Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.
People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started.
Other signs that you have bedbugs include:
• Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
• Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
• Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
• An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands
Getting rid of bed bugs requires integrated pest management (IPM). IPM includes intensive inspection to find the hiding places, sealing of cracks and crevices, placing mattresses and box springs inside mattress covers, removal and bagging of infested articles, thorough vacuuming, washing and drying dirty clothes, and linens, bagging un-washable items that can’t be chemically treated or washed (hot cycle), and appropriate targeted and repeated pesticide treatments. Other methods being used by some pest control companies include bed bug sniffing dogs to find the bugs and heat treatments (“dry steam”), etc. Bed bugs do not like temperature extremes. Some bug infested items can be treated by bagging it and putting outside in the summer sun/heat. Whenever possible, pesticide treatments should be done by trained professionals. If people do apply their own pesticides, they should be sure to use a product that is labeled for indoor use, labeled for bed bug control and always follow the label instructions. People should never spray their mattresses, bedding or themselves with pesticide! NOTE: some pesticides when improperly used (e.g. some foggers) can cause the bugs to disperse and spread.
Always deal with a qualified licensed pest management company and only deal with companies that have experience in dealing with this challenging pest. Before signing any contract, make sure you fully understand the nature of the work to be performed, the extent of the infestation, and what exactly is covered by the service agreement. Find out if the pest control company has liability insurance to cover any damage to your home or furnishings during treatment. If a guarantee is given, know what it covers and how long it will last and what you must do to keep it in force. Is there continuing control prevention and management that you must do? Remember to look at value and not price. If the price sounds too good to be true, then beware.