Bed bugs and lice are arguably two of the most disturbing and fright-inducing infestations.

You’ve likely heard the horror stories of bed bug-infested hotel rooms or elementary classrooms riddled with an outbreak of lice; perhaps you’ve even dealt with these pests up close and personal. In either case, you don’t need to don’t live in fear. These common pests aren’t known to spread disease and can be removed with a single treatment or some preventative pest control

Let’s cover the essential facts about lice and bed bugs, including their identifiers, key differences, reasons for infestations, and how to effectively rid yourself of them.

So What Exactly Are Bed Bugs? 

Bed bugs are small, brown, and wingless insects that feed off people’s blood. Fortunately, they do not spread disease, but they can easily hop around from one host to another. 

Bed bugs are part of the Cimex genus. Only two species infect humans, including theCimex lectularius (common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus (bed bugs found in tropical/subtropical environments).

You can easily identify these insects by their small, ¼” length, oval shape, flat body, and dark brown/black color, often compared aesthetically to an apple seed. They receive their colloquial name from their favorite hiding place and feeding ground: the bed. Like other insects, bed bugs only settle near their necessary resources, such as nutrients and shelter. As nocturnal bloodsuckers, what better location to feed than your mattress or box spring? 

How Did I Get Them? 

One of the most common misconceptions is that bed bugs equate to poor hygiene; however, this is far from the truth. Bed bugs won’t magically appear in a dirty bedroom or unwashed bedding. Rather, they’ll stow away in infected luggage, contaminated clothing, or used beds/furniture. 

While there are many bed bug signs, bed bug shells around furniture may be the biggest. 

Additionally, bed bugs are common in areas with a high population density, such as apartment buildings, packed cities, or hotels. Once settled into the crevices of your mattress, these insects quickly begin their routine of nightly feeding and daily hiding. 

Why Are There So Many? 

Bed bugs are highly elusive pests found nearly anywhere in your home. Unfortunately for you, this often allows infestations to go undetected for extended periods of time, especially when coupled with their nocturnal cycle. As a result, by the time you’ve seen your first bed bug or noted your first bite, these insects have likely had time to reproduce and multiply into a sizable infestation. 

bed bugs are common in areas with a high population

How Do I Get Rid of Them?

Bed bug infestations can be an overwhelming hassle to get rid of; in most cases, it’s best to leave the job to a qualified professional. If you catch an infestation early, however, you can attempt these bed bug home remedies to eliminate an active infestation. 

1. Identify the Affected Zones

The first step in treating an infestation is to assess the extent of the infestation, including all areas the bed bugs inhabit. When conducting your initial search, be as thorough as possible to reduce the risk of subsequent infestations. Common areas to inspect, include:

  • Curtain folds
  • Switch plates
  • Bed frames and posts
  • Mattress folds and tags
  • Box springs
  • Luggage
  • Surrounding furniture
  • Dressers and clothing
  • Behind posters, pictures, and other hanging decor

2. Containment

Once you’ve located the infestation, it’s time for containment. Using a vacuum, thoroughly go over common hiding places to trap any bed bugs. 

After capturing the bugs, dispose of them in a tightly sealed bag or container in an exterior trash receptacle. Any infested clothes or bedding should either be sealed in bags for upwards of 3 months or immediately washed and dried at high temperatures to kill all eggs and live bugs. Infested furniture should be cleaned thoroughly; if thorough cleaning cannot be performed, the items should be disposed of accordingly. 

3. Treatment

To begin the treatment step, first prep the infested rooms. Next, clean any clutter from the floor and surrounding areas, fill gaps and cracks in walls and bed posts with caulk, and glue down loose wallpaper.

To treat without insecticides, use high heat or extreme cold on smaller items, and install a bug-proof bed cover to trap remaining bed bugs and prevent their return. If all else fails, attempt the use any of the following EPA-approved insecticides: 

  • Desiccants
  • Foggers/bug bombs
  • Pyrethrins
  • Pyrroles
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Plant-based products

Remember that bed bugs are tough and resilient; single treatments may not be effective, so continue treating until you’ve seen no new activity for at least a week. Then, if all else fails, contact your local pest experts. 

What’s the Difference Between Bed Bugs and Lice? 

While both bed bugs and lice are parasitic insects, they’re entirely different in their behavior, appearance, and how they spread. 

Lice are approximately the size of a sesame seed and live on your body rather than near it. Therefore, they require shelter like most pests, although they use your body hair or clothing as cover. These pests come in various subspecies, including head lice, body lice, and pubic lice, all affecting the associated areas from which their names are derived. 

Further, lice have a rather short life cycle (approx 30 days), yet reproduce rapidly, allowing infestations to drastically increase in size and severity in a matter of weeks. 

Unlike bed bugs, which can live for months without a host, lice typically die within 1-2 days without feeding. This makes transmission through clothing, carpet, or furniture extremely rare; their primary mode of transmission is direct contact with an infected person.

How to Get Rid of Lice  

It’s important to note that lice are typically not deemed a pest control issue due to the nature of their infestations. Instead, lice are a health concern that a qualified medical professional traditionally handles. 

Treatment for lice infestations often consists of physical removal using lice combs or related tools and treating insecticide shampoos, body washes, oral medications, and topical treatments to eradicate all active infestations and eggs. 

While both bed bugs and lice are common nuisance pests, they don’t pose a permanent threat to you or your home. Neither is known to harbor or transmit diseases, making them relatively harmless besides the physical discomfort of their associated bites. 

In either case, professional help is recommended to ensure that infestations are effectively eradicated. Contact us below if you need a trusted pest expert team. 

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