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Does your home have bed bugs? Check your couch first

It doesn’t matter how clean you think your home is. Bed bugs can easily be brought in and within days, you’re overrun. Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown, and oval shaped. They, like other parasitic insects, must bite and feed off human blood to survive. Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs do not always correlate with poor hygiene or unkept houses. This can often give people a false sense of security when they think because their home is clean, they’re safe. Bed bugs are an equal opportunity offender. They can easily be carried into your home through your or your guest’s personal belongings. And don’t let the name fool you. Bed bugs can be found in more places than just your mattress.

In fact, next to your bed, your couch is likely the second-most frequented piece of furniture in your home. You spend a lot of hours there, often eating and napping, as well. Bed bugs can sense warmth and carbon dioxide. This makes couches a perfect spot for them to congregate and live. The cracks and crevices in it also make finding bed bugs even more difficult since these are excellent harborages for them.

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Bed bugs are tiny, about the size of an apple seed. Their bodies are also very flat so they can burrow into ridiculously small or thin spaces — such as seams of furniture. This makes them difficult to locate. A female bed bug can lay between 200 to 500 eggs in its lifetime. That is a LOT of offspring for one mother! And the worst part of all? These suckers can go 70 days between feedings. Quick reproduction is a key factor when it comes to dealing with an infestation. It can happen extremely fast and last for months if not properly contained and treated.

One of the first signs of an infestation, unfortunately, are bed bug bites. They can mimic mosquito, flea, or flying insect bites so it’s important to pay attention to when you notice them. Is it after lying in bed or spending time on your couch? It might be time to start checking your furniture for evidence.

Identify

What happens if you find yourself dealing with an infestation that has dared to cross over into your favorite sectional? The first step is identifying the critters living in your couch. To do this, you’ll want to put on a pair of gloves and lay down a white sheet or blanket. If you can remove the cushions from your couch, do that over the sheet and lightly shake them. Then, lay each cushion down on the sheet to inspect it closely. You are looking for live or deceased bed bugs and fecal leavings (smaller black or reddish-brown dots). If you cannot remove your couch cushions, we recommend using a flashlight and visibly inspecting your couch. Once you’ve seen the proof that you have a problem, it’s time to manage it.

Treatment

You may be thinking it’s time to run out and buy all the insecticides possible to eradicate your home of the creepy and crawly bugs dwelling in your furniture. This may not be the best option, however. Like antibiotic resistance, bed bugs have developed a tolerance to the insecticides used in “bug bombs” and sprays, thus rendering them useless. Don’t waste your hard-earned money on something that probably won’t do too much other than fill your home with harsh chemicals that could harm you more in the long run. Bed bugs respond best to physical removal, such as vacuuming or entrapment.

  • By vacuuming, you are removing the bugs from their harborage. It’s important to note that you should empty the contents of your vacuum outside your home into a garbage bag, tie it immediately, and place it into a sealed garbage can. This gets them out of your home quickly and prevents them from returning.
  • Trapping the bed bugs with the use of an interceptor is a chemical free way to remove them from your home. These devices go underneath the legs of your furniture, catching bed bugs as they attempt to climb up or down. These are an excellent way to observe how severe the infestation is based on how many accumulate over a period of 24 hours. We recommend emptying them by vacuuming the contents with your hose attachment. The slippery texture of the traps keeps bugs inside them and not in your bed or other furniture. We recommend EcoPest Lab’s bed bug interceptor available in a wide range of size options and colors.

  • According to the University of Minnesota’s Department of Entomology, the most effective way to treat a bed bug infestation is by using a steamer. The mortality rate of bed bugs of all stages, including eggs, is 100% when exposed to temperatures of 122°F. for more than 2 minutes. This means they die on contact when steam is applied. Steamers are awesome at getting into those teensy nooks and crannies that can be safe havens to bed bugs. We recommend PurSteam’s highly rated handheld pressurized steamer. It tops out at temperatures of 289°F., which ensures bed bugs will not survive exposure with this product.

  • Laundering your bedding, blankets, pillows, and all loose items can seem tedious. However, it is necessary to do this in the hottest water setting possible to kill the bed bugs at various stages, including eggs. You should also dry these items at the highest heat setting possible; as mentioned before, heat is the most effective way of killing the bugs.
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Household pests are something most folks will encounter at some point in their lives. Feelings of shame or embarrassment are natural when the idea of tiny, blood-sucking creatures are living in your home come to mind. However, once the issue is diagnosed, eradication can begin. With time, patience, persistence, and the right tools, total removal of bed bugs can be accomplished.

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