Bed bugs on mattress can be very irritating.
If you are facing a sense of something piercing your body when you are sleeping at night, chances are that you have bed bugs on your mattress.
Do not panic. Bed bugs do not transmit any disease.
But the bed bug bites can certainly cause discomfort and are very irritating.
You may mistake the piercing sensation as mosquito-bite or other insect bites. But if you have a red and swollen skin with itching whenever you are sleeping on your mattress at night then most certainly you have bed bugs on mattress.
In this article we will learn all about the problem of bed bugs on mattress and the most effective process of removal. We will also learn how to avoid the problem and keep our home free from bed bugs.
So take a deep breath and prepare for the battle.
Bed Bugs Basics
Bed bugs are opportunistic insects. It means that they wait till the time is right before they strike. Let us understand some basics about bed bugs.
What are bed bugs?
The Cambridge dictionary defines a bedbug as “a very small insect that lives mainly in beds and feeds by sucking people’s blood”.
Bedbugs are small oval-shaped insects that are generally 5 – 7 mm in length and brownish in colour.
Adult bedbugs are visible to the naked eye.
Bedbugs cannot fly, but they move rapidly wherever they live.
Bedbugs feeds on blood, they live where people lives – residences, hotels, auditoriums, schools, offices, shopping stores and also in buses, cars, trains, etc.
Bedbugs, being very small shaped, can live in cracks of furniture, in clothes, furnishings and upholstery.
Bedbug infestations are common in beds including mattresses, box springs and bed frames.
How are bed bugs formed?
Warm temperatures between 21 degrees to 26 degree Celcius (70 to 80 Fahrenheit) are favourable for bedbugs.
There is a common belief that bedbugs are caused by filthy and dirty environment. But that is not the case.
Bedbugs can live in any environment, whether dirty or clean, as long as the conditions are favorable – a warm temperature and a food source.
Bedbugs cannot live on hosts, that is you, because you move too much. They need a safe place to hide, then come out and feed when it is safe for them to do so and then go back to their hiding. After feeding on human blood, they hide for 5 – 10 days and during this time they digest their meal, mate and lay eggs.
A female bedbug can lay 200 – 500 eggs during her lifetime and may lay 2 – 5 eggs per day.
So as you can see, a presence of only a single fertile female bedbug can cause an infestation in your environment.
Bed Bugs on Mattress
We face a lot of questions as to whether a new mattress can get bed bugs. Let us find the answer in this section.
Can bed bugs live on mattreses?
Mattress is a common place where bedbugs are found because, mattresses provide favorable living conditions for them – a warm temperature and a food source of human blood.
Mattresses can also provide a safe hiding place for bedbugs because it has lots of crevices and tiny spaces.
It does not matter whether the mattress is new or old.
Causes of Bed bugs on mattress
Bedbugs are spread primarily by the articles that we carry from one place to another – beds, suitcases, chairs. clothes, furnishings, etc.
Once the bedbugs enters our house they can move from one place to another and spread and multiply.
So bedbugs travels to our mattresses by external means.
Bed Bugs Characteristics
Like every living being, bed bugs have some unique characteristics. Let us understand some habits of bed bugs, so that it becomes easy for us to understand them and deal with them.
Where do bed bugs live in the house?
The name bedbugs does not mean that they live only in beds.
Bedbugs can live anywhere in our house. They just need small places to hide, and lay eggs.
They can live in the furnitures which have cracks and crevices – beds, chairs, tables, desks, cupboards, sofas, etc.
They can live on any soft areas where there are very small spaces, mattresses, cushions, bedsheets, bedcovers, clothes, etc.
They can also live on other articles in our house like suitcases, boxes, etc.
Where do bed bugs hide during the day?
Bedbugs generally hide during the day and come out at night to feed on human blood.
They hide in the cracks and crevices of the places they live to keep themselves protected and safe.
Bedbugs do not live in nests but they live in groups.
What attracts bed bugs to your home?
Bedbugs are attracted by warmth and carbon dioxide.
A warm temperature helps them to grow and the carbon dioxide are signs to them for humans, where they can get their food.
Bedbugs comes to our home by transporting through the items that we carry.
It enters the home when we carry a bedbug-infested item into our home – like suitcases, beds, chairs, clothes, etc.
