Essential Tips to Avoid Bedbug Home Infestations
Bedbugs are a plague. They exist almost everywhere there are humans. In fact, human blood is what they need. We are their prey. People fear the zombie apocalypse but there is already a creature that feeds on us — the bedbug.
What Are Bedbugs?
Bedbugs are nocturnal. They are not often seen in the daytime unless they are desperate for a blood meal, but be aware that they can live up to a YEAR without eating. One single female can lay 200-250 eggs in her lifetime, which hatch within 6-10 days.
These nymphs generally feed for 2-5 minutes before scurrying off to find a hiding spot. They molt an average of 5x’s during their life cycle, needing to feed at least once before each molt, but if given the opportunity they’ll feed daily. It’s important to understand that a nymph can survive up to a year without feeding. This means they can hang out in clothing, clutter, the spines of books, et cetera without eating for up to ONE YEAR.
Note the bug on the left- this is a bug that has not yet fed, while the bug on the right is engorged following a meal.
These essential tips help people avoid bedbug home infestations.
Humans spread bedbugs
Bedbugs migrate through our movement. Where we go, they go. Bedbugs are not like other insects, such as flies, beetles, or stinkbugs. Those insects hatch out and then find us. Bedbugs, however, live where humans live and they get into our things when we travel, frequent restaurants, or purchase used items from yard sales, thrift shops, etc.
Tip: Understanding that a bedbug home infestation is almost always because we brought home the bedbugs is a way to help prevent home infestation of bedbugs.
Being aware that when a person moves from point A to point B and back to Point A or onto point C, they can transport bedbugs. Knowing that we transport and spread bedbugs from one location to another is how to avoid home bedbug infestations.
Travel is risky for acquiring bedbugs
Hotels, motels, hostels and family homes are prime places to pick up bedbugs. Many of the best hotels have bedbugs. Bedbugs don’t care how much the cost per night for a room is. They are attracted to any place where there are a lot of humans. Human blood is what they eat.
Tip: When traveling avoid the uninvited bedbug guest by adhering to the following:
- When packing clothing, always divide clothing into sealed plastic bags.
- Never put clothing on the floor
- Never leave luggage on the floor, consider placing it in the bathtub or shower of your hotel/motel instead.
- Never leave your clothes on the bed
- Always put luggage on luggage stands after you’ve closely inspected them to ensure there are no eggs or bugs.
- Always hang clothing in the closet
- Always hang up jackets and scarves, do not drape them across furniture in the room
- Always put shoes either in the closet off the floor or on top of your luggage
- Separate clean clothing from dirty clothing, and place it in sealed plastic bags.
- Essential Oils are Highly Effective at Repelling Bedbugs- create a spray or atomizer bottle (the 3 oz travel size), add 30 drops of one of the following Essential oils: cinnamon oil, lemongrass oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil, thyme oil, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, then fill the bottle with spring water. Shake gently and apply generously to the exterior of the luggage, particularly within the seams.
Dealing with Travel Laundry
It is important to separate dirty clothes into its own bag to minimize the risk of transporting bedbugs home with you.
Tip: Separate travel clothing by placing dirty clothes into a separate sealable plastic bag.
Tip: Bedbugs cannot survive the heat of a clothes dryer. Therefore, dirty clothes can go from soiled bag directly into the washer and then the dryer. Proper handling of laundry helps limit the risk of a bedbug infestation. Adult bedbugs will likely drown in the washing machine, but to ensure they are killed launder items in temperatures at least 122F for 20 minutes. Those that survive and any of their eggs will be killed off if you use a hot drying cycle in the dryer.
Tip: If there is a lot of dirty laundry from traveling or if it needs sorting, place it in the bathtub. The tub will contain any living bedbugs or their eggs, preventing them from crawling throughout the house. Put the clothes back into a bag and empty the bag directly into the washing machine. Any bedbugs that remain in the tub are easy to spot. Just wash them and their eggs down the drain and then clean the tub.
PDF How-To: The Guide Laundering Items to Kill Bedbugs
Children and Bedbugs
Children are another potential way to bring bedbugs into your home. Sleepovers, going to camp, and other adventures are prime examples of how children can pick up bedbugs. The protocol for helping reduce the risk of kids bringing bedbugs home is much the same as it is to deal with clothing from traveling.
TIP: Put the child in the tub and have them remove clothing. Gather the clothing and put in a bag and take it to the washer. Bathe the child.
TIP: Unload the backpack and wash all the clothing inside, including clean clothing. The goal is to kill any bedbug eggs or adults that might have hitchhiked home on the child’s clothing.
Tip: Wash the backpack too. It can be a source for eggs or adult bedbugs to hide.
Places where kids encounter bedbugs include, schools, locker rooms, other people’s homes, traveling, staying with family, at parties, and even on school buses. Putting a protocol in place what works for your lifestyle is an important way to help reduce the risk of a home infestation of bedbugs.
House guests are another potential bedbug infestation source. People who travel or who have bedbugs at home can bring them to your house when they visit. Because bedbugs are indiscriminate about what we look like, how much money we make, or what kind of car we drive, everyone is suspect.
Tip: There is not much you can do to prevent visitors from bringing bedbugs to your home other than to make everyone stay at a hotel. There is no easy answer when it comes to visitors.
The threat of bringing bedbugs into your home is high. There are many opportunities to encounter bedbugs and then transport them home. Focusing on prevention, which is what these tips offer, helps decrease the risk of a bedbug home infestation. In the meantime, many pest control companies offer free inspections to determine if bedbugs are present. Early detection helps to control the cost of bedbug home abatement and can set people’s minds at ease.
Signs of Bedbug Infestation
Call for a home pest inspection for any of the following reasons:
. Unexplained bites, especially those that appear in the morning
. Small dots of dried blood on bed sheets
. Itchy red welts, especially on ankles, legs, and hips
. Small reddish colored flakes or pellets found on mattress pads or mattress tops
. Small, reddish-tan insects about the size of a grain of rice found in beds, on floors, or on bed frames
Currently, the biggest medical risk from bedbugs is from secondary infection or allergic reaction. If biting persists and the biting insect is not known, call a professional pest control company. There are many household insects that bite such as fleas, stinkbugs, and arthropods such as spiders. Multiple bites that occur over the span of a few days indicates an infestation of some sort. A pest control specialist can help identify infestations.