As apartment buildings increasingly become attractive housing solutions, the massive flow of people into them has brought with it a number of challenges. Not least of which is pests like cockroaches, mice, rats, and bedbugs getting transferred from household to household. The focus of this article will be on this pest problem, paying special attention to bedbugs.
Can bedbugs travel through apartment walls? Yes, they can. Since most apartments share some common amenities such as plumbing and electrical causeways that go through the walls, the bed bugs can easily crawl in these and get to your apartment from an adjacent infested apartment.
This article will take a closer look at these elusive but common pests, highlighting their behaviors and what you can do to get rid of them.
Bedbugs and where they come from
Bedbugs are a type of small crawling insect. They appear reddish brown in color when not fed, and almost entirely red when full of blood. Female bedbugs lay hundreds of eggs that can metamorphosize from nymphs to adults within a month in the right conditions.
Within a year, there can be as many as three generations of bedbugs. This means they can rapidly infest any environment they find themselves in as long as they have a good food source. Bedbugs survive exclusively on blood from warm blooded animals. They can attack both humans and pets, although some species such as the Cimex lectularius feed exclusively on human blood.
Interestingly, bedbugs and can live for up to a year without feeding. Bedbug nymphs, which look like fully grown bedbug save their slightly light color that darkens at every molting phase, will molt and shed their skins up to five times before becoming full adults. The nymph stage requires the nymph to feed on blood before each shedding.
Bedbugs are attracted to their hosts’ warm bodies and also when they release of carbon dioxide as they exhale during sleep. They do not have wings so they cannot fly away, but they can crawl rapidly to flee from capture. They hide in mattress seams, box springs, bed frames, headboard, floors, furniture, crevices and cracks on the wall during the day and only come out at night to feed.
Bedbugs can be mistaken for other insects such as small cockroaches. However, you can make the distinction by watching their movements, which are ant-like. Also, when crushed, they release a pungent odor.
Most bedbugs usually hitch a ride to get to your home through personal belongings such as clothing or even from pets. This can happen when you spend some time in an infested area. They can also make their way into your home when you buy second-hand items like furniture from owners who may have had bedbug problems.
What are the signs of a bedbug infestation?
The first sign is usually a painful and physical one characterized by a raised and swollen bump on the skin with a clear center. The bump is usually itchy with a burning sensation. This is because the bedbugs have mouth parts that saw into the skin causing it to bleed as they feed. The bumps may also occur on any exposed skin during sleep.
Stains of blood on the pillows or bed sheets may also be a sign of bedbug infestation. These may occur as a result of the bedbugs being squashed while you turn in your sleep.
As bedbugs excrete, their excrements may also be deposited on the bed sheets and pillows. These will appear as dark brown or rusty marks. In places where they hide, such as the bed frames or in cracks and crevices, egg shells and shed skin can also be found as evidence of their infestation.
Finally, bedbugs secrete a pungent and musty odor from their glands. This is another way that you can tell they are present.
What to do if you suspect a bedbug infestation?
As most bedbugs do their feeding at night while you sleep, you can gather most of your evidence from your beddings. Remove the bed sheets, covers, blankets, and mattress and take them outside. Thoroughly inspect them looking for the bugs or their excrement. This will appear as stained dark spots on the beddings.
You should also check in other household items such as books and clothes. Bedbugs are also fond of clothing and will often attach themselves to them in dark closets.
Getting rid of bedbugs
Good hygiene is the key to ensuring that bedbugs are kept at bay. If you have stayed in a hotel or at a place that may have bedbugs, make sure to clean everything you travelled with in hot water. Bedbugs will die when exposed to high temperatures.
Regularly clean your bed sheets, pillow cases and all other beddings in hot water. Next, because bedbugs do not live far from their hosts, and because they prefer living in the dark, you can discourage them by removing all clutter in your bedroom.
Removing and aerating the mattress and pillows occasionally will also help you fight off these pests. Whenever possible, make sure that your bed is not close to the wall, and make sure that your bedroom is always well-lit during the day.
The next thing you have to do is ensure that you vacuum your entire room daily. You should also do this to your beddings because it will help dispose of the molts from the nymphs and the adult bedbugs. Be careful to dispose of the contents of the vacuum bag in sealed plastic bags so that the bugs won’t crawl back into the house.
Finally, since the bedbugs can crawl through walls, cracks and crevices should be sealed off. Electrical fittings and plumbing fixtures should also be installed and fixed properly.
While bedbugs can be a nuisance, they are not known to carry any serious diseases. Most bedbug bites heal within a week if left undisturbed. However, because bacterial infections may occur on or around the bitten area, consider cleaning the area with antibacterial soap and water to prevent infection. If the wound is itchy, anti-itch cream can be procured to sooth the irritation.