If just reading the words "bed bugs" makes you feel itchy and anxious, you're in the right post. With reports of bed bugs spreading at the recent Paris Fashion Week (and fears that influencers might be bringing the pests home with them), these insects have been making headlines.
Whether you're traveling or at home, bed bugs can be notoriously hard to get rid of, so to find out what we all really need to know about these pests, I reached out to Weston Storey (@exterminatorking). He's a 33-year-old exterminator in Oklahoma City who founded his business Pristine Pest Control in 2015. Weston shares a lot of information about dealing with bed bugs and other pests on his TikTok account, so I figured he'd be up for answering alllll of my questions.
One of the reasons why it can be tricky to get rid of a bed bug infestation is the fact that bed bugs can multiply quickly. On average, a female bed bug lays one egg a day, but in their prime laying period, that number bumps up to between five and seven.
Plus, bed bugs are quite small and tend to hide in the cracks and dark crevices of our beds, couches, and other furniture.
Weston told BuzzFeed that bed bug bites are often the first sign of an infestation. He explained, "The first sign of a possible bed bug infestation is noticing that you're getting bitten or having unexplained itching late at night. However, not everyone has a reaction to bed bug bites, so that's a large reason new infestations go unnoticed for so long."
About 30% of people don't react to bed bug bites, so it's not always obvious when they've moved in. If you've been in close contact with someone who's dealing with bed bugs or you just traveled through a bed bug hotspot, you might want to check your home for the pests just in case.
Bed bug bites look like raised bumps, often in a zig zag pattern. They can look very similar to flea bites and mosquito bites. Bed bugs themselves are small, round, reddish-brown insects.
And he shared that unlike other pests, bed bugs won't travel into your home on their own. "Bed bug infestations always start with someone or something bringing live bedbugs or their eggs into a new environment. Bed bugs don't jump, fly, or run particularity fast. They travel by hitching onto people or inside their belongings."
"If you live in a house that isn't connected to another home, the only way you will get a bed bug infestation is if live bed bugs or their eggs were physically brought into your home. Unfortunately, in multi-family housing such as apartments or duplexes, bed bugs can travel from unit-to-unit."
If you think you may have bed bugs in your home, Weston says you should start by searching your entire house for the pests. In a TikTok video, he explains, "First step is, wherever you found that bedbug in your house, whether it's on the couch, your bed, wherever that is, that's where you're going to start your inspection."
So where should you look? Weston says, "Inspect every room in your house, particularly beds and couches, chairs, all that type of stuff. That's where you need to be looking — flipping mattresses, looking at box springs, looking in the seams and stuff — because that's how you're going to find bed bugs."
@exterminatorking / Via tiktok.com
Once you've figured out where bed bugs are hiding in your home, Weston told BuzzFeed that the best thing to do is contact a local exterminator for help. "If you suspect bed bugs, you should reach out to pest control professionals in your area and schedule a free inspection. Also, it never hurts to have a second opinion from a different pest control professional!"
And in fact, if you try to take care of the problem on your own, it could do more harm than good. In a viral TikTok, Weston advised a user who was trying to rid their home of bed bugs using foggers and other commercially-sold bed bug products that, "All those sprays you're using, even though they're labeled for bed bugs, it's not going to get rid of the bed bugs. All those products are so, so repellent that it's just flushing them throughout the house. They're gonna get behind electrical outlets, baseboards, all that kind of stuff trying to get away from that product." What a nightmare!
Before having your home treated, Weston recommends bagging up fabrics like clothing, sheets, and blankets. "Then, before or after the treatment, throw all that stuff into the dryer for a full heat cycle. The heat of the dryer, as well as the agitation motion it makes, gets hot enough in there to kill nymphs, eggs, or adult bed bugs that could be in there because it's impractical to spray all that stuff."
"Anything you cannot throw into the dryer, it's important to leave it in the house so we can treat it."
Having bed bugs doesn't mean that you're dirty, and Weston says it's really important to be aware that they can be living anywhere, from a seat on the bus to a five-star hotel room. "The absolute only way to help prevent a future bed bug infestation is to be mindful that bed bugs can be literally anywhere. Airplanes, movie theaters, food courts, all these public places you should be mindful about the possibility of an unwanted hitchhiker making their way inside your home either on yourself or your belongings."
If you have travel coming up, Weston also shared a tip that can help you avoid bringing bed bugs home with you. "Staying in a hotel and worried about bed bugs getting inside your suitcase? Keep your luggage in the shower or bathtub!"
And check out this post from another BuzzFeeder all about how to find bed bugs in your hotel room or Airbnb.
Have you ever dealt with bed bugs? Share your experience and how you got rid of them in the comments!