Bed bugs may be coming to a bed near you…they’re back in the US, spreading throughout the major cities, and stronger than they were half a century ago (when the US lead a successful campaign to eradicate them).
Now, the few surviving colonies and new ones brought in from other countries are DDT (the now banned pesticide used to eradicate them) resistant. Fighting bed bugs isn’t just a matter of avoidance, it will be a matter of persistence.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs can be spread from an unknowing host, or unfortunately acquired in a hotel room. Soon, though, it’s estimated that the hard-to-kill parasites will again spread throughout the US, so while avoiding the most likely sources may help today, in a few years it will be hard to judge where to find bed bugs.
How do you get bed bugs into your home? They infest your clothes, your suit case, or if you’re in an apartment they may choose it to lay their eggs!
What is Bed Bugs Affect On The Body?
Most people are bitten by bed bugs when they sleep (sometimes causing insomnia) although if they get into your clothes, furniture, etc. bites can occur anytime.
Bed bugs affect each person differently, depending on their skin and their immune system (i.e., how much those bites will itch). Some people will wake up covered in red spots, some people won’t show symptoms, or else will have delayed symptoms (days to weeks).
Other people might have bad reactions to bed bug bites, getting blisters, or a sever itch. There isn’t any severe risk from bed bugs, but if you scratch too much (tearing skin) you can get cellulitis. Cellulitis is a pretty severe skin infection; most people have a hard time getting rid of cellulitis, and there’s a risk that it could spread into deeper layers of skin and even the blood stream (causing sepsis).
Where To Find Bed Bugs
In any fabric, from your mattress, to your sheets, to your clothes! Although the infestation can start in one room, where to find bed bugs will end up being your entire house (due to bed bug mating habits…the wounded female flies to another un-infested area for shelter, and then lays her eggs).
If you’re looking for where to find bed bugs to confirm an infestation, try checking under your sheets and your box spring. Bed bugs are parasites, and they use humans as food.
Fighting Back: What Is Bed Bug’s Weakness?
At this point, most people are concerned with preventing bed bugs rather than fighting them. Allergen covers (which are plastic) at least on your box spring if not also on your mattress are essential. Being aware of the possibility when visiting other cities or staying in hotel rooms, and watching for hitch-hiking bed bugs when you return home is also important. (You can also check the hotel bed for bed bugs, which are small, flat, and brown-red).
But, what is bed bug’ weakness? If it’s not as simple as hiring an exterminator to spray your house, how can you ever get rid of such an awful parasite?
Heat, particularly hot water. Machine wash hot everything that won’t be ruined, steam clean carpets, curtains, and furniture (or have professionally cleaned if you aren’t sure the material will be safe when treated with hot water). Keeping this up ritualistically until a few weeks have passed (long enough to ensure no more eggs have hatched) and there are no signs of bed bugs. (Wrapping things in plastic for the duration can reduce how much you have to clean).
Many parasites, including bed bugs, are often repelled by plants that humans enjoy. Mint and lavender planted around the house can help deter many parasitic pests and bugs, and heating scented oil may help deter bed bugs from spreading into other rooms of the house.
Eucalyptus oil may also not only deter bed bugs, but be harmful to them. If you’re losing sleep because of bed bug bites, using eucalyptus oil or lotion before bed may help deter bites, or add a few drops to your washer when doing your sheets (it will also kill mites!).
Keep the air in your bed room fresh and circulating. Bed bugs are attracted to body warmth as well as CO2 (the air you exhale), so reduce their attraction by keeping the air circulating.
And if you choose to use pesticides, higher a professional. At least one woman has died and several other have been poisoned in their attempts to use pesticides against bed bugs!
Have there been bed bug reports in your city? Share how far they have spread through the US in the comments below: