Now you’re probably wondering what the hell that means. And before you think I’m speaking gibberish, I am sober (mostly). I am just trying to teach you some Korean. But by the look on your face, it has totally backfired on me – or has it? Hmm?
But enough with the madness, today I have a juicy story to share. It is one of those things that happen to you, and you are super pissed. But after a while, you look back at it and laugh. You’ve got such memories too right?
So, several years ago, on the weekend, I was at home with nothing to do – literally. I was bored to my wits. I wasn’t about to binge watch some Romcoms for yet another lonely weekend. I was tired of that.
I wanted something new, something exciting, something to get my adrenaline pumping. After giving it some thought, I decided to call up my friends for a girl’s night out.
One thing led to another and without going into a lot of details, let’s just say we took a flight, gambled all our money away, had a wild night and ended up sleeping in a shady motel pullout couch. In the morning, we woke up, one after the other, itchy and running around like crazy looking for ointments.
As it turns out, we were the nights buffet to a nest of hungry bed bugs. If you have experienced this (I assume you have since you are reading this), you know how relentless these little creatures can be. We tried getting rid of them with no success. We had to shower and get fresh clothes before taking a long flight of shame back home.
That night I learned two things:
- First, the fact that these little bloodthirsty creatures are called bedbugs does not mean that they are only found in beds. They can be everywhere; on the couch, floor, any furniture with a crevice to hide in.
- Second, I needed to find a permanent solution to these pesky creatures to help y’all. And here I am delivering on my ever selfless quest to making life better for my readers.
What Are Bedbugs?
Don’t you dare roll your eyes on me. It might sound basic, but I promise to share some not-so-obvious information here. Information is power. The more you know, the better your chances are of getting rid of these insects for good.
Scientifically, bedbugs are described as tiny wingless insects that feed only on the blood of other animals. Unfortunately, we humans are the preferred food for two bedbug species. Note that there are over 90 bedbug species.
Over the years, bedbugs have evolved, and some have adapted completely to the human environment. ‘Baby’ bedbugs (they are not cute) are called nymphs or hatchlings. Though tiny, they are visible. They resemble poppy seeds in size.
An adult bedbug can grow up to 0.25 inches long and has an oval head. When not feeding, they appear flattened. After feeding, they usually almost double in size.
They are referred to bedbugs since they prefer taking up space in bed mattresses, sofas, clothing and other furnishings. True to their vampire-like behaviors, they love the dark – only that they do not burst into flames when the sun shines on them.
When viewed up close, their color varies from white to a light tan, deep brown or a scorched orange color. When they are full, a black or dark red blob can be seen in their thorax. They feature a stylet on their beaks. This stylet pierces the skin and is used to suck blood; three to ten minutes is more than enough feeding time for a bedbug.
Why Should I Get Rid Of Bedbugs? Are They Dangerous?
Here is the thing; we have lived with bedbugs for the longest time. They are human parasites. This means that their survival hinges on ours.
It’s kind of a nice twist to things don’t you think? I mean, it’s probably one of the reasons why they do not transmit diseases to us. Because when you really think about it, it wouldn’t be in their best interest to kill or weaken their host.
But while they may not be known to transmit diseases directly through their block sucking, there still are some health-related problems. These health issues may vary from mild to life-threatening levels. The most common health issue related to bedbug bites is itching.
Though they try to be discrete about it, their bites cause red bumps on the skin. These bumps last for several days. For some individuals, the allergic reaction may last for even two weeks. A few lucky ones do not experience this. The bumps are very similar to those gotten from mosquito bites. The bites itch and as such, scratching is inevitable.
Excessive scratching leads to skin damage which in turn may pave the way for infections. Being careful not to scratch will help prevent severe reactions. If you notice any signs of infections, you should seek medical assistance.
Aside from this, medical experts have run studies and discovered that bedbugs play a role (though minimal) in causing anemia and escalating respiratory problems.
If the above possible health problems are not enough to get you on the bedbug prevention or eradication process, these might. Bedbugs will thoroughly disrupt your life leading to sleepless nights, itchiness and escalating medical bills. They are super inconvenient, and you should get rid of them before they start affecting your home life and performance at work.
How Do I Know I am Sharing A Home With Bedbugs – 7 Signs?
Bedbugs breed fast. They also prove to be a challenge to kill. As such, the faster you react to their presence the easier it’ll be for you. Here are the seven tell-tale signs of bedbug presence.
1. Bedbug Bites
We have already established that bedbugs are coward vampires. They are nocturnal and love feeding on us when we are enjoying our sleep. The preferred time (assuming they are not starving), is when we are in a deep sleep. This is usually the last few hours of the night – when it is almost sunrise. You might have noticed that sleep is sweetest around this time.
