Bedbug bites may go unnoticed or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other types of rash or skin conditions, since the signs of bedbug bites are difficult to distinguish from other bites or skin conditions. Bedbugs also have glands whose secretions may leave musty odors, and they also may leave dark fecal spots on bed sheets and around places where they hide (in crevices or protected areas around the bed or anywhere in the room).
As mentioned earlier, applying insect repellent at bedtime will probably not deter bed bugs from biting. When working in severely infested dwellings, there may be some benefit to spraying tops and bottoms of shoes with DEET-based repellents. Those working in bed bug-infested environments may also want to hot wash or run clothing, etc. through a dryer upon returning home or to the office.
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.
Although bedbugs are generally nocturnal, they're like humans—if they're hungry, they'll get up and get something to eat. "If you go away to visit a friend for a week and you come back and sit down on the couch, even though it's daytime the bedbugs will come looking for you," Schal says. Keeping a light on, then, unfortunately does not keep these tiny vampires away.
Most people have never seen a bed bug. Adults are wingless, about one-fourth of an inch long, and flat to fit in cracks and crevices where they hide by day. Females typically lay three to five adhesive eggs per day in crevices and depressions. Eggs and newly hatched nymphs are somewhat translucent and only about one-sixteenth of an inch long. After feeding, nymphs become bright red.
The size of bed bug bites varies with a number of different factors. Bed bugs inject an anti-coagulant along with their saliva when they pierce the skin to take a blood meal. This anti-coagulant is mostly responsible for how a person reacts to the bite and determines the size of the bug’s bite. Since people will have various sensitivities to the bed bug’s bite, the size of the bite will vary, as well. Another factor that influences the size of a bed bug reaction is the number of times a person is bitten. Bite reactions of people bitten many times are also variable, and their response may be either more or less intense as the number of bites increases.
"We originally thought the bedbugs might prefer red because blood is red and that's what they feed on," study co-author Corraine McNeill, an assistant professor of biology at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, said in a statement. "However, after doing the study, the main reason we think they preferred red colors is because bedbugs themselves appear red, so they go to these harborages because they want to be with other bedbugs, as they are known to exist in aggregations."
DIY heat treatments most often just drive bed bugs deep into wall voids and hard-to-reach spaces in a structure. When the heat is turned off, the bugs return to living and sleeping areas. It has no impact at all. But, in worst case scenarios, where desperate people have gone to greater lengths to destroy these tormenting pests, it has resulted in damage to belongings, the death of pets, structural fires, and in tragic cases, a loss of human life.
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.
One trick to make this disposal easier involves using the cut-off end of a nylon stocking (or a knee-high nylon stocking) and a rubber band. Insert the stocking (toe first) into the end of the vacuum suction wand/tube, leaving the opening of the stocking protruding out of the end of the suction wand. Then fold the stocking opening back over the end of the wand and use the rubber band to secure it there. When the vacuum is turned on and the bed bugs are sucked into the tube, they will be trapped in the stocking. Afterwards, carefully remove the rubber band and retrieve the bug-filled stocking. Then secure the end of the stocking with the rubber band and dispose of it.
Discourage bed bug infestation by keeping clutter picked up, washing bedding and upholstery routinely and not buying used furniture. When you’re traveling, lower your risk of bringing bed bugs back home by opening your suitcase on a hotel desk or luggage rack instead of on the bed; keeping your belongings in your suitcase, not unpacked in dresser drawers; sealing dirty laundry in plastic bags that can be taken straight to the laundry room at home; and inspecting your luggage for bed bug activity before you bring it into your bedroom.
Bed bugs are challenging to eradicate. Since they can hide in so many places, inspections must be thorough and elimination is not always a certainty. Whenever resources allow, it’s prudent to enlist the services of a professional. Experienced pest controllers know where to look for bed bugs, and have an assortment of tools at their disposal. Nonetheless, owners and occupants can assist the professional in several important ways. Affording access to all living areas is crucial, and excess clutter will need to be removed. Belongings strewn about rooms offer many places for the bugs to hide, and impede inspection and treatment. Since bed bugs can disperse throughout a building, it often will be necessary to inspect adjoining rooms and apartments as well.
