The common bed bug (C. lectularius) is the species best adapted to human environments. It is found in temperate climates throughout the world. Other species include Cimex hemipterus, found in tropical regions, which also infests poultry and bats, and Leptocimex boueti, found in the tropics of West Africa and South America, which infests bats and humans. Cimex pilosellus and Cimex pipistrella primarily infest bats, while Haematosiphon inodora, a species of North America, primarily infests poultry.
Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.
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.
Bed bugs are active mainly at night. During the daytime, they prefer to hide close to where people sleep. Their flattened bodies enable them to fit into tiny crevices--especially those associated with mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards. Bed bugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but do tend to congregate in habitual hiding places. Characteristically, these areas are marked by dark spotting and staining, which is the dried excrement of the bugs. Also present will be hatched and un-hatched eggs, the tannish shed skins of maturing nymphs, and the bugs themselves. Another possible sign are rusty or reddish smears on bed sheets or mattresses from crushed engorged bed bugs. Although it’s often stated that bed bugs have a telltale “buggy” odor, the smell is seldom evident except in extreme infestations and should not be relied upon for detection.
A flashlight: Bed bugs hide in dark areas and in cracks and crevices. Bed bugs are a dark red to brown color, but they can be light brown if they haven’t been feeding. This makes it very hard to see them. When hunting for bed bugs hold your flashlight parallel to the surface being inspected, this will cause eggs and small bed bugs to cast a shadow, making them easier to find.
Perform a quick inspection of the upper piping every time you change your sheets. Make a more thorough examination by folding the piping over and closely inspecting both sides all the way around, top and bottom. Do this a couple times a year or every time you flip or rotate your mattress. If you spot any signs, keep reading to learn how to get rid of bed bugs.
The main reason people seem to favor the essential oil option is that it’s considered a natural and chemical-free alternative to pesticide sprays. What they don’t realize is that today’s home pesticides are carefully regulated by the EPA to make sure that they’re safe for indoor use. The EPA also requires that health and safety guidelines are included in the product label and MSDS, to ensure that anyone who uses a spray has instructions on how to use it safely and effectively. When used correctly, even our strongest bed bug sprays won’t have any effect on you, but they will kill bed bugs more effectively than any mixture of household items like herbs or oils.
Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on our blood, typically at night, while we are sleeping. Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 of an inch long, have flat, rusty-red-colored oval bodies, and look like an apple seed. They feed for about 3-10 minutes and their bodies swell and become bright red. During the bed bug life cycle, a female can lay 200-400 eggs depending on food supply and temperature. Bed bugs don't fly, but can quickly walk across floors, walls, and other surfaces.
According to the Texas A&M University, there are no “magic” insecticide sprays for bed bugs. However, both natural and chemical sprays have a measure of effectiveness against bed bugs. One of the benefits of chemical sprays is that they are stronger and will kill off bed bugs quicker. However, the drawback is that many populations of bedbugs have become resistant to pyrethrins and pyrethroids – the 2 main chemicals in many chemical bed bug sprays. Therefore, they may not be effective in reducing many bed bug populations.5
Once the mattress and box spring are dry, encase them in sealed bed bug encasements. Encasements are crucial, as they prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping the mattress and box spring, cutting off key hiding places. Remember to leave the encasements on for at least 18 months to ensure that any bed bugs already inside have starved to death. Once the encasements have been applied, you can put your mattress and box springs back on your treated bed frame, and put your laundered bedding back on your bed.
Start with the bed, including mattress, box-spring and bed frame. Inspect the visible areas first. Look along all edges and corners. Also check along all stitch lines and the mattress label. Five sides the mattress can be checked while the mattress is on the bed. When you are finished checking the upper surfaces, you can then stand the mattress upright so you can check the bottom of the mattress.
Bed bugs are an increasing cause for litigation. Courts have, in some cases, exacted large punitive damage judgments on some hotels. Many of New York City's Upper East Side home owners have been afflicted, but they tend to be silent publicly in order not to ruin their property values and be seen as suffering a blight typically associated with the lower classes.
Bedlam Insecticide is a convenient water-based and non-irritating aerosol spray that is specially made to kill bed bugs on contact and provide lasting residual performance. It should be sprayed in cracks and crevices and around baseboards, floor/head boards, door jams, walls and other hard surfaces. Since it is water based, it is safe to use to use to treat mattresses and bedding. It will also not stain fabrics or materials.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Mix 3 oz per gallon or 0.75 oz per quart and spray with a low pressure sprayer into the areas where the bed bugs are hiding. Typical areas include bed frames, headboards, under beds, baseboards, moldings, behind pictures,etc. Remember to apply in the joints and crevices of furniture. If the crack and crevice is too small, use an aerosol with a crack and crevice tip (recommendations are below.)
Bedbug bites don’t normally require treatment by a doctor, though there are a few precautions you should take at home. (8) Start by cleaning the area with soap and water to lower your risk of infection and to relieve itchiness. If the bites are itchy, pick up a corticosteroid cream at your local drugstore and apply it to the area. The bites generally will heal within a couple of weeks. (9)
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.
