You can make a natural bed bug bite treatment by putting 1 cup distilled water in a spray bottle and adding 10-15 drops tea tree oil. Shake well and spray on areas of skin that have clusters of bed bug bites. Or, you could spray the remedy on a cotton pad and apply to the itchy bumps on your skin. You can also dilutes tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil (a few drops of tea tree per one tablespoon of carrier oil).
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.
It was stated in 2012 that no truly effective insecticides were available. Insecticides that have historically been found effective include pyrethroids, dichlorvos, and malathion. Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time, and harm to health from their use is of concern. The carbamate insecticide propoxur is highly toxic to bed bugs, but it has potential toxicity to children exposed to it, and the US Environmental Protection Agency has been reluctant to approve it for indoor use. Boric acid, occasionally applied as a safe indoor insecticide, is not effective against bed bugs because they do not groom.
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.
Bedbugs reproduce by a gruesome strategy appropriately named "traumatic insemination," in which the male stabs the female's abdomen and injects sperm into the wound. During their life cycle, females can lay more than 200 eggs, which hatch and go through five immature "nymph" stages before reaching their adult form, molting after each phase. [Infographic: Bedbugs: The Life of a Mini-Monster]
Bed bugs usually bite people at night while they are sleeping. Hungry bed bugs may also feed during the daytime, especially if this is when the occupant normally sleeps. They feed by piercing the skin with an elongated beak through which they withdraw blood. Engorgement of the bed bug takes roughly three to 10 minutes, but because the bite is painless, the person seldom realizes they are being bitten. Bed bugs normally do not reside on people like head or body lice do; instead, immediately after feeding, bed bugs crawl to a secluded location to digest their meal. Symptoms after being bitten by bed bugs vary from person to person. Many develop an itchy red welt within a day or so of the bite. Others have little or no reaction. Sometimes the reaction is delayed days or even weeks after the actual bite occurs, which can make it difficult to determine where or when bites actually occurred. Studies conducted in bed bug-infested apartments suggest about 30 percent of people do not react even when bitten repeatedly over time, and there is still higher incidence of non-reactivity among the elderly. Unlike flea bites, which occur mainly around the lower legs and ankles, bed bugs feed on any skin exposed while sleeping (face, neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, etc.). The welts and itching are often wrongly attributed to other causes, such as mosquitoes. For these reasons, infestations may go a long time unnoticed, and can become quite large before being detected.
When professionals need to treat an infestation, they don’t reach for rubbing alcohol or cedar oil or a blow dryer. They use a proven treatment process that involves a combination of proven products to get the job done. It’s not about whether or not a certain item can kill bed bugs, it’s about whether that item is the ideal part of a treatment that will actually get rid of an infestation. After all, your shoe would have a 100% kill rate on any bed bugs you smack with it – that doesn’t mean you can expect to be bed bug free after a diligent afternoon of shoe-wielding.
Bed bugs are active mainly at night. During the daytime, they prefer to hide close to where people sleep. Their flattened bodies enable them to fit into tiny crevices--especially those associated with mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards. Bed bugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but do tend to congregate in habitual hiding places. Characteristically, these areas are marked by dark spotting and staining, which is the dried excrement of the bugs. Also present will be hatched and un-hatched eggs, the tannish shed skins of maturing nymphs, and the bugs themselves. Another possible sign are rusty or reddish smears on bed sheets or mattresses from crushed engorged bed bugs. Although it’s often stated that bed bugs have a telltale “buggy” odor, the smell is seldom evident except in extreme infestations and should not be relied upon for detection.
Before you begin your own bed bug treatment, you will need to prepare the room or rooms where bed bugs have been found, in addition to rooms that share walls with the infested rooms. Remove any items in the room that you absolutely cannot treat or that have already been treated. Cover items that will be removed from the room in plastic bags before moving to the next room to prevent any unseen bed bug from infesting another room.
A number of other symptoms may occur from either the bite of the bed bugs or from their exposure. Anaphylaxis from the injection of serum and other nonspecific proteins has been rarely documented. Due to each bite taking a tiny amount of blood, chronic or severe infestation may lead to anemia. Bacterial skin infection may occur due to skin break down from scratching. Systemic poisoning may occur if the bites are numerous. Exposure to bed bugs may trigger an asthma attack via the effects of airborne allergens although evidence of this association is limited. There is no evidence that bed bugs transmit infectious diseases even though they appear physically capable of carrying pathogens and this possibility has been investigated. The bite itself may be painful thus resulting in poor sleep and worse work performance.
Items that cannot be placed in a washer or dryer can sometimes be de-infested by wrapping them in plastic and placing them outdoors in a hot, sunny location for at least a day (for example, on pavement or in a closed vehicle parked in the sun). Packing items loosely in garbage bags and elevating objects off the ground helps the heat permeate further, and will make it harder for bugs to find a cool place to hide. Monitoring with a thermometer is prudent to ensure that a temperature of at least 120°F is achieved wherever the bugs may be.
