Bed bugs are found in other places besides the bed or bedroom. The tiny, opportunistic creatures migrate in clothes, purses, and luggage to any place that provides a food source. The food source is you. If you suspect a favorite upholstered chair or couch has bed bugs, act immediately. Be prepared to repeat the necessary steps to eradicate them.
How to Know If You Have Bed Bugs
Itchy welts on the skin, especially on the back and hind side of the legs, or specks of blood on the upholstery fabric or clothes are indications of a bed bug infestation. The only means of knowing for sure is with a thorough inspection.
Bed bugs are tiny. The adult insects are about the size of apple seeds. Juvenile bed bugs are even smaller. They are difficult to see. Tools needed include
- A piece of plastic, such as an old credit card
- Double-sided tape
- Magnifying glass
- Rubber gloves
Wrap the plastic with tape. It helps reach tight spaces and captures bed bug evidence. Remove any slipcovers on the furniture and inspect them for bed bugs. If you suspect a problem, put the slipcovers in heavy plastic bags to prevent bed bugs from spreading to other pieces.
Remove and inspect the cushions. Look at every zipper, edge, and seam with the flashlight and plastic piece. If you see bed bug activity, bag the cushions. Inspect the crevices along the frame of chairs and couches. Turn the furniture over to check underneath. Bed bugs like hiding in dark areas and come out only to feed on humans.
Signs of Infestation
These are signs you have bed bugs. Treatment is necessary to get rid of them.
- Bed bugs
- Bed bug eggs
- Dried blood
- Insect skins
Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown, flat, and oval. They are rounded if they have recently feasted on human blood. Newly hatched nymphs are nearly translucent and small. They are difficult to see. Eggs are smaller than rice grains and milky white.
They are found in dark cracks and crevices, where they stay until they hatch. Specks of dried or fresh blood on fabrics indicate that bed bugs have been actively feeding. Bed bugs shed their exoskeletons or skins a minimum of five times as they mature. The skins look nearly like live bed bugs, except they are more transparent and do not move. Bed bug waste appears as thin black streaks or spots.
What to Do
If there is an infestation, gather all washable items and put them in the washing machine. Use hot water and tumble dry on the highest heat setting to kill all bed bug development stages—vacuum with the highest possible suction setting. A HEPA filter is preferred to capture the maximum residue. Empty the cup or bag in a heavy plastic bag you can seal and dispose of outside your home.
Steam cleaning is typically not practical because it is difficult for steam to penetrate thoroughly and deeply enough into the upholstery. Use the pesticide DDVP and encase the furniture in plastic furniture bags.
People may be understandably hesitant about the use of a pesticide. Unfortunately, there are very few options other than long-term storage or disposal. Heat treatment is the safest and easiest solution. Exercise extreme caution when using a pesticide.
Follow all the guidelines the manufacturer provides. If you have specific concerns, consult a healthcare professional. Pesticides are dangerous chemicals. Misusing them can cause serious health consequences.
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