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Do I Have Bedbugs?

Updated on July 30, 2013

How to tell if you have a bedbug infestation and what to do about it.

I'm sad that my personal experience has led to the creation of this page. I have been dealing with a bedbug infestation in my home for the last few months!

At first I wasn't sure what was going on. It took a while to even figure out that it was bedbugs. Because of that experience, I thought it would be helpful for me to share what I have learned about what bedbugs look like, signs that you have bedbugs, and information about your options for dealing with them.

{Cartoon from http://www.studentnewsdaily.com/editorial-cartoon-...}

Doctors May Not Recognize the Bites!

My bites didn't look like typical bedbug bites.

For several weeks I was waking up with itchy bumps all over my body. Yet my husband had none at all!

I was told that bedbug bites tend to be in straight lines, usually with three bites in a row.

It turns out, that is not the only way it presents. My bites had no organization. They were all over like a rash. When I went to a doctor, she didn't know what was biting me.

She was able to tell me that it wasn't a rash or allergic reaction, something was biting me, but she didn't know what.

Here is a picture I took of just the bites on my arm to show a nurse friend, but she couldn't tell me what it was either. Sorry it's difficult to see all the marks!

How Did I Figure It Out?

I looked for bugs, but couldn't see any for a long time

Finally one day I noticed a slight discoloration on the side of my mattress. I almost dismissed it, but then I looked closer and realized that what looked like a stain was moving!

Bedbugs can leave a residue on the edges of your mattress, or they may be sitting together in a lump there and it looks like just an old stain. Look very closely at any part of your mattress that looks off-color.

I didn't know what a bedbug looked like, but I guessed that these must be them.

They looked almost like ticks, with a more oval body. They ranged in size from about 1 milimeter to five milimeters. Unlike ticks, these bugs were much easier to squash. If they were larger (meaning they had eaten), there was a lot of blood when they were squished. I accidentally got a one-inch long blood stain on my sheets from squashing one!

This is the best picture I've found of what they look like. It is from http://www.saviortpc.com/bed_bugs.html Remember that this is less than a quarter of an inch in size! These images are blown up, but the bugs themselves are quite teensy.

How Can You Get Rid Of Bedbugs?

You have two options

Bedbugs are particularly difficult to get rid of, unfortunately. We've been dealing with ours for three months trying to coordinate getting the extermination done. Because of some problems with the extermination company, we actually now have experience with BOTH of the possible methods for getting rid of bedbugs.

  1. Chemical Treatment
  2. Heat Treatment

Chemical Treatment

This is a huge disruption on your life!

The chemical treatment for bedbugs requires three separate treatments. Each time you'll want to get you and any pets out of the house for several hours afterwards.

In order to be effective, you'll also have to prep your home and it is a whole lot of work.

All furniture will have to be moved away from walls. All items removed from bookshelves or other shelves, all light switch plates and electric outlet plates removed from the walls.

All cloth, including all of your clothing, will need to be washed, dried, and sealed into plastic bags (such as trash bags).

IMPORTANT TIP: Bedbugs cannot survive the heat of a dryer for longer than twenty minutes. You can send your clothes through the dryer for twenty minutes before you leave the house to avoid spreading the infection.

It is, as you can imagine, very difficult to live in a situation where all your furniture, clothes, and bookshelves are effected.

Heat Treatment

Because Bedbugs cannot survive high heat, there is a chemical-free way to rid your home of bedbugs. The exterminators will bring in heaters (there are two different types that may be used) and you'll need to get you and your pets out of the home for 12 hours.

The advantage is that there is a lot less prep work and it only takes ONE treatment!

At first the bugs are going to love the heat and they will come out from where they are hiding to enjoy it. Eventually it gets too hot even for them and they burn.

We're going to be having this done to our place next week and I'm told there will be a lot of vacuuming to do afterwards to clean up all the bedbug corpses!

UPDATE: We just had it yesterday and we didn't find as many bodies as I thought we would! I think the exterminators must have cleaned up some after wards. The house was oppressively hot even after it had been cooling off for several hours, but we got through the night and in the morning, all was perfect.

Get a checklist from your exterminator of things you need to do. Some heat treatments require you to remove food from your fridge. Standard heat treatment does not, but you will need to remove candles, or artwork that could be damaged by high heat.

How Heat Treatment Is Done

The effect it has on the bedbugs

What To Do In The Meantime

While you are waiting for the exterminators...

It may take days to weeks before you can get exterminators in. In the meantime, you don't want to be getting into bed every night knowing you're going to be eaten alive.

My husband fixed up our bed so that we could sleep on it without getting bitten while waiting on the exterminators.

1) Vacuum the mattress

2) Sprtiz the mattress with a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol and water (optional)

3) Seal the mattress into a bedbug cover (this is a special product specifically for this purpose)

4) Move the bed away from the wall

5) Either put a strip of duct tape sticky side out around each bedpost, or fill four shallow pans with water and put the bedposts in them

You are going to want some of these!

Have you had bedbugs?

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