Bed bugs have been the main characters in many people’s nightmares for a long time. These tiny creatures have successfully made a lot of people who have encountered them toss and turn. Understanding these creatures has also proved challenging because bed bugs are not typical pests. They are far more complicated. Many people have never come into contact with bed bugs and aren’t familiar with the signs. Others may have bed bugs, but don’t realize that they were dealing with them. All of this has left so many people wondering why bed bugs are so hard to get rid of?
Bed bugs are tiny insects that hide in bed mattresses, frames, pillows, and on cracks found in walls and floors. They hide during the day from the light, a scientific term known as negatively phototactic. They usually come out at night when it is dark. Bed bugs have no wings (so they don’t fly) but crawl very fast. They feed on human blood as humans sleep at night. Luckily, they are not known to spread any diseases.
Bed bugs bite exposed skin while sleeping. A bed bug bite is painless at first, but it becomes very itchy later. This trait explains why certain people may have encountered bed bugs without their knowledge.
What do bed bugs look like?
To deal with bed bugs, you must distinguish between them and other insects, such as beetles, cockroaches, and fleas. Understanding what bed bugs look like will ensure you do not call your exterminator for the wrong service when you need a bed bug extermination.
Here is a brief description of the size, shape, and color of bed bugs to help you be sure it’s a bed bug the next time you see one.
- Size – Bed bug sizes vary with changes in the life cycle and gender. An adult bed bug measures close to 5-7 mm, which is close to the size of an apple seed. They also have size variations before and after feeding. Their size can increase to 50% more than the original size after sucking blood.
- Shape – Bed bugs are ellipsoidal with a flattened surface.
- Color – The color of these sleep-destroying creatures varies before and after sucking blood. The color also varies with age. They initially would have a mahogany brown look, but after feeding, their color would change to reddish brown.
Now that you understand what you’re looking for, you realize that bed bug sizes have everything to do with where and how detailed you need to inspect.
How do bed bugs get into my house?
Many homeowners we speak with believe that bed bugs are caused by living in a filthy area, not doing your laundry properly and regularly, and not spreading your bed. This belief is partially true.
If someone has bed bugs in their house, it does not mean they are unhygienic. Due to their small size, bed bugs can hide without easily being noticed, and you can bring them into your house without even knowing. It is important to understand how bed bugs get into your home to prevent the spread and learn how to eliminate them. There are various ways bed bugs can unknowingly get into your house.
Sitting on furniture with bed bugs
Sitting or sleeping on furniture infested with bed bugs causes them to move into your clothes, bags, purses, or other items in contact with the infested furniture. This transfer may occur when sitting on the seats in public vehicles, poorly maintained office chairs, your friend’s sofas, train seats, or even beds. Studies have proven that bed bugs can spread quickly in large buildings with many units, such as hotels, offices, and apartments.
Bed bugs are attracted to poorly cleaned areas, such as beds and sofas in a house. Bed bugs may also be found on carpets and curtains that are not properly and regularly cleaned. Finding bed bugs on your bed, however, is not always an indication that you have poor hygiene habits; it may result from meeting them from other areas.
Buying secondhand furniture
Why get new furniture at a high price when I can get used, but still new-looking, furniture from secondhand dealers at a lower price? Used furniture is one surefire way to risk bringing bed bugs into your home.
Purchasing used furniture from dealers in secondhand goods or from friends and family members who want to get rid of their old furniture may be another reason for bed bug infestation. Secondhand furniture may have bed bugs or eggs that hatch once you buy them.
Before you get secondhand furniture, you should inspect it to ensure that there are no bed bugs attached to the frames or seams.
Schools dormitories and campus hostels
Most students who do not commute from home but stay in campus hostels or those kids in boarding schools carry a lot of bed bugs when they go home for holidays. Students in school dormitories visit their friends’ rooms often, and cause the spreading of bed bugs to other rooms without even knowing it.
