Bed bugs tend to congregate, but it’s also common to find a single bug or some eggs here and there. A thorough inspection and treatment may take up to several hours. Some companies use specially trained dogs to assist in finding small dispersed infestations, especially in such places as hotels, schools, libraries and office buildings. When properly trained, bed bug detection dogs can be quite effective. Relatively few companies are routinely using them, however, due to the expense of training and maintaining such animals. Reliability of some of the dogs is also being questioned as more enter the market.
Some pest control firms also employ commercial steamers or spot-freezing equipment to treat areas where bed bugs are found or suspected. Used correctly, they kill bugs and eggs on contact. Neither method, however, affords residual protection against bed bugs which may have been missed. Steaming and spot-freezing equipment also have limited ability to penetrate fabric, wood, and other materials where bed bugs often reside.
Other types of bed bug traps include those that do not rely on humans as bait, but instead use CO2and/or other attractants. CO2 is thus far the most powerful lure for bed bugs, as it is the primary cue they follow to locate hosts. Traps that issue CO2 for a period of time are more expensive than Climbup™ traps, but can effectively trap bed bugs when no host is present, such as in common areas, vacant homes or units, offices, schools, and theaters. Thus they can help confirm infestation and eradication.
Treatment for bedbug bites is typically supportive. Local antiseptic lotions or antibiotic creams can be applied for secondary infections, whereas corticosteroid creams and oral antihistamines can be used for allergic reactions. Bedbugs can be eliminated through the use of permethrin insecticides, baited traps, special bedbug-free beds, and bed nets. Homemade methods, such as wrapping duct tape around bed legs as shown, may be effective, but bedbugs have been known to climb other objects and then fall down onto a bed. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
While the mattress and box spring are left to dry, spray down the joints of the bed frame, headboard, and footboard with a contact spray and residual spray. The contact spray will kill bed bugs quickly and then evaporate, while the residual spray will kill bed bugs over several weeks. Remember to follow the sprays’ product labels and MSDS for safe and effective usage.
Bed bugs like to travel and are good hitchhikers. They will hide in suitcases, boxes and shoes to be near a food supply. They are elusive, nocturnal creatures. They can hide behind baseboards and in cracks, crevices, and folded areas of beds, bedding and adjacent furniture, especially mattresses and box springs. Bed bugs can also hide in electrical switchplates, picture frames, wallpaper and nearly anywhere inside a home, car, bus, or other shelter. Bed bugs usually come out at night for a blood meal. However, they are opportunistic insects and can take a blood meal during the day, especially in heavily-infested areas. Bed bugs usually require 5-10 minutes to engorge with blood. After feeding, they move to secluded places and hide for 5-10 days. During this time in the bed bug life cycle, they do not feed but instead digest their meal, mate, and lay eggs.
It’s not likely that you’ll kill all the bed bugs with a bed bug spray. That’s where a residual powder insecticide comes into play. It kills any bugs that wander through the powder. Some powders can kill bugs for many years if left undisturbed. Skip the open areas and spray the powder in those places where you think they’ll be traveling to and from, like near bed legs and under baseboard trim.
* Typically used for control of wood-destroying organisms, true fumigation of structures is occasionally performed for bed bug control. Fumigating a structure involves “tenting” it, i.e., draping and sealing it with tarps so that the fumigant, a poisonous gas, can be applied into and contained within the structure where it penetrates the contents and kills all pests within. Like whole-room heat treatments, fumigation has no lasting effect (it leaves no pesticide residue), is labor-intensive, and can damage contents. It is also more expensive, especially in northern states where fumigations are done less frequently. The advantage of fumigation over heat treatment may be that fumigation is more likely to kill all the pests within a structure.
Treat or isolate your bagged items. For washable items research shows that dry cleaning, washing in hot water for 30 minutes, or tumble drying for 30 minutes on high will kill all stages of bed bugs. Non-washables items that aren’t needed for a while can just be stored. It takes 2-5 months to kill bed bugs by isolating them in bags or heating bags by placing in direct sunlight is one of the most effective methods during the warm summer months.
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As for traps, these capture methods may not be full-proof for all bedbug species. Researchers have found that while both the common and tropical bedbug species have hairy feet, C. hemipterushas denser foot hairs, making this tropical insect an expert climber on slick surfaces. In the study, detailed on March 15, 2017, in the Journal of Economic Entomology, the researchers found that adult tropical bedbugs were much better at escaping traditional pitfall traps, which held onto most of the common bedbugs in the study.
Bag and launder (122°F/50ºC minimum) affected items. Smaller items that cannot be laundered can sometimes be de-infested by heating. Individual items, for example, can be wrapped in plastic and placed in a hot, sunny location for at least a few days (the 122°F/50ºC minimum target temperature should be monitored in the center-most location with a thermometer). Bedbugs also succumb to cold temperatures below freezing, but the chilling period must be maintained for at least two weeks. Attempts to rid an entire home or apartment of bed bugs by raising or lowering the thermostat will be entirely unsuccessful.
When you return home, quarantine your bags. Decontaminate your luggage and clothing by putting your entire suitcase into a large chest freezer (if you have one) for four days, suggests Gondhalekar, before bringing them back into your home. Extreme hot or cold temperatures kills bed bugs. You can also put your clothes in the dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes, and try steam cleaning your luggage and clothing.
It was stated in 2012 that no truly effective insecticides were available. Insecticides that have historically been found effective include pyrethroids, dichlorvos, and malathion. Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time, and harm to health from their use is of concern. 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. Boric acid, occasionally applied as a safe indoor insecticide, is not effective against bed bugs because they do not groom.
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.
Some pest control firms utilize specialized heating equipment to de-infest furnishings, rooms, and entire dwellings. The procedure involves heating up the infested item or area to temperatures lethal to bed bugs. Portable heaters and fans are used to gradually heat the air to about 120 - 130°F while monitoring with strategically placed sensors. By carefully controlling the temperature, bugs and eggs are killed wherever they may be without damaging household items.
Some people have no reaction whatsoever to bed bugs. In addition to not having much of an effect on the elderly, some are just not allergic. Since the irritation and welting appears as the result of an allergic reaction, it is possible to not even know that you were bitten at all. It is entirely possible for several people to live in the same house, and have one person not be affected.
Bed bugs are attracted to their hosts primarily by carbon dioxide, secondarily by warmth, and also by certain chemicals. Cimex lectularius only feeds every five to seven days, which suggests that it does not spend the majority of its life searching for a host. When a bed bug is starved, it leaves its shelter and searches for a host. It returns to its shelter after successful feeding or if it encounters exposure to light. Cimex lectularius aggregate under all life stages and mating conditions. Bed bugs may choose to aggregate because of predation, resistance to desiccation, and more opportunities to find a mate. Airborne pheromones are responsible for aggregations.
First up is the most commonly recommended tool by far: rubbing alcohol diluted in water. This is suggested because alcohol can kill bed bugs on contact, and evaporates shortly after, so it’s considered safe for use pretty much anywhere in a home. A recurring theme in these recommendations are household items that are considered to be safer for people than mainstream chemicals.
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Bedbugs lurk in cracks and crevices and they've been living on human blood for centuries. Though they aren't known to transmit disease or pose any serious medical risk, the stubborn parasites can leave itchy and unsightly bites. However, bedbugs don't always leave marks. The best way to tell if you have a bedbug infestation is to see the live, apple-seed-size critters for yourself. Unfortunately, once bedbugs take up residence in homes and businesses, they can be difficult to exterminate without professional help.