The Bedding Snob

Cultivating relaxation need not leave you starving for style …

Snobbish Thoughts December 2010

Bed Bugs: Where?

Part 5 of the Why, Who, How, When and Where series on Bed Bugs

WHERE are they? 

Bed bugs are found most often in sheets and bedding as they typically feed at nighttime when people are asleep. However, they can also be found behind pictures and in cracks in the wall. They can be found behind loose wallpaper, in wood furniture, base boards, in electrical outlets, and in drapery pleats and hems. Other favorite hideouts are underneath the edges of carpets, where ceilings and walls meet, and inside appliances. Apart from the actual creatures themselves, tell-tale signs of Bed Bugs include blood spots, specks of excrement, discarded skins, and, of course, bites. 

Bed Bugs are attracted by both warmth and the carbon dioxide we exhale while breathing. There are often a cluster of bites caused by disturbing the bugs while they feed, causing them to detach and reattach to continue feeding. A well fed Bed Bug can live anywhere from four to six months, while a dormant one might live without feeding for up to 18 months.  They will feed for about five minutes before returning to their hiding places. 

The bites can be found just about anywhere on your body, with exposed bits of skin being the preferred feeding ground for the bugs which makes your face as much a target as your arms and legs. The bites cannot be felt at first because the little critters inject anti-coagulants and anesthetics as they feed, but as the anesthetics wear off and the skin begins to react to the injections, the bites can make themselves felt minutes or even hours after the bugs have returned to their hiding places. 

Some people may actually be allergic to Bed Bugs and the degree of itching is determined by how allergic a person is.  If you notice any signs of infection, call your physician.  Scratching the bites can also result in an infection.  If you do not get an infection, the bites are simply an irritating nuisance. It may take a few weeks for the itching to subside and for the welts to disappear.  I am happy to report that, unlike mosquitoes and ticks, Bed Bugs do not carry pathogens.  So I guess there is some good news?

Lastly, we look forward to hearing from you.  We hope you will add any words of wisdom you may have or just tell us your Bed Bug stories in the comments below.  Don’t hesitate to give Cuddledown a call at 800-323-6793 if you have additional questions.  Our staff experts are here to help, and if we don’t have an answer for you we will find it and get back to you.

Sleep tight! Don’t let the Bed Bugs bite!

Beating the Winter Chill

We’re lucky not to be buried under 20″ of snow like our friends in the Midwest, but being Mainers, we’re prepared for the cold weather. We love warming up inside and out by curling up in a soft, cozy down throw with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. What are your favorite ways to keep warm?

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Bed Bugs: When?

Part 4 of the Why, Who, How, When and Where series on Bed Bugs

WHEN do I know I have a Bed Bug problem?

Previously, we discussed How we ended up with this problem, but ultimately, you need to know when you have the problem.

Adult bed bugs are the size of an apple seed. The bugs are wingless and possess a flat, oval body that is generally brown in color (though immature bed bugs are translucent) with bands of small hairs that give the bug the appearance of having stripes. They live exclusively off of the blood of warm-blooded mammals (us) and other animals, and often live in nests or bedding so that they can bite their victims as they sleep. They tend to be most active approximately an hour before dawn, biting their victims with a mouthpiece made up of two tubes that inject them with saliva to prevent clotting and then suck the blood from the wound.  OK…so that’s pretty gross.

You know WHEN you have been bitten when you notice bites similar to mosquito bites, usually in a grouping of three.  You know WHEN you have a mattress infestestion when, upon pulling away your fitted sheet and inspecting the seams of your mattress, usually in the corners, you notice brown or red spots.  The brown spots are bug excrement and the red indicate a crushed bug.  You may also find exoskeletons, as Bed Bugs shed about 5 times during their lifetime.  Ew, ew, ew…

Depending upon the extent of the infestation, you may opt to just get rid of the old mattress and box spring and start anew (invest in a bed bug proof mattress protector and bed bug proof box spring protector to help avert this scenario). Since I am getting itchy just writing this blog, I think I would likely spring (no pun intended) for the new mattress and box spring.

Bed Bugs: How?

Part 3 of the Why, Who, How, When and Where series on Bed Bugs

HOW do we protect our homes from Bed Bug infestation?

Of course, first and foremost, we should take every precaution to deter them from joining us in our homes.

My family has been in the bedding business for decades.  I feel like I’m usually pretty up to date on bedding concerns and yet, I recently asked the following question as I prepared for a trip,

“Exactly HOW do I figure out if the room has Bed Bugs? And, if it does, what should I do?”

First, check; an easy to use resource for identifying a hotels’ Bed Bug status before you arrive.  Then, once you do arrive, here’s an outline I hope you find simple to implement and I encourage you to use:

1 – Upon entering the room, put all bags on a luggage rack (pulled away from the wall and bed), desk, or other surface that does not have “hiding” places.  NOT on the floor, bed or upholstered chair.

2 – Carefully check all corners of the bed along the seams as well as the headboard.  Pull off the cushion of the upholstered chair and check nooks and crannies and cushion seams.

3 – If there is sign of life…immediately remove yourself and your belongings from the room, insist on another room, and…

4 – repeat steps 1 through 3 until you are completely satisfied that your room is bug free.

I strongly recommend that if you don’t already travel with your own pillow (doesn’t everybody?…maybe it’s just because I’m a bedding snob) then you should definitely travel with your own bed bug pillow protector.  If a full size pillow is too cumbersome in your luggage…try a travel pillow!

I am told that just because one hotel room has Bed Bugs, does not mean that they all do and there is probably no reason to relocate to an alternate hotel.  I would use the 3 strike rule for Bed Bug protection.  If you are not bug-free by the 3rd room, it is time to switch hotels (and be sure to let know!) When you arrive home, wash everything in the hottest water available. Vacuum out your luggage and remove it from your room.

Now, most importantly, let’s protect your home from the hassle and expense of Bed Bug infestation.  The best way to protect your bed and yourself is through encasement-style protectors.  One of the products that I don’t go to bed without is the bed bug proof box spring protector designed by Protect-A-Bed with the BugLock zipper system certified by an entomology laboratory to be Bed Bug entry & escape proof. You can also keep your pillows and featherbeds safe with dust mite and bed bug proof pillow protectors and encasement-style featherbed protectors.

The good news is that washing sheets, vacuuming carpet, and steam-cleaning mattresses and other furniture can help, too.  A very nice little regimen to pursue after the guests leave!

The most common misconception about Bed Bugs is that there are repellents that can be used to deter them.  So far, that’s not the case and I certainly don’t recommend insecticides in your bed!  Inspection and prevention are the best ways to avoid Bed Bugs.

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