Anyway, back to the point. Bedbug bites manifest as red, itchy bumps. Most of these bites appear on the back, chest, hands, feet, neck or face. However, they can bite pretty much anywhere they please. These bites appear in clusters.
This is because before feeding, bedbugs crawl around the skin puncturing it and looking for the best vessel to suck blood. The bites may be in rows, groups or zig-zag lines.
These bites can lead to rashes or worse still, blisters filled with lymph fluids. In some cases, when severely scratched, they may result in infections. Signs of infection include deep redness, pain, and swelling.
To treat the bites, apply some steroid cream or take some antihistamines. These help in relieving the itchiness. In the event the condition is worse, you might need to pop some antibiotics or seek medical advice from your doctor.
2. Blood stains on your bedding
Heads up – you will not like this. But all the same, it is essential that you are in the know. When you are in the deep sleep phase, most of your movements are by reflex.
You are never conscious of your turning, heck if it is not for the fact that you wake up in a different position than you went to sleep in, you would not know that you turned. In this case, your reaction to bedbug bites is squashing them.
You will not always squash these pesky insects, but those that you do will leave unsightly, difficult to clean blood stains on your duvet covers and sheets. These stains are easy to detect on brightly colored sheets. Though in all honesty, the stains may be as a result of quashed mosquitoes as well.
3. Poo Stains
I know, I know. This is even worse than the blood stains. But while I am at it, I should mention that their poo is digested blood.
The poo stains are black and resemble felt tip pen markings. These are usually found on mattress edges and bed sheets. A wet rag should help get rid of the stains. All this might sound grim, but trust me, it is not dangerous.
4. Eggs and Egg Shells
A female bedbug can lay up to 5 eggs on a daily basis. In its lifetime, it can lay between 200 and 500 eggs. So they are not only pesky, they are fertile too!! Darn it!
In the right conditions, normal human room temperatures and with sufficient supply of your blood, bedbugs can live for about 300 days, give or take several days. It is for this reason that it is vital to take immediate action when you notice a bedbug problem in your home.
When they are laid, bedbug eggs are either translucent or white. They have a thin, shiny and sticky coating which helps them stick to surfaces. They are shaped like rice grains and are about 1mm long.
While they can be spotted with the naked eye, magnifying glasses get rid of the strain. Egg shells are flattened and less shiny. You are likely to find these in bedbug hiding spots, especially in wooden cracks and crevices and fabric surfaces.
5. Bedbug Shed Exoskeleton (read shed shell)
Bed bug shells are small and translucent. They resemble popcorn kernels. Once a bedbug is born, it crawls around as a nymph. It resembles an adult bed bug only that it has a light color and is smaller.
As it grows and matures, it will shed its skin approximately five times as it moves from one stage of development to the next. Look for evidence of these shells in bedbug hangout spots like framing, wooden furniture, mattresses and box springs.
6. What Do They Look Like?
This is one of the last tells that you have a bedbug problem on your hands. Nonetheless, it is worth knowing what you expect to find.
Bedbugs as earlier pointed out are flat and oval. They are about 4.5mm in length and can grow to 8mm when full. Once swollen with human blood, they turn to a black or reddish color.
7. Musty Smell
There is no way to describe it adequately. The good thing is you will know the smell when you sniff it. Without being told, you will know something is wrong.
Bedbugs usually release pheromones every time they are disturbed. This release is instinctive and is intended as a warning to the rest of the nest. The odor is repellant and musty. The silver lining to their musty smell is if you have a trained dog in the house, you can catch your bedbug problem in its early stages.
Now, What Are The Causes Of Bedbugs
Bedbug infestation happens fast. A single bedbug could in no time transform into a nest of bedbugs – an outbreak. When this happens, most people are left wondering where the bedbugs came from.
Now, I should point out that this can happen to anyone regardless of the level of preparedness. It might be impossible to foolproof your home against bedbugs, but you should considerably reduce your risks. Below are some ways you acquire these pests.
Through the purchase of old and used furniture
Most people are cautious when buying used mattresses. After all, they are the typical habitat for bedbugs. But as pointed out over and over in this piece, bedbugs can also attach themselves to clothes and get carried to other homes.
In addition to mattresses and beds, they can be present in chairs couches and other wooden furniture. As such, before purchasing anything, you will need to perform a thorough inspection.
If you have houseguests spending the night, there are chances that they could bring bedbugs into your home. Bedbugs could attach to luggage. If you offer your guest the couch and sheets to find comfort through the night, the parasites may transfer and become your problem.
Now how can one possibly protect themselves from this? Well, I have learned the hard way. And while you might consider this a little too extreme, I consider it as being cautious.
I ask my friends and guests if they have a bedbug problem in their home before they arrive. It sounds rude, but it has protected me from sleepless nights. Most do not even know they have these pests until I ask – so in essence, I am doing us both a favor. Call me the bedbug eradication ambassador.
