Biting bugs infest the house and everyone starts to itch. Whether or not you see the bugs right away or not, you begin to understand that the house is infested. Such an infestation can cause misery, expense and a lot of work. There are lots of biting bugs, but not all of them come inside. Finding out which bug is the culprit is the first step. You may need to capture a few of the bugs to find out what they are.
A variety of pest species found around the home can bite you. Many insects live outside but near the home, such as mosquitoes or ants. But when you are getting bit inside, it is usually bedbugs or fleas. Fleas may be present with or without pets who go outside. Sometimes, you can bring them in from the homes of others. Bedbugs too can come into the home through many pathways, the most common being on luggage, in new or used furniture, or by walking in from other infested locations. Once inside, they can multiply until you have an infestation.
Bedbugs are becoming more and more prevalent. Once they were rare in the United States, especially when strong and toxic chemicals such as DDT were used to eradicate them. With the banning of such dangerous pesticides, the bedbugs came back. By the 2000s, they were a nationwide problem. Fleas, like bedbugs, have always been around, but households with infestations usually have pets living in them. Bedbugs bite humans, but less often pets. Fleas bite humans and animals. Once inside, they not only live on the pets, but set up housekeeping all around the house.
Fleas are small. They are less than 1/8 inch long. They are dark in color and wingless, but they jump. When you try to catch one, it jumps. Fleas lay their eggs where the hosts (you and your pets) sleep. But when the infestation is large, they can be found everywhere. Adults feed on blood, but they prefer non-human animal blood. Bites are small and itchy. They are raised red bumps. It may take a few hours before you feel the bites because when fleas bite you, they also inject you with an anesthetic.
Bedbugs like to live in and near your bed. They are hard to find as they prefer to come out at night to feed. These pests are no larger than a sesame seed and leave red stains on the mattress and box springs. Their bites are often found in rows of three or more. Some people itch severely from the bites. Others don't know they have been bitten. Bedbugs each produce two to five eggs daily. Adults, like fleas, can live up to a year without feeding.
Getting rid of fleas and bedbugs is a battle. To kill fleas, wash all pets, bedding, and pet bedding. Clean carpets, preferably with steam. Scrub the house thoroughly. You may also wish to evacuate the house for a few hours and use a flea bomb insecticide. It takes a lot of work to eradicate fleas. You may have to repeat the entire process to make sure they are all gone. Ask your veterinarian for a preventive flea medication for the pets.
Professional exterminators are usually needed in the case of bedbugs. Wash all clothing, bedding and any other textiles in the house in very hot water and dry them on the highest setting. Scrub down hard surfaces with alcohol. Seal all crevices in floors and walls. Then call the exterminator. He may bring a bedbug dog to sniff out the eggs, larvae or adults and then freeze them or apply pesticides. You may wish to replace mattresses and box springs. Seal your treated or new mattresses in bug-proof covers.
Roz Calvert was a contributing writer for the award-winning ezine Urban Desires where her travel writing and fiction appeared. Writing professionally since 1980, she has penned promotional collateral for Music Magnet Media and various musicians. The "Now Jazz Consortium" published her jazz educational fiction. She published a juvenile book about Zora Neale Hurston and attended West Virginia University and the New School.