There’s a Spike in Bed Bugs This Summer—Here’s How to Protect Your Home

These irritating egg-laying invaders are incredibly hard to get rid of.

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Summertime for most humans is a time to slow down, relax by the beach, and put on our “chill mode” hats. Summertime for bed bugs? Not so chill. Summer is bed bugs’ busiest time of year … and when we say busy, we mean they’re, uh, gettin’ busy.

According to the National Pest Management Association, more than half of pest control professionals noted that they receive the most bed bug complaints during the summertime. That’s because bed bugs thrive in temperatures between 70° F and 90° F.

Bed bugs are tiny, brown, flat bugs that feed off of human blood. Thankfully, their bites are not harmful to humans, just itchy, gross, and very annoying. They set up camp in your home—especially your curtains, carpet, and bed—and lay lots of babies.

Male bed bugs get particularly frisky after feeding and go searching for a mate. After a female bed bug’s eggs are fertilized, she can produce anywhere from one to seven eggs per day for about 10 days. If the conditions are ideal (meaning there’s a human to feast on and the temperatures are right), a bed bug population can DOUBLE every 16 days. These prime living conditions can also keep bed bugs living in your home rent-free for nearly a year.

So basically, summertime is bed bug Miracle-Gro, which can make them really hard to get rid of. You best bet? Keep bed bugs out of your home from the start. Here’s how:

1. Double check second-hand items for bed bugs, and don’t bring clothes, bed frames, mattresses, or upholstered furniture found on the street into your home.

2. Buy white or light-colored sheets. This can help you spot bed bugs more easily.

3. Get rid of old linens and worn clothes that you don’t use. A cluttered home gives bed bugs more places to hide, which makes it harder to find them and get rid of them.

4. Take extra care when traveling. Put your suitcase on a rack, not the bed or floor. Inspect the bed and furniture in your hotel room, and also your luggage before you leave.

5. Be diligent if you use a laundromat. If you do your laundry at a laundromat, transport unwashed clothes in plastic bags. If your fabrics allow it, wash or  dry your clothes and linens on high heat—it will kill any bugs that could be lingering in your laundry. Carefully remove items from the dryer and place them directly into a bag to fold at home.

6. Vacuum frequently. Reduce home invaders by regularly vacuuming rugs, floors, upholstered furniture, bed frames, under beds, around bed legs, and all cracks and crevices around the room. Carefully place the contents or bag from the vacuum into a tightly sealed bag and put in an outside garbage bin.

7. Seal door and wall cracks and crevices with a sealant, even if you don’t have bed bugs. This will keep bed bugs and other unwanted critters out.

If bed bugs do find a way into your home, don’t panic. Even though it’s difficult to get rid of bed bugs, it’s not impossible. Call a professional and to get rid of those pesky bed-lovin’ pests for good.