Bedbugs are, unfortunately, a common problem in Chicago. Although they’re quite a nuisance, they do not transmit diseases. Nonetheless, they’re inconvenient and bothersome. To help you learn more, we will review the basics of bedbugs; what they are, how to detect them and how to safely remove them from your home.
What are bedbugs?
Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, their bodies swell and are a reddish color. The parasites can’t fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls and ceilings. Female bedbugs lay hundreds of eggs - each the size of a speck of dust - over their lifetimes.
How do you get bedbugs in your home?
Bedbugs commonly enter homes through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, and they tend to live in groups in hiding places. Typically, they hide in mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards providing easy access to bite people at night.
Signs you may have bedbugs:
- If you wake up with itchy areas you didn't have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs. Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping and are small and red.
- Small blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases.
- Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets, mattresses, and walls.
- Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shedded skins in areas where bedbugs hide.
- An offensive, musty odor from the bugs' scent glands.
How to treat bedbugs
To get rid of bedbugs, you must clean the places where they live. Take these steps:
- Clean bedding, linens, curtains and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes and other items that can't be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub your mattress seams.
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag in a garbage bin outside.
- Repair any cracks in your plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
- Get rid of clutter around your bed.
- If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one. Take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs, or they will infest your new mattress.
While these cleaning methods are helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Ultimately, the most effective way to get rid of bedbugs is to hire an experienced pest control professional who can do a full extermination.
To learn more about bedbugs and how to safely remove them for your home, join us for our next community workshop on Thursday, August 31, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. at the ACCESS Center for Discovery and Learning. Free refreshments will be provided as we hold a Q&A with Ruth Kerzee, a licensed pest control technician. See you there!