A bed bug infestation is every home owner’s worst nightmare. Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to get rid of these pests and to prevent them from infesting your apartment. This article will cover most of them.
How do you get rid of bed bugs in an apartment? There are a few non-chemical and chemical techniques available that you can use to eliminate a bed bug infestation in your apartment. Depending on the severity of the infestation, you can choose to apply one technique at a time or several at once.
Bed bugs have wreaked havoc in homes all over the world. Knowing how to identify, get rid of them, and prevent them from infesting your apartment will save you a lot of money that you would have otherwise had to spend on pest control.
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How to get rid of a bed bug infestation
Getting rid of bed bugs from your apartment is no mean feat. They require a strategic approach using several methods to effectively remove bed bugs from your home in the case of an established infestation.
Before you begin treating your apartment for bedbugs, you should first prepare the rooms where bed bugs have been found, or the rooms where you suspect an infestation, for treatment. You should also prepare the rooms adjacent to the infested rooms.
Preparing for treatment maximizes your odds for success. Ensure that all the potential hiding places have been cleaned. Get rid of any object or material that is heavily infected. You should avoid transferring items from an infected room to another to contain the bed bugs.
Seal any openings and cracks on furniture with caulk. You should also glue down any loose wallpaper to get rid of their hiding places.
After eliminating all the potential hiding places, get rid of the bed bugs. You should first try killing them without the use of chemicals, such as subjecting them to high heat or intense cold. If you are unable to get rid of them using this method, you may then have to use an insecticide.
There are several insecticides available that will help you get rid of bed bugs. The insecticides are available in the form of aerosol spray or dust. Some products cannot be used where others can. Using a variety of products to treat your apartment for bed bugs will therefore yield the best results.
Bed bugs are quite resilient creatures. You might think you have completely gotten rid of them only to spot them again. If the problem doesn’t go away after trying several methods to control the infestation, call in a professional exterminator.
Identifying Bed Bugs
Many people have never seen bed bugs and this makes it easy for these pests to infest your house undetected. For you to get rid of bed bugs from your apartment, you must first know what a bed bug looks like.
Luckily, bed bugs are visible to the human eye. They vary in size, depending on their stage of development. Nymphs are about 2mm to 5mm in size while fully grown adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed. They grow to be about 7mm or larger.
Adult bed bugs have an oval-shaped body that is flat. The each have a pair of antennae and six legs. They do not have wings.
The color of bed bugs changes as they approach adulthood. Nymphs are translucent immediately after hatching. After feeding, the abdomen becomes bright red and the color fades to dark brown as it digests the blood. As the nymphs become adults, their color changes to a darker brown. Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in color.
Bed Bug Habit and Behavior
Understanding the habits and behavior of bedbugs is important as it will make it easier for you to find an infestation in its early stages and getting rid of it.
Bed bugs prefer to feed on humans but will also feed on other animals and birds. They feed almost entirely at night but will seek the hosts during the day if they are hungry.
When they are not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places around the house. Their small size allows them to fit into cracks and crevices as thin as credit cards. This makes it hard to find them at home hence the difficulty of bed bug control.
Bed bugs are attracted to warmth. They also love hanging around areas where humans lay idle or sit for extended periods. In case of a wide spread infestation, they tend to hide around the perimeter of a room. With this in mind, you should focus on the said areas when inspecting for a bed bug infestation in your apartment.
Checking for Bedbugs
Bed bugs tend to hide in the dark and hidden areas of the apartment when they are not feeding. Their size and flat bodies also allow them to hide in thin areas such as cracks and crevices. For these reasons, it helps to have a stiff, flat-edged object and flash light when inspecting for bed bugs in your apartment.
Some of the common hiding places include around the edges of mattresses and the beds, the folds of fabric, inside cracks and crevices and in furniture. You should also inspect your dressers and nightstand for any signs of a bed bug infestation. You should empty the drawers and inspect each of them.
You should also inspect around door and window frames, the curtains and drapes, behind loose wallpaper, around the ceilings, between book pages and picture frames, and inside home electronics.
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
If your apartment is infested with bedbugs, the best solution is to find the infestation as early as possible. It is easier to treat a minor infestation than when it spreads and becomes established. Detecting an infestation early will also be much less costly.
