How to Identify and Treat Baby Bed Bugs
Bed bugs, or Cimex Hemipterus, are invasive parasites that feed on humans, and even animals, using blood to grow and reproduce. Bed bugs earned their name from their preference to feed on humans as they sleep, leaving their victims itchy and sleep-deprived. While you should be concerned about any bed bug you see, baby bed bugs call for extra concern because their presence means an infestation is already present and growing, and to make it worse, baby bed bugs are much harder to find than adult bed bugs. Bed bug bites may even trigger a severe allergic reaction in some cases. So if you think you have baby bed bugs, it’s crucial to find out immediately before the infestation worsens and gets out of hand. Read on to learn all you need to know about finding and eradicating bed bugs.
Where do Baby Bed Bugs Come From?
Baby bed bugs travel from one household to another by luggage, purses, backpacks, clothing, and other personal belongings. There are even cases of baby bed bugs hiding in picture frames and wallpaper. Baby bed bugs can come from other infested areas, like your roommate’s room, for example. They’re also commonly found in used furniture, such as chairs or mattresses. The little pests are also widely found while traveling and are often found in motel rooms. So, next time you’re staying in a hotel room, you might double-check to ensure the room doesn’t have an infestation, and you may want to think twice before buying that pretty picture at the flea market. You never know what other, unwelcome hitchhikers you may be bringing in. Experts believe that humans were initially exposed to bed bugs through bats in the Middle East, as there was once a time when bats and humans coexisted in caves. Clutter, mess, and dirt are good habitable places for baby bed bugs. So if you needed another reason to make sure your home is clean, there it is. Another place where baby bed bugs come from is public transportation. They’re commonly found in taxis, buses, and airplanes. They can latch onto your clothing or luggage, and now you become the one providing free, public, bug transportation to help them feed upon their next victim.
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Identifying Baby Bed Bugs
Baby bed bugs can look like many other bugs, such as a small cockroach or a carpet beetle, and are often challenging to identify. Baby bed bugs often require a specific type of treatment to get rid of them. Therefore, if you think you’ve found one, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re looking at a baby bed bug. They are flat, oval-shaped, wingless, and carry two antennas like most other bugs. Baby bed bugs have six legs. Like most other bugs, their antennae are curved outwards from the front of their head. The abdomen of a baby bed bug is easily identifiable. The shiny, horizontal stripes that run down their back are easy to spot even from a distance, like lines on a piece of paper. A swelling abdomen is a sign of a recently fed baby bed bug, making them easier to identify. Adult bed bugs are oval-shaped. Baby bed bugs, however, may appear more rounded and have smaller legs. Adult bed bugs have fragments of wings called wing pads. However, they don’t develop into functional wings. It’s essential to note that bed bugs may look slightly different, depending on the region or country.
Baby Bed Bug Size
Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed. Baby bed bugs, however, are much smaller than the adults, about the size of a pinhead. Like many insects, bed bugs become larger the longer they live. Specifically, baby bed bugs are about 1/20 of an inch, making them difficult to spot. Adult bed bugs are bigger and range from 1/4 of an inch to about 3/5 of an inch and will grow significantly after feeding, making them easy to recognize. They can grow to about twice their original size when they’re fully engorged. In addition, baby bed bugs will start feeding as soon as they hatch, so you may have a chance to spot them if they have recently been feeding on someone.
Baby Bed Bug Color
Adult bed bugs usually have a brownish, red tint. Baby bed bugs, in particular, look more transparent and may appear more white-yellowish, especially if they haven’t started eating yet. It can be challenging to spot one with the naked eye. It’s after they eat that their color begins to change. You’ll notice a red mass in their abdomen, which is where your blood is stored after they’ve eaten. They digest this blood before they shed and get larger. Baby bed bugs become easier to spot once they have started eating because they consume nutrients from your bloodstream and will get increasingly brown as they feed. Therefore, baby bed bugs become easier to spot with each meal.
