A few weeks ago I was doing a little RV cleaning when I heard a frantic knocking on my door. I opened it to see my neighbor standing there, a wild look in her eye as she thrust a baggie toward me and in a breathless voice said, “What kind of bugs are these?” I sent her some information and had my husband talk to her when he got home. More than 30 years in the pest control business does have its advantages. This is the advice we gave her and now I am passing it on to you. What are Bed Bugs?
Something told me that she didn’t really want to know, but I took the baggie, looked at the contents then looked at her with what I hope was sympathy (and not the relief I felt that they did not come from my RV).
“They’re bed bugs.” I replied somberly.
She was not happy with the news.
Bed bugs are tiny insects, about the size of an apple seed (4 to 5 mm in length) with a flat body that varies from a reddish brown to brown. After a blood meal they may be swollen and more of a reddish color. They have six little legs and move fairly fast. They are nocturnal, coming out at night to feed on their host, then returning to hiding during the daylight hours.
These insects are not linked to any diseases or illnesses, but they can be very irritating. Some people are allergic to the bite of the bed bug and will break out in itchy, red, raised welts (usually only on exposed areas of skin). They can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep, either from the itchiness keeping you up, or the worry that they are in your bed.
How to tell if You have Bed Bugs
Blood is not the bed bug’s only way to eat, it is the only way they feed. They prefer to feed at night so chances are good that you will never see them in you have bed bugs in your RV. Some signs you may see include:
Now, I had to throw in this rather unsettling information. Bed bugs can survive for as long as a year without any food if the environment is kept cool. Isn’t that lovely?
- Seeing a live (or dead) bed bug
- Dots of blood on your sheets
- You have red, itchy, raised welts on the exposed areas (not covered by clothing)
What Causes Bed Bugs?
Clutter can provide a nice place for bed bugs to hide. But even uncluttered homes can become infested. Bed bugs are travelers. If you go into a hotel room that had them and you set your luggage on the floor, they could easily crawl right in and hitch a ride back to your place. They can also hide in clothing and shoes as well as household items like electronics. They can get in briefcases, purses, even wooden hangers. They can move from room to room as well as from one location to another. Examine clothing and other items carefully to avoid bringing bed bugs into your RV.
Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Your RV
Combating bed bugs is not that difficult, but it can be time consuming. Everything that can be laundered needs to be gathered up, sealed in garbage bags, and taken to a commercial laundry. Their dryers are hotter. This includes clothing, linens, pillows, comforters, blankets, rugs, towels, pet bedding, and pet sweaters/jackets. Basically, if you can carry it out of the house and put it in a washing machine, it needs to go.
Use new bags to bring the items back home. Dispose of the bags you used to carry the items to the laundromat.
Don’t unpack your newly laundered items until you have treated the RV. There are some good do it yourself pest control to treat bed bugs. Then begin a systematic approach to ensure that you have treated every potential harborage area. Treat ALL voids, crack and crevices with a pesticide that is specifically for bed bugs and follow the directions exactly. This includes using bed bug spray or dust on these areas:
Use a small shop vac so you can remove any live insects you encounter. Vacuum them up but do not empty the tank anywhere near the RV. Take it out in a field or as far away from your RV as you can. If you need to retreat your RV in a few days, stick with it. Don’t give up until they are gone. However, if you feel that you are not up to the task, I strongly suggest that you hire a pest control professional. They can help with getting rid of the bed bugs.
- Your mattress and mattress seams
- Linen cabinets
- Picture frames
- Under the sink
- Underside of drawers
- Under door frame
- Under window frame
- All furniture (get under the cushions)
- Your bed frame
- Outside areas that can only be accessed from outside (storage, water, etc.)
- Open electrical plates (if possible) and use a dust labeled for bed bugs
You can get rid of bed bugs. They may be bothersome, but they won’t make you sick and they can be eliminated.
Have you ever had bed bugs in your RV? What did you do about it?