Detecting and correctly identifying low-level infestations, however, is quite difficult as most people do not know what to look for. If you suspect there are bed bugs in your apartment, you should start by removing the sheets off your bed and inspecting the edges, crevices, and piping of your mattress. Some of the tell-tale signs of a bed bug infestation include:
1. Waking up with itchy red bite spots
Most people often don’t realize they have a bed bug infestation until they leave a mark on their skin. These bites are usually small and red and are often itchy. In some cases, the bites might get inflamed.
The bites are easy to distinguish as bed bugs leave distinctive bite patterns on your skin. The patterns are usually in the form of flat, red welts in small clusters or zigzag lines. These are different from mosquito or flea bites.
It is important to note that not everyone reacts to bed bug bites. In fact, most people fail to get the tell-tale red and itchy spots among other physical reactions to bed bug bites. It is, therefore, important to pay attention to other signs.
2. A strange odor
Bed bugs also leave a strange musty odor in your home, similar to the smell of a wet towel. The odor is a result of the pheromones released by the bed bugs. When they are in large numbers, their scent can be quite strong, hence the musty odor. If this is the case you should inspect your apartment for bedbugs.
3. Blood stains and fecal spots
Finding scattered blood spots on your sheets might be an indicator of a bed bug infestation in your apartment. Bed bugs are nocturnal insects that congregate close to where humans sleep. They creep out of their hiding spots at night to feed on the blood of their hosts. Some of the blood gets stained on the sheets.
Bed bugs also tend to leave liquid waste wherever they go. It should be noted that the blood stains differ from the fecal spots. The stains from their fecal matter tends to be dark brown or black in color, which is the color of digested blood.
4. Dark spots on your mattress and walls
Apart from leaving stains on your sheets, bed bugs also leave stains on your mattress and walls. These stains are common around the corners and seams of mattresses. These stains are often dark brown fecal spots that smear when touched, leaving behind an unpleasant smell. In the case of widespread infestation, these stains can be found on the walls and underneath wallpaper.
5. Deposits of bed bug shells and molted skins
You should also be on the lookout for empty bed bug shells and molted skins. The empty shells exist where the bed bugs feed and aggregate. Bed bugs grow as they feed until they reach maturity. As they grow, they shed their exoskeletons to pave way for their growing bodies and develop new exoskeletons. This process is known as molting.
Bedbugs molt five times in their lives, meaning that their exoskeletons are shed five times in their lifetime. In case of an infestation, thousands of these shed exoskeletons are left behind, indicating the presence of bedbugs in your apartment.
6. Presence of small white spots on your mattress and furniture
Another indicator of a possible bed bug infestation in your apartment is the presence of tiny white spots in the dimples and crevices of your mattress and furniture. These spots are bed bug eggs and if spotted, you should inspect other places in your apartment such as behind headboards, the bottom of chairs, between cushions, among other likely places for further signs of a bed bug infestation.
Signs and Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites
Bed bug bites are often confused with the bites of other insects. Being able to know whether you have been bitten by a bed bug or not is important as it helps you know if you have a possible infestation in your apartment.
Bed bugs can bite any part of the body where there is skin. The most bitten areas, however, are the parts of the body that are left exposed when sleeping. These parts include the face, hands, lower back, arms, shoulders, neck, and legs.
The bite itself is often painless and many people do not develop clear symptoms of the bite. Some, however, the bites get a minor inflammation.
There are also people who are hypersensitive to bites in general and they develop more serious symptoms to bed bug bites. The symptoms often occur immediately after the person is bitten, but in some cases, the symptoms may develop or progress over the days that follow. Without further irritation, the symptoms usually reduce after about a week.
Bed bug bites usually cause some degree of discomfort in the form of inflammation and itchiness. Other signs and symptoms include:
- An itchy bump with a clear center
- Red welts appearing in clusters or in a zigzag line
- A burning sensation
Some of the symptoms for people who develop severe reactions to bed bug bites that may require medical attention include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Swollen tongue
People who have a bed bug infestation in their apartments are also likely to suffer from sleep deprivation. This is because the idea of bed bugs feeding on you can be so stressful to the point that some people will avoid sleep altogether and if they get to sleep, most of the time it’s restless sleep.
Increased lack of sleep results in other problems such as general fatigue, anxiety and depression, and a lowered immune function.
