Beg bugs are gross – and if you’re trying to avoid ever having to deal with an infestation in your mattress, then you will probably have wondered how they get into your house, and spread between rooms, then this is the article for you. Find out all you need to know about bed bugs, their methods of spreading, and ways to prevent them. Read on to learn more.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are a small, parasitic insect, that feed off of blood (both human and animal, though they prefer human). They set up home on and in soft furnishing in your home, like cushions, pillow, mattresses, and even blankets. They feed off of human blood by biting, and these bites can be itchy (though they do not usually cause any other health issues).
How do bed bugs spread?
To survive, grown and breed, bed bugs have to have meals of blood fairly regularly. Unlike other blood sucking insects, such as mosquitos, who can fly, fleas, which jump, and tick, which live on their host, bed bugs have developed other ways to live and spread, and find their food source.
Bed bugs can get caught on various items, like cloths, suitcases and toys, and travel whilst on these objects. Then, they can crawl to places where they are able to feed on humans. So, if you have visited a friend and sat on their bed bug infested sofa, then you might have picked up some of the insects on your clothing, or any purse that you put down. They can then travel and infest your own house.
Once the bed bug has found a home, they will try to set up a colony nearby, always staying close to their food source, often in cracks and crevices inside of our home – which has given the name bed bugs. It is super easy for bed bugs to spread, because a pregnant female is enough to kick-start a whole new colony in a new location, which will then spread and transmit to other places.
Bed bugs usually spread for a few different reasons. We have listed some of the most common:
- If their colony has been disturbed, either physically, or with something like a bug bomb.
- If food is scarce, and there is not a nearby host to feed off of, then they will travel to other rooms of the property, or even totally different houses.
- If you move any of the infested items (such as quilts or pillows that have been on an infested bed, or infested textiles, like curtains/clothing), the bug swill spread.
- If the colony grows too big for the current location that they are living in, the bed bugs will disperse to other rooms in the property so that they have enough room to grow
Therefore, if you have a bed bug problem in your home, then what has most happened is that you (or another member of your household) have brought them back onto your house from somewhere else that been infested already.
How do bed bugs get to you in the first place?
If you are wondering how bed bugs even get into your house in the first place, given they don’t fly, can’t jump, and basically don’t live outside of human domestic life. But, these pests have various was that they can get into your home. They are pretty cunning for tiny insects, and can attach themselves to objects or even other people to travel from location to location until they find a suitable host. Bed bugs are usually in it for the long run, so are looking for somewhere safe where they can settle in, and build a colony (i.e., your home!).
Places that are subject to high traffic, such as motels, hotels, and holiday inns are a high traffic area where a lot of people come through the doors, can result in a bed bug infestation. If the hotel is subject to bed bugs, then you can end up taking some unwanted souvenirs home with you.
Second hand furniture, toys, or clothing
Items purchased at flea markets might be thrifty, but they can sometimes coat a different price. You might end up with bed bugs spreading from the second hand item to your home. It is quite difficult to tell if something is infested with bed bugs at the time of purchase, so we recommend that you quarantine your items in plastic bags for a few weeks before introducing them onto your homes.
Just like how travelers at hotels can introduce bed bugs to the bedding there, they can also introduce them to your home. Try to stay vigilant when staying elsewhere.
If you are in a shared living arrangement, where there are common spaces that everyone uses, there is an increased chance of bed bug transmission. Bed bugs can even crawl through air ducts and wall crevices if you are living in an apartment building, so you could even contract bed bush from neighbors that you don’t share communal space with.
Transportation devices, such as busses and trains, can even lead to the contraction of bed bugs. Public places (especially those that are subject to heavy traffic – like public transportation) can lead to picking up bed bugs.
What are the signs of a bed bug infestation?
If you are worried about having a bed bug infestation in your own home, then you should look out for these telltale signs:
- Bites in areas of your body that are often exposed whilst you are sleeping, such as the face, arms, legs, and neck. A few people have allergic reactions to the bites, caused by an allergy to proteins in the bed bug saliva. The bites may become really itchy, or painfully swollen. Anaphylaxis is even possible, though it is incredibly rare. If you aren’t allergic to bed bugs, then you will likely see raised red patches, in clusters or lines.
- There are spots of blood on bedding, which can wither be caused by bite, or from squashed bed bugs.
- Small brown spots on your bedding or furniture, which is bed bug poo.
How to treat bed bug bites?Bed bug bites usually clear up on their own after about a week of mild itchiness, but you can speed up the healing process if you:
- Using cold compresses on the affected area, which can relieve any itchiness or swelling.
- Keeping the affected area clean.
- Trying to not screeching the area, as you can push bacteria into your skin and cause an infections.
If you have a more persistent problem with bed bugs, or have bites that won't heal, then you can ask your pharmacist about:
- Mild steroid creams, such as hydrocortisone cream, which can ease the itching of bed beg bites, and can help them heal faster. Do note that children under the age of 10 and women who are pregnant should get advice from doctors before using hydrocortisone cream.
- Taking antihistamines which suppress allergic reactions, and can help reduce the itchiness of bites, helping you to not scratch them, and get to sleep easier.
Bed bugs are a frustrating pest to have in your home, and the best way to cure a bed bug infestation is prevention, as they are so difficult to eradicate once an infestation has set in. Knowing all the ways and places that can lead to you bringing them into your home can make you more aware, so you are less likely to wake up with bites in the morning.