Bed Bug Alert
Bed bugs are a nasty fact of life that everyone is aware of, but no one wants to deal with.  Here's another nasty fact: you may be living with them and you don't even know it.

Many people are affected by bed bugs, but they simply don't recognize the signs.  This is perfectly understandable, as bed bugs are among those pests that were all but exterminated during the widespread use of DDT in the United States after World War I.

There are several reasons that bed bugs have become a recurring problem, including increased travel to and from other parts of the world.  The average person won't notice that there is a problem until they become plagued with excessive itching and oval-shaped insect bite marks.  Even then, these bites are often mistaken for mosquito or dust mite bites.

When the average homemaker discovers a problem with bed bugs, he or she will react by spraying commercial pesticides on surface areas.  This is not an effective treatment, as bed bugs are extremely talented at hiding away in mattresses, furniture, bedding, and sofa upholstery.  Another common mistake is using insect sprays that are formulated to kill cockroaches or mosquitoes.  This kind of insect spray does not kill bed bugs and therefore, the furniture and upholstery remains infested.

Signs of Bed Bug Infestation


One of the first signs of a bed bug infestation is not something that you can see, but rather something you'll smell.  A heavily infested home will have a sweet, musty scent. This odor is released through the sweat glands of bed bugs and can be quite offensive.  

If you see tiny reddish-brown spots in or around your bed, it may be excrement.  Cracks, crevices and holes in and around the bed should be inspected for these stains, as well as wallpaper, bedsprings and clothing in your dresser.  Other telltale signs include egg casings and bits of skin that have been shed by bed bug nymphs. Your living room couch should also be checked for these stains, especially if you or any member of your family has experienced bed bug symptoms such as swollen bites.  Any spot in your home where a person stays for more than 30 minutes should be inspected for signs of bed bugs.

Bed Bug Hiding Places


Any thin crack, tiny hole or even a mattress seam is the ideal spot for a bed bug to hide.  These creatures need to be close to human blood, their primary food source, so any opening near the bed or around the bedroom and living room are the primary living spots for bed bugs.

If you find a bed bug in any part of your house, chances are pretty good that the other areas have been affected as well.

Uncovering Bed Bugs


Inspect your entire house the moment you detect a bed bug.  Take the bed apart and inspect every seam of your mattress.  Check the headboard and foundation.  If you find insects, excrement or bits of insect skin, your home is likely infested with bed bugs.

When bed bugs have been detected, you'll need to dig a little deeper to uncover more insects.  Bed bugs can and will create colonies under wallpaper, so be prepared to strip the paper.  Upholstered and wood furniture should also be inspected, as bed bugs prefer the porous surface of wood and cloth to plastic and metal, which offer little in the way of cozy nesting places.

Empty the contents of your nightstand, and examine it inside and out.  Tip it over to inspect the cracks, crevices, recesses and corners of the woodwork underneath.  Bed bugs love wood, so there is a good chance that they are hiding in there.

Bed Bug Facts


Remember the following facts about bed bugs.  With this information in mind, you'll be able to determine whether the pests in your home are bed bugs, or another type of insect.

* Bed bugs are flat and oval-shaped, so they're able to hide in extremely thin cracks.  That's why their living and breeding sites are so hard to find.

* Bed bugs feed by piercing human skin with two elongated beaks.  One beak injects saliva that contains both an anesthetic to reduce pain to pierced skin, and an anticoagulant to keep the blood from clotting.   The other beak sucks the blood.

* These nocturnal insects are very active during the night, especially about an hour before the dawn breaks.

* An adult bed bug can for eighteen months or longer without feeding.  They are able to stay in their hiding or breeding places until another host comes along to satiate their need for blood.

* Bed bugs are often called "the hitchhikers".  They will travel long distances by riding on suitcases and in luggage and clothing.
    
* A female bed bug will lay about 300 eggs, and the eggs hatch into nymphs after ten days.  This is why an infestation can take place so quickly.

If you've had a problem with itchy skin or unexplained insect bites, make a careful inspection of your home.  Should you find any of the signs of bed bugs, call a professional exterminator immediately.