We are often asked, "How do you kill bed bugs?" While we would love to give a simple answer, this is actually a loaded question. There are many ways to kill a bed bug but, if you want to kill all of the bed bugs in your home or business, it is important to pay attention to the details. Here are some ways you can kill bed bugs, and what you should know about each.
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.
Bedbug bites themselves are typically painless. However, the subsequent allergic reaction that may develop can cause intense pruritus. While feeding, bedbugs may inject one of several pharmacologically active substances, including hyaluronidase, proteases, and kinins. These compounds may induce different skin reactions, such as erythema, wheals, vesicles, or hemorrhagic nodules. Repeated bites may sensitize individuals, leading to more pronounced cutaneous manifestations or systemic hypersensitivity reactions. The local trauma from bedbug bites can lead to secondary bacterial infection, causing ecthyma, cellulitis, or lymphangitis. There is some evidence that bedbugs may also be a vector for hepatitis B and Chagas disease. Histologic findings from bite-site biopsy specimens typically show eosinophilic infiltrates, which are indicative of the allergic nature of the reaction. The image shown is papular urticaria, which may develop from bedbug bites.
The best method of inspection is always using your body. Bed bugs have to have a blood meal, so if they persist after your treatment, they will find you. If you don't want them biting you and you want to get a good nights rest, then be sure to encase your mattresses, using climb-up bed bug interceptors on your bed frame and post and place Bed Bug Traps around to help monitor bedbug movement. Replace traps every 90 days.
Probably chiggers -- they are very small, red mites that usually cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are about as small as the period at the end of this sentence. To stop the itching, use OraJel (usually sold for teething babies), which contains benzocaine (an anesthetic). Also, rub in hydrocortisone cream. To prevent chigger bites, wear long pants and stuff the cuffs into your socks.
A number of other symptoms may occur from either the bite of the bed bugs or from their exposure. Anaphylaxis from the injection of serum and other nonspecific proteins has been rarely documented. Due to each bite taking a tiny amount of blood, chronic or severe infestation may lead to anemia. Bacterial skin infection may occur due to skin break down from scratching. Systemic poisoning may occur if the bites are numerous. Exposure to bed bugs may trigger an asthma attack via the effects of airborne allergens although evidence of this association is limited. There is no evidence that bed bugs transmit infectious diseases even though they appear physically capable of carrying pathogens and this possibility has been investigated. The bite itself may be painful thus resulting in poor sleep and worse work performance.
Don't let the name bedbug fool you. Bedbugs can be found any place humans rest and lounge and nearby. Bedbugs can be found under school desks, restaurant benches, on computers in the library, chairs, hospital beds and curtains or on a store wall. The same goes for carpets. Many times a brush against a wall in on infested area can lead to bedbugs in the home. Bedbugs are very good at clinging onto fabrics. Transportation hubs such as airports, train stations and bus terminals are also key infestation stations to be wary of.
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.
Next, apply a bed bug powder into confined areas where it won’t be stirred up into the air. Places like the edges of carpeting, inside deep cracks and wall voids, and inside electrical outlets and light switches (accessed by removing the faceplate with a screwdriver) are good candidates for powders, as sprays can’t reach into these areas quite as well. We recommend using a professional powder applicator, which offers better control when applying the powder.
Adult bed bugs are about 3/16” long and reddish-brown, with oval-shaped, flattened bodies. They are sometimes mistaken for ticks, cockroaches, carpet beetles or other household insects. The immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs do not fly, and they don’t jump like fleas do ― but they can crawl rapidly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces. Adult females lay their eggs in secluded places, depositing 1, 2 or more eggs per day, potentially hundreds during their lifetime. The eggs are tiny (about the size of a dust spec), whitish and hard to see without magnification, especially on light-colored surfaces. When first laid, the eggs are sticky, causing them to adhere to surfaces. At room temperatures, bed bug eggs hatch in about a week. Newly emerged nymphs are straw-colored and no bigger than a pinhead.