Bed bugs are unwelcome in any location, but especially in an apartment or hotel. An infestation may be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit if property owners did not take reasonable steps to prevent or eliminate bedbugs. It is important to recognize a potential bed bug infestation and ways to combat it.
What are bed bugs
Adult bugs are approximately the size of an apple seed, have flat bodies and are long and brown or reddish brown. They have antennas, six legs and a musty and slightly sweet odor.
Adult female bed bugs produce 200 to 500 eggs over their lifetimes, which is usually six to 12 months. Young bed bugs are smaller and may have a lighter color, which is almost white or yellow.
The scientific name for a bed bug is Cimex lectularius and these creatures are closely related to bat bugs and pirate bugs. Bed bugs are believed to have originated in Europe, the Middle East or India but moved across the world with humans. They were eradicated in the mid-20th Century but returned with increased human travel.
Warmth, blood and carbon dioxide attract bed bugs. They feed on birds and mammals and leave a bite that looks like a typical bite from an insect, a rash or hives. Poor hygiene and dirt do not attract bed bugs.
Searching for bed bugs
Bed bugs usually make their home in hidden places. These include chair and couch seams or cushions, wall hangings, heads of screws near piping, mattresses or box springs and cracks in headboards and frames. Infestation can occur throughout the year, but bed bugs thrive during the warmer months.
These are indications of bed bugs besides seeing the actual bugs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency:
- Red stains from bed bugs being crushed
- Dark spots left from bug excrement
- Eggs, eggshells and shedding skins
Prevention and eradication
Property owners and landlords have the duty to prevent and eliminate bedbug infestation. Measures include:
- Reducing clutter such as discarded furniture or appliances
- Frequent vacuuming
- Keeping belongings separate
- Sealing cracks
- Cleaning secondhand furniture or clothes
Methods to eradicate bedbugs include:
- Sealing cracks and crevices with silicon caulk.
- Removing infested items and using extreme heat or cold to eliminate the bed bugs from the items.
- Using a steamer for treating infected items.
- Setting bed bug interceptor traps.
Using rubbing alcohol, kerosene and gasoline is ineffective. These products are also potentially dangerous.