Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals. As the name suggests, their favorite habitation is on bedding including mattresses, bed linens, and sofas, as well as other pieces of upholstered furniture.
Where bed bugs are concerned, preventing an infestation is much easier than the extermination effort that it takes to control them once they become established. Due to their small size and there flattened dimensions, bed bugs are hard to detect and can hide in very small crevices. During its lifetime, a female bed bug will lay about 500 eggs, which hatch after a week or two. The hatchling is about the size of a poppy seed and immediately begins to search for blood on which to feed. It takes about five weeks for newly hatched bed bugs develop into adults.
Preventing an Infestation
Developing certain ongoing habits can help to decrease the odds of having a bed bug infestation. Here are some considerations when averting a bed bug problem.
Since bed bugs cannot fly or jump, you should always try to keep the bed somewhat isolated by not letting bed linens touch the ground or other furniture. Keep bed linens clean. Launder sheets, bedspreads and pillow cases in hot water whenever possible. Never lay suitcases or other accessories on the bed. Bed bugs are notorious for traveling. Keep dirty clothes away from the bed and other clean furnishings.
Signs of Infestation
Of course, the most obvious signs of an infestation are the bites that they administer. Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures and prey on their hosts in the middle of the night. Bites from bed bugs form small red spots and are characterized by excessive itching. Other than itching, bed bugs can be detected by examining the mattress and bed linens. Signs that may be visible include shed skin, eggs and even dead bugs. Another method of detection is to lay out carpet tape around the bed. The bugs become trapped on the adhesive, thus giving away their presence.
Treating an Infestation
Many products for exterminating bed bugs are readily available. Some of these products contain pyrethrins which are neuro-toxins that kill bugs by paralyzing them. Other products may contain hydroprene which inhibits the growth cycle of the insect preventing them from reaching reproduction age. These and other products come in the form of sprays, liquids, powders or foggers. For severe infestations, pest control professionals should be consulted.
Since bed bugs are one of the hardest pests to get rid of once they are established, prevention is a key factor. Avert a potential bed bug infestation by taking simple precautions. Read more about the bed bug invasion of Houston here.