Bed Bugs: Deal With It

Everyone's heard the old saying, "don't let the bed bugs bite". Fact is, it's not just an old saying. Bed bugs are real, and they do bite.

How do you know if you have them though? And what can you do about it?

What to Look For

The first signs you'll notice is their bites, which can be as insignificant as small red specks along your face, neck, and arms. In more severe cases you'll see rashes, lesions, and raised, itchy welts.

Bed bugs themselves are about the size of apple seeds, and often mistaken for ticks or cockroaches.

They also have many of the same habits as roaches. Being nocturnal, they come out at night to feed and can be found in many of the same places as roaches. Naturally, in and around your bedroom area is their focus.

You may even find one of their crushed corpses in your bed, or blood or rust colored stains from their feces. Their fecal matter also smears like blood when rewetted, so a little night sweat could cause the same effect.

Look under mattresses, box springs, carpets, and rugs; around headboards and night stands; and behind baseboards, curtains, and furniture. Any place with cracks and crevices can house these insects. Even your alarm clock or nearby computers or laptops.

Prevention

Bed bugs aren't something you get from sloppy housekeeping. They're transported in and feed on blood, so even the cleanest of homes can get them.

The only prevention is to keep them from getting into your house.

If you travel, be on the lookout for the same signs as you would at home. If you spot any at your hotel, request another room. Better yet, move to another hotel.

On you return, don't take anything into the house until it's been inspected. Clothes should be washed in hot water, and dried with high heat for at least 30 minutes, just to be on the safe side.

Remedies

Once you have bed bugs, the best thing to do is call a professional, since bed bugs are notoriously hard to get rid of.

If you decide to take matters into your own hands, however, there are steps you can take.

The vacuum cleaner is your best weapon. Vacuum everything. If it's not nailed down, vacuum it. Vacuum under it, around it, behind it, and inside of it, if you can.

If it is nailed down, pry it up and vacuum under it anyway. Bed bugs can hide in the smallest cracks.

Next, wash everything. Use the same routine as with traveling. Use hot water and set the dryer on high.

Unfortunately, bed bugs are extremely pesticide resistant. The only known chemical that works is also toxic to children, so you'll just have to keep vacuuming and washing until they're gone.

And since the only common predators of bed bugs are ants, mites, spiders, and roaches, you don't have many other options. Get that vacuum cleaner out and get vacuuming.