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.
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.
Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.
Traditional methods of repelling and/or killing bed bugs include the use of plants, fungi, and insects (or their extracts), such as black pepper;[54] black cohosh (Actaea racemosa); Pseudarthria hookeri; Laggera alata (Chinese yángmáo cǎo | 羊毛草);[15] Eucalyptus saligna oil;[55][56] henna (Lawsonia inermis or camphire);[57] "infused oil of Melolontha vulgaris" (presumably cockchafer); fly agaric (Amanita muscaria); tobacco; "heated oil of Terebinthina" (i.e. true turpentine); wild mint (Mentha arvensis); narrow-leaved pepperwort (Lepidium ruderale); Myrica spp. (e.g. bayberry); Robert geranium (Geranium robertianum); bugbane (Cimicifuga spp.); "herb and seeds of Cannabis"; "opulus" berries (possibly maple or European cranberrybush); masked hunter bugs (Reduvius personatus), "and many others".[58]

Treat or isolate your bagged items. For washable items research shows that dry cleaning, washing in hot water for 30 minutes, or tumble drying for 30 minutes on high will kill all stages of bed bugs. Non-washables are a little trickier.  Items that aren’t needed for a while can just be stored. It takes 2-5 months to kill bed bugs by isolating them in bags (the warmer the temperature, the shorter the survival time for starving bed bugs). Heating bags by placing in direct sunlight is one of the most effective methods during the warm summer months.  Seven pounds of items placed in clear bags in direct sunlight on a 95 degree day will get hot enough to kill all bed bug life stages in one afternoon.  Also, placing bagged items in a chest freezer (0 degrees F) for 8-10 hours is lethal for bed bugs and their eggs. Some toys may be disinfested by cleaning with hot soapy water and/or rubbing alcohol.
Often, bedbug bites are clustered along lines usually following arms and legs. Theories range from the idea that bedbugs are feeding along blood vessels to the idea that bedbugs remain with their bodies touching the bedding while they feed, and the bugs are left to feed only along lines where the skin is touching the bedding in just the right manner.
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Heat treatments of this type are advantageous because they present no pesticide hazard. However, they also provide no residual activity. That is, they do not prevent a structure from being re-infested after it is heat treated. For this reason, residual pesticides are often applied in conjunction with heat treatments. Such applications may not prevent re-infestation, but help control any bed bugs not killed by the heat. A certain percentage of heat treatments, perhaps 10 to 20 percent, fail to kill all the bed bugs present. Often this is due to residents failing to adequately prepare the premises for heating.
Bed bugs have a fast and large reproduction nature. On an average, they can reproduce within 200 to 250 eggs at one time, and hatch during an interval between 6 to 10 days. Bed bugs largely live between 4 months to 6 months, and a 1-time treatment is not sufficient to cover the Bed Bug life stages. A 3 times treatment integrated with steam treatment and follow ups across 1.5 to 2 months is usually recommended. Read more here on 6 Questions to Get the Best Treatment for Bed Bugs.

Bed bug eradication is challenging and it’s prudent to hire a professional when resources allow. However treatment can be expensive, often costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Those who cannot afford this often must cope with the problem themselves. A useful step that anyone can take to combat bed bugs is to install bed encasements. Covering the mattress and box spring can help eliminate a substantial portion of the bed bug population -- especially if discovered early while most of the bugs are still confined to the bed area. Extra care should be taken when installing budget encasements since these can tear easily, especially on metal bed frames. Ideally both the mattress and box spring should be encased. If only one encasement is possible it’s often best to cover the box spring which is harder to subsequently inspect.
Bed bugs (Cimex spp.) feed on the blood of animals including people and pets. Some species, known as bat bugs, feed on bats, and others on birds such as chickens, pigeons, swallows and swifts. All will wander in search of a new host if their primary host leaves or abandons its roost or nest. In structures, bat bugs typically appear in and around attics and chimneys. Though they will bite humans, they do not survive without their preferred hosts.
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.
Often, bedbug bites are clustered along lines usually following arms and legs. Theories range from the idea that bedbugs are feeding along blood vessels to the idea that bedbugs remain with their bodies touching the bedding while they feed, and the bugs are left to feed only along lines where the skin is touching the bedding in just the right manner.

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.
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