There are few things that can make your skin crawl, like the thought of a bed bugs in and around your mattress. For anyone who has pulled the sheets back in a hotel or inspected luggage after a trip to find bed bugs already understands the havoc these hitchhiking pests can wreak. But do you know how to accurately identify them? Or how to avoid having to battle bed bugs on a mattress in the first place?
1. Inspect and Investigate
If you’ve ever looked up pictures of bed bugs on a mattress, you’ve seen images that can make your skin crawl. The first and easiest step you can take to prevent infestation is to inspect, inspect, inspect. While traveling, spend the time to take a close look at everything from bed frames to linens, and pay close attention to any signs of bed bugs on mattresses. Beds carry the greatest risk of harboring these pests and their eggs, and should be inspected carefully. Check around the seams, tags, piping and box springs, and look for signs including:
- Reddish or rusty stains produced by bed bugs being crushed.
- Dark spots indicative of excrement that may bleed into sheets.
- Tiny eggs and eggshells shed from juveniles.
- Live bed bugs or carcasses.
Luggage offers an easy way for bed bugs to hitch a ride, so be sure to give your bags a once-over before heading home. Once you’ve returned, it’s also not a bad idea to vacuum luggage. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but it’s one worth taking to stop the spread of bed bugs onto a mattress. Plus, make sure to unpack and wash any clothing or bedding right away as this too can aid in prevention.
As a best-practice, you should also be cautious when bringing any second-hand furniture into your home. Sofas, chairs – anything with cushions – provide great hiding spots for these unwanted guests. Even joints in drawers, small electrical items and appliances can serve as an ideal home.
2. Safeguard Your Space
Do encasements work for bed bugs? The short answer is they can. Beyond conducting inspections before, during and after travel, using a mattress encasement can also cut down on the chances of finding a bed bug on your mattress. However, it must fully encase your mattress and box spring to eliminate hiding spots. Choose an encasement that’s high quality to reduce tearing, and continuously check for holes.
Before you start wondering how you know if you have bed bugs, start taking these simple steps to protect your home and prevent infestation:
- Cut down on clutter and thus, places bed bugs hide.
- Vacuum often to eliminate opportunistic hitchhikers.
- Be cautious when using shared laundry facilities, transporting clothing in plastic bags to be washed and taking it directly home to be folded after removing from dryer.
3. Make a Positive Identification
Just because you spot an insect on or near your bed doesn’t automatically make it a bed bug. If you’re not sure what bed bugs look like on a mattress, keep your eyes open for distinguishing markers including their reddish-brown color and flat, oval shape. Plus, familiarize yourself with all signs of bed bugs listed above. Because they’re only about the width of a credit card, they can squeeze into even the tiniest hiding spot. So, before you’re faced with a worst-case scenario – how do you get bug bugs out of mattresses – remember that vigilance is key.
4. Don’t Take DIY Chances
Sometimes, even following recommended, preventative steps and taking all the necessary precautions isn’t enough to combat bed bug infestation. While some sources will advocate the use of aerosol, dust or liquid insecticides to eliminate bed bugs on mattresses, it’s imperative to contact a pest control professional. Not only can such DIY efforts be dangerous to you, your family and your pets, but bed bugs are extremely difficult to remove. When using these methods, retreatment is crucial, and even investing significant time, effort and attention trying to get rid of bed bugs may not be enough. Because of the difficult nature of bed bug infestations in your home, it’s vital to leave treatment to the experts.
5. Prepare for Professional Bed Bug Treatment
While attempting to get rid of bed bugs yourself isn’t the best idea, there are ways you can make the professional treatment process more seamless. Recommendations include:
- Wash all clothing and bedding in hot water and follow up by drying on the highest setting as allowed by manufacturer instructions. Place everything in trash bags when complete and keep it all separate from anything you think may be infested.
- Place pillows, curtains, stuffed animals, etc. in the dryer on the highest setting allowed by manufacturer instructions. Double-bag everything immediately upon removal.
- Inspect everything that cannot be washed, including home accessories like picture frames books and electronics.
- Store any cleaned and dry items in plastic bags until your home has been treated and bed bugs eliminated.
- Wash all floors and vacuum the carpet, couches and chairs, paying close attention to get in between cushions. When possible, turn furniture on its side to get underneath, and be sure to double-bag and dispose of the vacuum bag in an outdoor trashcan once complete.
- Vacuum your bed to get rid of dead or live bed bugs on the mattress and box spring. Double-bag and dump the vacuum bags immediately in an outdoor trashcan.
- Don’t move any personal items to another home during or before treatment so as not to spread bed bugs from place to place.
- Dispose of all clutter including old newspapers, magazines and cardboard boxes. Pick up and double-bag any additional items you want to keep, and be sure to have everything treated and inspected professionally.
- Move furniture away from walls and provide total access to closets and other potentially infested areas to allow for comprehensive inspection and treatment.
Whether you’re wondering about the signs of bed bugs or looking for ways to eliminate them, Terminix® can help. Contact us today for a free inspection and discover why the best method requires a strategic approach.