The Lifespan of Baby Bed Bugs
Bed bugs live a little longer than your average insect at about 2 to 4 months; however, there are clear cases where adult bed bugs are known for living up to a year. They’re also known to survive without a blood bite for several months. However, a scientific study has found that bed bugs can survive 14 months without human contact in some cases. If they have an unaware victim nearby, they’ll often eat once a week or every two weeks. Sometimes, bed bugs will eat once a day purely out of convenience, and one bug will often leave multiple bites per feeding session. Having more than one bite doesn’t always mean there’s more than one bug. However, it isn’t impossible to say there’s just one. Even if it’s just one, it won’t be long before there are more if that one bed bug happens to be a pregnant female. Bed bugs are primarily nocturnal, so they bite you when you’re the most vulnerable and unaware of their existence.
Baby Bed Bug Bites
Baby bed bugs leave bites that resemble adult bed bug bites in appearance. Because bed bugs are nocturnal, they’ll often bite when you’re sleeping. The bite marks of baby bed bugs will often form on your face, neck, arms, hands, or any other exposed flesh, and their bites cause varied responses in different people. Some people may not even know they’ve been bitten. Bite wounds are often tiny, flat, or elevated spots. An allergic skin reaction may occur at the bite site, such as swelling, redness, and itching. This reaction happens because the bed bug numbs the biting location with saliva. The body detects this saliva as a foreign substance and swells to let it pass through. More blood and autoimmune cells are directed to the bite site by the body. As a result, the bite site will swell if more blood is in the area. The body reacts to bites from baby bed bugs just like it would with adult bites. Bites from baby bed bugs take about as long to heal as adult bed bug bites because the bite marks have the same properties; one is just smaller than the other. If a bed bug has bitten you, the bites should clear up within one to two weeks.
Where Baby Bed Bugs Are Hiding
Bed bugs hide in many different places, but their favorites are dark and secluded areas such as seams, cracks, or in the folds of cushions. They’re also commonly found in wall crevices, behind paintings, or in other dark and secluded places. Due to their love of dark, hidden places, bed bugs frequent where humans like to rest, which explains why they’re usually found around the mattress or the couch. Bed bugs are experts at hide-and-seek and have excellent hiding skills. Sometimes, it’s challenging to find them. They creep into all kinds of crevices and cracks where humans can’t reach them. If they can’t find a place to hide, they’ll often climb up onto the wall and hide in the crack between the wall and the ceiling. Other places they hide include baseboards, headboards, box springs, drawer joints, electrical receptacles, pipings, or around the tag of a mattress.
Home Treatment for Baby Bed Bugs
The good news is that getting rid of bed bugs is not that difficult. Home treatments may be a bit time-consuming, but they get the job done most of the time. First, inspect areas that you feel might have bed bugs because it gives you an idea of how many places they may be hiding. It’s a good idea to write down the date you found a bed bug infestation to help track your progress and know which areas might need more attention after treatment. You may want to consider non-chemical methods of dealing with bed bugs. A clothes dryer or high heat will kill bed bugs. To treat carpets, baseboards, bed frames, and other furniture, steam cleaners (wet or dry) may penetrate cracks and textiles. The steam must be at least 130°F to kill bed bugs. Make sure the airflow isn’t too strong, or it will blow the bed bugs away. If any small items have an infestation, you can use a small bag to contain the item. The item can then be put in the freezer for four days, killing any bed bugs on it. An alternative would be to get rid of the infested item altogether. Remember, even if the infested item, such as a mattress, is removed, bed bugs can still be hiding elsewhere, and a replacement mattress can quickly become re-infested. It’s best to treat the problem entirely before bringing any new item into the area.
