Itching and inflammation are the most common complaints of bed bug symptoms.

The elderly are often cases where symptoms can go undetected for a long period of time. The elderly usually are less active and have been found to have higher incidences of larger infestations of bed bugs.

Bed bugs cause physical coupled with emotional symptoms. Many sufferers have anxiety and sleeplessness with an infestation along with physical symptoms from the bug bites.

Bed bug bite treatment

Over the counter sprays used for mosquitos or roaches have little if any effect on bed bugs. Don’t attempt to treat yourself with things like tick spray before going to bed at night to fight an infestation. Having the lights on or off will also not make a difference.

Generally medical treatment for the bed bug bite includes the same medications used for other insect bites like antihistamines and anti-itch creams. Antibiotics can help with any infection that may result from scratching. Bed bugs have not been known to carry any diseases.

What kills bed bugs?

To kill bed bugs without professional help can be difficult. These bugs are resilient and can lay dormant for months before reactivity. Bed bugs can move from one place to another if the food supply or temperature requires it for survival.

Bed bugs are most comfortable at a temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, temps that are cooler only cause them to mature slower. Unfortunately, bed bugs can go for months without feeding. This is why starving them to death is difficult and freezing them out doesn’t work in most cases. These bugs are hard to get rid of once you have them.

Bed bug extermination is most effective when performed by a professional. Professional pest control knows where to search for them, how to make a positive confirmation you have them and how to get rid of them for good. They will use several different methods of confirming whether bed bugs are present or not.

Bug bombs or foggers, boric acid, dusts, sprays used for roaches and ants and other over the counter bug treatments will not characteristically work for killing bed bugs. Go with a professional for detection and treatment to be effective.

Lots of extermination companies specializing in bed bug treatment will use dogs trained specifically for detecting them. An entire house heat treatment is typically used for killing bed bugs in the home. The temperature in a dwelling is increased above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This means removing electronic items like televisions, prescription medications, plants or computers beforehand to prevent damage.

Steamers and freezers are also popular killing methods for bugs. These will kill bugs and their eggs immediately. However, these two methods can miss bed bugs hiding under or around furniture and are not recommended for total eradication.  These are hand held and directed at a limited area and can miss hiding places.

Bedding and other clothe material needs to be washed and dried in extremely hot conditions that reach above 100 degrees. Dry cleaning can also kill bed bugs. If you have cloth items that cannot be washed or dried in these conditions, try placing them in plastic directly in the sun for at least 12 hours. Try to get the inside temperature of the plastic up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold can kill them. However, because the bugs can “hibernate” to some degree and go without food, it takes longer to kill them through this method. Driving temps below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple of weeks will do the trick.

The entire house heat treatment works best since you can leave cloth material items inside and they will also be cleaned along with the house.

What do bed bugs look like?

Bed bugs differentiate themselves from other types of bugs in several different ways. One of these happens to be that they feed exclusively on the blood of animals, including humans. Vampire bugs would be a great way to describe these pests. These extremely small, usually brown in color flat insects are unique in their only source of food is animal blood. The babies look identical to their adult counterparts except smaller and slightly paler in color.

Nicknamed bed bug because this is the place they prefer to inhabit more than any other. The most common bed bug has the formal name of Cimex Lectularius.  Cimex Lectularius is the most common form of bed bug in America with a preference for human blood over all other animal blood.  Yet, household pets, birds and rodents can also suffer from bed bug bites and symptoms.

Adult females can lay a couple of eggs each day of their life which are the size of a grain of sand or spot of dust. Eggs are so small you can barely recognize them without a magnifying glass on many surfaces. The female bug’s eggs are gooey which makes them stick to whatever they can and transport so easily from person to person or place to place. On average each egg will hatch in about a week.

These insects do not fly or jump. Basically they crawl, very quickly, where they want to go. They can creep over floors, ceilings, walls and any other surfaces including carpet to move from place to place.

How to prevent bed bugs

Be proactive to an infestation. Before bed bugs get out of hand be on the lookout for them. After getting bed bugs it can be costly and time consuming to get rid of them. Be careful buying any used furniture, examine places where bed bugs could hide and exam any used item of clothing or furniture closely before bringing them to your home.

If you have been anywhere bed bugs are present, wash and dry your clothes before mixing them with other laundry. It works best if you can wash and dry them in extreme heat immediately. Set them outside in a plastic bag for heating if you are able. Include your shoes as well as clothes.

If you are spending time in a hotel or motel, check the bedding and furnishings for bed bug signs. Check for bugs before you unpack your suitcase. Store your suitcase items in plastic while away from home and keep bags off of the floor. Many travelers will leave items inside of their suitcase instead of unpacking at a hotel.

Many apartment buildings are becoming proactive with checking for bed bugs. The money to have a professional company inspect for bugs every 4 months before you get them is well spent versus trying to control an infestation moving from one unit to another.

Encase your pillow and other bedding, including the mattress and box spring, in an encasement. Usually the same encasements used for allergy sufferers works extremely well. Pare down clutter under and around beds so bugs cannot hide and gain in numbers making them harder to recognize and kill.


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Sandy James
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