You’ve heard the old saying – “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” . . . haven’t you? But have you ever stopped to think about that last part? What exactly is a bed bug? And can it really bite? Well, let’s just say bed bugs aren’t as innocent as the phrase they are famous for. In fact, they’ve become a serious problem! How do you know if YOU have bed bugs? Well, keep reading – we’ve got the 4-1-1 on these nasty little suckers.
A Guide to Spotting and Avoiding a Bed Bug Infestation
You’ve heard the old saying – “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” . . . haven’t you? But have you ever stopped to think about that last part? What exactly is a bed bug? And can it really bite?
Well, let’s just say bed bugs aren’t as innocent as the phrase they are famous for. In fact, they’ve become a serious problem in hotels, apartments, dormitories, shelters – even cruise ships (ewwww! No one told me THAT before I went!), infesting bedding and other furniture. And, their numbers are on the rise – according to the National Pest Management Association, bed bugs have increased in number a whopping 500 percent in the past three years. 500 percent! That’s a lot of bed bugs!
How do you know if YOU have bed bugs? Well, keep reading - we’re giving you the lowdown on these nasty little suckers.
Bed Bug Basics
Bed bugs are tiny, parasitic creatures that are about a quarter of an inch long that feed on blood. They are difficult to see with the naked eye, and look like little tan-colored specks before they eat. After blood is consumed, they turn red or dark brown in color and are slightly easier to spot.
The term “bed bug” is a bit misleading. Bed bugs are nocturnal and are rarely seen during the day and thrive in warm places, hence their fondness for beds, they can be found just about anywhere—in carpeting, inside comforters and pillows, on drapes, nightstands and other surfaces.
Have you been bitten?
If you’ve been bitten by a bed bug, you probably didn’t even know it at the time. Most people don’t feel the bites of these little creatures, and only notice the aftermath: a hard, inflamed bump with a white center where the bug bit into the skin. The bites often itch for several days afterwards, but resist the urge to scratch—that will only inflame the area even more. Treat the bites with warm, soapy water and apply an anti-itch cream.
How to spot ‘em – and get rid of ‘em.
To check an area for bed bugs search along the seams or edges for small black dots, which will be the bugs’ waste matter. If you do spot the actual bugs, don’t spray them with anything yourself, like Lysol or bug repellent, as you only run the risk of sending them in search of another area to infect. Professionally-applied pesticides and insecticides may successfully eliminate a bed bug infestation, but you’re concerned about exposing yourself and your loved ones to toxic chemicals, try black walnut, a natural insecticide that has shown to be helpful in killing bed bugs.
Whenever you travel, be sure to quickly check the seams of the bed when you check into the room. If you see anything that makes you suspect bed bugs, call the management immediately and ask for another room.
Good Night, Sleep Tight . . . Ummmm
Next time you utter that classic phrase you might want to replace it with something a little less, well, yucky! How about “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the dust bunnies bite!”? I’m sure you’ll come up with something . . .