You’ll likely only see them in their hiding spots or crawling across the floor since, unlike other insects, bedbugs cannot fly or jump. Durham says to check along the edges of your mattress. You may see the exoskeletons that bedbugs have shed as they matured, or you may notice a musty smell, both of which indicate there could be bedbugs in the area. It can also be helpful to check your bed with a flashlight during the middle of the night (since these crawlers tend to be more active at night.)
The life cycle stages of a bed bug are egg, nymph, and adult. The reason they are called bed bugs is that they readily infest mattresses, bed frames and box springs. Eggs are laid along the edges of or around buttons on the mattresses. Eggs can also be glued to rough surfaces. Bed bug females lay about 200 eggs, usually at the rate of three or four a day. Eggs are placed in cracks, crevices and other isolated and protected shelters. Females lay eggs after a blood meal. Eggs will hatch in one or two weeks into Nymphs. Newly hatched bugs (Nymphs) begin feeding immediately. At room temperature, and with an available food supply, the nymphal period will last 14 to 30 days. They shed their skin (Instar) five times before becoming adults. Bed bugs will mate soon after becoming mature, so the time from egg hatch to egg laying is 4 to 9 weeks, under favorable conditions. The average life span of the bed bug is 6-12 months and they feed every 10 days or so during this time. Bed bugs can survive many months without a blood meal and their reproduction is high.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
Fumigation using a penetrating gas is another way to de-infest dwellings or furnishings, but the procedure is only offered by certain companies. True fumigation is not the same as setting off a total release fogger or ‘bug bomb.’ (It should be noted that bug bombs are considered ineffective in the treatment of bed bugs, and can be quite dangerous if misused.) The fumigation process is technically complex and requires vacating the building for a period of days. The building is then sealed and injected with a lethal gas, usually sulfuryl fluoride. Because the entire building must be vacated, structural fumigation is logistically more challenging with multi-unit buildings such as apartments, than for single family homes. Bed bug fumigations tend to be more common in southern and western states, where the procedure is also used to control certain types of wood-dwelling termites.
After treating a mattress or box spring for bed bugs, we recommend encasing each in a bed bug proof cover. This will prevent re-infestation and will make future inspections and treatments easier. Be sure any product that has been sprayed or applied to your mattress is dry before you cover the mattress with a bed bug proof cover. You can make the bed with your freshly laundered linens over a bed bug proof mattress cover.
Stripping and vacuuming the mattresses and box springs, and encasing them. Double bag your bedding and wash in hot water and dry for at least 30 minutes (discard the inner bag after putting bedding into the washer, as it could have bed bugs). After vacuuming suspected bed bugs from the bed, take your vacuum cleaner outdoors and remove and discard the bag. Purchase a good quality set of bed-bug-proof encasements for your mattresses and box springs. Bed bug-proof encasements are fabric sacks into which you slide your mattress or your box spring. The zippers on bed bug encasements are designed to be tight enough to prevent even the smallest life stages of the bed bugs from escaping. Also, good bed bug-proof encasements are woven to prevent bed bugs from biting you through the encasement. A good encasement will trap all bed bugs in the mattress and box spring inside, and will be smooth on the outside, providing few places for bed bugs to hide. Sears, Target, Walmart and other stores may sell bed bug-proof encasements, but these can also be purchased online. A good place to look for different brands and reviews of mattress encasements is Amazon.com (whether you buy there or at a local store). Go to http://www.amazon.com and search for “bed bug mattress protectors”.
