Good Night, Sleep Tight, Maybe Not!
It looks like everyone is going to have to go to bed, praying for the ‘bed bugs not to bite’! According to the Illinois Department of Health, after a decline during the 1940s and 1950s, we are now seeing a rise in bed bug infestations. While they don’t transmit diseases, bed bugs feed on blood and the bites cause intense itching. Secondary infections are actually caused from scratching the bites.
Hiding during the day, bed bugs come out at night, (hhmmm, they feed on blood and only come out at night, vampiric insects), and feed on you and Fido. After biting, the bugs suck your hot blood and are full in about three to five minutes. The actual bites are painless so you won’t know you’ve been bitten until later. The bed bugs then retreat bad to a hiding place to digest their meal.
Bed bugs are only about a ¼-inch long, so virtually invisible and they hide in mattresses and box springs, bed frames, nightstands, curtains, couches, baseboards, windows, window frames, and carpet edges. That is, just about anywhere and everywhere they can hide to avoid the daylight.
The Illinois Department of Health suggests that the increase of international travel and product import/export as the reason the bugs are spreading. Bed bugs are also known to spread with the sale and purchase of secondhand furniture, a jolt of bad news for those of us who want to buy green and save the planet, or prefer antique furniture.
So, how do you prevent these little vampires from moving in? Don’t position the bed so it touches the walls, other furniture pieces and drapery. Keep bedclothes from touching the floor and wrap carpet tape around bed legs. There are traps that you can use to prevent them from climbing into your bed, as well. Keep clutter from under and around the bed and change sheets weekly, washing or drying on medium or high heat. Vacuum the mattress often. Use a fitted sheet or tuck a flat one under the mattress, in a light color that will make any stains visible. There are specialty mattress covers that will keep bed bugs out, or in if the mattress has them, causing them to starve when unable to feed on your precious blood – Count Dracula all the way! But keep your mattress wrapped tight for a couple of years – these little buggers can survive up to 18 months without feeding!
Wonder if you have bed bugs? Well, if you wake up itching, and didn’t spend the evening at a lake swarming with mosquitoes, you may have bed bugs. But check your sheets for blood stains. Bed bugs leave brownish-black specs, which are feces, and their discarded skeletons shells, as they shed. If there are a lot of them present, there will be an odor that smells like rotten raspberries.
You cannot remove bedbugs yourself. And you certainly cannot spray your mattress with a pesticide and expect to sleep there later. The mattress will require specialty cleaning service that will use a safe process that will penetrate deep into the mattress and kill the bugs. A professional mattress cleaning will also rid the mattress of dust mites (another little mattress bug), bacteria, viruses, germs, fungal spores, and any other micro organism.
And don’t let the Bed Bugs Bite!