Bed bugs are small, flat, red-brown insects that feed exclusively on blood. They can make their nests in beds, couches, electrical outlets and many other household cracks and crevices. Carbon dioxide, warmer temperatures and certain body chemicals attract them, and unfortunately, households provide all of those things. They are mostly nocturnal, emerging from their nests to feed at night, often unnoticed by the victim.
Bed bug bites, while not initially painful, can result in rashes and other allergic reactions. Most people experience raised welts, burning or itching and a pattern of straight lines across their skin. Catching an infestation early can prevent any bites at all. It’s fairly easy to spot the signs – they leave fecal stains on fabric, blood stains on their feeding grounds and shed their skins as they mature.
During their lifetime (up to a year, under the right conditions), bed bugs may lay 200 – 300 eggs. Their populations grow quickly and infestations can become quite serious. To help prevent bed bugs in your home, keep the floor and furniture areas clutter-free, wash bed linens in hot water to disinfect them, and pay extra attention to fabrics coming in and out of the home. Second-hand items should be thoroughly inspected for signs of insect activity. It’s also a good idea to double check suitcase contents after a vacation.