Bed Bugs and Your Real Estate Purchase
You might think because a home is on the market, it’s clean from the inside out. The surfaces are shiny, the floors are polished, the walls are painted and the carpet has been replaced. A home inspector looks at the structure, pipes, roof, electrical, etc.—but who checks the dark corners, under the bedroom carpets and behind the wallpaper for bed bugs?
There has been a resurgence of bed bug complaints across America. They were more common in the mid-20th century but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that public health professionals are working with federal, state, local and tribal professionals as an integrated approach to understanding the little buggers.
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are rust-colored, small, flat parasites that live on blood. As of now, they are not known to transmit disease, reports the CDC; however, infestation is serious. These external parasites are much like head lice and can cause great physical and mental discomfort.
Because they live on blood, it’s most common to find them close to humans and other warm-blooded animals approximately eight feet from a bed. But they can live without it for several months. This deficiency allows them to hide during a move and reappear in your own bed.
Hitching a Ride
They are small, somewhat transparent and elusive. Their presence is often found through peripheral clues like small blood spots, exoskeletons of the bugs after molting, a musty odor, the bugs themselves or most commonly, the bites left on human that can become large welts. Often found in a line following the length of a blood vessel, bites are itchy and irritating.
International travel has been a big reason for increased infestation in America and other countries. Bed bugs like to hitch a ride with their new warm-blooded companions and move in with them. They are making appearance in hotel rooms, even 5-star hotels. They can take residence in movie theaters, hospitals, schools, trains, cars, nursing homes, apartment buildings and homes in any city.
Inside the Home
Inside the home, they can hide in books, picture frames, curtains, clothes, tables, exercise bikes… anywhere. These items must be quarantined or completely discarded. This means if you move in to a home with hidden infestation, you could not only end up with bites all over but loss of your possessions.
If you have purchased used furniture, inspect everything from the very crevices of the mattress tags to the creases in the pillowcases. Check in nightstand corners, everywhere, for signs of bed bugs.
What if I find Evidence?
If you find evidence of them, don’t move in. Call pest management professionals to confirm and dispose of the problem. Trying to do it yourself can cause them to spread to further areas in the home.
It’s more important than ever to educate yourself on how they spread, where they live and how to keep them out of your life. It’s up to you to either hire a professional pest control service, an inspector who knows the signs or look for yourself. Bed bugs are not a pleasant experience to go through when buying a home. Make sure if you see any signs of bed bugs you address the problem immediately!