Warning: This is kind of gross, but it’s important info!
The title of this article may sound like a cheesy B-grade movie from 50 years ago, but it’s actually a warning of a growing trend. Earlier this month, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) alerted the world to the findings of its new study, which indicated a 57% rise in bedbug-related calls to exterminators in the last five years. Since then, the media has been all over the story. USA Today reported this past weekend that office bedbug infestations are also on the rise across the United States.
The bedbug, scientific name Cimex lectularius, is an apple seed-sized insect that feeds on the blood of humans and other mammals. Not to be confused with dust mites, bedbugs live just about anywhere, but are generally found more often in northern climate. Its cousin, Cimex hemipterus, is found in warmer climates.
It should be pretty easy to tell if you have a bedbug infestation. They usually leave rows of red welts on your skin where they’ve bitten. You may also see blood on your mattress or pillow. This blood can be directly from your skin as the result of a bite, or it could be (getting grosser here .. sorry) from you rolling on top of a bedbug and squashing it. If you suspect you have bedbugs, and you have these two signs, chances are your suspicion is correct. You can also check in folds and seams of mattresses for signs of the bugs.
If you have determined that you do indeed have an infestation, there are a couple of things you can do … but there’s no easy solution. The most thorough route is to get rid of all of your bedding (mattress, box spring, pillows, etc.) and wash all of your clothes, linens, and bed clothes (sheets, covers, etc.) in hot water. Thoroughly vacuuming your floors may remove many of the bugs as well. Sprinkling powdered boric acid on the floor (but NOT on your bedding!) after vacuuming may help eliminate bugs that managed to scurry away from the vacuum. If you can’t afford to replace your mattress, run the vacuum over it, then buy an airtight mattress cover. Insecticides are NOT an option, as they shouldn’t be applied to your mattress.
In the end, however, it may require a trip from a pest removal professional to eliminate every trace of the little buggers.