Keeping bed bugs at bay

Keep these things in mind when it comes to bed bugs.

Bed bugs have become more of a problem in urban areas in recent years. Whether you're sleeping at a five-star hotel or your own apartment, bed bugs can be a major inconvenience. And unlike other types of bugs, bed bugs can be extremely difficult to remove. If you find a bed bug infestation in one area of the building, odds are they are in other nearby places as well. Unfortunately, the cold weather quickly approaching with winter won't affect bed bugs – according to the University of Minnesota, bed bugs can survive in temperatures only slightly above 0 degrees Fahrenheit!

What exactly is a bed bug?
Bed bugs are usually hard to find until it's too late. Their lives begin as eggs that measure less than one millimeter in width. Upon hatching, a bed bug will go through several ages of early life until it grows into an adult. As an adult, a bed bug is a small, reddish-brown insect that looks similar to a tick. Bed bugs bite humans because they feed off blood, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. The bite of a bed bug normally causes redness, itching and swelling around the wound. 

Prevention
Although you'd probably think that bed bugs only inhabit the dirtiest of spaces, the creatures can be found in just about anywhere. That's because they can be carried in on clothing, furniture pieces or even paper products. If you stay in a hotel room infested with bed bugs, there's a strong possibility you bring them home with you. If you suspect you've stayed in an area with bed bugs, it's a good idea to have all of your clothes cleaned and dried at high temperatures.

In residential areas, you can often prevent bed bugs from entering by cleaning frequently and limiting the amount of clutter at your house. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that people who share laundry facilities use plastic bags when transporting their company. In the same vein, make sure you inspect new furniture thoroughly before bringing it into your house. Even if you can't see the insects themselves, be on the lookout for tiny specks of brown (bed bug droppings). 

Bed bug removal
In the unfortunate event that you do suspect or confirm the presence of bed bugs, you have a few options. If you're dealing with a minor infestation, simply place your belongings in plastic bags and put them in the freezer for a few days. The sub-zero temperatures should effectively kill off all of the bed bugs. If, however, you think you have a larger infestation, it may be time to call bed bug professional exterminators.