There seems to have been an increase in the number of bed bug reports in recent years. It doesn’t matter where you live, or who you are, everyone is susceptible to bed bugs.
Let me begin by telling you that bed bugs are no joke. If you’ve ever had to deal with bed bugs, you will know what a nightmare it is. But if it’s your first time, then there are some things you need to know before beginning the daunting task of ridding them.
What Are They?
Bed bugs are small biting insects that travel easily and multiply quickly. Unfortunately for us, they prefer to feed on human blood. Bed bugs are nest parasites, and they usually inhabit the nests of birds and the roosts of bats. However, they have adapted to the human environment and many live in our homes, or more specifically, our beds.
How to Identify Them
Bed bugs are oval-shaped without any wings, and they typically bite around the face, neck, upper torso, arms and hands at night.
If you think you have bed bugs, you can inspect your bed to be sure. Using a flashlight, look for bed bugs or their dark droppings in your bedroom furniture, windows, and door frames. You can also use a hot hair dryer, a thin knife, or a playing card to force them out of cracks and hiding spaces.
Places you might want to inspect include behind your headboard and around cracks and crevices of your bed, in the seams and tufts of your mattress, inside your box spring, and along baseboard cracks.
What to Do If You Have Bed Bugs?
If you find bed bugs in your home, you should contact your landlord, superintendent, or property manager immediately. It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure your rental unit is fit for habitation and complies with health standards, but it is also your responsibility to cooperate with their efforts to control bed bugs.
Your landlord will most likely have to inspect your unit for bed bugs, but before they can do that, they must provide you with a 24-hour notice ahead of time. Since treating bed bugs is not really an emergency, your landlord will also have to give you enough time to prepare your belongings and unit for application of pesticide.
Preparing for Bed Bug Treatment
To ensure successful treatment and prevention of future bed bugs, you must prepare your apartment properly. It is your responsibility to follow the landlord’s instructions. Unfortunately, it can be a lot of work, but it must be done.
One thing you will have to do is launder every piece of fabric in your home. This can take quite a bit of work. To make it easier on yourself, start in the bedrooms then work your way throughout the rest of the house right down to your dish towels. Although the bed bugs will most likely drown in the washer, you should still wash everything with the hottest water possible, and then use a hot dryer for at least 15 minutes to kill the eggs. Once it’s washed, seal it in a plastic bag so it does not get infected again.
You will also need to vacuum everything. Vacuum all crevices on your mattress, bed frame, baseboards and all objects in your bedroom. You have to do this every single day, followed by emptying the vacuum bag immediately afterward or sealing it in and placing in the freezer for several days to kill anything inside.
Who is Responsible for Pest Control?
If you did not bring the bed bugs into your apartment, it is your landlord’s job to cover the costs for treatment and to ensure it gets done once you have properly prepared your rental unit.
Bed bug control usually requires an integrated pest management approach, and often the use of pesticides is needed. As a tenant, finding a professional pest control company is not your responsibility, it is the landlord’s.
If, for some reason, your landlord refuses to help get rid of the bed bugs, you might have to seek legal advice or contact the Landlord and Tenant Board.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs From Returning?
Once you’re bed bug free, you will obviously want to keep it that way! Even though the cleanest homes can still have bed bugs, it helps to inspect and clean your home regularly. Vacuuming in particular can help prevent, or at least discover, a bed bug infestation in it’s early stages.
Keep your home clutter free to help keep down the amount of spaces bed bugs can hide. Have any cracks or crevices sealed with caulking to prevent bed bugs from getting in from outside.
You should also be careful when shopping used furniture or clothes. Always inspect used items before bringing them into your home. The items that are most likely to be infested with bed bugs include bed frames, mattresses, box springs, upholstered furniture, and electronics.