Life Cycle of a Bed Bug
Bed bugs feed on the blood of humans and animals. The blood is essential for their growth and reproduction. Bed bugs undergo three distinct stages in their growth to adulthood. Understanding the life cycle of bed bugs is important as it helps you know how best to handle a bed bug infestation in your apartment. The three stages of a bed bug’s life cycle are:
After mating, an individual adult female bed bug can lay about 200 to 250 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs are tiny and grain-like and are white in color. They are approximately 1mm in length. They are either laid singly or in clusters and are hidden in cracks and crevices. The eggs hatch within 6 to 10 days.
When the eggs hatch, the bed bug enters the nymph stage and they immediately begin to feed. Nymphs undergo five molting stages before reaching maturity. Molting is the process of shedding the outer exoskeleton.
Nymphs have a similar appearance as adults, but they are small in size and are yet to reach sexual maturity. Younger nymphs are yellow or white in color while the older ones are reddish-brown. For each molting stage to be completed, nymphs require a blood meal.
The rate at which nymphs reach adulthood is dependent on a variety of factors, mainly temperature and the availability of food. Nymphs take about five weeks to reach adulthood at room temperature.
Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in color. They often feed once a week but they can survive without a blood meal for up to several months under favorable conditions. Adult bed bugs have a life span of about 2 to 4 months under normal conditions.
How to Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation
The best way of getting rid of bed bugs from your apartment is by preventing the infestation from taking place in the first place. Taking measures to prevent bed bugs from invading your home will help you avoid the costly pest control treatments used to get rid of them. Some of the effective methods of preventing a bed bug invasion in your apartment include:
1. Replacing your mattress every 2-3 years
Although it may seem a little bit too extreme to replace your mattress within such a short period, it may be a smart decision as it helps in eliminating the risks. Once your mattress is infested with bed bugs, it becomes difficult to completely get rid of them as they will keep re appearing.
2. Using protective covers on your mattresses
Using a protective cover to encase your mattresses and box springs will help to get rid of any potential hiding spots of the bed bugs. The covers are light in color making it easy for the bed bugs to be identified, in case you bring them home.
You should make sure that the covers you get are of high quality and will resist tearing. You should also inspect the covers regularly for holes.
3. Reducing the clutter
You should also cut back on the clutter as clutter makes it hard to get rid of an infestation. Clutter provide bed bugs with places to hide. This makes it hard to monitor the presence of bed bugs in an apartment. By eliminating clutter around the apartment, you will be getting rid of these potential hiding places, making it easier to get rid of bed bugs in case of an infestation.
4. Vacuuming regularly
Vacuuming your apartment regularly will help you get rid of any bed bug that might have successfully gotten into your apartment. You should vacuum your apartment at least once every week. If you suspect that you may have come into contact with bed bugs, vacuum the apartment daily just to be safe. You should then dispose of vacuum contents carefully in a garbage bag, sealing it, and getting rid of the bag.
5. Sealing your home from bed bugs
There are several ways bed bugs can get into your home, especially if you are living in an apartment. One way of doing this is by covering power outlets. Bed bugs can travel through walls and can get into your apartment through electrical outlets. Covering power outlets prevents them from getting into your apartment.
You can also install door sweeps on the bottom of all the doors in your apartment to prevent the bed bugs from moving to other rooms via the space beneath the doors.
You could also prevent entry of bed bugs into your apartment by sealing every crack and crevice outside and inside your apartment. You can seal these potential pathways using caulk.
6. Being vigilant
Another way of preventing a bed bug infestation in your apartment is constant vigilance. You should inspect your furniture regularly for any sign of infestation. You should also be very vigilant when purchasing any used furniture.
Used furniture, among other used items such as electronics are perfect hiding places for bed bugs. You should carefully inspect these items, even when they look clean, before bringing them into your apartment.
The good news is that there are no known pathogens that can be transmitted by bed bugs. They can, however, be very annoying, resulting to loss of sleep among the affected. Their bites may also cause itching which can lead to excessive scratching, leaving your skin susceptible to secondary infection.
Bed bugs are hardy creatures but there is a limit to what they can withstand. Bed bugs cannot survive in temperatures of more than 45 degrees Celsius or temperatures below –17 degrees Celsius. This is why it is possible to get rid of bed bugs by exposing them to high or low temperatures.