Once upon a time the saying “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” was a cute and loving way of saying “sleep safe”. Today it is more of a warning, as bed bugs have invaded and the United States is facing a national infestation. According to Smart Style Living, “The incidence of bed bug infestation has risen 500% in the last few years alone, and they’re not just in dirty hotels – they’re at the 5-star ones as well and swarming the public places you visit every day.” They’re in clothing stores, movie theaters and the public places we visit daily.
Bed bugs are small pests that feed on human and animal blood, causing itchy and irritating bites. The bugs can be as small as the size of a pinhead or as big as a penny. Bed bugs are nocturnal and avoid light, therefore they come out at night to feed off people or animals.
According to the EPA, identifying a bed bug infestation is not as simple as seeing bites on your skin. Bites on the skin are a poor indicator of a bed bug infestation. Bed bug bites can be misidentified, which gives the bugs time to spread to other areas of the house. Bed bug bites can look like bites from other insects (such as mosquitoes or spiders), rashes (such as eczema or fungal infections), or even hives. Some people do not react to bed bug bites at all.
A far more accurate way to identify a possible infestation is to look for physical signs of bed bugs. For example, spots on bedding, as described below, are one of the earliest and most accurate methods.
When cleaning, changing bedding, or staying away from home, look for:
- Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may “bleed” on the fabric like a marker would
- Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and white
- Skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger
- Live bed bugs
- Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed
When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and head board.
For more information on bed bugs, visits the EPA Website HERE.
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