Bedbugs have plagued humans for thousands of years, but they were largely eradicated in the U.S. after World War II. Recently, though, bedbugs have made a comeback, possibly because of an increase in travel to less developed countries where bedbugs are common. Washing blankets and linens destroys bedbugs, but eradicating a bedbug infestation from your home may require a professional pest control specialist.
Adult bedbugs are less than a quarter inch long, flat and brownish-red. They do not fly but crawl quickly over hard surfaces. Bedbugs congregate in groups in cracks and crevices in the mattress, headboard and nearby nightstands and dressers. They may also infest couches and chairs. Unlike cockroaches, bedbugs don't have a preference for unclean living conditions. They infest pristine environments as readily as dirty homes. Bedbugs hide during the day and come out at night to feed on human blood. They leave small red bites or welts that may become inflamed. If you notice bites regularly when you wake up that you didn't have the night before, suspect bedbugs. Pull apart the mattress and bedding for signs of the bugs, including small red blood spots on the sheets and dark smears of excrement on the seams of the mattress or in the crevices.
Washing Blankets and Bedding
Bedbugs are destroyed at temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash blankets and bedding in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer. If the bedding isn't washable, dry-clean it or place it in a plastic bag and store it outside for several days during hot weather.
Take apart the bed and vacuum the mattress and headboard thoroughly. Remove any clutter from the room and vacuum the floor and other furniture, as well. Discard the mattress or seal it in a zippered mattress bag, which will kill any bedbugs remaining in the mattress and prevent bedbugs from reinfesting it. Call a professional pest control specialist to conduct a complete inspection and possibly use pesticides to kill any remaining bedbugs. Start treatment early for best success.
Inspect hotel room beds when you first arrive for signs of bedbugs. If you discover bedbugs, ask for another room far away from the infested room or move to a different hotel. Bedbugs may stow away in your luggage, causing an infestation at home. As a precaution, set luggage on a luggage rack or on the floor well away from the bed. Avoid secondhand furniture, especially couches and mattresses, which may harbor bedbugs.