How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are parasitic insects living around human and feed on human blood. They are classified under the group Arthropoda and Insecta (insect family).
Bed Bug is an insect which lives with human and feeds on human blood. As they are usually found in and around our bed they are called bed bugs.
Bed bugs were almost eradicated from most of the countries, but there is a sudden increase in bed bug infestation in many countries in the last few years. It may be due to increase in the number of travelers like tourists, migrant laborers, refugees etc.
How to identify Bed bug?
Bed bugs are small insects, oval in shape, reddish brown in color with flat bodies. They have vestigial wings and cannot fly.
Adult bed bugs are around 4 to 5 mm in size. They have segmented abdomen. Their flat body swells up after each feed. Their flat body allows them to hide into tiny spaces.
Feeding Habits of bed bug
Bed bugs feed on human blood only. Usually, they feed at night while people sleep. They feed for about 3 to 10 minutes and return to the cracks or crevices where they hide to digest the feed.
They rarely feed on day time. Bed bugs usually bite the exposed areas not covered by the bed sheet or dress.
Bed bug bites are seen almost in straight line.
Bed bugs feed by piercing the skin and sucking out blood with its long beak.
Signs of bed bug infestation?
The first sign of bed bug infestation is seen on our skin as red itchy patch or welt.
Blood stains are seen on mattresses, pillow cases, bed sheets or on the dress by accidental crushing of the fully fed bugs.
Small dark dots are seen on the bed, furniture, on wall cracks etc which are the excretion of the bed bugs.
Eggs or egg shells which are around 1 mm in size and white in color are seen.
Live bed bugs may be visible. Molted and discarded bed bugs skin can be seen.
There will be a musty odor around caused by the bed bugs’ scent glands.
How bed bugs spread?
Bed bugs move from one place to another with people, hiding in clothes, furniture, bags and other materials.
Bed bugs are found in places where people gather or stay like apartments, houses, hotels, motels, theaters, hostels and transport vehicles. They are found even in ultra clean houses and star hotels.
Signs and symptoms of bed bug bite
Bed bug bites usually look like other insect bites.
The bed bug bites are mostly seen in exposed areas of the body like hands, legs, shoulder, neck and face.
Some people may not have any symptoms. Some may have small, red and itchy patches, which are raised or flat. They are due to the allergic reaction to chemicals present in the saliva of the bugs. The bites may be seen in straight line. Normally it won’t get infected unless scratched.
Bed bugs generally don’t transmit any disease.
Treatment for bed bug bites
- Wash the bed bug bitten area with mild soap and water. Calamine lotion can be applied.
- If itching is severe, mild steroid ointment (Hydrocortisone or Betamethasone) can be applied.
- If the allergic reaction is severe with other symptoms like breathlessness consult your doctor.
- If there is an infection, local antibiotic ointments can be applied.
Natural treatment for bed bug bites
- After washing with mild organic soap and water ice pack can be applied.
- Cut ends of onion or Garlic can be applied.
- If itching is severe, wet tobacco in water and apply over the bites.
- Apple cider vinegar which is a good anti-inflammatory and anti-itching agent can be applied.
- Banana peel can be rubbed on bites.
- Lemon juice or cinnamon with honey can be applied.
- A thick paste of baking soda with water can be applied.
The natural treatment given above will reduce swelling and itching.
How to prevent bed bug bites
Cover yourself fully from neck to toe with a cloth as bed bugs feed only on the exposed area.
Stitch protective covers for pillows and mattresses without any hiding places for the bed bugs. This prevents the bed bugs staying and coming out of the mattress or pillows to feed.
Cover all cracks and joints in the furniture and bed with paint or wax so that bed bugs cannot hide.
Move the bed away from the wall.
Fix insect interceptors with pesticide or water under the feet of the bed to prevent bed bugs climbing the bed from the floor.
Organic soap, rubbing alcohol, essential oils or other repellents can be applied to the exposed parts of the body before going to bed.
Sticky bed bug traps can be kept around the infested area.
How to prevent bed bug infestation
As soon as you reach home from bed bug infested area, check your clothes and bags for bed bugs.
If you happened to stay in infested place keep the bags and beddings away from the bed room. Wash clothes and bed sheets in hot water and dry them in hot sun light. Bed bugs die at a temperature above 45-degree C. If bags are infested pour boiling water over it to dis-infest and dry it in hot sun light.
While buying furniture, check for bed bugs.
Close all cracks and crevices in wall and furniture to eliminate bed bugs hiding places.
How to eliminate bed bugs
If your house is infested with bed bugs clean the house, scrub all mattresses, pillows, cots, furniture and other areas where bed bugs hide, with a hard brush to remove eggs, dead bugs and fecal spots and vacuum clean the area with a powerful vacuum cleaner. Discard the vacuum bag in sealed plastic bags.
Vacuum clean the carpets and under the carpet also.
Wash all clothes and bed sheets in hot water mixed with an essential oil like lavender oil or tea tree oil and hot dry it.
Blow steam with a powerful steamer on all nick and corners and cracks where bed bugs hide.
Blow hot air using a hair dryer in the places where the bed bugs hide.
Seal all cracks in the wall, electrical outlets, joints in cots and furniture.
Spray essential oil like eucalyptus oil, lavender oil or tea tree oil on the bed and other areas where the bed bugs hide.
Sprinkle food grade Diatomaceous earth in bed, around the bed and in and around the hiding places of bed bugs. When the bed bugs come in to contact with the diatomaceous earth, it will dehydrate the bed bugs and kill them.
Spraying chemical pesticides may help, but the chemicals must come into contact with the live bed bugs.
Foggers can be used with caution (it can explode). Close the windows, activate the canister and leave the room and keep it closed for 24 hours.
You can give the job to professional pest control agencies.
Preventing bed bug infestation is better and easier than eliminating the bed bugs.