Bed bug infestations have been gaining steam in America as of late.
For years, bed bugs were a problem, but through preventative measures and speedy extermination, the difficulties were largely eliminated. The result was that bed bugs sort of fell out of public consciousness, and people have begun to get careless.
Well, now bedbugs are making a comeback, and it helps to know just a little bit about these little buggers (if you’ll pardon the pun).
How to Determine If Your Mattress Has Bed Bugs
Unfortunately you may need to know about bed bug bite symptoms as bed bugs are now fairly common problem. If your child has a bed bug rash and itchy bites he will be uncomfortable and you may need to change his mattress as well as thoroughly clean bedding and the house as bed bugs are not only found in beds.
The common bed bug bite symptoms are a rash with small itchy raised red areas which can appear after a few hours or even after a few days after the bugs have bitten. You may see the bed bugs in seams of the mattress but as they are not confined to beds you might see them on the sofa, in carpets, or other furniture. You could also see tiny spots of blood on the bedding.
Bed bug bites are painless and do not spread any contagious disease. To treat the bed bug rash you can get appropriate creams and lotions from your chemist or see your doctor. The lotions won’t kill the bugs, but should ease the itching.
A bed bug rash can last for around 3 days before fading away but if your child scratches a lot or is allergic to the bite the rash could last for longer. Seek medical attention to get the most appropriate treatment for your child.
Getting rid of the bed bugs in a mattress can be tricky – you may need to get rid of the mattress and other household furniture and/or use a professional exterminator. The house will need to be cleaned very thoroughly and some items, such as mattresses, may need replacing.
To avoid getting bed bugs again buy new furniture or closely inspect any second hand furniture that you bring to the house. If you travel abroad then check your hotel room for bed bugs as you could easily bring them home with you unknowingly.
The easiest way to catch bed bugs is to keep a flashlight near your bed during the night. Set an alarm and wake up about an hour before sunrise. Without getting out of bed, take the flashlight and look around on the seams of the mattress, the cracks in the bed board, and any other place that a credit card would fit into. They don’t move very fast, so this will allow you to spot them.
Another more innovative way is through attracting the bugs to a particular spot. A glue-based trap baited with some source of carbon dioxide (maybe a balloon filled with breathed air) will attract and trap a few bed bugs, which will let you know that there are more in the area.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in a Mattress
In the forties and fifties, the bedbug population was nearly entirely wiped out through the use of the chemical insecticide DDT.
DDT is a powerful and deadly insecticide, and its efficiency eventually became its undoing. One of the advantages of DDT was its persistence. It takes twelve to fifteen years for a quantity of DDT to reduce by half. This creates problems, because the chemical becomes a continuing part of the ecosystem, and eventually significant amounts build up in the human population.
No immediate health effects are known, but it is thought that DDT may cause cancer, and thus it has been banned in the United States.
However, insecticides have come a long way since DDT (it was the first chemical pesticide produced in the US). Talk to a local exterminator about any treatments he has for bed bug infestations.
Bear in mind, however, that you will likely be required to do some work in this process. Beds and other furniture usually need to be moved away from the walls, mattresses need to be wrapped and properly cared for, and other measures may need to be taken.
It is not advisable to try and treat the problem on your own, as failure to completely eradicate the infestation will cause a rebound within months.
One thing that should never be done is simply hauling the infested mattress out of the house and disposing of it. This is counter-productive!
Bed bugs will fall off or even jump off of the mattress into other parts of the house. This can potentially spread the infestation to the whole house rather than one bedroom.
Bedding material, no matter what material (it could be Egyptian cotton bedding, synthetic fleece bedding, cotton flannel bedding , satin bed sheet sets or even comforters and duvets), can be taken care of easily.
Carefully wrapping the material in a clean sheet and moving it into the laundry and washing it should kill and dispose of any bed bugs on it. Nothing is sacred to a bedbug, including toddler mattresses and even futons.
Also, leaving the house to live somewhere else for a few days is not a worthwhile tactic. Some people have tried this, but it never will work.
Bed bugs seek to feed every five or ten days, but some species can last as long as fifteen months without feeding!
How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Infecting a Mattress
The best way to deal with bed bugs is to not have the problem in the first place.
Keeping a clean house, being careful about used furniture, and installing screens on your windows can make it much less likely that you will have bed bug issues.
Is Having Bed Bugs in a Mattress Dangerous?
Often times, hysterical rumors become associated with bed bugs. In fact, one of the most common urban legends is that they may burrow under your skin and remain inside your body, feeding on your blood.
The lumps on the skin that give people this idea are actually signs of a rare allergic reaction to the antigens the body develops because of the bites. Also, some people will irresponsibly report that bed bugs have been discovered to carry the plague or some other horrible disease.
There is some truth to this, because bed bug bodies have been discovered to contain plague bacteria in the past. However, there is no record of any human contracting any such disease from a bite.
However, despite the lack of mortal danger, bed bug bites often result in skin irritation, rashes, and sores that resemble mosquito bites (but last much longer).
A bed bug egg is approximately the size of two grains of salt. The full-grown bug is roughly the size of two letters off of a ten-font page. Actually, most people are under the misperception that they are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but if you keep your eyes open you can spot them.
They become even more noticeable because of their habit of existing in large numbers. Bed bugs multiply at a rapid pace. It takes 5 weeks for a female to be reproductively active, but one female usually produces 500 eggs in the 100 days after that.
So, my advice is to do what you can to prevent the problem. If you get bed bugs anyway, get a professional to help you with the extermination and be very thorough to avoid wasting time and money.