Bedbugs are a problem in many cities and towns throughout the United States. A severe bedbug infestation can cost thousands of dollars to exterminate and may result in homeowners having to dispose of many of their possessions. If you know how to correctly identifying bedbugs, you'll be able to do something about them before they become costly to eradicate.
Bedbugs are small, flat insects that bear a resemblance to ticks. Adult bedbugs normally measure between a quarter-inch to three-eighths-inch long. Bedbugs have small heads and large, rounded bodies. Bedbugs are opaque to brown but will appear reddish and swollen when they have recently fed. Bedbugs feed on the blood of mammals, including humans.
Signs of Bedbugs
Adult bedbugs are easily visible to the naked eye, and juvenile bedbugs can be seen if you know what to look for. Bedbugs are nocturnal; they come out in the dark to feed on their human hosts. Bedbug bites are not painful, but they are itchy. You may go to bed feeling fine and wake up with reddened, itchy bites on your body the next morning. Bedbugs are not poisonous, and their bites will not harm you long-term.
Bedbugs can live in any kind of upholstered furniture, carpeting, curtains, blankets, pillows, mattresses, box springs and the crevices of solid furniture. If you think you have bedbugs, look for them in the seams and corners of the underside of your mattress and box spring, prime bedbug hiding places. If you have bedbugs, you may also notice small, dark spots on your bedding or upholstery. These dark spots are left over after bedbugs have completely digested their meals: bedbug waste.
You will need to hire an exterminator to get rid of bedbugs. Bedbugs can be killed by specialized types of pesticides and are not harmed by many traditional bug sprays. Most bedbug-infested items that can not be completely washed or cleaned will have to be thrown away. Extreme heat also kills bedbugs, so you may be able to save some items by steaming them with a steam cleaner -- though the method is not without caveats. Your best bet is to hire a pro.
Noel Hendrickson/Lifesize/Getty Images
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.