First, What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are an extremely common and stubborn domestic pest. They are small parasites that prefer to feed on human blood and can rapidly spread. The insect is brown and oval-shaped that can grow up to 4-5mm long and 1.5-3mm wide.
You can easily spot them on white sheets, but they tend to hide well. Their flat bodies make it easy to squeeze in somewhere between the frame and the mattress.
What Are The Early Signs of Bed Bugs On A Mattress?
The first sign that you will notice will probably be on your skin.
Now, it is not 100% sure that those bite marks are actually from bed bugs. Many people mistaken the bed bug bite mark with the one from a flea. Both parasites should be treated, but there is a major difference in the approach, so it is necessary to establish with certainty the pest you are dealing with.
- Tiny red bite marks that itch a lot;
- Marks on your sheets – those would be bed bug feces, many brown dots grouped together;
- Shed skin – when maturing bed bugs leave their old shells behind;
- Blood marks – blood spots where bed bugs were crushed by you in your sleep;
- Eggs – difficult to spot, they are very small and white in color.
According to Alexander Crawley, an expert at Fantastic Pest Control (Australia), professional bed bug treatments should be applied throughout the entire property. To treat each and all common nesting spots is the way to battle pest infestations as effective as possible.
How To Tell If You Have Bed Bugs On Your Mattress?
You will need to arm yourself with patience, a pair of rubber gloves, a magnifying glass and a flashlight.
As already mentioned, these parasites are hard to see for they hide extremely well. Thanks to their flat bodies, bed bugs can easily hide deep between cushions and crevices.
The younglings have a pale white color, which makes them even harder to spot.
The best time to “hunt” bed bugs is in the morning. They were having their meal during the night and are now heading to their hiding places. It is the perfect time for you to catch them, halfway there.
Another perk is that a well-fed bed bug is easier to see. First of all, it is slightly enlarged and if it is a young one, the pale white color is now backed up with the ruby red of your blood. That makes them super easy to spot.
Places Where To Search
Those parasites are always nearby. They want to be near to their food source, as near as possible, so they nest in furniture on which you relax and let your guard down.
Common hiding places:
- Under the sofa cushions;
- Between the cushions and the armrests;
- Inside the sofa pillows;
- Inside your sleeping pillows;
- Under the mattress;
- Inside the mattress;
- Under the bed frame (corners);
* Important note: You need to carefully check those spots and look for the above-mentioned signs of bed bugs. Once you have spotted a clear sign you will know what you are dealing with, but can you remove them on your own?
Can You Deal With Bed Bugs on Your Own?
There are a couple of steps you can take in order to get a control over the situation. In the event where you spot bed bugs or obvious signs of bed bugs on your bed, you will need to do the following:
- Thoroughly check the entire bed and any furniture near it.
- Take all the beddings, curl them into a plastic bag and close it tight. – This will prevent any bed bugs to run away while you get to the washing machine.
- Throw all the beddings in the washing machine and set it to a program with high temperature, above 140 degrees. This will kill all adults and probably all the eggs as well.
- Dry the beddings right afterwards if you have a dryer, and again, use a high-temperature program.
- Regularly vacuum the house and check for bed bugs signs after performing the tasks above. If you see signs again, repeat the procedure.
“Destroying the mattress would be a better idea”, advised the CEO of Mattress Insider Jonathan Prichard. “Actually back in the day that was why bed frames were made out of metal. People occasionally lighted their beds on fire to get rid of bed bugs. The infestations then were hard to beat otherwise, considering the lack of professional grade insecticides” he added.
If you’re 100% certain you want to fight for it, heat is the most effective way to eradicate bed bugs. A professional heat treatment is the best performing one, in cases of serious bed bug infestations but if out of your budget, you could fight bed bugs with the right products.
* Important note: If you have a pet, check beddings as well, sometimes bed bugs nest there. They don’t tend to feed on animals, they prefer us as a food source, but sometimes they hide in the beddings of pets.
What if The Mattress is Infested With Bed Bugs?
You have the option to pack your mattress in an anti-bedbug designed encastment. A protector can block the access of bed bugs to food, leaving them starving to death.
* Important note: Keep in mind that a bed bug can live for around half a year without food. Neglecting this fact could make any “treatment” ineffective.
This is why it’s always best to call for professional exterminators as soon as you spot the earliest signs of infestation. A light infestation could be effectively treated with a major visit, and maybe one or two follow-ups. The price of these varies between different pest control companies.
If you are dealing with a severe infestation, even commercial-grade sprays can prove ineffective. In such a scenario only a professional heat treatment will help, however, not all pest control companies offer. Also, such would require preparations and it could take an entire day to finish.
Who is Responsible For Dealing With Bed Bugs in A Rental Property?
Now, the big question is whether you or your landlord should be responsible for dealing with this pest problem.
If you were living in that property for a couple of weeks, it won’t be possible for you to prove that you are not responsible for the infestation. Considering that landlords have to be extremely careful in order to protect themselves from scammers.
It would be a great idea to check everything the very first day before you have unpacked your belongings. By doing that you can see the signs of bed bugs and make your landlord pay for the treatment. You will also protect your personal belongings if they are still well packed in the cardboard boxes. If you would like to know a bit more on how to protect yourself from scamming landlords, then read this article.
If you need more information about your responsibilities and those of your landlord you should check our post on the topic.
The most important thing is your initial thorough check. Look into everything that you find in your new home. Check with your property manager. Every piece of furniture, every pillow, any kitchen appliances. See if everything works properly, and check for signs of bed bugs and other insects. If you find anything call your landlord right away and get things sorted out. If you want, you can book a professional inspection of the place.
This initial check will ensure you a piece of mind for the long term. Now you are ready for the next step, turning your apartment into a healthy sanctuary.