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Bed Bug Extermination: How to Bite Back!

by Marc Dickinson

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Bed bug infestation used to be a thing of the past, but recently these little buggers have made a bit of a comeback. Like any other pest problem, your first reaction may be to panic or become embarrassed about living in an "infected" or "dirty" home. However, this is not the time to be modest; instead, it's the time to act fast in order to rid yourself of these parasites. And be assured, this particular vermin has nothing to do unsanitary living conditions—these tiny insects can crop up anywhere for a variety of reasons. And the first step in defeating an unwanted enemy is to try and understand them better.

What Are They?
The most important part in beg bug extermination is proper identification. Most folks have only heard of them and never actually seem them. Therefore, these pests are custom-made to crawl under the radar. But if you ever see a red, flat insect (about the size and shape of a fingernail), you may have a serious dilemma on your hands. However, a real problem is that you'll probably never see them because they're nocturnal.

So, How Are Bed Bugs Detected?
A bed bug infestation is often detected by the aftermath. At night, they feed on a host (that's you!) by sucking their blood while they sleep. Sounds sinister, right? Really the bites are no more dangerous than a mosquitoes', which makes them more of a nuisance than a threat. But if you wake up and find a few small welts on your arms and legs, then it's a sign you have some unwelcome guests. Plus, in the morning, if you see rusty-colored streaks on your sheets, you've just discovered their droppings. Or you may see squashed blood stains on your bedding or some bug-husks from them shedding their skin.

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Then, Where Are They?
Oddly enough, they come into your house via you. They hitch rides from person to person through clothes, furniture, hotel rooms, luggage, or moving vans. Then, once inside the home, they become expert hiders, often concealing themselves in the seams and creases of your mattress (hence their name) in order to be close to their food source (once again, that's you). However, they can be anywhere: headboards, walls, carpeting, drapes, behind peeling paint or wallpaper, and even behind electrical outlet plates.

Now, What Do You Do?
The reason bed bug extermination is so tricky is that these insects are very determined. They can live a year without any food and find the strangest places to live. Therefore, to get rid of them, you have to be determined as well. Vacuuming and steam-cleaning often does the trick. Plus, you should launder everything you can at a high heat and that means everything: clean out the drawers, wash all your clothes, and steam the drapes, carpets, and bedding. Throw out whatever else you can't clean, but make sure to mark or deface the infected property so as to avoid bed bug infestation from spreading to someone else. But the real problem surrounding bed bug extermination is that since they're so good at hiding, how do you know you got them all?

Better Yet, Who Do You Call?
The best thing you can do is call a pest control professional trained in bed bug extermination. It's better to be safe than sorry and you never want to mess around when you have a small plague on your hands. Not only are these experts qualified in identification, they can give your house a thorough inspection to ensure total eradication. They can steam clean, vacuum, use a low-impact insecticide, and possibly even fog your home in order to take care of the problem. Plus they can give advice about future prevention, such as caulking the cracks in the walls and sealing up your mattresses.

Marc Dickinson has worked in both the general contracting and landscaping trades and is currently a home improvement freelance writer with over 300 articles published.