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:
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Today, bedbugs can be found in every State in the United States, and almost every city. Bedbugs are so common now that the federal government considers them almost "epidemic". The National Pest Management Association has declared war on bed bugs and has held bedbug meetings all across the Nation to help educate pest control companies in an effort to help control them.
Bites on dogs and cats will look much like bites on people, and the pet owner may actually suspect a mosquito or flea bit the pet. As with people, bed bugs do not stay on pets, but return to a protected harborage site after feeding. In addition to bites, the presence of the bug’s feces, cast skins and the animal’s irritation at night are also indicators of bed bugs biting pets. Therefore, one of the best things to do is inspect the pet’s bedding and frequently groom the animal while being vigilant for the telltale signs of bed bug presence.
Occasionally, you might find other bugs which resemble the common bed bug including the bat bug and swallow bug. Both of these species superficially resemble the common bed bug. However, their primary hosts are bats and birds and there are small but diagnostic morphological differences. Problem infestations with these bugs may occur in attics or unused chimneys. Typically, when one host is gone these bugs seek an alternative host blood meal. This is when humans are bitten. It is important to differentiate between the common bed bug and other bugs that feed on bats and birds because control efforts can be targeted at the wrong sites and infestations can continue.
Bedbugs are parasitic arthropods from the family Cimicidae. They are typically less than 1 cm in length and reddish brown in color. Bedbugs can be found in furniture, floorboards, peeling paint, or other small spaces, most commonly in areas of clutter. These insects come out at night in search of prey upon which to feed, with peak feeding times just before dawn. Bedbugs are typically attracted to body heat, carbon dioxide, vibration, sweat, and odor. The image of a Cimex lectularius is shown courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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.
People don't often consider bed bugs until they've left their mark. The appearance of flat, red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters is a key sign of bed bugs on humans. Bed bugs can also leave their bites in straight rows and, while they don't spread diseases to humans, their bites are quite irritating and scratching them can lead to bleeding and infection.
"By every metric that we use, it's getting worse and worse," says Coby Schal, an entomologist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Health authorities and pest control operators are regularly flooded with calls, and the epidemic may not have yet peaked. And because bedbugs are indoor pests, there are no high or low seasons throughout the year, he adds, only continual bombardment. "It's just the beginning of the problem in the U.S.," Schal says.
Bed bugs are highly vulnerable to heat; exposing them to a certain amount of direct heat will kill them instantly, while lower temperatures can kill them in a matter of minutes. This is why many forms of heat treatments are recommended. Some methods, such as steamers and portable heaters, have been proven effective through professional use and are quickly becoming standard issue in holistic treatment arsenals.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
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.
Wash all linen on hot, dry on hot setting. Gather all linen, cloth and leather bags, mattress covers, clothing, teddy bears... etc. Machine wash on hot - wash the laundry bag also. Tumble dry on hot. Steam kills bed bugs. Some metropolitan areas offer bed bug laundry and dry cleaning services which have the added benefits of proven methods for killing bed bugs and bagging or storing cleaned items so they do not become re-infested while the home is still being exterminated.
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