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Bedbugs in your house, how to know they're there and how to get rid of them

Updated on March 29, 2012

Honestly, I always thought that bed bugs were something imaginary that parents used to scare their children, claiming these critters would bite them if they didn’t ‘sleep tight’. How naïve I was. Recently, thanks to shows like Hoarders and Billy the Exterminator, along with the outbreak that occurred at my university my freshman year, I now know that these are indeed a real problem, and are absolutely disgusting.

Just because your house is clean, does not mean you are impervious to invasion by bed bugs. The sanitation level of a home is practically unrelated to their occurrence. All it takes is for one item that has bed bugs living on them to be brought into your home and introduce them into the environment. However, a cluttered house can offer more places for them to harbor. Also, if you do have the misfortune of becoming a boarding house for these pests, it’s going to take more than just cleaning up to get rid of them.

How do you know if you have bed bugs? The only way to be 100% certain is if you can actually catch one of them and use it as proof. However, you may start to suspect that you have an infestation if you wake up repeatedly with bite marks on your body that were not there when you went to sleep. A bed bugs favorite food is human blood, and will often feed on their host throughout the night. If you are receiving these bites throughout the day, in other locations such as your car or outside, chances are that what you’re dealing with is not a bed bug problem. Bed bugs will also leave their mark by dropping feces on your mattress/box springs. Their poo looks like little brownish/black balls and are often cluttered together in a group. If you try and rub them off, chances are they’re going to smear. Ick.

I have never actually seen a bed bug, and I sincerely hope that I am able to live out the rest of my life this way. However, just in case they do decide to show their sorry faces, I have devised a plan to destroy them. Here are the ways that I have discovered, through research and advice from real people, work the best to prevent bed bugs from entering your home.

Although poor sanitation (not keeping your house clean) will not make you more likely to acquire an infestation, it WILL make it harder to control and eliminate the bugs. So, first things first… clean up. Reduce clutter so that they have fewer places to hide.

You run the risk of bringing bugs into your home every time you bring in a used item, but you should be especially cautious of bringing in bedding or used furniture, such as sofas or recliners with upholstery. It may seem a bit extreme, but it would be a good idea to have an expert come and inspect all used furniture that you buy before you bring it into your home.

For months after you and your family stay in a hotel overnight, check your home periodically for signs of bed bugs every few weeks. Bed bug cases are on the rise, especially in hotels, laundry mats, universities, etc.

If you think for a second that you may have a problem, go out and purchase mattress and box spring enclosures. This will prevent them from rooting down into your mattress and making a more permanent home for themselves. It will also make it easier to detect if you do in fact have a bug problem. Make sure you buy an encasement that was made specifically for this reason.

If at any point you think you might have an infestation, do not hesitate. Call an exterminator/ pest management professional. There are no home remedies that have yet been proven wildly successful and most would be a waste of precious time. Bed bugs have grown resistant to a lot of insecticides marketed in the United States, thanks to the problems with bed bugs that occurred decades ago. Most of the products that would actually last long enough to impact the bugs are not available to the general public. Many of you do-it-yourselfers will find this hard to swallow, but in the case of a bed bug infestation, you really have no choice but to call in the pro’s on this one.

Having problems with roaches? Read this.


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