Bed bugs, like all living things, look for food, shelter, and places to reproduce. There’s no real cause for them except having some hitch a ride on your clothing or shoes. They can sometimes find their way into luggage or bags. Usually, bed bugs are never your fault. There are, however, measures to take in preventing an infestation and making it hard for them to thrive in your environment.
Where to Look for Bed Bugs
What causes bed bugs to proliferate are dark, safe places they can live undisturbed. Contrary to their name they don’t only live in beds, although mattresses and bed frames provide shelter and proximity to hosts. They can infest any type of furniture. The seams of chairs and couches are preferred. You’ll also find them in between cushions and in curtain folds.
The reason bed bugs are in your house is because they have places to hide. These can be anything from inside a drawer or in its joints or within electrical appliances and receptacles. Loose wall paper is a common hiding spot. The insects have even been found residing in the heads of screws.
Another reason the bugs are there is to feed. Their primary nutrition source is human blood. The preferred feeding habits and living conditions are what cause bed bugs to take shelter in your house. Room temperature is best for them, but they can survive in temperatures as cold as 46°F and in conditions over 100 degrees.
You’ll see them mostly at night, but hungry buggers will seek forage no matter how light it is. One bed bug can travel up to 20 feet from its hiding spot to feed. It can take 12 minutes per feeding although one bug can be done in as little as three minutes.
They also leave behind a mess. You’ll also notice rusty looking spots. Many times adults and even nymphs will avoid areas they had fed before. Stains also appear due to individuals getting crushed. Their excrement also leaves unsightly dark spots but you’re also likely to find shed skins and pale yellow eggs and eggshells.
Welts, rashes, and red marks on the skin could be an indicator, but are not a sure bet you have bed bugs. Their bites look very similar to other insect bites. Unless you are allergic to their saliva, there may be no reaction at all.
It is a real challenge to prevent bed bugs, which takes an ongoing effort. That’s because what causes bed bugs are the insects themselves. The EPA’s prevention tips can help you avoid a problem or control the situation once you find the insects in your home.
Principles behind preventing an infestation revolve around making your home inhospitable. There are some pesticides that work, even a spray with a compound that eats through bed bugs’ hard shells. Here are some other tips that will enable you to keep them from biting.
- Declutter your home. Reducing the clutter helps limit the places in which bugs can hide. That means clearing away excess boxes, toys, and other stuff you don’t really need lying around. Even try covering up your mattress so whichever ones are there can’t get out. This will also make feeding more difficult because they’ll have to travel farther to find you.
- Regular washing and heat drying. Wash sheets, blankets, and clothing that touch the floor most often. A good hiding place is the laundry hamper. Just by being sanitary you can reduce the chances of getting bed bugs.
- Destroy discarded items that may have bed bugs hiding within. Junk mattresses and furniture you think might have them should be destroyed. They can live for a long time as hitchhikers and will wait to feed on whoever gets a hold of old furniture.
To prevent bed bugs, you need to take action on the things that allow them to thrive. If you reduce the clutter, keep everything clean, and limit ways they can spread, then it’s harder for other people to get infestations. What causes bed bugs in many cases is negligence and lack of hygiene, so start here to avoid serious problems down the road.
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