Why Did I Get Bed Bugs?
Where Do They Come From?
One of the reasons for the reemergence of these ghastly insects is due to the government’s ban of DDT. While potentially harmful to humans, DDT was very effective at wiping out bed bug populations. When federal regulations mandated extermination companies to more natural means of insecticide, they began to flourish.
The female can lay three to five eggs per day, and up to five hundred eggs in the span of its lifetime. Mating is classified as “traumatic insemination”: the male bed bug slices through the body cavity of the female for insemination.
When the female is ready to lay eggs, she will travel to protected spaces, and lay eggs in ceiling cracks, behind wallpaper, and cracks of furniture.
There are several things that you should ask yourself and several things that should be checked to prevent a re-infestation, or alternatively, if you have never had an infestation problem, measures you should take to ensure that you hopefully never will.
Two: Second-hand Furniture
If you have recently purchased or picked up a used piece of furniture, or have been in a used furniture store, check the item thoroughly for signs of possible infestation before purchase or before its entry into your home.
One: Out-of-town Trips
Did you or someone else in your home recently come home from a trip? Bugs can stow away in clothing and in the recesses of your luggage. A good preventative measure is to check lodging you are staying in immediately after arrival. As mentioned before, signs are evident, even during the daytime, including the blood-colored excrement they leave behind.
Three: Overnight Visitors
If you recently had an overnight visitor and the problem seems to be surfacing from areas where the visitor stayed, attack this area with treatment before your own sleeping quarters. It is possible, since they do not travel far on their own, that the infestation is confined to this one area.
Six: Check School Bags
Inspect school children’s backpacks for signs of possible infestations. If an infestation is found, inspect areas near where the backpacks are usually stored.
Four: The Apartment Next Door
If you live in an apartment or multi-family dwelling, it is possible that the infestation can come in through the walls from an adjacent apartment. Inform your landlord immediately so that they may take care of the problem.
Five: Any Routine Visitor Can Bring Bugs
Be cautious of people who routinely enter your home. This includes home health aides, maids, and nurses. Transmission is possible simply by the visit of a friend or worker into your home; they need not be staying overnight or sleeping in a bed to transmit the bugs.
Inspect Your Hotel Room
Upon arrival at a hotel, check areas thoroughly. Check mattresses, headboards, behind picture frames, in drawers. Check every area where they like to hide. If you find evidence, including their excrement, it is possible that it is from an old infestation and not a current one.
If any evidence of infestation or prior infestation is discovered, notify the hotel staff immediately and ask to be switched to another room. Make sure the room is not adjacent to the room you just evacuated, as the bugs can easily travel through thin walls.
While you are staying at a hotel, it is best to leave your clothing packed in suitcases. Unpacking them and storing them in dresser drawers at the hotel may open up an opportunity for the bugs to get in your clothing.
Notify the Hotel Management of the Problem
Treat Your Luggage Immediately
Upon arrival home, attempt to launder all clothing before bringing it into your home, using the methods described above. If it is already too late and you have brought your luggage into the home, unpack on a smooth surface like cement or hardwood flooring that is of a light color, so you can see the bugs easily.
Do not unpack on carpet, as eggs and the bugs can immediately attach themselves in camouflaged areas. Unpack clothing into plastic bags, and freeze suitcases or place in sauna and heated above 140 degrees for a minimum for 2 hours, if possible when they are emptied.
What Not to Do in a Bed Bug Situation
There are many myths, folklore and “home remedies” out there, but most of them are not very effective. Do not use petroleum jelly or kerosene on affected areas; petroleum jelly is ineffective and kerosene is a fire hazard.
Thyme oil may discourage the bugs, but oils have not been proven to be effective in their extermination. Using this method will only delay the length of time you have an infestation.
If you are turning up the heat or turning off the heat to rid your home of the problem, be advised that the entire affected area must be at the extreme temperature (heat or cold) for a prolonged period of time. This method works best in dwellings that are unoccupied, or ones that are easily unoccupied.