It’s a time-honoured tradition: everyone loves to come home, kick off their shoes and flop onto the sofa, signifying the end of the work day and the start of the evening which promises delicious food and some brainless television-watching. On the weekends, we laze on the sofa, procrastinating from doing house chores and munching snacks. The sofa is our sanctuary.
Unfortunately, it happens to be the potential sanctuary for a multitude of different bugs as well. Microscopic and all but invisible to the naked eye, they nevertheless leave a range of problems that are definitely noticeable. Here are the most common bugs found in a couch:
A bedbug is a small parasitic insect that feeds on blood, preferably human. It is a small, six-legged brown creature visible to the naked eye; adults grow to 4-5mm. They are notoriously difficult to kill, being able to survive a wide range of temperatures and humidities and able to live without feeding for months at a time.
Bedbugs can be more prevalent in areas with animals especially pets or birds, who can carry them into the apartment undetected. They can also be brought into the residence by a visitor with eggs clinging to their clothing or belongings. Bed bug bites can result in itchy skin blisters, allergies and in some cases psychological effects like paranoia and anxiety.
The sight of a flea fills everyone with dread. Notoriously difficult to catch, a flea is wingless but fast and can jump up to 18cm vertically and up to 33cm horizontally. Fleas feed on blood and are difficult to kill as their bodies can withstand great pressure, so trying to crush it is unlikely to do any good.
Fleas are more likely to occur in houses with pets, on which they lay their eggs and catch a free ride into your home and onto your sofa.
Dust mites are extremely difficult to see as they are almost microscopic. Whilst they do not feed on blood, but rather human skin flakes that have been shed, they are an acute problem as they cause extreme sensitivity to humans – respiratory problems, asthma attacks and eczema are all triggered by dust mites.
Dust mites are exceptionally common in homes with carpet and in environments with high humidity.
Solutions to bug problems
Before you throw out your sofa, be reassured: there are solutions to bug problems. The best option is to call a professional pest control company to deal with it; they have the experience to be able to efficiently and thoroughly remove an infestation and they’ll be able to advise you on whether your couch is salvageable and how to prevent future infestations.
If you opt to take care of the problem yourself, the first thing to do is identify the type of bug you have living in your couch. Strip the covers from the couch and use a treatment – there are several products available at your supermarket that will help you to get rid of the bugs. Clean your bed at the same time so you don’t reinfect the couch and wash your pets, making sure they have collars. Vacuum the whole house.
Even if you don’t see a specific bug, it’s a good idea to wash your sofa covers and vacuum the sofa regularly. Take the cushions outside and lay them in the sunlight. It will keep mould away and help oust those pests!
Kahmen Lai is a freelance writer who regularly writes for Insight Pest, a pest control company that specialises in household and commercial treatments. She also writes about natural solutions to pest problems.