Kept replacing the sticky traps just in case but never caught anything other than the occasional spider. Always cycled the sheets and such using the car+sun. They were still getting to us. Bed bugs cannot fly or jump. They had to be in the bed frame. I check it over and notice rusty spotting, which is apparently bed bug fecal matter. Luckily ours was from IKEA so it was easy to take apart – and sure enough – there they were. The way my bed works is a metal frame with holes, rubber end caps fit into those holes, and wooden slats run across the frame in the end caps. So every few days I’d mix up a 50/50 mix of bleach and water in a bucket and soak the wooden slats and end caps for ten minutes. The bed bugs were gone a couple of weeks and came back. I started soaking the things longer and scraping them with a disposable spoon, which was hard to do on the end caps. It warped the wood a little but nothing too bad. After a couple of weeks or so, I stopped finding bed bugs in the frame. I was worried they were in the metal too, but I completely stopped getting bites. I think the added time and scraping got rid of eggs. Not a lot can survive a 30 minute bleach bath.
Some less proven heat weapons have been suggested online, such as clothes irons. Clothes irons might reach the temperature needed to kill bed bugs, but the heat won’t penetrate deep into soft materials to where bed bugs might be hiding. You also can’t iron areas besides clothes and sheets, like cracks and crevices in walls, floors, and furniture. The metal surface and high surface heat would damage many of the materials it wasn’t designed to be used on.
The creatures don't have wings and they can't fly or jump. But their narrow body shape and ability to live for months without food make them ready stowaways and squatters. Bedbugs can easily hide in the seams and folds of luggage, bags and clothes. They also take shelter behind wallpaper and inside bedding, box springs and furniture. The ones that feed on people can crawl more than 100 feet (30 meters) in a night, but typically creep to within 8 feet (2.4 m) of the spot its human hosts sleep, according to the CDC.
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:
Determine which rooms are infested. Bedrooms are the principal locations for bed bugs; however, any room where people sleep in the home may provide harborage for bed bugs. Living rooms with sofas and sofa beds are the next most common sites for bed bugs. Typically an infestation starts in one room and spreads slowly to other places where people sleep. The sooner you find and treat bed bugs the easier it will be to get rid of them. Wait too long and bed bugs may be found throughout your home.
First up are the contact sprays, like STERI-FAB and JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs. These will kill quickly, but evaporate shortly after, leaving no long-lasting protection. Spray along baseboards, below drawers and on drawer slides, behind cabinets, and behind night stands. Follow up with a residual spray, such as Bedlam Plus and JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs Plus. Residual sprays will offer long-lasting protection against bed bugs and hatchlings. Bedlam Plus is ideal for cracks and crevices throughout the room, while JT Eaton Plus can be used below the cushions and bases of sofas, chairs, edges of carpets and other fabric items.
Bed bug infestations are primarily the result of two species of insects from genus Cimex: Cimex lectularius (the common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus. These insects feed exclusively on blood and may survive a year without eating. Adult Cimex are light brown to reddish-brown, flat, oval, and have no hind wings. The front wings are vestigial and reduced to pad-like structures. Adults grow to 4–5 mm (0.16–0.20 in) long and 1.5–3 mm (0.059–0.118 in) wide.
Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs. Vacuum the room extensively. Use a vacuum hose attachment to thoroughly vacuum cracks and crevices on furniture and along baseboards on the walls. Vacuum along baseboards, furniture, bed stands, rails, headboards, foot boards, bed seams, tufts, buttons, edges of the bedding, as well as the edges of the carpets (particularly along the tack strips). A good vacuum cleaning job may remove particles from cracks and crevices to encourage greater insecticide penetration. Bed bugs cling tightly to surfaces, so it is best to vacuum by scraping the end of the vacuum attachment over the infested areas to pull out the bed bugs. Caution: It is not good to use a bristle attachment, because you may transfer bed bugs to other areas since they cling to the brush. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bags after you are finished in an outdoor trashcan.
Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pest problems to eradicate quickly. By far, the best solution for bed bugs is to hire a pest control company with experience successfully controlling bed bugs. Unfortunately, this can be expensive and beyond the means of many people. If you feel you cannot afford to hire a professional, and want to attempt do-it-yourself bed bug control, there are some things you can do. With diligence and patience and some hard work you have a fighting chance of getting rid of bed bugs in your home.
When bed bugs are suspected, sleeping and resting places should be thoroughly inspected. Check all possible hiding places, mindful that bed bugs, especially the young nymphs and eggs, can fit into very tiny cracks and crevices. Don’t overlook places where pets rest, and where bats or birds have entered structures. In these instances, bat or bird bugs, not bed bugs, may be present. If bats or birds are a source of infestation, they should be excluded from the premises. Note that bats and most bird species are protected by law and should not be killed. Contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for guidelines on bat or bird exclusion and removal.
Begin by reducing clutter in the room; things like clothes, books, and other personal belongings shouldn’t be left on the floor, as they make treatment more difficult and add hiding places for bed bugs and eggs. Seal those items in garbage bags and store them away from the room. Any clothing that was picked up or removed from dresser drawers should be dried on high heat for at least 45 minutes. Once treated, clothing that you don’t normally wear should be stored inside garbage bags outside of the infested room.
I'm a former scientist, using words and an audio recorder as my new research tools to untangle the health and food issues that matter most to consumers. I live in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I cook as much as possible. You can find me in the grocery aisle scrutinizing the fine print of every food item I put into my cart. Follow me on Twitter @juliacalderone.