- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Why Are Bed Bugs So Common? - What can be done to control them?
Bed bugs have become a serious problem, not just in homes, but in motels, hotels, hospitals, cruise ships, barracks, camps, and anywhere that people choose to rest. It used to be the belief that only unclean homes could be infested by bedbugs. This is obviously not the case. Anyone can be bitten, and anyplace can become infested.
Bed bugs were at one time virtually eliminated through the use of the now-banned pesticide DDT, banned because of its devastating effect on the environment. The bugs have now become increasingly resistant to available pesticides. This and the increase in foreign travel may be the reason for the fact that they have become a world-wide problem.
Although they are almost transparent at birth, bed bugs slowly darken until they become a dark reddish brown. Adults are about the size of colored pinheads. They feed most actively during the night.
Bed Bugs feed on the warm blood of their victims. They may feed on any area of the body, especially areas that are uncovered. The bites are painless as they occur, and may cause no more than a small red mark, which may or may not itch. If however the victim is sensitive to the bites, they may blister and cause extreme itching. It is the saliva that the bugs inject, when they take the blood, that causes the symptoms.
Although bed bugs can pick up pathogens from infected hosts, there is no evidence that these can be passed on to future hosts.
Normally, the mild symptoms of bed bug bites will disappear on their own. If symptoms are severe, or if scratching causes infections, antihistamines or antibiotics may be prescribed.
There are several ways to find out if you have a bed bug infestation. Bites themselves, that occur at night, are a good, but not foolproof indicator. You physician my recognize them. Check around your bed, bedding, mattress, and the bed frame. Look for fecal stains, shed skin casings, egg cases, and spots of blood from squashed bugs. If you find any bugs, capture these. An reputable exterminator will identify these for you.
Because they are so small, it is easy for bed bugs to hide in any small crack or crease. Bed bugs do not fly, but they can move very rapidly. Eliminating bed bugs, on your own, is a major undertaking. Once they have infested an area, cleaning alone is not enough. Very hot water and high drying temperatures will eliminate bugs on washable items, Wash small loads, dry them completely at high temperature, and then seal the items in plastic bags, while you spray the affected furnishings, and area, with a 50/50 water, rubbing alcohol, solution. Remember the bugs may be, not only in furniture, but between the floorboards, in rugs, and even behind wall paper. There are insecticides, both organic and non-organic, that are effective against bed bugs. Follow the instructions carefully.
Heavily infested mattresses and furniture may need to be discarded. Before being discarded, the furniture needs to be treated, otherwise the problem merely moves with it.
Unfortunately self-help methods often fail to eradicate bed bug infestations. If you find your efforts are not succeeding, get professional help. The longer you wait, the more difficult extermination becomes.
Exterminators use chemicals to exterminate bugs or all sorts. Because chemicals are toxic, and bed bugs are resistant to many, exterminators now use steam, and extreme heat and cold in their fight against bed bugs.
It may not be possible to prevent all bed bugs bites, but there are a few things you can do.
1. If you buy secondhand furniture, inspect it carefully before purchasing. Because bugs are so small and so able to squeeze into very small holes, secondhand mattresses are not a wise choice.
2. When you are staying in any location where you will be sleeping, check the bed and bedding carefully.
3. If you find any bedbugs, or are bitten by bugs, in an location outside your home, report this to the management. Write a follow-up letter.
Professional exterminators are costly, so do not delay. If you suspect that you may have a bed bug infestation, take action immediately.