Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!
Protect yourself against these unwelcome pests. Learn how to detect a bed bug infestation, and what to do in the event you discover them in your home.
Once upon a time, parents used that expression when tucking in their children, because it was cute and unlikely to happen. Unfortunately, in a world where people travel frequently and, ironically, where pest control methods have become safer and “greener,” bed bugs are again turning up where you might least expect to find them.
Facts about Bed Bugs
According to the Centers for Disease Control, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. What is a bed bug? They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without feeding. Once thought of as a problem only in the developing world, bedbug infestations have again become common in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Bed bugs can live anywhere, including five star hotels and the nicest homes—in fact, their presence is not determined by housekeeping standards.
Bed bug infestations can occur in any area where people sleep: hotels, dorms, cruise ships. At the end of the trip, bedbugs are all too happy to go home as unwelcome souvenirs. During the day, they are good at hiding in places such as mattress seams, box springs, bed frames, headboards, bedside tables, even behind wallpaper. They live, unnoticed, in the smallest crack or crevice near where we sleep! At night, however, if given access to people or pets, they will come out of their hiding places to feed.
While their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep, bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Despite this, bedbugs are a great source of stress, as people try to rid them from their beds (and their homes) and to calm their families. Let’s face it: bedbugs are disgusting, and we don’t want to share our mattresses with them!
How do I know if I have bedbugs in my home?
One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks left on the face, neck, arms, hands—or any body part—that occur during sleep. Bed bug bites affect each person differently. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea–a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritated. Bite responses can range from no physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. An allergic reaction to several bites may require medical attention. Since bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people, it is important to look for other clues when determining whether bed bugs have infested an area. These bed bug symptoms include:
- Presence of molted bedbug skins—some people call them shells—shed by bedbugs as they grow.
- Presence of bedbugs in the folds of sheets and mattress seams.
- Rusty–colored spots on the mattress or nearby furniture.
- A sweet, musty odor in or around sleeping areas.
Bed Bug Pest Control
Guardsman’s ComfortMark™ mattress and box spring encasements are designed to help you rest free of concern about bedbugs and other pests that make your mattress their home. It’s important to have the right tools to fight these pests—beginning with the right protection around your mattress.
Comprehensive Pest Management
Mattress encasements and protectors are a good start to pest control. You’ll want to do things differently if you have a new mattress that you want to protect from bedbugs or an existing mattress that may already be infested. (For severe infestations, it’s often best to get a new mattress.)
For new mattresses or box springs, it’s important to protect them from the time they are unwrapped upon delivery. By sealing both the mattress and box spring in a ComfortMark™ mattress encasement, you can prevent bedbugs from entering your new bedding, so you don’t have to worry about your new investment being spoiled event if bedbugs are in your home.
For existing mattresses and box springs, Guardsman’s mattress encasement products can provide relief from worry about infestations. When you encase your mattress and box spring, any pests already inside are trapped, and because they are deprived of their food source, they die off over time. New pests are prevented from taking up residence, too. For best results, do not remove the encasement for 12 months to ensure that pests do not escape and are allowed to expire. While it might seem a little gross to think of the bedbugs trapped inside your mattress, you can sleep soundly knowing that they can’t get out.
Keep your encased mattress fresh and allergy-free.
To provide complete pest and allergy control, we also recommend the use of a Guardsman ComfortMark™ mattress protector on top of your mattress encasement. Classified in the US and Canada as a Class 1 medical device, doctors recommend the use of mattress and pillow protectors to control asthma, dust and pet allergies. Guardsman’s ComfortMark™ mattress protectors create a barrier to prevent dust mites and pet dander from settling in your mattress. Dust mites leave residues that can cause allergic reactions and affect breathing. For best results, wash your mattress and pillow protectors regularly.
Unlike all-in-one products that try to combine a mattress protector and encasement, our two-part solution allows you to easily remove the mattress protector for regular washing without removing your mattress encasement and allowing hungry bedbugs to escape. By using both Guardsman’s mattress encasement and mattress protector products, you no longer have to choose between a clean mattress protector and a bedbug-free environment—you can have both!
Control Strategies for Bed Bugs: Beyond Your Bedding
If bedbugs and other mattress pests are present in your home, be sure to consult pest control and other resources to understand how to thoroughly clean and treat your home. Despite their name, bedbugs make homes in carpeting, furniture, bed frames, drapes, picture frames, wallpaper, and other areas near their human hosts. Use of Guardsman ComfortMark™ mattress encasements should be part of your solution, but no mattress encasement or protector can rid your home of these pests once they are present.
There are many websites from pest control companies, bedding manufacturers, and the government advising you on steps you can take to make your home bedbug free. Some of these websites are linked below:
If you think bedbugs are a problem in your home, check with your local government pest management agency to find solutions and solution providers in your area with a record of effective pest management, and make Guardsman products a part of your comprehensive pest control strategy.