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.)
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.
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.
Treatment is symptomatic. Eliminating bed bugs from the home is often difficult, partly because bed bugs can survive up to a year without feeding. Repeated treatments of a home may be required. These treatments may include heating the room to 50 °C (122 °F) for more than 90 minutes, frequent vacuuming, washing clothing at high temperatures, and the use of various pesticides.
According to textile experts (Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, Laurel, MD), most garments designated as ‘dry-clean only’ (e.g., cotton, wool, silk, linen, rayon, nylon) will not be harmed provided they are dry before being placed in a clothes dryer at a moderate temperature setting. Dry cleaning procedures also kill bed bugs, but there is a risk of infesting the establishment when buggy items are tagged and sorted.
Cracks and crevices of bed frames should also be examined, especially if the frame is wood. (Bed bugs have an affinity for wood and fabric more so than metal or plastic.) Wooden support slats, if present, should be removed and examined since bed bugs often congregate where the ends rest on the frame. Screw holes, knots and other recesses are also common hiding places. Headboards secured to walls should be removed and inspected. In hotels, the area behind the headboard is often the first place that bed bugs become established. Bed bugs also frequently hide within items stored under beds.
Monitor your home. Bed bugs like to hide in cracks and crevices like walls, luggage, boxes, and clothing, but since they feed on humans while they sleep, they’re most commonly found in beds. If you suspect an infestation, or if you live in an apartment building with a bed bug problem, regularly inspect your bed sheets, mattress (including underneath), and box-spring seams for bugs. They’re flat and oval-shaped, with red or brown bodies, roughly the size of an apple seed. Watch for adults, nymphs, and eggs, as well as exoskeletons (casings that the bugs leave behind when they molt) and dark, rust-colored spots (feces).
Check the mattress throughly, paying close attention to seams and tufts along the edges. Flip the mattress over and inspect the bottom carefully as well. Pay particular attention to any rips in the fabric. View the fabric on the bottom of the box spring and shine a flash light to verify that bed bugs have not penetrated the interior of the box spring.
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.
Until fairly recently, most people (and even pest control professionals) had never seen a bed bug. Bed bug infestations actually used to be very common in the United States before World War II. But with improvements in hygiene, and especially the widespread use of DDT during the 1940s and ‘50s, the bed bugs all but vanished. The pests persisted, however, in some areas of the world including parts of Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Over roughly the past decade, bed bugs have made a dramatic comeback in the U.S.― they’re appearing increasingly in homes, apartments, hotels, health care facilities, dormitories, shelters, schools and public transportation. Other places where bed bugs sometimes occur include movie theaters, laundries, rental furniture, and office buildings. Immigration and international travel have contributed to the resurgence of bed bugs in the U.S. Changes in modern pest control practice, less effective insecticides ― and a decrease in societal vigilance ― are other factors suspected for the recurrence.
Bed bugs have six life stages from eggs to adulthood. The adults and nymphs of the pests could stay out of sight for months after feeding so they are quite difficult to detect. However, the eggs are much harder to locate. Female bed bugs usually hide them in dark and deep cracks and crevices. The fact that they are very small, makes it even harder to search for them. So, if you need to implement a keen inspection when looking for adult bed bugs, you need to be more canny when looking for their eggs.
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.
Mechanical approaches, such as vacuuming up the insects and heat-treating or wrapping mattresses, are effective. An hour at a temperature of 45 °C (113 °F) or over, or two hours at less than −17 °C (1 °F) kills them. This may include a domestic clothes drier for fabric or a commercial steamer. Bed bugs and their eggs will die on contact when exposed to surface temperatures above 180 °F (82 °C) and a steamer can reach well above 230 °F (110 °C). A study found 100% mortality rates for bed bugs exposed to temperatures greater than 50 °C (122 °F) for more than 2 minutes. The study recommended maintaining temperatures of above 48 °C (118 °F) for more than 20 min to effectively kill all life stages of bed bugs, and because in practice treatment times of 6 to 8 hours are used to account for cracks and indoor clutter. This method is expensive and has caused fires. Starving them is not effective as they can survive without eating for 100 to 300 days, depending on temperature. One expert recommends not trying to get rid of bed bugs exclusively on one's own.
Units that produce “dry” steam are less likely to damage household goods. Steam must be at least 113 degrees Fahrenheit (F), the minimum temperature to kill bed bugs, and care must be taken to reduce pressure so that bed bugs are not literally “blown away” before they can be killed by the steam. Steaming should be avoided around hazards such as electrical outlets.
The type of reaction provoked depends on previous exposure; repeated bites may lead to an allergic reaction, which may lead to pronounced cutaneous manifestations. Some patients show a severe systemic hypersensitivity to arthropod allergens. The site of the bite can also become secondarily infected with bacteria infection and lead to ecthyma, cellulitis, and/or lymphangitis.
Killing all bed bugs on your bed frame and headboard. Normally this would be done by a pest control professional. Approximately 70% of all bed bugs in the typical infestation are located on the mattress, box spring and bed frame. You’ve encased the mattress and box spring and taken care of that problem. Now you have to make sure that your bed frame is bed bug free. Vacuuming alone won’t do this. Vacuuming can remove many bed bug adults and nymphs, but it isn’t very good at removing eggs. For this job you’ll need insecticide sprays and possibly dusts to treat every crevice and void in your bed. For insecticide spray and dust options see below. Remember that insecticides can be hazardous if you don’t follow label directions. Read the whole label before spraying or dusting. The label directions are the law and failure to follow the label not only puts you and your family at risk, it is against the law. Homemade sprays, by the way, are usually less safe than commercial insecticides. Stick with the legal stuff.
* Typically used for control of wood-destroying organisms, true fumigation of structures is occasionally performed for bed bug control. Fumigating a structure involves “tenting” it, i.e., draping and sealing it with tarps so that the fumigant, a poisonous gas, can be applied into and contained within the structure where it penetrates the contents and kills all pests within. Like whole-room heat treatments, fumigation has no lasting effect (it leaves no pesticide residue), is labor-intensive, and can damage contents. It is also more expensive, especially in northern states where fumigations are done less frequently. The advantage of fumigation over heat treatment may be that fumigation is more likely to kill all the pests within a structure.
Some patients develop blisters filled with blood or bloody fluid, especially on the arms and legs. These blood blisters are extremely rare and can burst, causing bleeding or oozing of the bloody fluid. Healthcare providers are not sure if the cause of these blisters is related to the bug or the human but have found groups of patients that were all bitten by bugs on the same train exhibiting this sign.
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.
Itchy swollen bites may be the first sign of a bed bug problem. However, these itchy bites can take as long as 14 days to develop in some people, so it's important to look for other clues if you are concerned about an infestation. Bed bugs typically infest mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and couches. You may be able to find them hiding within the cracks and crevices of beds, furniture, floors, and walls. Bed bugs often leave evidence of small dark stains (fecal droppings) and rusty red spots (bloodstains) on bedding sheets, mattresses, and other areas they hide in or travel along. Heavy bed bug infestations can cause a sweet, musty smell.