What Are Bedbugs & What To Do If You Have Them

bedbug control

One of the most unpleasant feelings is peacefully sleeping in your bed while little bedbugs crawl all over you. What a nightmare. We often think of bedbugs when staying in spaces with questionable cleanliness like student dorms, hostels, and budget hotels. Unfortunately, these bugs are not exclusive to unclean areas or bedrooms.

Bedbug Infestations

Bedbug infestations are a reality that most commonly occur in living spaces like homes, dormitories, hotels, and shelters, but can also happen anywhere where human beings are. The University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment says this includes “hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, theaters, offices, municipal buildings, and on public transportation.”

bedbug infestations

In fact, a high traffic area for bedbugs is shared housing facilities like apartments or condos. All it takes is one neighbour to bring them into the building and next thing you know your whole floor could be infected, no matter how clean your space is. Another common area for bedbugs is a theatre. Because of the number of people going in and out of the seats in a day, it makes it an easy transference site.

The University also says that bedbugs have been in existence for centuries, as they are mentioned in classical Greek writings and medieval European texts.

Potential Health Risks

These small reddish-brown wingless bugs typically stay within eight feet of where people sleep but have been found to travel over 100 feet in the night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bugs feed at night from the blood of humans and pets.

If you have wood bedroom furniture, they’ll take up residence there during the day. They will also hide between mattress seams, making them hard to detect. Another area they love is piles of laundry, they will burrow in your clothes and wait for prime feasting time.

bedbug infestation in laundry

Bedbug bites can take up to 14 days to appear and affect everyone differently. You could see no marks, have a small bite mark, or even suffer a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include enlarged bite marks, painful swelling, and in rare occurrences, anaphylaxis. If a serious allergic reaction occurs, the CDC recommends seeking medical attention.

To avoid infections, it is recommended to keep the bites clean and avoid scratching them. There have been reports that bedbug infestations can affect mental health, including symptoms like anxiety and insomnia. If you have any concerns, seek advice from your healthcare professional.

Determining If You Have A Bedbug Problem

Bedbugs are small and great at hiding in little seams or crevices in or around your bed. As infestations grow, they can also hide in furniture, flooring, and walls. This can make figuring out if you have bedbugs a complex task.

Fortunately, there are some specific signs to look for. Start by inspecting your bed, and then move to other areas of your bedroom such as furniture, books, and clothing. Common signs of bedbugs include the molted exoskeletons of bedbugs, rust coloured spots from their excrement, or even the bugs themselves. You should check for unusual odours as well, because bedbugs can emit a musty and offensive odour from their scent glands.

bedbug infestation signs

What To Do If You Have Bedbugs

If you have bites or if you see evidence of bedbugs in your living area, there are a few things you need to know. Bedbug infestations can happen quickly, so it is essential to take immediate action.

  • Do not move to another bed or sleeping area, because the bugs may follow and infest other parts of your home or building.
  • Do not immediately throw away your bed, bedding, or furniture. There is hope to safely remove the infestation without getting rid of all your belongings. Also, bedbugs can live in areas like walls and floorboards that would make your actions irrelevant.
  • If you don’t see a bedbug, but you have unexplained marks on your body, it doesn’t mean you don’t have them. They could just be good at hiding. The best thing to do if you think you might have bedbugs is to contact a local pest control company or your landlord who generally has an exterminator they work with.

Finding A Professional

If you think you can handle this yourself, think again. However diligently you follow DIY pest control methods, your bedbug infestation could persist. Bedbugs are very hard to get rid of. Alberta Health Services recommend that you have the area treated by a pest control officer, so you should contact them as soon as you have assessed that there is an infestation. That way they can start treatment as soon as possible.

decluttering for bedbug infestations
Decluttering is a good way to discourage bedbug infestations.

At the same time, you should follow these steps:

Declutter Your Space

Until you talk to your pest control specialist, do not throw away furniture. Your exterminator can let you know which pieces can be treated. Do throw away everything you don’t need anymore. Also, if you have a bed skirt, remove it.

Clean Your Space

You can use a vacuum with a crevice tool to clean any places where bedbugs could potentially hide. This includes all sides of your mattress, box spring, bed frame, and headboard. Getting into little crevices where pesky bugs can hide is essential. Vacuum all these areas once a week.

Wash Away Any Signs Of Bedbugs

This will make it easier to spot new signs during follow-up inspections. You should do follow-up inspections at least once a week. Pop anything you can into your washing machine. This includes clothing and bedding. Then put them in the dryer.

The heat of the dryer should kill bedbugs in all stages. Make sure the items can receive even heat for at least 30 minutes. Heat treatments should be repeated every week until the bedbugs are gone.

dealing with bedbug infestations

Isolate Items That Do Not Have Bedbugs

Keep your clean items that never had bedbugs, or are no longer infested, and keep them away from areas that still contain bedbugs. Protect your mattress and box spring with a “bedbug-proof” cover. Do not remove the cover for at least a year.

Keeping Bedbugs Away From Your Bed

Bedbugs don’t like smooth or sticky surfaces, so you can place “interceptors” around the legs of your bed. This deters more bugs from crawling up into your bed. You can buy interceptors from pest control companies.

Some DIY options include covering bed legs with petroleum jelly or sticky tape. You can also place smooth dishes or containers underneath the legs and cover their surface with substances like vegetable oil, talcum powder, or petroleum jelly. 

Two Top Tips To Keep Bedbugs Away

  • Keep Your Bed At Least Six Inches Away From All Walls.
  • Don’t Put Anything On Your Bed. This Includes Things Like Clothing, Bags, Or Personal Items.

Depending on how many people are in your home or building, and how well everyone co-operates with these measures, this process may take several weeks. This is in addition to treatment by pest control officials.

keeping your house bedbug free

Chemical Treatments

If chemical treatments are necessary, your pest control company should be able to let you know. Store-bought chemical treatments are available which can help with bedbug infestations. If you are using one of these make sure that it is registered by Health Canada and only use the product how the package label directs you to.

Never use homemade pesticides even if they look simple and harmless. They can be harmful to make and use. Don’t risk harming yourself or your family.

When In Doubt, Trust The Professionals

Pest control technicians in Calgary are specially trained to use various tools and methods to eradicate bedbugs from your home that you might not be aware of or qualified to use. This includes chemicals like pesticides and heat treatments. Several dogs in Alberta are specifically trained to detect bedbugs. They are used by some trained professionals for their efficiency.

Bedbug Prevention

Unfortunately, bedbugs can happen to anybody. If you travel often and share living spaces where others frequently sleep, you are at a higher risk of getting bedbugs.

Bedbugs can be prevented by reducing places in your home where they can hide. You can start by reducing clutter and vacuuming often. You can also seal any risky cracks or crevices in your walls, windows, floors, ceilings, windows, and furniture.

bedbugs

Identifying Potential Problems

Make sure you monitor what you bring into your house that could potentially be infested. This includes secondhand items like books and furniture. New furniture and mattresses may be transported in the same vehicles as old ones, so check your new items too. If you see a mattress or couch on the curb, avoid it. Do not bring it into your home.

With the recent events of COVID-19, people are more cautious when buying from garage sale sites like Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. This caution should always be at the forefront. As more people partake in buy and sell sites, they are opening themselves up for bedbugs. Always wash new clothing items in hot water before letting them even touch anything in your home. You never know if the other person had an unknown infestation when they donated them.

Most importantly, check your home for bedbugs often. This includes your bedroom and furniture like chairs and beds.

If you want more information, or to have someone to come to your home and handle the pest problems, give Martin’s Pest Control a call. We’re here to take care of what bugs you.