For more information about bed bugs, including their biology and how to recognize them, see other factsheets on the Citybugs bed bug page.  The State of Michigan has also recently published a very detailed guide to Do-it-yourself bed bug control. Also, if you decide you need professional help, check out our advice onHow to Select a Bed Bug Control Professional, ENTO-033

We recommend spraying Steri-Fab in areas where live bed bugs are visible. Steri-Fab combines a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide and isopropyl alcohol to kill bed bugs fast on contact. Steri-Fab also acts as a sanitizer. Steri-Fab does not leave any residual, meaning it can be applied virtually anywhere. Simply shake well, then apply to desired treatment areas. Insect mortality is imminent, generally within 10 minutes of spraying.
Some patients develop blisters filled with blood or bloody fluid, especially on the arms and legs. These blood blisters are extremely rare and can burst, causing bleeding or oozing of the bloody fluid. Healthcare providers are not sure if the cause of these blisters is related to the bug or the human but have found groups of patients that were all bitten by bugs on the same train exhibiting this sign.
To know it's bedbugs, it's important to find the bugs themselves. Look at bedsheets and mattresses for little spots of blood, rusty-looking stains (crushed bugs), or black dots (bugs' poop). You might see live bugs around the seams or tags of mattresses and box springs, or in cracks of bed frames and other furniture. They can even hide in books, carpet edges, and electrical outlets.
An adult bed bug is about 1/5 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. Its reddish brown to mahogany-colored body is greatly flattened and oval shaped. After feeding, the bug's body enlarges considerably, becoming longer and much less flattened. Although the body is covered with tiny hairs, these hairs are so small that they are almost invisible to the naked eye, so the general body appearance is shiny. Bed bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that enable them to pierce the skin and suck blood from their hosts.
It’s perfectly natural to want to eliminate a bed bug infestation without spending a ton of money on professional-grade products or a treatment by a pest control operator. When people discover that they have bed bugs, they often turn to do-it-yourself recommendations from discussions on the Internet. These suggestions might include household items, some of which are recommended more often than others. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular items and how they might be used against bed bugs:
Bedbugs do, however, have a unique bite pattern. Although some bites may appear alone, most bites occur in a row of three to five bites (termed "breakfast, lunch, and dinner") or in a cluster of red bumps (a rash called bedbug dermatitis). The bites often appear in a zig-zag formation, but may appear in a straight line if the bugs bite you in the morning.
If a trap method does not effectively stop bed bugs, then I wouldn’t consider it. Instead, I would recommend a set of ClimbUp Insect Interceptors. These are pitfall traps that go under the legs of your bed and trap bed bugs in a talcum-lined pitfall that is too slick and smooth for them to climb out of. ClimbUp Interceptors have been proven over the years to be effective, and are an essential part of our recommended treatment process.
Bed bugs feed exclusively at night. They take approximately three to five minutes to engorge on blood. Once feeding is complete, they return to their harborage. Feedings take place every few days and nymphs require approximately six blood meals for complete development. Humans are the preferred host for the common bed bug, but it will feed readily on other animals, such as poultry, mice, rats, canaries, dogs, and cats, when necessary. Normally the bugs feed at night, but they will feed during daylight hours in places such as theaters, offices, and rest rooms that are not ordinarily used at night.
It takes time and persistence to get rid of bed bugs, and in some cases, the cooperation of landlords, neighbors and others. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It can also be expensive when pest control companies are called in. Just remember - bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a health concern and, with vigilance, you can avoid or deal with infestations.
Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: University of Alabama at Birmingham; University of Alabama Health Services Foundation
Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Ferndale Laboratories
Received research grant from: NIH, Veterans Administration, California Grape Assn
Received consulting fee from Astellas for review panel membership; Received salary from Massachusetts Medical Society for employment; Received salary from UpToDate for employment. for: Astellas.

