How to Prevent Bedbugs (and Detect Them)

Bedbugs are reddish-brown, wingless insects that are usually between four and seven millimeters—about the size of an apple seed. They’re oval shaped with six legs and two antennae. Keep in mind that there are other insects that can be easily mistaken for bedbugs including fleas, lice, and baby cockroaches.

How do you know if you have bedbugs?

Whether it’s your home or not, it can be difficult to notice if bedbugs have taken up residence. Often, people notice the bugs’ bites on their skin, which are usually arranged in lines or clusters. It’s possible, though uncommon, to spot bedbugs in search of a meal roaming freely on the floor or walls. And in the case of an extreme infestation, you may notice a bitter, unpleasant odor.

In general, the easiest way to identify a bedbug is to find them in their hiding places. If you suspect a possible infestation, check beds, furniture, light switches, and the wall space around your bed. In addition to the bugs themselves, you will likely see black excrement and red-brownish shedded shells.

If you suspect a bedbug infestation but haven’t found a nest, a professional pest control company can aid in determining whether you do, in fact, have a bedbug problem and then pinpoint their location if you do.

How to prevent bedbugs

The best way to deal with bedbugs is to never get them in the first place. Since the creatures often hitch a ride on luggage or second-hand goods, consider these tips when traveling or buying vintage items.

On the road

When traveling, always inspect the hotel room you’re staying in for a possible infection. Check the corners, creases, and underside of a mattress, and look for both the actual bedbugs and small spots of blood, which can indicate they’re present. To prevent taking bedbugs home with you, keep your suitcase closed whenever possible and don’t put it on the bed. Once you get home, wipe out your suitcase and wash any clothes or other fabrics that were packed in it.

If you have reasons to think you may have returned home with bedbugs, take your laundry in a closed bag directly from your suitcase to your washing machine and wash it with hot water. You can also empty your suitcase over your bathtub first. You may be able to spot the red-brown insects against a white background.

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