During summer vacations and mid-term holidays, these students carry the bed bugs in their uniforms, backpacks, suitcases, and jackets and take them home. They hop on beds, sofa sets, and carpets at home and spread the bed bugs all over the house. Our calls spike during college breaks when all the dirty laundry comes home, and the parents find bed bugs in the laundry from school.
Buying thrift store clothes
Getting already-used clothes from thrift stores is another way of getting bed bugs into your house. The money saved from buying secondhand can cost thousands more if you bring bed bugs into your home. Therefore, you must examine the clothes on hangers in the thrift stores carefully to see any bed bugs. The easiest way to ensure you don’t bring them into your home is not to buy anything at all.
Hospitals and Medical facilities have bed bugs
It may seem unlikely, but hospitals are a significant way of spreading bed bugs. Away from the highly esteemed private hospitals, public hospitals are infested with bed bugs from reception seats to ward bed mattresses. Some small hospitals with limited budgets try to cut costs to prevent financial crises and invest less in cleaning methods.
These hospitals also use pocket-friendly anti-bed bug treatments that may not be very effective in killing bed bugs. Patients visit these hospitals and use their facilities, and the bed bugs latch onto their purses, bags, and clothes and carry them home.
There are many articles and studies on how bed bugs spread, including medical transport and facilities.
Why is it difficult to get rid of bed bugs?
Getting rid of bed bugs is a challenge due to various factors. Here are a few reasons that explain the difficulty of getting rid of bed bugs.
Bed bugs are so small
One reason bed bugs can spread quickly without one noticing is their size. Although they have different sizes at different stages of their lives, one thing that remains constant is that their size is tiny.
If you have yet to grasp the size of these bedroom creatures fully, they are similar in size to an apple seed. An adult bed bug measures 5mm and, if significant, measures 7mm. This size is so tiny that the bed bug can fit anywhere and hide wherever it desires.
If you dropped an apple seed on your couch, would you be able to recover it? Probably not. That explains part of the reason why a bed bug is challenging to get rid of. It is minimal and can fit into any crevice or remote hiding place.
You may throw away your couch, thinking you have destroyed the bed bugs, only to learn that they can also hide underneath your carpet and in the walls. Their size works in their favor.
Immediately after a meal, which is sucking on a human’s blood, a bed bug may increase in size by up to 50%. They become more visible after such scenarios, but you still need a keen eye to identify them.
Bed bugs can survive for a long time without food
Shocking as this may sound, these little nightmares can go for close to 12 months without food. It is like a miracle of nature that they can survive that long without food, which is human blood. This trait enables them to continue living in bedding and personal items for an extended period, even when uninhabited.
This heavily depends, however, on the age and cycle of life in which the bed bug is. Older bugs have been documented to live for almost a year without feeding on blood. The older bugs can even go way past this limit of 5 months with no food whatsoever.
This lifespan makes bed bugs a nuisance because while you might think you have dealt with them and they are no longer a bother, they can quickly resurface and take over your house again.
It is important to note that even temperature and humidity have a role to play in their survival without food. The fact that bed bugs do not need to be fed daily works to their advantage. One meal per week is all they need, making them rare enough. After one dinner, they can go into hiding for a long time only to return when their host is not keen to kill them.
They travel without people knowing that they are with them
One of the perks that bed bugs enjoy due to their size is that they can move with someone or something without being noticed. They can fit into very tiny spaces where one cannot find them, therefore when someone moves, they carry them with them.
Most people don’t even know they are transporting the bed bugs as they move from one location to another. Couple that with the fact that they can survive prolonged periods without eating. One can successfully carry them from one point to another without even suspecting, regardless of the time they take to travel from one point to another.
They are tough to kill
Bed bugs are a real-life representation of the mutant movies we see in Hollywood. They have developed evolutionary adaptations to help them survive many pesticides and harsh conditions.