It does not travel by our body, but are transported through our daily household items.
How long can bed bugs live without food?
Bedbugs feed for about 5 to 10 minutes and then they go back to their safe place to hide.
They can live for months without food.
As such they are also found in vacant homes.
How far can bed bugs travel?
As bedbugs are transported by the articles we carry, they can travel all over the world along with us. They are perfect hitchhikers.
Can bed bugs travel from house to house?
Yes, they can travel from house to house.
They can quickly move out from their hiding if they are disturbed and then go about finding a new safe place.
If they stay in an article which can be carried from one place to another, like clothes, suitcases, boxes, etc. they can be transported from one room to another inside a house or from one house to another.
Bed Bugs Detection
It is important to detect bed bugs first before we try and eliminate them. In this section we will know the ways to detect bed bugs.
How to detect bed bugs?
Although they are tiny insects, bed bugs can be detected by naked eye.
Look for these bed bugs signs to detect bedbugs in your home –
- First sign of bed bugs on mattress is whether you have an itchy, red, swollen area in your body when you wake up. This clearly indicates that you have bed bugs.
- Check for bed bugs if you have blood stains in the bedsheet or pillow cases. Sometimes bed bugs are crushed by our own body weight and hence the marks.
- Also look for an offensive odour, like mud, which comes from the scent glands of the bed bugs.
- Look for dead skins, egg-shells and fecal spots of bed bugs in the areas where they tend to live in the house.
What do bed bug bites feel like?
Bed bugs may bite you in any exposed part of the body.
Bed bugs bite by piercing the skin by their elongated beak to suck blood.
They bite and suck blood for upto 10 minutes and crawl away unnoticed.
Bed bug bites are painless at first, but later it turns itchy and swollen.
If you want to confirm that bites are really from bed bugs, you should look for the bed bugs signs as above.
Bed bug bites can be treated at home by taking an oatmeal bath or cool compresses.
How many bed bugs do I have?
Bed bugs can multiply very quickly.
A female fertile bed bug can lay upto 2 to 5 eggs in a day, which are like dust particles. They can lay upto 500 eggs in their lifetime.
You should look for bed bug infestation in places like beds, mattresses,books, radios, edges of carpets, furnitures, boxes, suitcases, etc.
You should also look for signs like bed bug odour, eggs, their dead skins, blood stains, etc.
If you find these signs, chances are that you do not have a single bed bug but a bed bug infestation in your house.
A few bed bugs vs Infestation
It is very difficult to understand or detect whether you have a few bed bugs or a bed bug infestation.
A presence of nymphs, that is young bed bugs, eggs, and adult bed bugs indicates that there is an infestation of bed bugs.
On the other hand a sight of only a few do not rule out the fact that there is no infestation.
It is very difficult to detect bed bug eggs as they are minute particles.
The nymphs takes about 100 days to grow to adults before they can mate. An adult bed bug generally live for 10 months and even upto a year.
Bed Bugs Removal
This section is about elimination of bed bugs, not just from your mattress but from your home.
What to do if you have bed bugs?
We have seen that people tend to throw away the articles, especially if they are not useful or expensive, if they detect a few bed bugs crawling.
However throwing away the article is a limited solution to bed bugs removal.
And throwing away mattresses does not mean you will not have a bed bug problem in the new one.
Why? Because, bed bugs can travel from one place to another. If they are disturbed, they usually come out from their hiding place and crawl away to a new safe place.
Another reason that they may have travelled to another place is also the fact that the females try to crawl away to a less-disturbing place to lay eggs. The females are always disturbed by the males, who always want to mate.
So, the first thing you should do when you detect bed bugs in your house is to eliminate them.
Bed bugs on mattress removal process
Throwing away an infested mattress is often helpful because you would remove a large population of bed bugs at once.
However bed bugs may remain in other corner and articles of your room and even the whole house.
Hence bed bugs on mattress should be dealt carefully.
A call to a qualified pest controller is always recommended.
However people requests us to suggest some procedures which they can follow themselves.
Being in the industry for many years and serving clients, both residential and commercial, we have seen and experienced various bed bug removal processes from mattresses.
But please do note that we are not experts in pest control.
The first step that we suggest is to look at the mattress label and see the precautions that should be followed.
