Bedbugs have been a menace to man throughout recorded history. A bite by this parasite noticeable only after it leaves the victim. The warmth of human body and carbon dioxide we exhale attracts bugs at night from their hiding places for a pint for blood. It is true that bedbugs contain pathogens but the parasites do not transmit any disease to humans.
Due to their blood sucking behavior, bed bugs were, and still are, the most hated pest known to man. It is impossible to sleep well in a room heavily invested with these parasites. The tide in the fight against this parasite started to turn after the discovery of synthetic insecticide. However, even with the wide availability of insecticides, they occasionally invade homes, hotels, and shelters. According to pest management professionals, bedbugs are among the most difficult pests to control.
Some bugs feed on animal and human blood while others thrive on bat and birds. Although bat bugs will occasionally bite human beings, their primarily survive on their preferred host. Because bugs can survive for almost a year without a meal, they can wait for transient host and survive transportation in household items such as furniture. Bug infestation therefore can spread very quickly over a wide area.
Adult bedbugs are wingless and measure about a fourth of an inch, enough to fit into cracks and crevices. The parasite is also flat so it snugly fits into small hiding places. Females lay eggs in crevices and depressions and they hatch translucent nymphs that are a sixth of an inch long. The nymphs turn bright red after feeding.
At night, bugs leave their hiding places in search for warm hosts. Their most popular places where they love to hide during the day include mattresses, curtains, couches, baseboards, carpets, smoke detectors, switches, peeling paint, wall paper, picture frames, wall cracks, and door/window frames.
The bite if a bedbug is painless. The animal has evolved a highly efficient way of feeding. The bug bites to draw blood and then injects its own saliva back to ensure that blood flows normally in the bite area. The parasites then retreats to its hiding area awaiting digestion of the meal. The meal is sufficient to last the insect for a maximum of ten days.
Most people realize they are bitten after the skin starts turning red sometimes accompanied by intense itching. Bite marks do not appear until after several hours have elapsed.
Signs of infestation
If the previously mentioned hiding places contain eggs and nymphs, that is a good sign of infestation. Secondly, the presence of blood smears on your bed sheets, their feces that are dark specks and exoskeletons are pointers. Like other insects, bedbugs periodically shed off their exoskeleton and the presence of these shells is indicative of infestation.
Given that bedbugs are obnoxious insects, what should we do? Bed bugs prevention in home is critical to avoid serious infestation. The following six tips on bug prevention are efficient against the bugs.
Use of encasements is effective bed bugs prevention in home. Box springs and mattresses can be covered with encasements to prevent infestation. Encasements are easily obtainable online or in the local stores. The ideal encasement should be made of a soft material with a zipper to prevent the escape as well as entry of bugs into mattresses and box springs. Bugs inside an encased mattress cannot escape and nor can they bite. They eventually die of starvation. This method is better than fumigating the mattress or even purchasing a new mattress. If still in doubt about their ability to bite, you can add an extra encasement.
Vacuuming is an alternative to the use of pesticide. After you discover their hiding places, you need to vacuum and dispose them in a sealed garbage or trash container. This method efficiently removes all the bugs but the eggs may not be removed because they stick to the surface. A few bugs are tough and survive vacuuming. Therefore, the trash cans need proper disposal to avoid infecting other areas. The bugs are known to attach themselves to the handle of the vacuum cleaner and other hidden places and therefore re-infecting the room. Vacuuming needs handling with utmost care.
Heat solution is useful in bed bugs prevention in home. Drying infested garments and other items for at least 20 minutes kills bugs in all stages of development including eggs. This method is however not effective in killing bugs hiding in dense objects such as books and luggage. This method is also unsuitable because high temperature may destroy other items in the house. The process is labor intensive and requires special equipment, which may not be readily available for most people.
The main benefit of using heat is family members are safe from exposure of any pesticide hazard. Most pesticides have residual effect that prevent re-infestation but may also be harmful to human health.
When heat treatment is combined with pesticides, the results are usually very pleasant as bugs can be eliminated.
A sudden change in temperature kills many bugs because they have no time to adjust. The potency of this method is abruptness. Temperature of between 15F to 32F kills bugs and their eggs within 30 days when directly exposed to the elements. When exposed to temperature at freezing point, bugs die even faster. This method is insufficient because bugs hiding in books and mattress will take more time to die. Cold method through application of freezing temperatures to bugs using carbon dioxide in form of “snow” sufficiently exposes bugs to the low temperature required to kill them.
The use of pesticides is perhaps the most popular bed bugs prevention in home method. Pesticides are applied directly into cracks/crevices and other hiding places. Liquid and dust formulants are the most effective. During the process of application, inspection is done to check the hiding places of bugs and then pesticide is applied. Because chemicals used are potentially lethal if mishandled, it is advisable to hire a pest management professional instead of applying it yourself.
Use of traps
Trapping bugs is a useful but rarely an affective prevention method. Traps are primarily used as monitoring devices before applying solutions discussed above.