Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.
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.
Pesticides alone are not the answer to bed bugs. Most of the commonly used pesticides today, including professional products and consumer products advertised for control of bed bugs, are at best moderately effective at controlling these pests. Pesticides must be used with care for safety and with attention to proper application to work well. Aerosol “bug bombs” or “fumigators” are also mostly ineffective in eliminating bed bugs. Aerosol insecticides mainly kill insects that are exposed, and out of their hiding places, not those hidden behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices of the bed, under carpet edging and in walls.
Systematically treat the room–all cracks and crevices around windows, outlets, blinds, pictures, posters and clocks on walls, baseboards, under edges of carpets and any other crevices or void areas in the room. Remember that immature bed bugs are very tiny. Dozens of bed bugs can hide in a recessed screw hole in a bed frame or dresser. Therefore it’s important that no hiding place be overlooked. Treatment can include vacuuming, but should not be limited to vacuuming only. Vacuums do not remove eggs, and will likely not remove all bed bugs from deeply infested cracks and crevices. Vacuums can remove many bed bugs from mattresses and the exterior of box springs (remember to immediately double-bag the vacuum bag after cleaning and dispose of outside in a trash can or dumpster). Sticky tape is another method of picking up bed bugs from furniture, walls, etc.
Bed bugs are tiny, flat, wingless insects that range in color from nearly white to deep brown/reddish. The parasitic pests get their name from their hiding spot of choice – they prefer burrowing into bed frames and mattresses during the day, then become active at night when they feed on people and pets. Bed bugs are resilient pests that can hitch a ride on luggage, furniture, storage boxes, backpacks and clothing (but rarely humans), very quickly causing an infestation.
Especially in situations where a large amount of time would be required for a pest management professional to thoroughly inspect a structure, bed bug detecting dogs are sometimes employed. Well-trained and handled dogs can also be of value in structures or units with lesser infestations, i.e., where human inspectors might easily overlook bed bugs because only a few bugs are present.
The first sign of a bed bug problem is obvious: the bed. After bed bugs feed on humans, they'll leave behind blood stains resembling small rust spots. These will usually be found near the corners and edges of the bed. Bed bugs also shed their skin, or molt, several times as they mature, so you may find their oval brown exoskeletons during your search.
Most people use a combination of bed bug sprays and bed bug powders to kill off bed bugs fast. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of and finding the right spray to eliminate bed bugs is not always easy. Many natural residual bed bug sprays contain natural ingredients that have a proven repellent and insecticidal action against these infesting bugs. Some feel that they have to resort to commercial bed bug sprays to completely get rid of an infestation of bed bugs.
Isolating your bed from the rest of the house. If you don’t use a bed, purchase a frame that gets your mattress off the floor and install bed bug interceptors under all feet of the bed frame to keep bed bugs off your bed while you are sleeping. Interceptors are special platforms or cups that are purchased to prevent bed bugs from climbing on to your bed. An interceptor can be as simple as a sticky card placed under a bed post (sticky and messy). Better are one of the commercial pitfall traps made specifically for this purpose. The Climbup™ Bed bug Interceptor and BlackOut BedBug Detector (Google them) are two such products sold online. Relatively inexpensive, these cups trap bed bugs attempting to climb (or exit) the bed. If you have encased your bedding, treated your bed frame thoroughly and installed interceptors, you will be instantly protected against bed bugs. Don’t take out your clean bedding or put it back on the bed until the bed has been treated (and dried) and encasements installed. And note that for this method to be effective, beds and bedding must not touch the floor, furniture or walls. This would provide bed bugs other ways to climb onto the bed and foil your defenses.
Bed Pug Patrol doesn’t contain any harsh pesticides and can be sprayed anywhere you see signs of bed bugs. It can also be used safely on fabrics because it won’t stain them. Bed Pug Patrol also comes in various sizes and can be used as a cost-effective method for controlling large bed bug infestations. You can get more information about Bed Bug Patrol and purchase it in Amazon here.
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.
Dismantling bed frames in infested areas typically exposes bed bug hiding sites. Having access to these areas during cleaning is important. Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric and look for bed bugs. If the fabric is torn (possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Encasements by Mattress Safe. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring when using these encasements. Keep them on for a year.
The bites themselves don't usually pose any major health risk since bedbugs are not known to spread diseases, but an allergic reaction to the bites may require medical attention, CDC officials say. There have also been some strange cases linked to bedbug infestations. Researchers reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2009 that they treated a 60-year-old man for anemia caused by blood loss from bedbug bites. Another study published in 1991 in the Journal of the Egyptian Society of Parasitology found that people with asthma might be more susceptible to allergic reactions from bedbug bites.
Should I worry about a tick bite? Ticks are parasites that feed on blood, and although their bites are harmless they can still transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Learn what ticks are and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a bite. This MNT Knowledge Center article also explains how to prevent tick bites. Read now
Heat Remediation For this method, the area is heated to about 130 degrees F and maintained so the heat moves into the furniture and everything else in the room. Lazarus says there’s less preparation needed with this method (you’ll likely just need to remove things that are sensitive to heat, like medication and plants). It usually takes just one treatment to effectively kill all of the bed bugs at their various life stages. Sometimes heat remediation is used along with insecticide for an extra-thorough approach.
One method of applying freezing temperatures to bed bugs entails the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) applied as “snow” with a portable application device, i.e., Cryonite™. When applied directly onto bed bugs, the frozen CO2 will kill them. However, this method is similar to using contact pesticides, that is, there is no residual activity. It can kill only as many bed bugs as the applicator can find. The advantage of using this type of freezing device is that bed bugs may be killed quickly and without the use of more hazardous pesticides. Again, this is not a stand-alone treatment, and it is recommended that it be used as a supplemental to the application of residual pesticides and/or other means of control.
Bedbug bites, like all insect bites, can become infected through excessive scratching, as underneath the fingernails lies a host of bacterial pathogens. If your bites become infected, they will appear red and swollen, feel tender and may drain pus. Typically there will not be a fever unless a substantial area of the skin is involved. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must seek medical attention as it points to a secondary infection. Your physician may prescribe antibiotic therapy or, if the infection is mild, an antiseptic medication that you can buy without a prescription.
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.
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.