Bed bugs have been pestering humanity for thousands of years, but in the 1950s they finally met their match: the pesticide DDT. Then DDT was banned, but for most of the 40 years since, bed bugs have not been a major problem. Now, however, these blood-sucking vermin are back with a vengeance. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, unlike mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs don’t spread disease, and there are practical steps you can take to prevent an infestation. And if you do get bed bugs, you can get rid of them yourself. We’ll show you what to look for, how do you get rid of bed bugs if you find them, and how to keep them out!
Adult bed bugs are about 3/16” long and reddish-brown, with oval-shaped, flattened bodies. They are sometimes mistaken for ticks, cockroaches, carpet beetles or other household insects. The immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs do not fly, and they don’t jump like fleas do ― but they can crawl rapidly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces. Adult females lay their eggs in secluded places, depositing 1, 2 or more eggs per day, potentially hundreds during their lifetime. The eggs are tiny (about the size of a dust spec), whitish and hard to see without magnification, especially on light-colored surfaces. When first laid, the eggs are sticky, causing them to adhere to surfaces. At room temperatures, bed bug eggs hatch in about a week. Newly emerged nymphs are straw-colored and no bigger than a pinhead.
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Can you catch some bed bugs with traps? Yup. There are many products that can catch bed bugs. One trap that is quite effective is a trap that is put under the legs of a bed to kill bed bugs as they climb up to feed. If a mattress and box spring have been protected, this method can add another layer of protection. The problem is, bed bugs don't need you to be sleeping in order to feed on you. If you take these measures, an infestation could grow in your home and begin to plague you while you're watching television, working on your computer, or even relaxing on your porch.
Avoiding bed bugs is most challenging in hotels, apartment buildings, and other places where there are many people, high turnover and ongoing opportunities for introduction of the pests. Periodic, preventive inspection by tenants, housekeeping/maintenance staff, or pest control firms is the best way to detect infestations in their initial stages when they are easiest to control. Visual inspections can be supplemented by using various monitoring devices to capture and reveal bed bugs that may have been overlooked by occupants.
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.
Other types of bed bug traps include those that do not rely on humans as bait, but instead use CO2and/or other attractants. CO2 is thus far the most powerful lure for bed bugs, as it is the primary cue they follow to locate hosts. Traps that issue CO2 for a period of time are more expensive than Climbup™ traps, but can effectively trap bed bugs when no host is present, such as in common areas, vacant homes or units, offices, schools, and theaters. Thus they can help confirm infestation and eradication.
2. Active Guard Liners: Active Guard Mattress Liners may be placed on beds and are effective as both preventative and active bed bug treatments. They kill bed bugs and dust mites within 72 hours and will prevent bed bugs from infesting mattresses. ActiveGuard Liners act like a fitted sheet; it comes in single, full, queen, and king sizes that fit up to 17" in depth.
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.
Hiring a pro to wipe out bed bugs isn’t cheap. Expect to pay about $200 per room to kill bed bugs, and you’ll likely need a few chemical treatments in order to eradicate bed bugs. Professional heat treatments will cost even more. And even if you hire a pro, you’ll still have to do lots of work yourself (moving furniture, washing all clothes, etc.). So consider declaring a DIY war on bed bugs. If you’re willing to spend $100 to $200 and do things right, your chances of success are excellent.
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.
Avoiding repeated bites can be difficult, since it usually requires eradicating bed bugs from a home or workplace; eradication frequently requires a combination of pesticide and non-pesticide approaches. Pesticides that have historically been found to be effective include pyrethroids, dichlorvos and malathion. Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time and there are concerns of negative health effects from their usage. Mechanical approaches such as vacuuming up the insects and heat-treating or wrapping mattresses have been recommended.
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.
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.
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.