Wash bedding and clothing (hot water and hot drying cycle for 30–60 minutes), vacuum cracks and crevices, and freeze articles that may have been used as hiding places for bedbugs may reduce infestation until extermination can be performed. Vacuum with special attention to cracks and crevices in furniture, equipment, walls, and floors. Vacuuming some talcum powder will reduce the chance that the bugs will crawl out of the vacuum cleaner. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner filter and bags in a tightly sealed plastic bag.
While your laundry cycle is running, use a vacuum cleaner to remove any bed bugs, shells, fecal droppings, or eggs that might be along the seams of your mattress, pillows, box spring, and along the cracks and crevices in the bed frame, headboard, and footboard. Follow up the vacuuming with a high pressure steamer to penetrate deep inside mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, and footboards to kill bed bugs and eggs on contact.
Most of the time you won't go to a doctor for bedbug bites. But the bites can mimic other rashes or you might have developed a skin infection from scratching. Be prepared with a timeline of your symptoms. You should note any travel you have done, any new furniture, bedding, or mattresses, and a list of your medications and supplements. Bring photos of any suspicious specks found on your bedding or furniture.
Susceptibility to arthropod bites depends on many external factors, such as occupation, conditions of employment, cohabitation with a variety of domestic animals, housing, climate, and clothing. An arthropod is usually attracted to its host by body heat, carbon dioxide in exhaled air, vibration, human sweat, and/or odor. The Cimex (bedbug) genus attacks both mammals and birds. C hemipterus (the tropical bedbug) bites mostly humans and is found in warm climates, whereas C lectularius (the common bedbug) also attacks bats and domestic animals, such as chickens.
Inspection for bed bug infestations must be very thorough. Your primary tool is a flashlight. Since bed bugs are cryptic insects and spend most of their time hiding, you will need a flashlight to find them. You must move and/or disassemble some items while searching including beds, dressers, carpets and rugs. While you inspect, be alert for a bed bug smell which has been described as an obnoxious sweetness or fresh, red raspberries. You should also look for accumulations of cast nymphal skins and for stains of blood spots on sheets and linens. A common location for bed bug infestations is a box spring. The framework is often made of wood and contains cracks can crevices suitable for harborage. Other common areas include wall voids, behind switch plates, interior corners of bedside tables, under the edges of wall to wall carpeting, couches and stuffed chairs.
Great read and very helpful info. However, when you describe how to use essential oil sprays for bed bug treatment, it would be most helpful if you included the amount of water used to mix with the oils. Simply stating to use “a small spray bottle filled with water” isn’t a very good description. A quick search for “small spray bottle” will get results for a wide range from 2-ml to 16-ounce bottles, all classified as small. This makes for a rather potent mixture to an extremely weak mixture.
You are correct about using alcohol. I used straight alcohol in a spray bottle. You can’t just spray and expect it to work. The alcohol has to be sprayed ON THE BUGS in order to kill them. It must be repeated periodically in order to kill them with any affect on the population. Also they hide in cracks and crevices in your walls, and places like wallsockets, baseboards, gaps in wooden furniture like headboards. Basically anywhere they can fit. Their eggs look like little TINY clear crystals. If you are not sure if the bugs are bed bugs… squash one. They smell like black walnuts (to me anyway). I’ve read they only lay 1 egg at a time, but can lay up to 5 a day… that’s 40 in a week. So if you have them, spray OFTEN, but do not smoke or use any open flames (candles, etc…) at the same time. Alcohol is very flammable!!!
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.
In the case of beds, a more economical option is to encase both the mattress and box spring in a protective cover like those used for allergy relief. Encasements specifically designed to help protect against bed bugs are available through retail or pest control firms. Higher quality ones tend to be more durable and comfortable to sleep on. Once the encasement is installed and zipped shut, any bugs which happen to be inside are entombed and eventually will die. Encasements also help protect newly purchased beds, and make it easier to spot and destroy any bugs residing on the outer surface during subsequent examination. Encasements will not, however, keep bed bugs from crawling onto a bed and biting a sleeping person.