It’s that time of year when your college kids have come home from their dorms for the summer and your middle-schoolers are heading off to summer camp for a few weeks. Both events may come with a potential summer hazard. Your kids could be bringing bed bugs home.
Many dormitories are sadly riddled with bed bugs by the end of the year. They arrive with one or two students and migrate from room to room. This is fairly common. Camps have the same issue. All it takes is one camper, a few bugs, and the entire tent or cabin is soon infested. The kids might think they have mosquito bites, but sometimes those are actually bed bug bites.
The real problem is that these nasty biters stow away in luggage, bed linens, and sleeping bags. They like dark crevices by day and enjoy sucking the blood of their prey in the wee, dark hours of the morning.
Dangers of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs do not really pose much of a threat. They don’t transmit diseases to their hosts. In some cases, the bites go completely unnoticed. However, if you are allergic to the bite of a bed bug, you will get welts that itch like crazy.
Bed bugs tend to bite in 3 successive spots. A typical bed bug bite will show up as a line of 3 welts. If you are allergic or reactive to the bites, count this as a blessing in disguise. Those itchy little bites will let you know you have a problem with bed bugs. If you don’t react, you may not realize you have bed bugs until there is a gross infestation.
Once bed bugs get into your home they will hide in mattress creases and seams, baseboard wall trim, behind hanging art, in electrical outlets, and in electronics. As these little vampires feed they will continue to lay little black eggs everywhere. Once they start procreating, they are very hard to eradicate.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
If you think you can just vacuum up these invaders and wash clothes and bedding to get rid of them, think again. Bed bugs are resilient. They will survive in a vacuum bag and they will hide from you. They can live without feeding for many months.
Dealing with a bed bug infestation is best handled by skilled professionals, such a Richland pest control company. The first line of defense is a thorough inspection of the entire home by a trained eye. Then, you will likely be advised to empty the possibly infested rooms of all clothing and linens. Everything will need to be washed in hot water.
A pest control company will often use high heat to kill bed bugs and their eggs. This requires sealing off the space and using special equipment to heat the area to at around 120˚F for a period of time. After the area has been heated, it is sometimes recommended that a liquid bed bug insecticide be applied to baseboards and other areas where the bugs were spotted. This may take up to 4 successive applications, depending on the level of infestation.
The good news is that all of these treatment methods are usually successful.
Tips for Preventing Bed Bugs
When the kids arrive home from school or camp, don’t allow anything to enter the house right away. Place everything outside, preferably in the hot sun, for at least a full day. Bed bugs don’t like the heat and they will go in search of something to feed on. Wash EVERYTHING in hot water and dry on high heat before it goes back into the bedroom, including the clothing the kids are wearing.
You can also place food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) on mattresses, around baseboards, and behind wall outlets to try to prevent any bugs that have managed to escape the washing machine. DE shreds and dries the exoskeletons of these annoying pests.