Bedbugs rarely occur one at a time, so spotting a single bedbug is a good indicator that you're dealing with an infestation. If you continue to sleep in your bed, you'll likely get bitten, as bedbugs subsist on a diet comprised solely of blood. If left untreated, bedbug infestations will continually grow and may spread to other rooms and even other homes nearby. If you see a bedbug, you should take immediate action to treat the problem.
The first step in dealing with bedbugs is to confirm exactly what you're seeing. Bedbugs are often confused with roaches or ticks, so spotting a single bug darting across your sheets doesn't necessarily indicate a bedbug infestation. Bedbugs are reddish-brown in color and measure about 3/16 of an inch long. These bugs have flat bodies and can squeeze into very small spaces, but they leave many telltale signs behind. Bedbugs will leave brown stains on the mattress from their feces. You may also spot red stains on the sheets as a result of blood-engorged insects getting squished in the night.
Once you're relatively certain of a bedbug infestation, you should seek professional assistance as soon as possible. Bedbugs are very difficult to get rid of, so an experienced extermination company should be consulted. In addition to bringing exterminators in to deal with the house, you should wash all clothing and linens at a temperature of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to ensure that an infestation has been completely eliminated is to replace the furniture that was harboring the bugs.
One of the biggest problems with bedbugs is their tendency to spread quickly. A single hitchhiking bug in a purse, hem or shoe can spread the infestation to another location. To prevent this problem, you should find alternate lodging while your home is being exterminated and launder all the clothing that you take with you. To kill bugs in items that can't be laundered, such as shoes and purses, place them in a sealed bag in the freezer for a week.
To minimize the chance of bedbug infestations in your home, exercise extreme caution when traveling. Check under hotel mattresses for bedbugs and their resulting stains before bringing your luggage in. Inspect used upholstery items closely before bringing them into your home. Bats and birds who have taken up residence in or around your home may also harbor bedbugs, so these should be dealt with as soon as you notice them.
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