What you Need to Know About Bed bugs and How to Control Them

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What you Need to Know About Bed bugs and How to Control Them

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Bedbugs made a resurgence as a major pest problem a few years ago, and the problem persists despite a lack of attention being given to the subject.  Not only are they very easy to transport from place to place by piggy-backing on travelers, but they are also incredibly-difficult to get rid of.  Let’s take a closer look at bedbugs as what you can do in order to keep infestations under control, or perhaps eliminate the threat altogether. 

How Bedbugs Roll

Bedbugs are reclusive insects that like to come out at night to feed before going back into their hiding places.  Hiding places can be in bed or mattress frames, within folds of mattress material or in nearby cracks and crevices, including around molding or baseboards.  They can grow to the size of an apple seed, particularly after adults have eaten.  They eat blood,  particularly human blood.

A bedbug can bite and eat the blood from its host for up to 10 minutes before getting full and going back to the colony.  They generally go after the lower extremities, and it’s not uncommon to see a trail of bite marks along the skin as more than one bedbug comes out to enjoy a meal.  Fortunately for us, bedbugs are more of a nuisance than anything else since they are not known to transmit diseases.  However, the bite area can become swollen or red as our bodies react to certain compounds in their saliva. 

Female bedbugs can lay up to 200 eggs at one time, which is one of the reasons that infestations can break out so quickly.  A healthy bedbug can live up to nine months, and they can survive a long time without eating.  They commonly transport from place to place by people who move around as they act as stowaways in furniture, clothing and luggage.   They are also very resistant to pesticides, which makes them difficult to control.

Fighting Infestations

The first step toward dealing with bed bug problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place.  If you live in an apartment, condo, or an area that is known to have bedbug problems, your first line of defense is to seal your property.  Fill in cracks, crevices and apply sealant anywhere bugs can come in from the outside.  The other thing to do is make sure that you thoroughly inspect furniture, bedding, suitcases or even clothing that you buy or collect before you bring them into the home.

If you know that you already have a bed bug problem, then identify their nesting areas.  While most of them will be concentrated in clusters on or around a bed, they will expand to other places as populations grow.   

Pesticides vs Natural Options

We’re going to avoid talking about the million-and-one natural treatments out there as there is no way to say with any degree of certainty which ones work or not.  There are only 3 tried and true options that almost everyone will agree really work.  They are heat, cold and suffocation.  The easiest way to deal with bedbugs on linens, mattress or cushion covers is to kill them by running the material through a dryer on high heat. 

You can also put infested items in a plastic bag, seal it, and let the heat from the sun kill off the bugs.  However, it could take months for all of them to die off.  You can also freeze them for a few hours at temperatures below 0.   The trick, and your mission, is to be able to collect and isolate the bedbugs in order for these methods to be of any use.  You will most likely need to do this on a regular basis for some time until the populations have been eliminated.

Chemicals

The best way to deal with bedbugs is by using an exterminator.  They have the tools, products and training to deal with infestations properly.  Just remember that it may take numerous treatments before the problem is solved.  There are also a number of pesticides that you can purchase and apply yourself, but this option takes time and requires that you follow certain steps and procedures. 

Unfortunately, these options may not be available during a survival situation.  Consequently, you may end up needing to discard and destroy beds, bedding, mattresses and cushions that are infested.  Destroying them is important in order to prevent someone from scavenging and taking them home. 

As more and more people travel, the bed bug epidemic is going to get worse.  While most outbreaks occur in cities or densely-populated areas, infestations can happen anywhere as people spread them as they go about their daily lives.  Make sure that you start to address the problem as soon as you identify the presence of bed bugs in the home.  The sooner you start the prolonged war against these resilient insects, the sooner they will stop using you or your family as their primary source of food.