Bed bugs occur in all regions of the globe. Rates of infestations are relatively common, following an increase since the 1990s. The exact causes of this increase is unclear; with proposals including greater travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings, a greater focus on control of other pests, and increasing resistance to pesticides. Bed bugs have been known human parasites for thousands of years.
If at all possible, pull up the carpet where it meets the wall and puff powder around the whole perimeter of the room. Inside outlet boxes is a great place to use powders because sprays and electricity don’t mix. Bellow dusters work great for spreading residual insecticide powder. An old makeup brush is a good tool to spread the dust around on hard surfaces. Bed bug powders are available the same places you’ll find the spray pesticides.
The bites themselves don't usually pose any major health risk since bedbugs are not known to spread diseases, but an allergic reaction to the bites may require medical attention, CDC officials say. There have also been some strange cases linked to bedbug infestations. Researchers reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2009 that they treated a 60-year-old man for anemia caused by blood loss from bedbug bites. Another study published in 1991 in the Journal of the Egyptian Society of Parasitology found that people with asthma might be more susceptible to allergic reactions from bedbug bites.
To check for signs of a bedbug infestation, Dr. DerSarkissian says that you may notice rusty-colored spots on bed linen and mattresses. These spots could be either blood stains or bedbug excrement. You may also find shed skins around bed frames, mattresses, and other hiding places. Also, a musty smell is usually present where a large number of bed bugs are living.4
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:
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.
A few decades ago, bedbugs were somewhat of a novelty in developed countries. But since the early 2000s, infestations have become more common in places like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A 2013 study in the journal Nature Scientific Reports suggested that bedbugs have evolved ways to resist insecticides.
Should I worry about a tick bite? Ticks are parasites that feed on blood, and although their bites are harmless they can still transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Learn what ticks are and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a bite. This MNT Knowledge Center article also explains how to prevent tick bites. Read now
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.
If you arrive home and discover that you have brought some unwanted guests home with you, immediately notify the hotel of your discovery. Having a possible infestation in hotels and motels can be a public relations nightmare for the owners. Politely ask them to pay for any and all costs incurred to rid your clothing and home of a possible new infestation.
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:
Bed bugs love fast food. They like to feed and then scurry back to their hiding places. They try to avoid crawling all over their food for fear of waking it/us. They usually bite the bare skin they find closest to the mattress. That’s why it’s common to see two or three bite marks in a line along the skin that was in contact with the mattress or pillow. When this happens it’s time to learn how to get rid of bug beds fast.
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.
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.
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.
Oil-based products have been so frequently touted as natural bed bug killers that they’ve even attracted government intervention. The Federal Trade Commission has charged multiple companies with deceptive advertising for overhyping their cedar oil-based products’ ability to treat an infestation. By claiming that their products can stop and prevent bed bug infestations, these marketers opened the door to government lawsuits for misleading their customers.
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.
When professionals need to treat an infestation, they don’t reach for rubbing alcohol or cedar oil or a blow dryer. They use a proven treatment process that involves a combination of proven products to get the job done. It’s not about whether or not a certain item can kill bed bugs, it’s about whether that item is the ideal part of a treatment that will actually get rid of an infestation. After all, your shoe would have a 100% kill rate on any bed bugs you smack with it – that doesn’t mean you can expect to be bed bug free after a diligent afternoon of shoe-wielding.
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.