Have you ever slept in a hotel or traveled by bus and found that you later had tiny red bites on your skin? This is probably because of bedbugs.
Bedbugs are small wingless insects that feed exclusively on warm-blooded creatures. This makes us an ideal host for them. Bedbugs are oval and flattened in shape; white, brown, or burnt orange in color; and about one-fourth of an inch in length. The young ones are the size of a poppy seed. They are visible to the naked eye. They get their name because of their preference to live in home furnishings including sofas, beds, and mattresses. However, they are increasingly being found in offices across the U.S. They usually hide in dark cracks and crevices.
You would rarely know when you are being bitten, because they bite when you are asleep. A bed bug's bite is painless because the saliva of the bed bug is an anesthetic. The feeding is complete in just five minutes. However, you might find a red welt when you are awake, one similar to that of a mosquito or flea bite. Over a period of a few weeks, you may get sensitized to repeated bites and develop an allergic response. Bed bugs are most active an hour before sunrise, which is their peak feeding time, but may also feed during the day if they are hungry or get the opportunity.
Bed bugs feed every five to ten days. They can, however, live for several months without feeding. If there is no food around, they become dormant for over a year. A well-fed bed bug lives for about six to nine months. The female bed bug lays approximately 5 eggs in a day and nearly 500 during their entire lifetime. Eggs are nearly 1 mm long and are visible to the naked eye. They have a milky-white tinge and take two weeks to hatch. It is therefore important to recheck your home periodically.
Most bites resolve within one to two weeks. Treatments focus on relieving symptoms, and include:
- Applying a topical cream, such as cortisone, to relieve itching
- Administering an oral antibiotic if infection occurs
- Giving oral corticosteroids if there is a severe allergic reaction.
- Use of antihistamines, in some cases, to relieve allergic reactions
As soon as the symptoms are treated, it will be necessary to know the way to deal with the infestation.
The following procedures are advised to get rid of bed bugs:
- Bag the infested bedding and garments and launder them at a minimum of 120° F
- Heat the items in the drier
- For items that cannot be treated by washing or by placing in the drier, wrap them in plastic and place them outdoors in a very hot and sunny location for at least 24 hours
- Vacuuming may help get rid of some of the bed dugs before treatment with insecticides
- You may find it is best to throw some infested items away (bag them before disposal)
- Insecticides are very effective in getting rid of bed bugs. A good pest control professional knows where to look for them and will treat all areas where bugs are found.
The biggest risk from bed bugs comes from secondary bacterial infections, caused by scratching the skin. They are not known to carry diseases, but can cause discomfort and disturbed sleep. If your home is infested with bedbugs, it is important to deal with them immediately.
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