Should I Be Freaking Out About Bedbugs?

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You hear about these critters on the radio, you watch frightening reports about them on TV, and you see gruesome pictures of people bitten by bedbugs on the net. It seems like everyone is paranoid. Just thinking about bedbugs make some people itchy all over! It’s time to dispel the bedbug myths and give you all the facts; what they are, how to prevent them, how to get rid of them, and if you really should be freaking out.

You hear about these critters on the radio, you watch frightening reports about them on TV, and you see gruesome pictures of people bitten by bedbugs on the net. It seems like everyone is paranoid. Just thinking about bedbugs make some people itchy all over! It’s time to dispel the bedbug myths and give you all the facts; what they are, how to prevent them, how to get rid of them, and if you really should be freaking out.

What Are Bedbugs?

Bedbugs are small parasitic insects that feed on human or animal blood. They are from the family of insects Cimicidae, but have been deemed “bedbugs” because they prefer to dwell in beds or other furniture where people sleep. But, they can also be found hiding in many kinds of crevices like electrical outlets and picture frames. Adult bedbugs are reddish-brown, flat, oval-shaped, the size of an apple seed and wingless. They become swollen and reddish after a blood meal. Under normal conditions, bedbugs can live up to 300 days. The health effects that could occur from these critters include skin itchiness, minor swelling, allergic reactions and psychological symptoms. Most people would probably FREAK OUT if they discovered bedbugs in their home!

How Can I Tell If I’ve Been Bitten?

Bedbugs are generally active at night, and feed on their hosts unnoticed. Bedbugs pierce skin with their long beaks, extracting blood for up to 10 minutes! The bites are not initially painful and many people do not even notice them for a few days. Some bites do not even show up. If they do show up, they normally occur in tight lines of multiple small red marks. The good news is that although bedbugs bite people, they carry no transmittable diseases.

How Do I Know If I Have Bedbugs?

Detecting bedbugs can be difficult because of their small size and the fact that they are normally active at night. The best place to look is, of course, your mattress and your furniture. Bedbugs may leave behind black or brown marks of dried excrement on mattresses and other infected surfaces (yuck!). People often discover they have bedbugs from small blood stains on their sheets, caused by their rolling over these blood-sucking critters during sleep. Bedbugs also emit a strong musty odor.

Where Do They Come From and How Can I Prevent Them?

There are a few common ways that people get bedbugs in their homes. Bedbugs often come from travelers bringing them into their own homes after hotel stays, since hotels are commonly infested. They often crawl into luggage and travel home with you. Some prevention tactics you could take: elevate your luggage on a luggage rack instead of placing it on the floor and inspect your luggage thoroughly before traveling back home. Bedbugs also come from used furniture or clothing. So, think twice before you pick up that used couch or mattress sitting on the sidewalk. People in apartments tend to get them from their neighbors, as they can crawl into the spaces in between walls. This poses a problem when it comes time to get rid of them, since your neighbors must also decide to expel them from their home. Bedbugs can also come from any guests staying at your house, or even from your job – if you have a job where you travel to multiple people’s homes (ie. personal nurse), you may get bedbugs attached to your clothing, hitching a ride back to your house. Another thing you can do to prevent bedbugs is cover your mattress and pillows with bedbug protectors, which keep these critters from penetrating into your bed.

Should I Be Worried?

As long as you take the preventative measures mentioned above and do not detect signs of bedbugs in your home, you should not live your life in fear! If you do happen to see signs of bedbugs, contact a pest control professional since it is unlikely any home remedy will completely rid your home of an infection. Also, remember, the most harm they are likely to cause is itching and red welts — so not the end of the world! Sleep easy!

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