The blood-sucking pests known as the bed bug have been invading house, home and shelters throughout history. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, their numbers have increased and are on the rise. Since they are attracted to heat and carbon dioxide which our bodies produce, animals and humans are their favorite source for feeding. They love to find new hosts in high-traffic areas by climbing aboard and taking a ride home with your kids.
Scientifically, bed bugs are known as Cimex lectularius (Cimicidae), which are small, wingless insects that feed by hematophagy (solely on the blood of warm-blooded animals). Bed bugs feed in the wee hours of the morning right before sunrise to stay undetected. They quietly and painlessly suck your blood while you sleep, by injecting you with saliva to increase blood flow and to ensure you don’t feel a thing once bitten.
Unwanted Pest Guests
Bed bugs could be hitchhiking a ride home on your children’s backpacks or clothing. Entomologist Jeff White of Bed Bug Central explains that cases of bed bugs in grade school and college dormitories rarely occur but have seen an increase mainly in schools located in metropolitan areas. You can have the cleanest house in the neighborhood and still be a victim of these parasites. But there are some simple steps parents can take to prevent a potential infestation at home when your children return from school:
- Place your child’s backpack in a large smooth Tupperware container each time they come home from school. Bed bugs have a hard time crawling on smooth surfaces.
- Purchase special encasement bedding that will provide protection against your kid’s mattress and box spring from bed bug infestations. It also will help you detect traces of bed bugs easier with the naked eye.
- Green cleaning laundry bags will keep your kid’s school clothes separated from other linens while trapping and killing any potential bed bugs from spreading to other rooms in your home.
- Inspect your child’s room for bed bugs by examining their bedding, box spring and bed frame thoroughly especially when school is in session.
Next Steps in the Bed Bug Battle
Bed bugs only feed for three to five minutes in the early hours before sunrise, and it takes up to several days before you see skin irritation marks from the constant biting that goes on while you’re asleep. If you notice any red spots or numerous marks that mimic mosquito bites, or if your child complains of constant itching, bed bugs may be the culprit. A dermatologist can diagnose and treat this irritation with a cream that will prevent children from scratching the bites, which can lead to infection. When bed bugs are in your home, it’s time to call a professional. Check out bed bugs at Orkin.com to get an overview of facts, identification techniques and ways to control this unwanted pest before, during and after your home is invaded.