Bed Bugs Are Back

What They Really Are and How To Deal With The Buggers

Posted by Sirena Rubinoff | Sep 01, 2009
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What They Are

Bedbugs are, in short, nasty and unwanted little critters. They live by feeding on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts and they get their name from the locations they seek out in order to feed, namely mattresses, sofas, and other household furniture.

What Do They Look Like

Adult bedbugs look like lentils: reddish-brown, flattened, oval, wingless, and they can grow up to 5 millimeters in size, which (contrary to popular belief) means that they can be seen by the naked eye. However, most of the little buggers are mainly active at night while you are sleeping, so you probably won't know they've paid you a visit until after the fact when you wake up with a distinctive line of itchy red bumps following the pattern of blood vessels running close to the surface of your skin.

How Do They Get Around

Bedbugs are not migratory. They prefer to hide in dark, covered places until feeding time. Their flattened shaped makes it easy for them to hide in small cracks, behind wallpaper, in the joints of the bed frame or even in the buttons and seams of mattresses. However, if they choose to hide in a dark, covered place on your clothing or other belongings, they can end up coming with you on your journey. For example, bedbugs can hide in the cuff of a coat sleeve, inside your linens, on a used piece of furniture, or even inside your suitcase.

Dealing with Infestation

Once you can confirm that you are dealing with a bedbug infestation, you must do a thorough cleaning of the entire area. Spray everything with DDT pesticide. Furniture should be moved, inspected, cleaned well and left to dry in a hot place. Bedbugs cannot survive intense heat and therefore anything that can be washed should be laundered in very hot water. Items that cannot be washed, such as your mattress, should be wrapped in plastic and set in a hot place or in direct sunlight for several hours to kill the remaining bugs and eggs. When you bring your mattress back into the house, put each of the bed legs inside a tin can coated with petroleum jelly. Bedbugs cannot cross petroleum jelly, so if any of them survived the heat of direct sunlight, they will not be able to crawl off the bed and return to their cool hiding places. You should not sleep in the bed for a few days to make sure no bedbugs survived and continue vacuuming and steam cleaning regularly to ensure that the bugs cannot resurge. Don't forget to toss the vacuum bag or canister immediately after cleaning so as not to allow the infestation to spread elsewhere. Professional treatment is the best option for severe infestations or in cases where people have severe allergic reactions to bedbugs.

Green Treatment

Neem oil has been used as a natural insect repellant and antibacterial product for thousands of years in India. It is made from the seeds of the neem tree and can be safely sprayed on carpets, curtains, mattresses and any other area prone to bedbugs or other critters. Neem oil was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for external use.

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