As you tuck your children into bed, you might recite the old phrase, “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” With the bed bug population in the United States on the rise, that saying may hit a little too close to home for some people. So what should you do if you suspect these pests have invaded your home? There are a few things that parents should know about bed bugs.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Bed Bug Bites and Other Bug Bites?

Bed bug bites are sometimes a sign of an infestation, but they are easy to confuse with other bites and don’t occur in all people, so make sure you are looking at the full picture. If you are experiencing unexplained bites or you notice your child scratching at small red bumps, take a closer look. Bed bug bites most often appear in straight lines or small clusters, on the head, neck and chest (or any area exposed while sleeping). If you find just one bite, there’s a good chance it’s from another insect.

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If you find what could be bed bug bites, look around for other evidence of infestation. Check common bed bug areas like the mattress, headboard, baseboards, electrical outlets, curtains, and furniture for the bed bugs themselves or signs of their presence including fecal matter, dried blood, or molted skin. If you’re having trouble, the best route is to contact a pest control specialist to conduct a professional inspection.

What to Do Next

If you find yourself with a bed bug problem, it’s time to call the professionals. Bed bug infestations are not an issue that can be fixed effectively with a DIY technique. A pest control specialist will survey your situation and make recommendations for the best treatment method. This could include traditional treatments or thermal remediation. Bed bugs can go a year without feeding and females can lay up to 400 eggs in their lifetime, so it’s important to completely eradicate the entire bed bug population in order to be sure there will not be a resurgence.

Meanwhile, if your child is experiencing itching and inflammation, their doctor may offer a topical corticosteroid to help with the symptoms. It’s important to keep your children (and yourself) from scratching bites to the point of bleeding as this could lead to a bacterial infection.

How Can I Prevent Bed Bugs in The First Place?

There are a few steps you can take to mitigate the risk of bringing bed bugs into your home. It’s important to know that bed bugs don’t pick only dirty places to infest and that having bed bugs is not an indicator of your state of cleanliness. When you are travelling, you should be checking your room the same as you would check your home if you suspect bed bugs, regardless of how clean or expensive that room might be. Keep your luggage and clothes off the bed and immediately wash all clothes and dry them on high heat when you get back home.

You should also educate your children about what bed bugs look like and ask them to let you know if they see these bugs at home, at a friend’s, or at school. You should also encourage your children to not share clothes or other personal belongings with other children. Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, so they can easily use these shared belongings to travel from place to place. While these are important things to keep in mind, you should never cancel travel plans or daily activities because of a fear of bed bugs. You should be educated and aware of the potential of bed bugs, but enjoy your time away from home.

Contact Holder’s Pest Control for more information on identifying and eliminating bed bugs in your home.