Bedbugs had disappeared in France in the 1950s, but in recent years, they have re-colonized our homes. These small parasites bite and are difficult to chase away. How to recognize them and get rid of them?
What is a bed bug?
Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that live away from light in dark spaces. They are visible to the naked eye and are usually brown. They do not jump or fly and have a life span of up to 6 months.
They can sometimes be spotted by their droppings, small black dots on the mattress, slats or cracks in the box spring, wood of the bed, baseboards, or corners of the walls. Bed bugs also leave tiny blood spots on the mattress when they bite. Another clue: they cannot stand light and flee from it
What causes them?
Bed bugs bite for food, but can survive for several months without eating. When they bite humans, they inject an anticoagulant, as well as an anesthetic that makes the bite painless.
How to recognize a bedbug bite?
According to Edouard Sève, allergist, “bedbug bites are quite recognizable: they are small red dots, usually in groups of 3 or 4, linear and itchy. They are generally located on exposed areas such as the feet, hands, or what protrudes from the pajamas”. The allergist points out that bedbugs are not vectors of disease and do not cause allergic reactions. “Some skin will be more sensitive than others, as is the case with mosquitoes.”
How are bed bugs transmitted?
Fond of traveling, bed bugs like to hide in suitcases at hotels, for example. They also cling to humans who carry them in the beds they visit.
What are the treatments?
Generally, no medical treatment is necessary for bed bug bites. However, “if the itching is difficult to bear, it is possible to take antihistamines” advises Edouard Sève.
How to avoid bedbugs?
Here are the government’s tips for avoiding these little pests.
To avoid bedbugs in your home:
- Avoid cluttered spaces, to reduce the number of places bed bugs can hide;
- Wash second-hand clothes at over 60°C, put them in the dryer on the hottest cycle for at least 30 minutes, or freeze them;
- Clean with a dry heat appliance furniture recovered in the street or bought at a flea market before bringing it into your home.
To avoid bedbugs at home in a hotel:
Do not put your luggage on the floor or on the bed: store it on a luggage rack inspected beforehand;
Do not put your clothes on the bed or in the closets before examining them carefully;
Check the bed: mattress, zippers, seams, upholstery, behind and around the headboard;
Check the furniture and walls: furniture frames and upholstery, using an object with a hard corner like a credit card.
To avoid bedbugs when returning from a trip:
Make sure there are no bed bugs in your luggage, never put them on or near beds or armchairs;
Take out clothes and examine personal belongings;
Wash clothes and cloth items in hot water (60° if possible), whether worn or not;
Heat non-washable fabric items in the dryer at the highest possible temperature for 30 minutes;
Vacuum the suitcases. Immediately dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag.
Getting rid of bed bugs
What to do
The larger the infestation, the more bed bugs will move into other rooms in the home and into other units. So how do you get rid of bed bugs? Here are the steps to follow:
- Machine wash at over 60°C, allowing to eliminate adults and eggs. The washed clothes must be kept in sealed plastic bags until the infestation is over.
- Tumble dry (hot mode at least 30 minutes).
- Steam cleaning at high temperature, 120°C, destroys all stages of bed bugs in corners or upholstery.
- Freezing of linen or small objects at -20°C, 72 hours minimum.
- Vacuuming (with the fine nozzle of the vacuum cleaner) of eggs, young and adults found. Be careful, the vacuum cleaner does not kill the insect, which could emerge later from the bag. Then close the bag, wrap it in a plastic bag and dispose of it in an outdoor trash can. Don’t forget to clean the vacuum cleaner’s duct with soapy water or a domestic cleaning product.