Help! I think I have bed bugs!
If you think you may have bed bugs and you're starting to freak out, read this.
Bed bugs are a big problem, no doubt. On top of that they are disgusting: realizing you have them is enough to make your skin crawl and send a shiver up your spine. However, many people believe they have bed bugs when they actually do not. So the first thing you need to do is take a couple deep breaths and stay calm while you figure out what needs to be done. Don't panic. We'll go through this together.
Below are three common scenarios people experience with regards to bed bugs. This article is short so take the time to read through all three.
First off, the bites can be distracting but you can't catch any diseases through bed bug bites. Although some people have strong reactions to bed bug bites, most people have a normal response: raised, itchy, red spots. There is no reason to panic about the effects of the bites themselves.
Bed bug bites are sometimes mistaken for other insect bites, scabies or allergies. The converse is also true: these things are sometimes mistaken for bed bug bites. To help determine if you actually do have bed bug bites, read Bed Bug Bite Symptoms. This won't give you 100% assurance but it will get you closer to an accurate determination.
There is a chance you do not actually have a bed bug infestation. To be sure, you'll need to do some home inspection. Read 5 Signs of Bed Bugs to learn how to detect bed bugs. If you find these signs, chances are strong that you do have bed bugs. Once you actually find a bed bug, it's pretty conclusive.
When not feeding, bed bugs hide which can make them difficult to detect and identify. Adult bed bugs are small at roughly 1/4 inch long but they are clearly visible to the naked eye. Younger bed bugs are smaller of course.
You really need to find a live bug to know for sure if you have bed bugs. If you can, capture the bug with a piece of tape and tape it to a sheet of paper. Look at these Bed Bug Pictures or read through What do bed bugs look like?. See if you have a match. If you're having a tough time catching one, read How to Trap Bed Bugs.
While you're hunting your bed bug, look for other signs of bed bugs as mentioned above. The more evidence you have that matches, the more likely you have bed bugs.
If you do in fact have a bed bug infestation, the first two scenarios naturally lead to this third scenario. With bed bugs, you have your work cut out for you. There are a couple of paths you can take depending on your living situation.
If you live in an apartment building or commercially owned property:
You probably have rights. In many cases, your building manager has a responsibility to call a Pest Control Operator (PCO) to assess the situation and perform extermination if needed. Take advantage of that.
If you are staying in a hotel or hostel:
Notify the manager. You'll want to make other arrangements. Be careful though as your belongings could be infested. You don't want to take bed bugs with you and infest another place or infest your home. Read Bed Bugs in Hotels and Hostels for more details on how to handle the situation.
If you live in your own home or rent from a private landlord:
You have a big decision to make. You could try Do-It-Yourself (DIY) bed bug extermination or have a professional do the job. Another approach some people try is having an exterminator assess the situation before starting a DIY effort.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the DIY approach is typically not effective long term. Although professional exterminators often have problems eradicating bed bugs, the success rate seems to be much higher.
Want a Complete Method for DIY Bed Bug Extermination?
Don't waste valuable time searching the internet for bits and pieces of info. Get the complete DIY manual for getting rid of bed bugs. - Rob
It requires a fair amount of knowledge and various tools to get the job done properly. On top of that it requires a comprehensive plan, a methodical approach and a lot of patience and discipline over time.
No doubt a professional bed bugs exterminator will cost money. And you will still have plenty of legwork to do on your own even if you hire a pro. But wouldn't you prefer to have somebody on your side that has battled bed bugs before? Can you get rid of bed bugs on your own? can help you decide if DIY is a good choice for you.
If you decide to tackle bed bugs yourself, many manufacturers offer extermination systems that include plans, insecticides and other equipment. If you choose that route, carefully consider what is involved before undertaking the task. Also consider that if you don't thoroughly eliminate the infestation the first time around, you will have to start from scratch. And if that fails and you have to call an exterminator, you'll have to repeat the process a third time.
Maybe you worked through this article and concluded that you don't have bed bugs after all. Congratulations. Either you learned how to protect yourself or you're lucky.
If you're relying on luck, please take just a few minutes to learn how to protect yourself. Stack the odds in your favor. Read the articles under Bed Bug Control and Prevention. It won't take you much time and could save you from a lot of distress and expense down the road.