It is the stuff of nightmares and disturbed horror film makers, that when you turn out the light and get comfortable in bed, you are about to be assaulted by hundreds of tiny little vampiric parasites and microscopic invaders that would not look out of place in a Ridley Scott film.
Bed bugs and dust mites.
Bed bugs are often confused for dust mites and the allergic reaction caused by dust mite poop is regularly mistaken for the reaction caused by bed bug bites.
Dust mites are microscopic spiders, barely visible to the naked eye. They have translucent bodies, eight legs and are less than half a millimetre long, whereas bed bugs are nocturnal parasitic bugs with six legs, have flat bodies and are a brown-reddish colour. Thankfully they can’t jump or fly, but crawl across surfaces.
Although they are tiny and very hard to see, bed bugs are visible to the naked eye however you are more likely to notice the little brown stain left behind by their waste or a small red dot from where you crushed one in your sleep than a live bug itself.
Dust mites are found in all areas of the home, but particularly in areas of the home that are used frequently like bedrooms and kitchens. Dust mites live on dead skins cells shed from humans and their pets – they love damp areas, so thrive in pillows and bedding, which absorb moisture from the skin while you sleep.
90% of household dust is dead skin cells so you can imagine the dust mite will be dining out constantly.
Bed bugs, like their name suggests, are mainly found in the bedroom, they survive in small crevices around your bed, including bedding, headboards, wooden bed frames, mattresses and carpets. Mostly active at night, bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide and warmth you produce, biting your exposed skin to feed on your blood. Bed bug infestations can spread very quickly with females producing hundreds of eggs.
There is some good news however, bed bugs and dust mites do not transmit diseases that can affect humans but both do cause skin reactions.
The simple rule is bed bugs bite, dust mites don’t.
Bed bug bites tend to occur on areas which are exposed while you sleep such as ankles, wrists and neck. Bites tend to be red and normally occur in clusters or lines. They can be itchy and painful and often resemble mosquito bites, not everyone is sensitive to bed bug bites and a bite can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to 14 days before the bite is noticeable which is why they often get mistaken for other insect bites.
Dust mites, although they do not bite, will cause an allergic reaction in most people because of the waste and secretions they leave behind, including,
- eczema and skin rashes
- sneezing and runny nose
- itchy, red or watery eyes
Bed bugs and dust mites are fortunately quite easy to get rid of and control.
Dust mites can be stopped with liberal use of inhibitor sprays such as:
All of the above work by making the food they require inedible and they starve to death very quickly.
Bed bugs can be controlled in a similar way by using
Another option for a more severe infestation is to use a fogger
These will require you to be outside the room when used but will offer a much larger kill zone than a hand held spray.
All the products above offer lasting protection from infestation reoccurring, also using mattress and bedding protectors will help as well.
As the time for the annual spring cleaning draws closer, by making sure you take the time to thoroughly clean and air your bedding and mattress and to deep clean around your bed, you can ensure that you are only sharing your bed with invited guests.