The exoskeleton of a bed bug today is currently 15% tougher than the bed bugs 20 years ago. It is scientifically believed that the more rigid exoskeleton is an adaptation to resistance to insecticides. The exoskeleton is also proven to contain enzymes that break down insecticides and render them harmless to bed bugs. These enzymes, known as esterase, make bed bugs the most challenging insects to kill through insecticides.
They reproduce rapidly
The rate of reproduction of bed bugs is mind-blowing. The frequency at which these tiny monsters bring about younger ones ought to be among the fastest in the world. This reproduction is what makes bed bugs small but lethal.
A female can lay eggs daily, and this ensures that there are millions of eggs. This reproductive cycle quadruples their chance of survival. Even after extermination, if the eggs are not destroyed, the chances of survival of the bed bugs remain very high.
A female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime, ensuring there is never a shortage of bed bugs.
How do I stop bed bugs from getting into my house?
Since we know the difficulty surrounding getting rid of bed bugs, we should take precautionary measures to shield our houses from bed bugs. Here are a few tricks to stop bed bugs from getting into your house.
- Regularly clean your bed sheets, blankets, duvets, and clothing that may have come into contact with bed bugs. This cleaning doesn’t imply that it is the main reason you have bed bugs, but the bedding and clothing may have come into contact with bed bugs, and thus washing and drying them can kill them.
- Clean your clothes after a visit to a friend. Coming home from traveling or from visiting a friend? Make sure the first thing you do is launder your clothing. You may have unknowingly carried bed bugs. Preferably, ensure that these clothes do not come in contact with any other clothing in the house. Do this regardless of whether you wore them or not. Treat all your clothing as dirty.
- Purchase less secondhand furniture. To avoid bed bugs from used furniture, purchase new furniture. If you can’t afford new furniture and must get secondhand, inspect for bed bugs and wipe down everything with rubbing alcohol. People these days opt to take the furniture for deep cleaning to lessen the chances of a bed bug infestation.
- If you live in a multi-family home like an apartment or duplex. Try and seal crevices between your house and a neighbor, and make sure you close those cracks to prevent the spread of bed bugs. These gaps are common in multi-unit buildings where bed bugs can spread from one enclosed space to another. Due to their size, you will never know that they are spreading, but they can and may make your home situation a living hell.
How do I kill bed bugs?
Despite the difficulty bed bugs present, it is possible to get rid of them. There are a few ways to kill bed bugs. In some of our other articles, we have outlined five ways to kill bed bugs with things right in your home, including nail polish remover and more.
Raise the heat
Bed bugs can’t survive extreme heat. If you feel they have become too much of a nuisance for you, you could take off your bedding, put them in the dryer, and turn on the dryer. The temperature of the dryer is almost 120 degrees. Such extreme temperatures will kill not only the adult bed bugs but their eggs too.
Vacuum cleaning removes even the tiniest bed bugs and their eggs from the infested surface. It may not kill them using heat or pesticides, but it will effectively remove them. The suction force of a vacuum cleaner over bedding or sofa would pull and detach the bed bug from the surface and remove it via sucking.
Use of alcohol
Pouring rubbing alcohol on the bed or infested surface would wilt and kill the bed bugs. An alcoholic solvent is just as effective at killing pests as it is at killing bacteria and viruses.
Hire a professional bed bug exterminator
Getting professional bed bug and pest exterminators to come to your premises, examine for the presence of bed bugs, kill them using pesticides, and advise on how to prevent future infestation is one sure way to get rid of bed bugs.
EnviroPest bed bugs exterminators have been ridding homes of bed bugs for over 30 years using natural control methods. Once they reach the premise suspected to be infested, they conduct a thorough investigation and understand the magnitude of the infestation. After this, they can effectively provide solutions for your pest problem. Whether it’s in your home or your office, they’ve got you.
EnviroPest brings an ocean of experience dealing with pest problems, including bed bugs. If bed bugs are a nuisance, it’s best to call the experts to help you deal with the situation.