Occasionally, you might find other bugs which resemble the common bed bug including the bat bug and swallow bug. Both of these species superficially resemble the common bed bug. However, their primary hosts are bats and birds and there are small but diagnostic morphological differences. Problem infestations with these bugs may occur in attics or unused chimneys. Typically, when one host is gone these bugs seek an alternative host blood meal. This is when humans are bitten. It is important to differentiate between the common bed bug and other bugs that feed on bats and birds because control efforts can be targeted at the wrong sites and infestations can continue.
Bed bugs were mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 BC, and were later mentioned by Aristotle. Pliny's Natural History, first published circa AD 77 in Rome, claimed bed bugs had medicinal value in treating ailments such as snake bites and ear infections. (Belief in the medicinal use of bed bugs persisted until at least the 18th century, when Guettard recommended their use in the treatment of hysteria.[51])
My husband works for a garbage company (this is how we think the invasion started) and at the moment they are localized to our bedroom and our bathroom. However, the first place we found them was in our headboard & footboard. It is wood with an intricate carving. We checked the mattress and box spring and didn’t find a thing. But they LOVE that wood.
To use sprays effectively to eliminate all traces of bed bugs, you need to know the signs of a bed bug infestation. The first sign that you may have bedbugs are some itchy bite marks on your skin when you wake up in the morning. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the bites from bed bugs cause red itchy bumps on the skin.3 You can learn about their other signs and symptoms in my articles on what do bed bug bites look like.
While most of the bed bugs were wiped out by the chemicals, three groups continued to thrive after being treated with chlorfenapyr, and five groups were still kicking after being treated with bifenthrin. That means that while some bed bugs will respond to these chemicals, others won't—and it's likely that more and more bugs will become resistant over time.

Treat other areas in your home.  This is perhaps the most challenging part of do-it-yourself bed bug control.  If you catch an infestation early you may not need to do anything more than treat and isolate your bed as described above.  But if an infestation has spread to other parts of the home, bed isolation may not be good enough. Here is where professional help may be needed, especially if you’re not up to moving furniture. Still determined?  Here are some tips that may improve your chances of success:
It was stated in 2012 that no truly effective insecticides were available.[6] Insecticides that have historically been found effective include pyrethroids, dichlorvos, and malathion.[4] Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time, and harm to health from their use is of concern.[3] The carbamate insecticide propoxur is highly toxic to bed bugs, but it has potential toxicity to children exposed to it, and the US Environmental Protection Agency has been reluctant to approve it for indoor use.[33] Boric acid, occasionally applied as a safe indoor insecticide, is not effective against bed bugs[34] because they do not groom.[35]
If you think that by discarding the whole bed means getting rid of bed bugs, you are wrong. By moving the mattress and the bed frame, you not only risk moving the bed bugs all around the house, you are also missing out on many other spots these bed bugs could be at. For example, curtains, floor panels and skirting or even the door frames are able to hide these bed bugs very well. The root causes of the infestation must be eradicated fully.
An adult bed bug is about 1/5 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. Its reddish brown to mahogany-colored body is greatly flattened and oval shaped. After feeding, the bug's body enlarges considerably, becoming longer and much less flattened. Although the body is covered with tiny hairs, these hairs are so small that they are almost invisible to the naked eye, so the general body appearance is shiny. Bed bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that enable them to pierce the skin and suck blood from their hosts.
Dusts have been used to ward off insects from grain storage for centuries, including plant ash, lime, dolomite, certain types of soil, and diatomaceous earth or Kieselguhr.[60] Of these, diatomaceous earth in particular has seen a revival as a nontoxic (when in amorphous form) residual pesticide for bed bug abatement. While diatomaceous earth performed poorly, silica gel may be effective.[61][62]
Bring in only what is needed, and avoid sitting or placing coats and other items on beds, floors and sofas where the bugs commonly reside. Essential items can be placed on a tabletop or other hard surface, preferably away from bedrooms and sleeping areas. Better to sit on a hard (non-upholstered) chair than on sofas and recliners. Also try to avoid leaning or brushing against beds and upholstered furniture. If such items are carried out of infested dwellings (e.g., by sanitation workers or firefighters), it’s best to wrap them in plastic or at least not hold them against your body during transport. Emergency Medical (EMS) personnel may need to take additional precautions, such as removing a patient’s bed bug-infested shoes or clothing, or installing plastic sheeting before transporting them in the emergency vehicle.    
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