Within the world of insects, there are a few which are more of a nuisance and do not offer much value in the world we live in. Some of those insects can cause more damage than others, both from a physical and mental standpoint.
Today, I am going to focus on one of these bugs, which is the bed bug.
Within this article, I’m going to cover where bed bugs can be found (here’s a hint – it’s not just in your bed), as well as what you can do to help prevent the spread of these bugs, both within your own living space as well as into the world.
Where Do Bed Bugs Live?
The most common place you will find these bugs is within your bed, hence the name. However, this is not the only place they live. They can also find their ways into your shoes, your suitcases, and even the cuff of your pants.
You might also find them in furniture you have bought – typically they will live in used furniture. The reason for all of these places is simple; they are open spaces which have little chance of being sealed or under the duress of very high or cold temperatures.
Bed bugs are not region specific, meaning they can just as easily live in Alaska as they can in Brazil. This bug has been around on earth for a few thousand years, and no matter what steps we take to help eradicate this insect, it continues to survive.
Common Ways to Help Prevent the Spread of Bed Bugs
In some ways, bed bugs are like roaches. They do not need to feed very often, and they like to hide in areas which are not well lit. In addition, where there is one bug present, you can count on there being more.
There are some striking differences though. You will know when you do have bed bugs, because they will bite you, especially any exposed skin you may have. This will not be during a time you are active, but rather during a time when you are laying around or resting.
When a bed bug does bite, you may or may not notice the bite at first. The bites normally happen in quick succession, up to three in a row, and depending upon your own body, you may see marks within a few minutes or it may take a few days for any mark to appear.
You may not even get a mark on your body, which makes it even tougher to distinguish whether or not you have them.
They are very small in size (no larger than 7 mm), and are not easy to just take a shoe to and squash. So, what are some ways you can prevent the spread of bed bugs?
1 – Wrap in Plastic
There are two common methods which you can do on your own which are effective. The first is to wrap the affected areas in plastic. For a bed, you can buy a bed mattress cover.
When doing this, you will encapsulate the bugs and make sure they do not spread out. They do not have a method of fighting through the plastic, so they will eventually die from the lack of both oxygen and not being able to eat.
For furniture, clothes and shoes, the same method can be applied, although you will need to customize the plastic and ensure there are no openings for the bugs to escape.
2 – Change the Temperature
Another common method is by heating or cooling the infested areas. Bed bugs like to be in room temperature, and any variant of the temperature will cause them harm.
This method is especially useful for clothes, shoes, towels and any other items you might find these pesky insects. The temperature needs to be at least 125 degrees Fahrenheit, so a dryer is the most likely solution.
If you have an item which cannot go into a dryer, like a chair or a suitcase, then you can buy some sort of heater and crank it up, like a steamer.
The other thing to note with this heating method is that it needs to be at this temperature for 15-20 minutes. There is a ratio in play with this method; the hotter the temperature, the shorter amount of time you need.
Just make sure, before you go with this method, check to make sure what you are exposing to this heat is not flammable at those temperatures.
Some people believe washing your clothes will take care of them; this is not true. Although they do not like water, there is no guarantee they will die from being in a washing machine.
You can also employ the use of extreme cold, although this is harder to implement. The temperature needed would basically be 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and there are not many things which will get this chilly.
You could use a freezer to get to this temperature, but then you will have to let the item thaw out and have to end up washing it afterwards anyways. If you do happen to live in a cold climate, though, you can put the infested item outside and just gather it the next day.
Alternative Methods to Prevent the Spread of Bed Bugs
There are some other methods, which the success rate has varied over time.
1 – Use a Vacuum Cleaner
Some people have used a vacuum cleaner to help suck the bugs up and dispose of them. This can work to some degree, but you never know if you have sucked all of them up, or all of the eggs they lay.
This can be a short-term solution, but it is not an effective long-term solution.
2 – Apply Insecticides
Some people like to use insecticides to help control and eliminate these bugs. Back in the 1990’s, this method was very popular; however, over time, bed bugs have built an immune system to the insecticides and therefore this method is not as effective anymore.
In addition, insecticides can leave a harmful smell or could damage the infested areas, like a mattress or clothes. This is especially true if you bug bomb your living space.
It requires a lot of work to ensure you protect what you don’t want to damage, and there is no guarantee this method is nearly as effective today.
3 – Hire a Professional
Depending upon how much you want to deal with this issue on your own, you could hire a professional pest control exterminator. They will have some methods not available to the public to help eliminate and control bed bugs, but they are not cheap.
If you feel as if your bed bug population is out of control, then this may be your only solution.
No matter what stage you are at when it comes to preventing the spread of bed bugs, just know you always have solutions. Just remember, even if you do eliminate them once, it does not mean they won’t come back.
This type of bug has been around for a long time, so you just need to figure out the best solution for your living space, and take care of it quickly once you realize there is an issue.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.