Waking up with bites might be the first indicator that you have a bed bug problem. Their bites are often arranged in lines or clusters on the face, neck, arms or hands. Where there are bed bugs in large numbers, you might smell a sweet, musty odor (from the bugs’ scent glands) or see rust-colored spots on your bedding or mattress caused by bed bug blood or excrement. If you look closely, you might see adult bed bugs themselves, usually in mattress folds or seams or on the wall behind the headboard. Bed bugs prefer to stay close to their food source and are typically found hiding out within 1 to 5 ft of infested beds or furniture.
Bed bugs have five immature nymph life stages and a final sexually mature adult stage. They shed their skins through ecdysis at each stage, discarding their outer exoskeleton. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent, lighter in color, and become browner as they moult and reach maturity. Bed bugs may be mistaken for other insects, such as booklice, small cockroaches, or carpet beetles; however, when warm and active, their movements are more ant-like, and like most other true bugs, they emit a characteristic disagreeable odor when crushed.
Use your vacuum's nozzle attachment to capture the bed bugs and their eggs. Vacuum all seams and crevices on your mattress, bed frame, baseboards, and any other objects close to the bed or furniture in the home found to be harboring bed bugs. It is essential to vacuum daily and immediately place the vacuum's contents into a sealed plastic bag and throw it away in an outdoor garbage can.
Pesticides alone are not the answer to bed bugs. Most of the commonly used pesticides today, including professional products and consumer products advertised for control of bed bugs, are at best moderately effective at controlling these pests. Pesticides must be used with care for safety and with attention to proper application to work well. Aerosol “bug bombs” or “fumigators” are also mostly ineffective in eliminating bed bugs. Aerosol insecticides mainly kill insects that are exposed, and out of their hiding places, not those hidden behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices of the bed, under carpet edging and in walls.
Are there pesticides that kill bed bugs? Yup. There sure are. Pest control companies often use pesticides to exterminate these bugs as part of a heat treatment, and also by themselves. But chemicals have some drawbacks that pest professionals are aware of. These products can drive bed bugs into walls, like an improperly applied heat treatment, and they can be ineffectual if bed bugs are deep inside furniture. There are also safety considerations that need to be considered when applying any pesticide.
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.
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.
I was at work and felt something crawling on my hip I brushed my hand and I thought it was a ant turned out to be a bed bug I was so freaked out I went to bathroom shook all my clothes out but now I feel so itchy I called my husband threw out my clothes washed my hair and stripped down in the back yard before coming in my house I was so freaked out I’m very nervous about returning back to work because of bed bugs I couldn’t sleep last night I was so itchy don’t know if its me r I got bite would I know that fast?
You can also try spraying an insecticide yourself. Just make sure the product you use is intended to kill bedbugs and is made for the type of space you are using it in (some are intended only for outdoor or garage use, rather than for indoor use in areas where you may be sleeping, cooking, and eating, among other things). And know that insecticides available to professionals are usually stronger and more effective than those that are available to consumers. (6)
Apply residual Bed Bug Insecticide Spray. After every crack, crevice, switch plate, electrical switch, baseboard, box springs, mattress, etc, has been treated and everything is put back, it is time for the residual treatment. Using a hand held sprayer such as the Chapin Sure Spray apply Optimate, Cy-Kick, Suspend SC or Demand along the baseboards in the bedroom and closet, under and around the bed, behind the headboard, inside bed stands etc.
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.
Apply as a coarse, low-pressure spray to harborage areas including crevices, baseboards, loose plaster, behind bed frames and headboards, beneath beds and furniture, and to bedsprings and bed frames. After removal of bed linens, apply Transport Mikron to mattress and boxsprings. Apply to tufts, edges, seams and folds (do not spray clothes or bed linens). Your may apply it to furniture, but not to areas where there is direct access to seating or arm placements. Infested bed linens should not be treated, but should be removed, placed in sealed plastic bags, and taken for laundering and drying at high temperatures.
You should look for traces of the insects in the folds of your mattresses, box springs and other places where they are likely to hide. You might be able to find their papery skins, which get cast off after molting and look like popcorn kernels but are smaller and thinner, Harlan said. They also leave small, dark-colored spots from the blood-filled droppings they deposit on mattresses and furniture. If you can touch the spot with a water-soaked towel and it runs a rusty, reddish color, you're probably looking at a fresh drop of bedbug feces, Harlan said.
Dismantling bed frames in infested areas typically exposes bed bug hiding sites. Having access to these areas during cleaning is important. Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric and look for bed bugs. If the fabric is torn (possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Encasements by Mattress Safe. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring when using these encasements. Keep them on for a year.
