Picture this! You wake up one night, scratching at a particularly nasty insect bite. You curse all things crawly, roll over, and get back to catching some zzz’s.
What follows over the next couple of days is a nightmarish montage right out of a horror movie—you notice more bites as time passes, the scratching reaches a fever pitch, and you notice one solitary dark brown bug scurrying across your bed. Eventually, left unchecked, that little bug will take over your life. Sleepless nights will be the norm and without the proper steps, you’ll never escape its clutches (and those of its thousand plus descendants).
It will drive you first to tears, and then to insanity.
Scary, yes? However, you don’t need to set fire to your home and move to another continent just yet.
Here’s what you need to know about bed bugs to be able to spot and exterminate them.
What Threats Do Bed Bugs Actually Pose?
In India, it’s common to wake up with mosquito bites, and you might think nothing of this. However, bed bug bites are significantly more irritating. Skin reactions differ from person to person.
Some people might experience no discomfort at all, while others might break out in painful itchy rashes. Allergic reactions to bed bug bites are not uncommon.
Besides being harbingers of general discomfort and a steady descent into insanity, bed bugs are known to harbour pathogens that are dangerous to humans. They could carry any of around 28 different diseases. Run while you still can!
Extended infestations also cause severe psychological stress. Kill them with FIRE!
Below is a handy step-by-step guide to bed bug detection and elimination:
Find & Identify
The first step, when you suspect a bed bug infestation, is to find the bugs. You should be looking for reddish-brown oval-shaped crawlers, around 5mm long and 3mm wide. They’re slow moving and easy to catch when they’re fully fed. Otherwise, their motion is reminiscent of ants—quick and slightly erratic.
Freshly hatched and developing bed bugs are called nymphs (odd naming choice for a creature that can potentially destroy society as we know it). These are incredibly tiny and translucent, but are easier to spot when they’ve fed recently and have a small red patch in the middle of their body.
Moulted shells are another telltale sign of an infestation. As these little demons grow, they shed their outer shells on outgrowing them. These shells are easy to find and inspect because they’re not scuttling around at the speed of light.
You can also look for small black spots on your sheets, which are their droppings. If the infestation is particularly bad, you’ll be able to smell a sickly sweet scent that’s characteristic of bed bugs.
Pat yourself on the back because half the battle has been won. Once you’ve identified the infestation, it’s simply a matter of getting rid of them. Don’t waste too much time celebrating though, you’ve got calls to make.
There are a number of ways to go about this. The easiest is to contact a reliable pest control company and hand over the nightmare to them. You’ll have to find a place to stay while they bombard your house with a mixture of chemicals. Bed bugs die hard.
While you’re packing clothes for your stay away from home, inspect every little thing you’re taking with you to make sure that you’re not ferrying some away. If you do take some with you, they’ll not only set up shop in your temporary residence, they’ll also hitch a ride back with you and your efforts would have been useless.
‘Prevention’ Is The Watchword
Once you’ve experienced an infestation, you’ll probably be extra cautious about any itches or bites that you feel. This is normal and will fade as your horror does.
Avoid dodgy hotels, movie theaters, buses, and upholstery. If you suspect bed bugs, seal everything on your person, including any bags, in plastic covers for a couple of days. Wash them in hot water after the quarantine period and they’re safe to be reintroduced to your home again.
Sleep tight, and if you suspect bed bugs, break out the flamethrower. Here’s a cute kitten to take your mind off the horrors you’ve just been exposed to.