How to tell an infestation from a false alarm

According to an article in NY Times, bed bugs in New York have more than doubled since last year. This doesn’t bode well for other states since the nasty critters tend to hitchhike their way across the country on the jackets of unwary travelers.

Here is how you can tell whether you have an infestation in your hands –

  • Bed Bug Bites

Do not assume that every bite mark on your body was from a bed bug. A mosquito’s bite is different from a bed bug’s bite. Most homeowners also mistake bed bug bites for spider and flea bites especially if they have pets in the house. Itchy skin conditions like rashes, hives or chicken pox can also be mistaken for bed bug bites.

It’s best that you check a bite for what it is before you attempt to get Fido into a flea bite. Remember, bed bugs usually come out when you have tucked yourself in for bed, feast on your blood and leave itchy welts on the skin. In addition, the welts have a characteristic zigzag pattern.

Three or four bite marks that form a line or curve are also indicative of bed bug bites. Also check whether you woke up with bites on your person. The bites can swell and become infected in time if they aren’t treated immediately.

How do I spot one?

A fully grown bed bug is reddish brown or light brown in color. It is 1.3mm wide and 4 to 5mm long. The pests are oval shaped and can seem reddish brown if they have recently fed. You have a problem if you manage to spot one especially since the critters plague homes in the form of infestations.

  • Smears and Stains

Bed bugs tend to leave fecal residue wherever they go. The stains are partially digested blood; however, they may not necessarily be red in color.

The blood turns black as soon as it begins to digest. You might have an infestation in your hands if you find several black spots anywhere on your bed sheets. They will smear if you try to wipe them off with a wet rag so be careful in how you clean your sheets.

  • Musty Odor

Take in a deep breath as you step into your bedroom. If you smell a sweet or musty odor you might have a bed bug infestation in your hands.

The pests communicate with each other by secreting chemicals. That is what the smell is. If they need to communicate with each other, you probably have more than one pest to deal with and a possible infestation in your hands.

  • Specks of Blood

Are there any specks of blood on the sheets? Check your mattress, sheets and or blankets for the specks. Make sure that you check the headboard and couches as well.

  • Shells and Eggs

Bed bugs, like most pests, have an outer protective cover of exoskeleton that they shed. You have a bed bug problem if you find the discarded shells on your mattress, sheets or beneath the couch cushions.

If that wasn’t enough bed bugs are extremely hard to spot. They can hide in places that you can never even think to look. Their red rounded bodies are flat which makes it convenient for them to get under thin mattresses and even wallpaper or electric switch plates. In addition, you can only eradicate an entire infestation if you manage to locate each bug.

The same goes for the eggs they lay. Their eggs are white in color and the size of two grains of salt. If you see a pile of them anywhere on your sheets, their Mama and the rest of the extended family will probably be hiding somewhere nearby.

A female bed bug can lay over 500 eggs in its entire lifetime and 3 generations in a year. You do not want that to happen in your home.

Do they carry Diseases?

While bed bugs can be a pain for the homeowner who has to deal with them, they do not carry diseases. However, the bites they inflict can lead to several sleepless nights which cannot be good for your health. And besides, why would you want your family to live in an infested space?

You might have sprayed insect repellent in every nook and cranny of your bedroom but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the bed bugs are history. Remember, the pests might seem like they like to gorge themselves and will do anything to latch onto your skin; however, they can go a remarkable time without food.

In fact, according to researchers, bugs can to go 500 days without blood meals. The nymphs they leave behind can last for months. In other words, you may think you have eradicated them but don’t be surprised if you wake up with itchy red welts on your skin after a few months.

How do I get rid of them?

Wash your sheets in hot water. You can also choose to freeze your linens for two hours. The technique has shown to be effective in killing bed bugs. Of course, you wouldn’t want them to make a comeback after you worked so hard to rid your family of them.

Bed bugs, like most pests, like to hide where you can’t get at them. You can reduce the numbers of their hiding places if you de-clutter your home on a regular basis. This way, the pests won’t find anywhere to breed under either.

How do you do that, you ask? You can ensure that a bed bug never steps into your home in the first place with an ultrasonic pest repellent.

These are small devices that can be plugged in and emit sounds on ultrasonic frequencies that can keep the pests at bay. They are perfectly safe for the family since the frequencies are not audible to the human ear.


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