Don't let the bed bugs bite - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Sleep tight...don't let the bed bugs bite

Infestations of bed bugs are up 5,000 percent as are the number of reported attacks. The nightmare begins when a bed bug finds its way into your clothing; it usually happens at a hotel, but it can start anywhere.

Hospitals, businesses, homes, buses, apartments and hotels are just a few places where bed bugs are being reported. It is said that bed bugs don't transmit disease from feeding on your blood; however, an engorged bedbug can burst at the slightest bit of pressure and expose you to human blood. If that blood is infected, then you run a risk of infection as well.

A few simple precautions can prevent the nightmare from ever happening. We provide you with information to help determine if you have bed bugs, pictures of bed bug bites from people around the world, how to deal with infestations and most important, how to protect yourself during travel!

Finding bed bugs in your home has nothing to do with poor hygiene. It takes only one bed bug to hitch a ride on your clothing (furniture, suitcase, etc.) and infest your residence. What's worse is that they can live up to one year without drinking a drop of your blood. Feeding takes about 10 to 15 minutes for adults and less for the nymphs; they feed about every three days. Depending on the conditions, bed bug nymphs can survive for months without feeding.

Bed bugs are insects. More specifically, they are 'true bugs', which have piercing mouthparts that most species use for feeding on plants. Unfortunately, there are some species of bugs with mouthparts that have been adapted to feed on human blood while inflicting very little pain (most never feel the blood feeding).

The eggs are white and about 1mm long. The nymphs look like adults but are smaller. Complete development from egg to adult takes from four weeks to several months depending on the temperature and amount of feed available.

How do you know if you have bed bugs?

Bed bug bites are the best way to determine if you have bed bugs. Not everyone reacts the same to bites, so some marks may be less obvious than others. Grouping of bites is a common sign and you should start checking for mold-like spots on your mattress.

If you have a reaction, check with your doctor who may recommend an antihistamine or topical cream to relieve any itching or burning. Do not scratch the bites, as this may lead to infection!

If you suspect you have an infestation, you should contact a licensed exterminator. You can try to do it yourself using the tips found here, but your odds are a lot better letting a licensed professional handle it.

Here are the facts about bed bugs:

  • Bed bugs are flat, brown, wingless and about 1/4 of an inch
  • They have 6 legs, shiny reddish-brown but after a good serving of your blood, they appear dark brown and swollen as in the picture below.
  • They can be seen with the human eye, but do a great job at hiding
  • Bed bugs are not known to carry diseases as of yet
  • They feed on human blood, preferring to do it in the dark when you're sleeping
  • Simply using chemical treatments will not remove the infestation
  • These bugs love to hide in the seams of your mattress or sofa, cracks in the bed frame or headboard; under furniture, dust covers, rugs, carpet edges, baseboards and window casings; behind light switches or in outlets and electronic devices, in backpacks or sleeping bags, or even behind wallpaper, picture frames and any other dark areas in your home

Quick tips to help remove bed bugs

The best way to deal with bed bugs is by sealing your mattress and pillows with a plastic or hypoallergenic zipped cover. This traps the bugs that are inside your pillow and prevents them from feeding and kills them over time - remember, a nymph can live for two months without feeding; an adult can survive more than 12 months!

Do not apply any pesticide to mattresses or surfaces that would come in contact with the skin unless the pesticide specifically states that the product can be used in this manner.

Wash all your linens and place them in a hot dryer for 20 minutes (or you can freeze them at -5 C or below for five days).

You can vacuum to capture bed bugs and their eggs, but because the eggs are embedded in the fabric, you may have to scrape the surface. Once you have vacuumed everything, immediately place the vacuum bag into a plastic bag, seal it tight and dispose  of it outside.

Seal items mentioned above to prevent the bugs from hiding. You can place glue boards or sticky tape around your bed and in the room to catch the bed bugs as they move around; this gives you a way to monitor the effectiveness of your efforts.

A few ways to prevent bed bugs from getting into your home include:

* Hang clothing in the closet farthest from the bed
* Place luggage on the folding rack found in most hotels
* Place luggage in the dry-cleaning bag found in the hotel.
* Most importantly, don't bring home a mattress that has been used by unknown sources.

Check out this bedbug checklist to help you quickly look for signs of bedbugs BEFORE you sleep.

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