The other more humane option is getting bed bug covers and offering them to your guests when they visit.
Sleeping away from home
From my story at the start of this piece, this comes out all too clearly. Staying at a hotel or a friend’s place opens you up to the risk of bringing bugs back home.
When you do find yourself in a hotel infested with bedbugs, make a point of alerting the management. And whatever you do, do not take the clothes you wore in the hotel back home. In addition, you should also take a shower before heading back home.
Work at a colleagues place
If your job has you visiting your client’s home, you may be at risk of transferring the bedbugs to your home. You might stay for a few minutes, but this is enough time for a bedbug to attach itself. Be cautious and alert of your surrounding.
All the above causes of bedbugs have one thing in common – transfer. Bedbugs attach themselves to hosts and are transferred from home to home. Be super clean to keep this from happening. If it doesn’t work, try out the following prevention methods.
5 Ways To Prevent And Eliminate Bedbugs
By the time you start noticing the signs and symptoms of bedbugs, chances are that the infestation is already in the thousands. So, just how do you eliminate bedbug infestation and prevent future attacks?
1. Bedbugs cannot withstand a rise in temperature
This is by far one of the best strategies to put into effect. It will get rid of your bedbugs faster than you can say Cimex Hemipterus. The easiest and most effective way of implementing the technique is to blow dry steam over your beds, couch, mattresses, pillows, rugs, carpet, curtain and rugs.
Basically, make it extremely difficult for the bedbugs to find a cool place to hide and rest. Be a thorn to their side as they are to yours.
2. Always wash upholstery and travel clothing you suspect are infected with hot water
I saw this in practice when in college. Though this technique is never 100% effective, it will help you contain and kill most of the bedbugs.
You will need to make a habit of washing your pillows covers, bed sheets, travel bags and upholstery with hot water until you notice a significant reduction in the infestation.
3. Vacuum clean
Vacuum cleaners are magical devices. They are the perfect gift from technology. While they are designed to suck dust and debris off rubs and fabrics in your home, they also suck these blood-sucking parasites as well.
After using a vacuum cleaner, you have to ensure you clean it a well. Contain the cleaning area to prevent the bedbugs from finding their way into your home again.
4. Let in the Sun
If you have a large window and do not mind having the room lit up, then this technique is for you. Bedbugs love dark places. The sun makes them uncomfortable. While they do not dramatically burst up in flames, they do find it difficult to live in lit areas.
Letting in the sun and allowing unconstructed airflow in your home will convince the bedbug to leave of their own volition. The heat from the sun and ample airflow will reduce the moisture levels in your beddings. This will get rid of the reason why the bedbugs made your bed a breeding ground, in the first place.
5. Double sided tape
I love this trick. It probably does not even need explanation. This tape will prevent bedbugs from getting to your bed when rolled around the legs of the bed. Bedbugs will stick on it. You just need to ensure that your blankets do not touch the floor.
If you already suspect bedbugs are in your bed, apply the tape on the inside. When they come out to feed, they will get stuck and you can throw them out when you wake up from your rejuvenating sleep.
How About Essential Oils – Are They Effective In dealing With Bed Bugs
How could natural products kill or at least keep these resistant parasites the heck away from your home? Well, thing is, the action of essential oils says a lot about their strength than the resistance of bedbugs.
Essential oils are natural, effective, safe and affordable. If you use them as recommended and directed, they will not cause you harm.
There is much more than I can say about chemical pesticides most professional companies like to use and those endless packs of toxins that exterminators are always carrying around. And with that said, let’s have an in-depth look at some of the best essential oils for bedbugs and why they’re the best.
Best 9 Essential Oils For Bedbugs
1. Tea Tree
Tea tree has been the top most popular essential oil for individuals battling with bedbugs. The beauty of this essential oil is the fact that it is excellent in getting rid of lice and treating acne as well.
Tea tree is a strong microbe killer and insect repellent – this much you know. This oil contains cineole and terpinene. These two are the active ingredients in many insecticides. As such, it makes for a great weapon against bedbugs as a potent concentrate of the original.
Disinfect your home with this oil and win the draining battle against these parasites. A few drops of tea tree essential oil on your laundry will help prevent bedbugs from attaching to your clothes. Since tea tree essential oil has antifungal and antiseptic properties, it goes without saying that it will help soothe the itching from bedbug bites.
This essential oil is acidic, and this acidic nature is just what you need to kill bedbugs. However, unlike other top essential oils, clove oil does not have a pleasant smell. It is actually very pungent. But as it turns out, the smell is overpowering to parasites such as bedbugs.
Clove contains eugenol – a toxic compound that helps in killing bedbugs and other insects. When spraying this essential oil, be sure you can stomach the smell in case you end up spraying a lot of it.