Chemical treatments are best for getting rid of bed bugs, but extreme care should be taken while using chemicals in the bedroom and on beds and mattresses.
You should not only concentrate on getting rid of bed bugs from your mattress but also from other areas, like, chairs, cupboards, suitcases, boxes, clothes, etc.
We are again emphasising on the fact that bed bugs on mattress should be inspected by a professional pest controller who will decide whether to keep the mattress or discard it altogether.
But like we said, as we are often requested by people to suggest some ways of removal, here are some removal processes of bed bugs from mattresses that you can try safely yourself at home, if you do not want to call a pest controller for any reason:
- Use a vaccum cleaner to vaccum the bed thoroughly.Vaccum the sides and crevises as the bed bugs loves these places to hide themselves After that, the vaccum cleaner bag should be placed in a plastic bag and thrown away in garbage.
- Remove the pillow covers and bedsheets and wash them in hot water. While removing take care to keep them in a plastic bag in order to avoid contamination.
- Also vaccum the floor and all furnitures and items in the room.
- Isolate the bed and spray an insecticide on the headboard and bed frame with special attention to the joins and cracks.
There are also some uncommon bed bugs removal processes which are easy and you may try yourself at home:
- Steam spray – You can buy a spray gun which can generate steam, at a local hardware store or use an electric kettle with a hose pipe attached.
- Tea-tree oil spray – Mix Tea-tree oil with water and spray the entire house.
As you can see from above we have suggested only the safest ways of removal of bed bugs on mattress that we think you should try when you are doing the removal yourself.
But we again reiterate that you should always seek professional help of a pest controller for complete elimination of bed bugs from your house.
How to get rid of bed bugs fast?
The fastest and most effective way to get rid of bed bugs is to call a professional pest controller who will examine the infestation and suggest the removal process.
If you are doing it yourself, then you may not have the experience of a professional pest controller.
Heavily bed bug infested mattresses needs to be thrown out. But you should also make sure that the new mattress you are going to buy later is not affected by some bed bugs which has not been removed earlier.
Do bed bug covers work?
Nowadays mattress may come with covers which can be removed and washed. However, if it does not meet the following two conditions, it cannot act as a bed bug cover.
For the bed bug covers to work two factors should be kept in mind – (i) it is made of vinyl and (ii) it covers the entire mattress and is sealed properly.
You should use a bed bug cover only if you are not in a position to call a pest controller or buy a new mattress.
Bed bug covers restrict the movement of the bed bugs and it cannot come out to feed human blood., thus starving them.
But as bed bugs can stay even upto one year without food, the bed bug cover has to be kept attached to the mattress for a considerable long time for this method to work.
Again, bed bug cover may work for the mattress, but bed bugs can still hide in other parts and articles of the room.
So before considering this method of eliminating bed bugs from your house, think about all the factors as above.
Bed Bugs on Mattress Removing Needs Proper Planning
Removing bed bugs can be challenging. It requires proper planning. Let us understand how to go about it in this section.
How to combat bed bugs?
Bed bugs do not bring disease but are a nuisance. If you find even one or two bed bugs in your house and on the mattress immediately take a strategy to combat them. Your plan should consist of three steps – (i) Detection (ii) Elimination (iii) Protection.
We have already discussed about Detection and Elimination. Now it’s time to know about Protection.
Here are the steps you should take to protect the mattress and your house from bed bugs:
- When staying at a hotel keep an eye for bed bugs on mattress.
- Keep an eye on the seats of buses and trains when travelling.
- Do not buy second-hand furniture until you really need to. If you buy at all, do a bed bug treatment before you bring them to your house.
- If you have a bed bug cover with the new mattress you have bought, keep it on. If you do not have one, then buy one.
- Cracks in the wall should be repaired. Loosened wallpapers should also be fixed.
- Last but not the least discard heavily bed bug infested items from the household.
We hope that now you have understood that bed bugs on mattress is not uncommon. Detection, elimination and protection of bed bugs can be very challenging. However, detecting, eliminating and protecting only the mattress is not enough. In order to protect your costly mattress, bed bugs should be detected and eliminated from all corners of your home. Thereafter take the precautionary measures in this article to protect your mattress and the entire household.