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Signs of Infestation
If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:
- Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
- Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
- Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
- An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands
If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.
Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.
If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.
Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:
- Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
- Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
- Get rid of clutter around the bed.
If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest
of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.
Fire ants are wingless insects that belong to the same family of insects as bees and wasps. Fire ants are found in the southeastern and south-central United States, especially along the Gulf Coast. They tend to attack and sting in great numbers.
A fire ant attaches itself to a person by biting with its jaws. Then, pivoting its head, it stings from its belly in a circular pattern at multiple sites. Symptoms of a fire ant sting may include:
- A painful raised bump that becomes a pus-filled blister in 6 to 24 hours and lasts for up to 10 days.
- Skin at the bite site that dies and leaves a scar or bump.
- A severe life-threatening allergic reaction.
- A toxic reaction when there have been 20 or more stings.
- Redness and swelling extending beyond the sting site.
- Serum sickness, a rare reaction to stings. Flu-like symptoms and hives begin 7 to 14 days after an insect sting.
Home treatment can help relieve pain and prevent infection. Severe reactions require emergency medical treatment.
Cockroaches are better at hiding than you are at finding them. Their eggs are naturally protected from insecticides.
Without special equipment, materials and know-how, cockroach control can be a losing battle.
Other things you might need to know:
- Cockroaches can enter your home in many different ways, from the outside through cracks and crevices to grocery bags and on yourself!
- With plenty of food, warmth, water and nesting sites, your home is an ideal breeding ground for most species of cockroaches.
- The dust created by cast-off cockroach skins, dead bodies and droppings can aggravate allergies and asthma, especially in children and sensitive individuals.
Insect and spider bites often cause minor swelling, redness, pain, and itching. These mild reactions are common and may last from a few hours to a few days. Home treatment is often all that is needed to relieve the symptoms of a mild reaction to common stinging or biting insects and spiders.
Some people have more severe reactions to bites or stings. Babies and children may be more affected by bites or stings than adults.
Examples of problems that are more serious include:
- A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Severe allergic reactions are not common but can be life-threatening and require emergency care. Signs or symptoms may include:
- Shock, which may occur if the circulatory system cannot get enough blood to the vital organs.
- Coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing, or feeling of fullness in the mouth or throat.
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, ears, eyelids, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and mucous membranes (angioedema).
- Lightheadedness and confusion.
- Nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
- Raised, red, itchy bumps called hives and reddening of the skin. These symptoms often occur with other symptoms of a severe reaction.