Insecticides might also have their work cut out for them: Entomologists have known that the common bedbug has built up resistance to some typical insecticides such as those containing certain pyrethroid chemicals like deltamethrin, according to Entomology Today. Deltamethrin apparently paralyzes an insect's nervous system, according to Cornell University.
CrossFire Bed Bug Concentrate has two different active ingredients for dual modes of action (both a quick kill and residual activity). Mix 3 oz of CrossFire Insecticide with one gallon of water or 0.75 oz per quart (Remember to use what you mix-within 24 hours.) Adjust the spray pattern to a mist by turning the nozzle. A low fine mist is best for most spraying, but you may need to use a stream to get into some cracks and crevices. If you can't get into the cracks and crevices use one of the aerosols described below with it's crack and crevice tips to reach into these areas.
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.
Checking beds for bed bugs was a common practice long ago, especially while traveling. Travelers today should consider doing the same, preferably before unpacking. This would entail examining the bed sheets and seams of the mattress and perhaps box spring for signs of bed bugs, especially along the head (pillow end) of the bed. Experts also remove and check behind headboards since this is a frequent hiding place for bed bugs in hotels. Headboards are heavy and cumbersome, however, and untrained persons should not attempt removal themselves.
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 was at a motel for a week, and had no problems with bed bugs. I then left to go to a shelter, because I had no more money to pay for a motel. The second day I went job searching all day, and started itching really bad on the back of my neck. At first I thought it was from the heat, and from me sweating. I then looked at my neck and noticed red swelling bites on my neck, and I scratched it to make the itch go away. I then noticed as the day progressed that it was spreading fast up the back of my neck. Now I’m getting worried, what is this, and why is it itching and spreading so fat. I asked the shelter workers what they thought it was and they said, I don’t know, but you can take anti-itching cream. I took the cream and put it on my neck, the itching went away, but the bites still were there. The next day I wake up and I have another bite on my upper right arm, and a bite on my right thumb. That night I talked to a resident staying there, and she said you have bed bug bites. I was so disgusted and scared. She then told me that three other people had the same problem I did, with the red bumps on their neck too, and they had left because of it. I want your advice on if I should persue legal action. Thank YoU
Because bed bugs have become so prevalent in the past few years, many fear they’ll be their next victim. They became so anxious and paranoid of the possible bed bug presence. If you eliminate the pests though, you could have a certain sense of peace knowing that you would not be bothered or bitten them. However, you wouldn’t be able to sleep well for long if you would not kill bed bugs right and continuously do the bed bug preventive steps.
Don't assume your bites are bedbugs. Bites can be hard to identify, even for doctors. Rule out mosquitoes, fleas, mites, and biting gnats by conducting a visual inspection. It's best to collect and identify bedbugs to confirm bites. Look for the bugs themselves or their bloodstains, especially along the seams of mattresses. Further, look for dark spots of insect waste where bedbugs might crawl into hiding places on furniture, walls, and floors.
While alcohol can kill bed bugs on contact, it’s not going to kill nearly enough of bed bugs to be considered effective. In lab studies, even 99 percent concentrations of alcohol only killed between 40% to 60% of the adults that were sprayed. On top of that, alcohol has no long-lasting residual effect, and doesn’t affect bed bug eggs. 60% sounds good, but a contact killer should be able to kill a lot closer to 100% of the bed bugs you see. Otherwise, a shoe or a blowtorch would be the more reliable tool for the job. (Editor’s note: please don’t use a blowtorch.)
For those concerned about bedbug infestations in hotels, an important tip is that you can inspect any hotel room for the presence of the telltale signs of bedbugs. It is important to check the mattress and headboard, and luggage racks. In hotels, keeping your suitcase away from the bed and on a luggage rack can help prevent bedbugs from infesting your luggage. When you return home, inspect your luggage and put clothes immediately into the washer. While washing clothes in hot water does not kill bedbugs, drying clothes at a high temperature can eliminate them.
Bed Bugs can re-infest your freshly treated bed, so be sure to stop them from crawling up the bed posts by using Climb-Up Bed Bug Insect Interceptors. The Climb-Up Insect Interceptor is a small dish that is placed under the bed post and captures bedbugs in a a powder coated ring. These type of bed bug traps are very effective and should be used on every bed to help make a complete bed bug proof bed.
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.
The journal Insects published a study on products containing essential oils for bed bug control. It was found that essential oils like cedar oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, and lemongrass oil all have insecticidal properties against bed bug populations. The study concluded that using these essential oils in a bug spray can be an effective way to reduce bed bug populations without putting humans at risk of exposure to chemicals.8