Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 20 Aug 2019 Comprehensive guide ...

Comprehensive guide to identifying and eliminating bed bugs

Published Aug 20, 2019, 2:45 pm IST
Updated Aug 20, 2019, 3:35 pm IST
How to know if you have bed bugs in your house and the best way to get rid of them.
To avoid this disastrous infestation, make sure you don’t bring them inside your home. (Photo: Representational/Pixabay)
 To avoid this disastrous infestation, make sure you don’t bring them inside your home. (Photo: Representational/Pixabay)

Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to eliminate from your home. A bed bug infestation can spread easily, rapidly and before you know it, you have a colony of a thousand of these pests living in your bedroom.

“Bed bugs stick around for long as they have evolved to become the “perfect parasite,” said Timothy Gibb, PhD, a clinical professor of entomology at Purdue University who’s studied bed bug infestations.


What are bed bugs?

A bed bug is a blood-feeding ectoparasite. Its only source of food is human blood, and that’s theyare found only where people are available in close proximity. “They like to live near the host, meaning in our bedrooms, near our beds—as close as they can get to where we sleep as is possible,” said Kenneth Haynes, PhD.

Another thing about bed bugs is that they remain hidden till night time. They use a chemical signal to gather together in cracks and crevices and then get closer to the human for feeding in the middle of the night. “Once they find us, then they take their soda straw-like mouth part and stick it directly into a blood capillary and tap into their food,” said Haynes to Prevention.

Where do bed bugs hide?

They are most often found in themattress. Pull back the sheets and check in every corner of the mattress. A favourite spot of bed bugs is at the head of the mattress as that’s where we sleep. Also keep an eye behind the headboard, picture frames or even near electrical sockets. “If there’s a vast infestation, you should be able to find them,” said Edwin Rajotte, PhD, a professor of entomology.

Here are some steps to prevent them from getting into your home or to get rid of them if they have already infested your bed:

Prevention is better than cure

To avoid this disastrous infestation, make sure you don’t bring them inside your home. They can travel with your from your vacations. It is possible that your hotel rooms have bed bugs, even if it is a five-star hotel. The bugs will crawl into your suitcase or backpack or even latch onto your clothes.  “A good practice is to put the suitcase in the middle of the bathtub until you’ve had a chance to inspect the room,” said Rajotte.

Identify the problem

Look for bed bugs in your house the same way you would in the hotel room. The insect would be the size of an apple seed, very flat from top to bottom. It is very thin, and brownish in colour. They are tiny in size and will look like pin heads. They will appear as black spots on your mattress, which will be the feces from the bed bugs.

After identifying their presence, next step is to determine their numbers. If it is a newly established population, there will be around 10-15 and it is easily manageable. But if the population is bigger, then it is better to call pest control management to get rid of the problem.

Control the bed bug population

Once you identify the problem, start putting your bedsheets, pillow and their covers, mattresses and any other fabric on it for wash, including stuffed toys. Wash these all at high heat and then don’t reintroduce them till the bugs are gone.

Kill the bed bugs

Get the pest control done by professionals. You need to get the room to at least 48 degrees Celsius. Check every nook, cranny and corner of the room where the bugs might be residing. “ Although this can be difficult on your own, pest controllers have the right equipment and training to thoroughly heat the room and kill off the population” said Rajotte.

Monitor the conditions for sometime

After every treatment, make you keep a close eye that every single bug is eliminated. “If you hired a pest control company, expect them to check in two weeks after each treatment, he says, and if you did the treatment yourself, perform a similar check at home,” said Rajotte. "Anybody can get bed bugs,” said Gibb. “But it takes a concentrated effort to get rid of them.”