Know your enemy: Bed bugs

(BPT) – Does the thought of a bed bug infestation send a shiver down your spine? Do you immediately think of insects hiding in beds? Did you know that bed bugs aren’t just found in those places? The experts at Terminix are here to clear up some common misconceptions and provide information so that you can be more prepared than scared if you ever find yourself dealing with these pests.

What are bed bugs?

If you’ve never seen one, you may not know what the insect looks like. Bed bugs are wingless, small and reddish-brown in color, with an oval-shaped body. Because they feed on blood, they seek out hosts, including humans, to survive.

These bugs can be found in close proximity to their food sources – namely under mattresses and near headboards. But don’t be fooled by their name; they aren’t only found in beds. These insects can also hide in hotel luggage racks, behind walls and even in piles of dirty laundry.

How do they spread?

In addition to residential areas, bed bugs can be present in a wide variety of environments including taxis, transit stations, theaters and hotels. But without wings, how does a bed bug get to any of these places? The answer lies in their ability to hitchhike: The insects are experts at travel and can stow away in personal belongings like clothing, purses and luggage. They can even hitch rides on furniture as it’s being moved from place to place!

What problems do they cause?

Fortunately, bed bugs aren’t known to carry any pathogens that cause sickness in humans. Unfortunately, the insects still look for hosts. In their search for a meal, they’ll bite almost any area of exposed skin, which can cause mild to moderate allergic reactions and itchy welts.

How can you avoid getting bed bugs?

It’s next to impossible to stop frequenting places like buses and hotels that could house the insects. A better approach is to take steps that will minimize the risk of bringing the critters home with you. When traveling, be aware of your clothes and any personal belongings that could act as a free ride for a bed bug. Inspect hotel rooms and your own home for signs of bed bugs such as blood spots and shed skin. And don’t forget to check any clothing or furniture you bring into your home, whether it’s new or used.

How do you get rid of them?

Even the cleanest person can end up with a bed bug infestation. The pests can be extremely difficult to remove, so it’s best to forgo the do-it-yourself methods and let the professionals handle the issue. Terminix’s trained technicians can help evaluate the infestation and create a treatment plan that will have you sleeping tight – without the bed bug bites.