My, oh, my. The Bulgarian version of Lavender smells like heaven. But do not let the sweet scent fool you. It is an effective bedbug repellant. Lavender oil has antiseptic and healing properties. It can also take away the pain from a bite location.
Lavender oil can be used a myriad of ways. You can use its undiluted form in the corners of your house and the bed or make a solution spray and get it all over your carpet, furniture, and bedding.
Be warned that lavender oil is potent. Caution should be exercised when using it. The oil is also known to be effective against bedbug eggs as well. It indeed does not leave any stone unturned.
This is yet another essential oil with a great scent. Lemon as a fruit is well known for its potent antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. The same is true for this essential oil. After all, lemon is its main ingredient.
Lemon oil will kill bedbugs in your home and give it an invigorating fresh scent. You can dilute the oil with some water and spray it in your house or use a few drops in your laundry. Whichever method you choose, the results will be magical.
Neem oil has been in use for centuries. In India, it is a natural bug repellant and killer. Its tree alone is sufficient to keep away flies and mosquitoes. Cold pressing its leaves for oil will get you a bed bug killer.
While its smell is not the most pleasant I have encountered, its bedbug killing abilities are undebatable. Like lemongrass and peppermint, neem oil should not be used directly on skin.
This essential oil is known for its holistic healing abilities. It has an energizing scent and has proven time and time again to be a great killer of bedbugs along with their eggs. Its antiseptic properties makes it great for this purpose. Spraying diluted eucalyptus oil on bedbugs will kill them. However, you should be careful when using it around kids.
Thyme oil has antiseptic, antispasmodic, antibacterial, calming and hypertensive properties. It is one of the best antioxidants available. These properties make it a powerful bedbug repellant and killer. That said, exercise care when using it as it is not safe for kids and pregnant ladies.
Lemongrass contains compounds and has properties that are vital in repelling bedbugs. In addition to killing the bedbugs, this essential oil is perfect for destroying bedbug eggs and remnants as well.
You will absolutely love its pleasant smell. Note that this essential oil is potent and should not be applied to the skin. Exercise caution when spraying it around pets and children.
Peppermint’s health benefits can be traced back to eons ago (1000BC). It is used by the Chinese and Japanese as a natural remedy and medicine. Today, it is among the top most used essential oils in the world.
Aside from its health benefits, peppermint is revered for its insect repelling and antimicrobial properties. Not only will it help you get rid of bedbugs but in the process, it will also repel mites and spiders as well.
That said, bear in mind that peppermint oil is highly potent. As such it should never be directly applied to the skin or used in your child’s room.
Recommended Natural Product For Bedbugs
You can grab five of the above essential oils in a carry bag with recipes and much more when you buy the L’orpur Organic Kit.
My Favorite 4 Essential Oil Recipes For Bedbugs
1. Aromatic Bedbug Spray
- Tea tree – 18 drops
- Peppermint – 15 drops
- Epsom salt – 2 teaspoons
- Glass spray bottle – 4 ounces
It is imperative that you use a glass spray bottle. These aromatic oils are potent and may degrade the plastic.
Mix the ingredients in the glass bottle. Add water to fill the bottle and then store it in a dark cabinet. Ensure no heat gets to it. Spray your mattresses, bedding and other dark areas, cracks, and crevices in the house until the infestation goes away.
2. Strong Bedbug Blend
- Lavender – 18 drops
- Lemongrass – 14 drops
- Tea tree – 12 drops
- Thyme – 10 drops
Mix these essential oils to get a powerful anti-bedbug solution. You can throw in some jojoba, grapeseed or almond oil if you want to dilute it a bit. Now, add 5-6 drops of the solution in the corners of your bed or house.
3. Bedbug Spray
- Water – 1 cup
- Lavender – 8 drops
- Rosemary – 12 drops
- Eucalyptus – 10 drops
- Clove bud oil – 6 drops
Method: mix these ingredients in a bottle and spray your beddings and mattress. You can also spray it in seam and cracks in the walls. Use the blend sparingly when spraying on bedding. Large amounts of it may cause headaches.
4. Concentrated Cotton Ball Bedbug Repellant
- Lavender oil – 7 drops
- Peppermint oil – 3 drops
- Citronella oil – 5 drops
Mix these oils and use cotton balls to soak them up. Place the cotton balls all around your bedroom. The more concentrated the mix the better the results. And the great thing is that you can just add the blend on the cotton balls after a few days when they dry up.
And there you have it. Everything you need to know about bedbugs and how you can get rid of them. Please note that you should not be embarrassed because of a mere bedbug infestation. It is a common problem, and we’ve all probably done other things in bed that we should be more ashamed of.
Luckily, yours truly has listed all you need to deal with these pesky vampires and even avoid them in future. Like I always tell you guys, you’d be surprised what you can achieve and all the health problems you can avoid by just turning the use of essential oils into a lifestyle.