Making a Return
Once thought to be under control in North America, bedbug populations are making a comeback. According to Health Canada, DDT once kept them in check, but we have been cutting back on our use of pesticides. Some experts link their domestic resurgence to the fact that North Americans now travel more frequently to parts of the world where the insects remain a problem. (Health Canada does warn that bedbugs can be picked up in hotels.)
According to Toronto Public Health, bedbugs can find their way into your home on things like furniture and clothing. The small, brown, wingless insects—before feeding, a bedbug measures about 6-10 millimetres long and is about as flat as a sheet of paper—also move around apartment buildings by way of pipes and electrical wiring.
And they breed quickly. During its roughly one-year lifespan, a female bedbug lays about 200 hundred eggs—three or four a day, which hatch in six to 17 days. The babies—nymphs—then take up residence in mattresses and box springs, between the cushions of a sofa, between curtain folds, in cracks in wooden bed frames and headboards, in drawers, and, really, just about any other spot in your home.
Then, at night, while you sleep, they come out to feed on blood.
Annoying, But Not Dangerous
Not that bedbugs are particularly harmful. They’re not known to carry diseases. If bitten, the bedbug’s saliva, which it injects into your body, will cause you to itch. Typically, bites are clustered together. A line of three bites is sometimes called “breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Detection and Prevention
If bedbugs are in your home, you may notice their small and dark feces, or their tiny, whitish eggs. What can you do if you have a bedbug infestation?
Health Canada recommends the following:
- Remove any clutter from areas of your house where you think they live.
- Vacuum these spots and immediately dispose of the trash.
- Wash any affected bedding and clothing in hot water and then put it in the dryer. Resist the temptation to use a pesticide on them.
- Seal any cracks in wooden bed frames, floors and walls, along with other openings in your home. Place tape around the infested areas to catch the bugs.
- Inspect any second-hand furniture you bring into your house.
- When travelling, do a spot check of your room before checking in. Always place your luggage on the luggage rack and not on your bed or on the floor.
- Stay patient. Bedbugs can be a tricky problem to treat. A particularly virulent outbreak may require the help of an exterminator and you may have to do several clean-ups and applications chemicals to rid your home of these pests.