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9 common myths about bedbugs and how to get rid of them

Country Living (UK) logo Country Living (UK) 20/10/2017 The Good Housekeeping Institute US

9 common myths about bedbugs and how to get rid of them © Getty 9 common myths about bedbugs and how to get rid of them Bedbugs - and for some just the idea of having them - have caused many a sleepless night. But you'll be glad to know that not everything you hear is true. Here are some of the most prevalent myths about bedbugs...

1. Bedbugs imply poor hygiene

They don't care if a home is neat or messy, only that people - their food source - are near. There's also no evidence they transmit diseases. The real threat: itchy red bites, even though some people don't even have that skin reaction, says Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, Ph.D., an urban entomologist at Cornell University.

2. If you think you have bedbugs, you probably do

On the contrary, entomologist Richard Pollack, Ph.D., has found fewer than 10% of the critters people identify as bedbugs actually are; that's also why he doesn't trust websites that list reports of bedbugs at hotels.

3. Wait until you're positive to contact a professional

"The biggest mistake people make is waiting too long to call for help, because the longer the problem goes on, the bigger of a chance they'll spread within the home and even outside of the home," says David Dunham of Go Green Bedbug Dogs. He says the first sign your home is infested is if you get bites.

© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc 4. If everyone in your house doesn't have bites, it's not bedbugs 

Surprising, we know. "It's common for one person to become the host or the person getting all the bites, while their spouse or partner will get no bites at all," says Dunham. "Usually the person not getting bites will discredit their partner's concerns. But if you wake up with numerous bites, especially under your clothes, it could be bedbugs."

5. Traveling is the only way to pick them up

They can easily be carried into the house on secondhand furniture, so inspect such items very carefully. Encasement products can also prevent bugs that do make it inside from hunkering down inside crevices of mattresses and box springs. But while reports of bedbugs at movie theaters and in retail stores have made headlines, it's rare that someone actually brings them home, says Gangloff-Kaufmann.

6. When one hotel room has them, the whole place is infested

It's not likely. When you check into a room, search the furnishings, particularly along and behind the headboard and sides of the mattress. Bedbugs will live in furniture, along baseboards, in cracks in walls, and, yes, in beds. Look for black stains (they leave behind blood and fecal matter), discarded molted skins and, of course, the bugs themselves.

If you find anything suspicious, ask for another room that is not right next door - bedbugs can crawl through cracks in walls. Still, it's smart to keep suitcases packed, closed and off the floor, but not on a bed or upholstered furniture. There's no need to store your belongings in the bathtub or inside a special bedbug bag or plastic garbage bag. After a trip, do the laundry (including what you wore home), or just tumble clothes in a hot dryer for a half hour. Leave suitcases in the garage until you can vacuum them.

7. You need a professional to determine if you have them

You can inspect your bedroom and furnishings yourself, just buy a ridged saucer-like trap to place beneath bed legs (or wrap legs tightly with double-stick tape) to catch any critters trying to climb up. Use this evidence when contacting pest control or the council.

person sitting in a chair with a dog © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc 8. Your best line of attack is an over-the-counter spray 

If you do have bedbugs, sprays containing essential oils are unlikely to do much. Pyrethroid-based pesticides may kill or repel some of the insects, but can be dangerous if misused, and (because resistance is one of cause of bugs' resurgence) it's doubtful you'll be successful on your own. Instead, get written quotes from three licensed exterminators detailing their course of action, including pesticides, traps and/or heat treatments they'll use and how and where they'll use it.

9. All professional services are the same

"You should ask lots of questions to the companies you interview, because a good company will answer all your questions and will never pressure you to make an appointment," says Dunham. You should also ask for references. Since according to Dunman most people will only deal with bedbugs once in their life, if at all, asking the company about their success rate and if their treatment comes with a guarantee, should their efforts not be successful, is a must.

Related: Horseflies Are Causing Chaos Across UK, Here’s How To Treat Their Bites (provided by HuffPost UK)

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