Bed bugs are a growing problem in the U.S. and Europe, with an estimated 20% of homes across the country now reporting bed bug infestations. They’re hitchhiking on clothing, furniture, or luggage and spreading from home to home, apartment to apartment.
However, not all mattresses have bed bugs and not all blankets can harbor bed bugs either. It’s important to know which fabrics may help them survive when they hitchhike your home. Here are some ways to tell if your blanket has bed bugs or not.
What are bed bugs?
They’re tiny arthropods found primarily in places where humans sleep. They feed exclusively on human blood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the bugs can jump up to 6.5 inches to escape, so you might have to search high and low to find where they hid. Bed bugs feed on a person’s blood and can be re-infested very easily.
They lay eggs in fabric as they feed, and they can hide in the crevices of bedding. If you notice bed bugs near your bed or elsewhere in your home, you should throw away all your bedding, and treat your home with a bed bug trap. In the U.S., bed bug infestations have steadily risen over the last few years. How do I tell if a blanket I’m using has bed bugs?
How do you know if your blanket has bed bugs?
This is just one of many images of bed bug bites from a bed bug survivor. (Photo: Creative Uprising) Bed bugs are attracted to several fabrics, including fleece, polyester, and even natural fibers like cotton. A recent study found that in 94% of cases, bed bugs prefer to hide and feed in layers of synthetic bed sheet material.
Although they’re known to be drawn to certain materials, bed bugs will eat any fabric. Bed bugs, like all insects, have some degree of physiologic plasticity in their color vision and vision-based homeostasis. When it comes to color, bed bugs are known for being able to see some ultraviolet light, and this is useful for identifying the type of fabrics they can survive on.
Look for live bed bugs
To be on the safe side, never assume you’re safe just because you don’t see any bugs. If you see bugs in your home or in your belongings, then you should get rid of them.
Check the fabric type
The most common type of blanket that can host bed bugs is made of woven polyester fibers. However, this is only a problem for older blankets because they may not have the industry’s best durability and aren’t machine washable. T
he fact that polyester is known to hold heat well is another contributing factor. However, not all polyester blanket fabrics are created equal, and each type has its own pros and cons. Get rid of any blankets you may have that are older than two years and free of holes, tears, and spotty stitching.
You should also avoid storing blankets in hot or humid areas, as these chemicals can help the bugs survive. Choosing a blanket that is made from a stronger, tightly woven material can help keep the bugs away, says DeLuca.
Take a look at where it’s been stored
Advertisement Bed bugs are frequently brought into a home by the luggage or clothes of an infested guest. If you suspect that your clothes or luggage are carrying bed bugs, inspect them thoroughly. The mattress and mattress pad, bed frame, headboard, nightstand, and any luggage or bags you used recently might have left their scent or residue on your things.
After you’ve thoroughly inspected your belongings, make sure to store them in a bag with your other bedding (clean clothes), to make sure they don’t transfer any bugs on the way to your new home. Examine the fabric Another way to tell if your blanket is covered with bed bugs is to examine its seams.
A bed bug can hide itself underneath fabrics like blanket knit or acrylic, so you can catch one with a flashlight or even the naked eye.
How to deal with a bed bug infestation
There are many ways to get rid of a bed bug infestation. Sometimes, bed bug expert Jennifer Pate and her team of “bug buddies” go to the home of an infested person, where they look for and treat the infestation. Pate offers these tips for treating your home:
“Spraying the room with a strong pesticide, such as Permethrin, is best,” she said. “It should kill the eggs and larva and prevent them from coming back.” After applying the pesticide, the team leaves the room and cleans the area with a specialist product that kills adult bed bugs as well as the eggs they lay.
If the problem is an apartment-style living situation, some apartment managers have special treatments available on request.
Check your mattress for bugs first. Then, use a flashlight to search your bedding. If you find any, throw the items in the dryer on high heat. If you can’t find any bed bugs, however, you probably don’t have bed bugs.