Erin Doman on May 6, 2016 2 Comments Bed bugs and other such creepy crawlies are never welcome guests in your home. However, that doesn’t seem to stop them from finding their way in and making themselves comfortable. If you want to stop a bed bug infestation before they take over your bed, you need to get better acquainted with the characteristics of these tiny mites. Here are a few things you need to know about bed bugs, including what they are, where they like to hide, how you can get rid of them, the health repercussions of a bed bug bite and what you should do to prevent them. Table of Contents What Are Bed Bugs? Where Do These Bugs Like to Hide? How Can You Get Rid of These Bugs? Are There Health Repercussions? What Can You Do to Prevent Bed Bugs? What Are Bed Bugs? Bed bugs are a common pest that feeds on blood. Their bites cause itchy, irritated spots on humans. Not only are bed bugs a pest, but they are considered a public health pest. This means they are sometimes believed to spread or transmit certain diseases. In order to better understand what they are, you have to know what this insect looks like. An adult bed bug generally is/has: Balloon-like, elongated with reddish-brown body when recently fed Brown with flat, oval-shaped body when not recently fed Beak with three segments Antenna with four parts Wings, but doesn’t fly Short, golden hairs Size of apple seed, about 5-7 mm Musty-sweetish odor that is produced through glands You will likely want to keep your eye out for the adults, but if you find adults you need to know what young bed bugs and the eggs look like. Young bed bugs, often called nymphs, are generally small and white or yellow in color. If they haven’t been fed recently, their translucent body can be imperceptible to the naked eye. Bed bug eggs, on the other hand, are typically about the size of a pinhead, pearl-white and marked with an eye spot. Where Do These Bugs Like to Hide? A major part of treating an infestation is knowing where to look. This can be a challenging endeavor as there are many insects that could be lurking in your home. If your bed bug infestation is severe, you may find bed bugs: Near the seams, tags and piping of the mattress or box spring Inside of your bedding or duvet cover In the cracks on both the bed frame and headboard In the heads of screws In seams of chairs and couches In folds of curtains Between cushions and pillows Under wall hangings or loose wallpaper At the celing/wall or wall/wall junction point In baseboard cracks In the carpet or in rugs In drawer joints In appliances and electrical receptacles Anywhere wide enough to fit a credit card Bed bugs aren’t big, so they can fit almost anywhere. When they’re not feeding, they can be found on clothing, furniture, walls, curtains and beds. You can better figure out if you have an infestation or not by looking for the signs of bed bugs instead of the bugs themselves. You may see rusty stains on your bed sheets or mattress, which is what’s left of a bed bug after it is crushed. You might see signs of their excrement, which would look like dark spots on the fabric. You might even see their eggs or the live bugs themselves. How Can You Get Rid of These Bugs? Once you have seen the signs and know they are there, you have figure out what to do to get rid of these pests. No matter what process you choose, it will take time and patience. Many homeowners find it is best to call in a professional to properly get rid of these insects. However, there are a few steps you can take on your own. There are two major avenues you can choose to take to get rid of bed bugs: the chemical approach or non-chemical approach. Often it is best to take a path that combines the two methods. To get rid of bed bugs, you will have to: The Best Mattress Covers for Bed Bugs Assess the Situation: This is an early step in which you should make sure you are actually dealing with bed bugs and not another type of house bug. You should get an idea of how bad the infestation is and come up with a general plan of attack. Do you want to use a chemical or non-chemical approach, or a mix of the two? Know that there are pros and cons of each. Chemical treatments usually work more efficiently and quickly, but it can be dangerous and undesirable to use severe chemicals where you sleep. Use your best judgement when deciding on a plan of attack. Prepare the Space: Once you have come up with a plan, you have to get ready to implement it. This can mean removing pets and your family from the home and preparing surfaces for chemicals. If you are choosing to avoid chemicals and are planning to replace your bedding and mattress altogether, be sure you are prepared to handle it financially. Stay Alert: Even after the treatment plan has been implemented, you still have to stay alert for a possible reemergence of the bed bugs, especially if all you did was replace old items with clean items. You never know if there were some stray bugs left over, ready to claim your bed again. If you are still unsure of the best method for you, don’t hesitate to call a professional or learn more about your do-it-yourself, chemical-free options. Are There Health Repercussions? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, United States Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control, bed bugs are a public health pest. This means there are health repercussions to sharing a space with this insect. Bed bugs suck your blood and leave you with an itchy, red welt. These bitten areas can easily become infected if you scratch too much. In certain areas, it is believed bed bugs spread Chagas disease, American trypanosomiasis. However, the link between bed bugs and the disease has not been proven. Most bed bug bites are not too serious. Some people may be allergic to the insect, which can cause a greater and more serious reaction. While bed bugs can have health repercussions, they are typically not life or death. What Can You Do to Prevent Bed Bugs? Even though bed bugs may only cause an itchy spot on your skin, you still do not want to share your living environment with them. So what can you do to keep bed bugs out of your home? First, you have to know what an infestation looks like. This knowledge will help you quickly react to the presence of the little critters. It can be beneficial to use a bed bug-prevention casing on your mattress. This casing limits the places a bed bug can live when it is not feeding. You should store your luggage in an attic, basement or garage to reduce the chance of bringing bed bugs into your home after you travel. You can reduce clutter and vacuum regularly to prevent bed bugs, too. Make sure to inspect any used furniture before you bring it into your home. You can also use a portable heating chamber to treat items that are potentially infested with bed bugs. Bed Bug Awareness Learning more about bed bugs, how to spot them and how to get rid of them can help protect your home. If you think there may be an infestation, make sure to talk with a professional and act quickly before your situation gets out of hand.