If you need to treat items that can’t be laundered or steamed, you can use a portable bed bug heater, like a ZappBug Oven or a ThermalStrike Ranger. These heaters can safely treat household items like books, papers, CDs, and dry clean only clothing. Not only are bed bug heaters an effective part of a bed bug treatment process, but they’re one of the most popular prevention tools on the market. When you come home from a trip, just put your suitcase in the heater, zip it shut, and turn it on. In just a few hours, any bed bugs or eggs hiding in your belongings will be dead.
It takes time and persistence to get rid of bed bugs, and in some cases, the cooperation of landlords, neighbors and others. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It can also be expensive when pest control companies are called in. Just remember - bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a health concern and, with vigilance, you can avoid or deal with infestations.
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 you think that by discarding the whole bed means getting rid of bed bugs, you are wrong. By moving the mattress and the bed frame, you not only risk moving the bed bugs all around the house, you are also missing out on many other spots these bed bugs could be at. For example, curtains, floor panels and skirting or even the door frames are able to hide these bed bugs very well. The root causes of the infestation must be eradicated fully.
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.
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
Unlike those of other insects, bed bug bites may sometimes appear in tight lines of multiple, small, red marks where multiple bed bugs have fed along an exposed area. Bed bug bites can cause itchiness. Initially, a victim may detect a slight burning sensation. The burning area then develops red bumps, known as papules or wheals (rash). In extreme cases, bites may swell dramatically or turn into blister-like skin inflammations.
Once the mattress and box spring are dry, encase them in sealed bed bug encasements. Encasements are crucial, as they prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping the mattress and box spring, cutting off key hiding places. Remember to leave the encasements on for at least 18 months to ensure that any bed bugs already inside have starved to death. Once the encasements have been applied, you can put your mattress and box springs back on your treated bed frame, and put your laundered bedding back on your bed.
Next, apply a bed bug powder into confined areas where it won’t be stirred up into the air. Places like the edges of carpeting, inside deep cracks and wall voids, and inside electrical outlets and light switches (accessed by removing the faceplate with a screwdriver) are good candidates for powders, as sprays can’t reach into these areas quite as well. We recommend using a professional powder applicator, which offers better control when applying the powder.
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.
Some people develop allergic reactions to bedbug bites, which can include a fever, difficulty breathing, hives, or a swollen tongue. Others may develop an infection where the bite starts oozing pus. If you experience either of these reactions or you develop blisters where the bites occurred, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a dermatologist.
Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on our blood, typically at night, while we are sleeping. Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 of an inch long, have flat, rusty-red-colored oval bodies, and look like an apple seed. They feed for about 3-10 minutes and their bodies swell and become bright red. During the bed bug life cycle, a female can lay 200-400 eggs depending on food supply and temperature. Bed bugs don't fly, but can quickly walk across floors, walls, and other surfaces.
After the bugs developed resistance against many of the most powerful pesticides, such as DDT, exterminators had been increasingly relying on two chemicals—chlorfenapyr and bifenthrin. But until now, no one had looked at whether bed bugs were developing defenses against these chemicals too, says Ameya D. Gondhalekar, one of the study authors and a research assistant professor at the Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management at the Department of Entomology at Purdue University.
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).
The first goal in a bed bug treatment is to stop bed bugs from biting you while you sleep. If bed bugs can’t feed, they can’t breed. If they can’t breed, then they can’t reproduce, and the infestation won’t be able to grow any further. This means that as soon as you remove their food source (your blood), you set a timer for the infestation to starve off.
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.
Some oils like tea tree and neem oil can't kill bedbugs, but they work well to repel them. Tea tree oil is an extract from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant—it can cause various health problems with pet birds, cats, and small dogs. If there are pets in the house, look for other safer choices. If you use the oil, apply it in small quantities to the skin to repel bed bugs. Since bed bugs are active at night, apply it before bedtime.
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.
It is difficult to tell bedbug bites from those of mosquitoes, fleas, or other insects. You likely won't feel bedbugs biting as they inject an anesthetic and anticoagulant when they bite. You may develop bite marks one to 14 days after being bitten. As with mosquitoes, their saliva can provoke an allergic reaction at the site of the bite. Some people have no reaction, others have a mild one, while some can have significant swelling.
Wash the bites with soap and water. Wash the area with mild soap and water; use a bar of soap and enough water to wet surface of your hands. Work the soap in your hands into thick, soapy lather. Rub the lather over the affected area liberally. Repeat until the entire area is covered. Leave on and do not rinse. Allow the soap lather to dry over the bitten areas. You should experience immediate relief from itching.
Bedbugs normally feed at night, usually approximately 1 hour before dawn. However, if the conditions are favorable, they also feed during the day. Feeding takes 3-12 minutes. In proper conditions, adult bedbugs can survive without a meal for 1 year or longer. Each female lays approximately 300 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs hatch in 10 days. The nymph stage lasts 6 weeks, undergoing 5 molts.
Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.
An adult bed bug is about 1/5 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. Its reddish brown to mahogany-colored body is greatly flattened and oval shaped. After feeding, the bug's body enlarges considerably, becoming longer and much less flattened. Although the body is covered with tiny hairs, these hairs are so small that they are almost invisible to the naked eye, so the general body appearance is shiny. Bed bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that enable them to pierce the skin and suck blood from their hosts.
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