Chemical Treatment for Baby Bed Bugs
You can also use pesticides to kill bed bugs. It’s recommended to use EPA-approved pesticides. EPA-approved pesticides will have a label that reads “EPA Approved.” With caution, foggers (bombs) can get rid of bed bugs. Remove any people and pets and ensure that the target area is clear of any furniture. Foggers are a great place to start, but they may not always work and can’t eliminate 100% of the bed bugs because the substance can’t reach the gaps and crevices where the bed bugs often hide. It’s, therefore, not recommended to rely solely on a fogger for treating bed bugs. Diatomaceous earth (DE) and silica gel are natural pesticides against bed bugs because both products act as a desiccant against them. Desiccants dry out the bed bugs, and they can’t develop resistance against desiccants. Another option is bed bug traps. You can use them to keep track of and reduce the number of baby bed bugs in your house. Carefully read the instructions and apply the pesticide to the suspected areas. If these do-it-yourself solutions aren’t very effective, it may be beneficial to call in a professional.
Preventing Baby Bed Bugs at Home
Pest control professionals all agree a bed bug infestation is one of the most challenging pests to control. There are some precautions you can take to avoid getting bed bugs in your home in the first place. Before bringing in any used furniture, carefully check the furniture for any signs of bed bugs. You can use a protective cover on a mattress or box spring to avoid bed bugs from hiding in some of the cracks. Bed bugs are also easier to spot when a mattress is encased with a cover because a bed cover is usually light in color. A bed bug cover can be pre-treated with pesticide. You can place bed bug interceptors under the bed frame to prevent bed bugs from climbing onto the mattress. Bed bugs like to hide in dust, dirt, and clutter. Keeping the house clean and decluttered is essential. Vacuuming frequently will also reduce the chance of an infestation. If you live with roommates, installing a door sweep on the doors that lead into the hallway may be beneficial by discouraging any movement to the other rooms in the house. You can also seal cracks around the baseboards, walls, or doors to prevent movement into other areas of the house.
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How to Prevent Baby Bed Bugs While Travelling
Travelers are at a higher risk of bringing back bed bugs to their homes. Bed bugs frequently latch onto baggage, clothing, and other personal belongings. Hotels are a perfect place for bed bugs since there are always travelers for bed bugs to bite. Bed bugs can easily travel between multiple rooms in a single night. Check your room for dead bugs, blood spots, or bug eggs. Pay extra attention to any cracks or crevices around the mattress. A flashlight may be beneficial in this search. Other hiding places include under baseboards or photos and any damaged or torn wallpaper. To check for bed bugs in a hotel room, you can elevate the mattress and examine around all of these likely hiding places. Don’t hang your clothes or place your bags on the bed. Bed bugs may creep into luggage, bags, and any laundry left on the bed if they’re present in the bed. When you’re packing, carefully pay attention to your items, especially clothing and baggage, to ensure you aren’t bringing these unwanted bugs back home. After returning home, you should immediately wash (in hot water) and dry any fabric items. In 30 minutes, a lightly packed dryer set on “high” may eliminate bed bugs and their eggs.
Baby Bed Bugs in Public Transportation
The ideal environment for bed bugs is public transportation. There are several nooks and crannies to hide in, in the seats and interior—especially in fabric seating which is a favorite among bed bugs. Bed bugs on public transport are becoming more and more common, and it’s possible to bring back bed bugs after using a form of public transportation. You can avoid bed bugs by standing on the bus or train instead of sitting. And in the taxi, it’s ill-advised to leave your luggage in the trunk. A trunk is an ideal setting for bed bugs to jump from one person’s stuff to yours and then into your house. As a result, keeping your items with you in the taxi is the safest bet. However, despite your best attempts, these pests may inevitably slip your eye and penetrate your house.
Ultimately, baby bed bugs are harmless. They’re more of a nuisance than anything. While they may not pose a threat to your life, they can still have adverse effects on your health, such as loss of sleep, high-stress levels, non-stop itching, and in severe cases, allergic reactions. So, if you think you’ve seen a bed bug or have a bed bug bite, make sure to get on top of the situation immediately because things can quickly get out of hand.