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Strange bedfellows: The definitive guide to getting rid of bedbugs

Bedbugs. They’re gross, annoying, and can cause quite an itch. If you’ve discovered that your mattress has become a breeding ground for the tiny buggers, you’re probably wondering, “How do I get rid of these bastards?” Removal of bedbugs on your own isn’t easy, but it is possible. However, if you feel the infestation is too severe or overwhelming to deal with on your own, seek professional help. Still, if treating the problem yourself is the way you wish to go, this guide is here to help.

Related: You don’t need no alibi — here’s how to remove bloodstains from clothing, carpet, and upholstery

Identify the source

bedbug

The first thing you should do, before you rush straight into committing mass-insecticide, is identify the culprit. If you’re looking for methods to get rid of bedbugs, it’s probably for a reason. There are several creepy crawlies that can cause bedbug-like symptoms, however, including fleas, scabies, and even spiders. Just to be sure, here’s how to identify if bedbugs are actually the problem.

  • Bedbugs are small, dark brown, or purple critters with flat carapaces, usually appearing in bed sheets, mattresses, and furniture. Bed sheets that show signs of bedbug activity will often be stained with tiny blood spots, and the area around their nests will be darkened with brown or black fecal spots. For comparison, fleas tend to be tiny, brown bugs with long bodies. Fleas are smaller than bedbugs, and tend to stay on pets and other animals. However, they have been known to appear on carpets and other upholstery.
  • Bedbug bites are itchy, red bumps that often appear in a line, often in groups of three. Depending on the severity of your reaction, the bites may be tiny and itchy; worse cases can bring pain and swelling. Flea bites typically appear in sporadic patterns, all over the affected person (or pet). The reaction to the latter bites can vary in severity, though flea bites can be felt immediately as a minuscule, quick point of pain. Fleas also bite at any time, whereas bedbugs only bite while someone is near their nest (usually at night while sleeping).

If you’ve discovered bedbugs and homed in on their nesting area, your next step is to quarantine.

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