A definitive diagnosis of health effects due to bed bugs requires a search for and finding of the insect in the sleeping environment as symptoms are not sufficiently specific. Bed bugs classically form a line of bites colloquially referred to as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" and rarely feed in the armpit or behind the knee which may help differentiate it from other biting insects. If the number in a house is large a pungent sweet odor may be described. There are specially trained dogs that can detect this smell.
After bedbugs find a food source, they bite down with their mouths and inject anticoagulant and anesthetic compounds into the skin. Depending on the species, these parasites feed on the host blood via 1 of 2 mechanisms. Vessel feeders directly insert their mouthparts into superficial capillaries, whereas pool feeders damage the superficial tissue and feed on the accumulated blood. As bedbugs feed, their color may change as they swell with the host blood, as shown in this picture of a larval bedbug feeding on a volunteer host. Image courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As if you needed something else to worry about, bedbugs, those pests from the old bedtime rhyme are making a comeback. More of a nuisance than a health hazard, they’re showing up to suck blood from people in hotels, college dorms, and hospitals. Take an informative look at bedbugs: what they are, where they lurk, and how to spot them before they get you.
To treat an allergic reaction, the doctor may prescribe an antihistamine, corticosteroid, or epinephrine injection. If the area is infected, he or she might prescribe an antibiotic or recommend an over-the-counter antiseptic. Finally, if it’s severe itchiness that you’re dealing with, applying corticosteroid or taking an antihistamine in pill or liquid form may be able to help.
It’s not likely that you’ll kill all the bed bugs with a bed bug spray. That’s where a residual powder insecticide comes into play. It kills any bugs that wander through the powder. Some powders can kill bugs for many years if left undisturbed. Skip the open areas and spray the powder in those places where you think they’ll be traveling to and from, like near bed legs and under baseboard trim.
Some pest control firms utilize specialized heating equipment to de-infest furnishings, rooms, and entire dwellings. The procedure involves heating up the infested item or area to temperatures lethal to bed bugs. Portable heaters and fans are used to gradually heat the air to about 120 - 130°F while monitoring with strategically placed sensors. By carefully controlling the temperature, bugs and eggs are killed wherever they may be without damaging household items.
In the chemical-based category, there are two methods included. Though we consider the two as different means, they both rely on the use chemical pesticides. The first method is by hiring bed bug exterminators who use strong solutions to eliminate the pests. It offers an easy yet expensive and risky bed bug treatment even if the exterminator use the best chemical to kill bed bugs.
A cloth and hot soapy water: Like the sticky tape, a cloth with hot water can be useful for capturing bed bugs. Have a bucket of water handy and as you wipe an area, check the surface of the cloth for bed bugs and then immerse the cloth in the bucket. Wring the cloth to remove excess water; you do not need to soak the surface that you are wiping. Also, check the area that you just wiped because heat may cause hungry bed bugs to move. The cloth is particularly effective when you find a cluster or group of bed bugs. Keep in mind that wet surfaces will reduce the effectiveness of sticky tape as a trapping method.
Bed bugs are very hardy insects. Both adults and nymphs can survive prolonged periods without food or under adverse temperature conditions. Adults can live for a year or longer without feeding and can survive over winter in an unheated building. Nymphs are not as hardy as adults, but they can survive for considerable periods under adverse conditions.
Bedbugs lurk in cracks and crevices and they've been living on human blood for centuries. Though they aren't known to transmit disease or pose any serious medical risk, the stubborn parasites can leave itchy and unsightly bites. However, bedbugs don't always leave marks. The best way to tell if you have a bedbug infestation is to see the live, apple-seed-size critters for yourself. Unfortunately, once bedbugs take up residence in homes and businesses, they can be difficult to exterminate without professional help.
Reactions to bed bug bites vary among individuals. Many persons show no signs of bites. Others don’t realize they’ve been bitten until redness and swelling appear around the bite, sometimes with intense itching. Some exhibit inflamed swollen spots that may occur in linear series or have a rash-like appearance. Such bite marks, when they appear, may not show for several days after the person is bitten.
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”.