Prepare the room by separating treated from untreated furniture. This will involve moving all your furniture to one side of the infested room (Remember, you’ve already assessed which rooms you think are infested. You may not need to do this in every room). The process is important because if you treat half of the items in a room and leave other areas untreated, bed bugs may return to the previously treated areas from untreated sites. Take all clothes from drawers, infested closets, etc. and double bag them in clear plastic bags (clear bags are easier to see where things are). Also double bag all personal items (toys, papers, books, electronics, CDs, or anything that could serve as a hiding place for bed bugs) and set them aside until they can be carefully treated, cleaned or inspected.
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You are correct about using alcohol. I used straight alcohol in a spray bottle. You can’t just spray and expect it to work. The alcohol has to be sprayed ON THE BUGS in order to kill them. It must be repeated periodically in order to kill them with any affect on the population. Also they hide in cracks and crevices in your walls, and places like wallsockets, baseboards, gaps in wooden furniture like headboards. Basically anywhere they can fit. Their eggs look like little TINY clear crystals. If you are not sure if the bugs are bed bugs… squash one. They smell like black walnuts (to me anyway). I’ve read they only lay 1 egg at a time, but can lay up to 5 a day… that’s 40 in a week. So if you have them, spray OFTEN, but do not smoke or use any open flames (candles, etc…) at the same time. Alcohol is very flammable!!!
I was at a motel for a week, and had no problems with bed bugs. I then left to go to a shelter, because I had no more money to pay for a motel. The second day I went job searching all day, and started itching really bad on the back of my neck. At first I thought it was from the heat, and from me sweating. I then looked at my neck and noticed red swelling bites on my neck, and I scratched it to make the itch go away. I then noticed as the day progressed that it was spreading fast up the back of my neck. Now I’m getting worried, what is this, and why is it itching and spreading so fat. I asked the shelter workers what they thought it was and they said, I don’t know, but you can take anti-itching cream. I took the cream and put it on my neck, the itching went away, but the bites still were there. The next day I wake up and I have another bite on my upper right arm, and a bite on my right thumb. That night I talked to a resident staying there, and she said you have bed bug bites. I was so disgusted and scared. She then told me that three other people had the same problem I did, with the red bumps on their neck too, and they had left because of it. I want your advice on if I should persue legal action. Thank YoU
Apply residual Bed Bug Insecticide Spray. After every crack, crevice, switch plate, electrical switch, baseboard, box springs, mattress, etc, has been treated and everything is put back, it is time for the residual treatment. Using a hand held sprayer such as the Chapin Sure Spray apply Optimate, Cy-Kick, Suspend SC or Demand along the baseboards in the bedroom and closet, under and around the bed, behind the headboard, inside bed stands etc.
Use your vacuum's nozzle attachment to capture the bed bugs and their eggs. Vacuum all seams and crevices on your mattress, bed frame, baseboards, and any other objects close to the bed or furniture in the home found to be harboring bed bugs. It is essential to vacuum daily and immediately place the vacuum's contents into a sealed plastic bag and throw it away in an outdoor garbage can.
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.
Insecticides are an effective way to eradicate bed bugs, but not the only way. If you or someone in your house is highly sensitive to chemicals, or you’re just not crazy about the idea of spraying chemicals where you sleep, kill the little blood suckers with heat. Temperatures above 120 degrees F kill all stages of bed bugs. Steamers can be used to treat all the same areas where you would have sprayed contact killers. Steamers like the one shown at (top) cost about $150 and are good for many other projects like removing wallpaper, cleaning tile, removing labels, cleaning engine parts and removing wrinkles from fabric.
Low toxicity contact sprays like SteriFab™ or Bedlam® are likely to kill bed bugs only on contact. Alcohol- and soap-based sprays, are only partly effective. All of these products, once dry, are likely to provide no further control. Eggs will not be killed by alcohol-based sprays, so repeat treatments are usually needed. Be careful when using sprays containing alcohol because they may be flammable.
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.
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.
Inspection for bed bug infestations must be very thorough. Your primary tool is a flashlight. Since bed bugs are cryptic insects and spend most of their time hiding, you will need a flashlight to find them. You must move and/or disassemble some items while searching including beds, dressers, carpets and rugs. While you inspect, be alert for a bed bug smell which has been described as an obnoxious sweetness or fresh, red raspberries. You should also look for accumulations of cast nymphal skins and for stains of blood spots on sheets and linens. A common location for bed bug infestations is a box spring. The framework is often made of wood and contains cracks can crevices suitable for harborage. Other common areas include wall voids, behind switch plates, interior corners of bedside tables, under the edges of wall to wall carpeting, couches and stuffed chairs.
Bed Bugs can re-infest your freshly treated bed, so be sure to stop them from crawling up the bed posts by using Climb-Up Bed Bug Insect Interceptors. The Climb-Up Insect Interceptor is a small dish that is placed under the bed post and captures bedbugs in a a powder coated ring. These type of bed bug traps are very effective and should be used on every bed to help make a complete bed bug proof bed.
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
In most cases, the only way to say for sure whether it was a bedbug that bit you is to search for evidence of bedbugs living in your home. "Once you start to notice the itchy bites, the second giveaway is the presence of small blood spots on your sheets or mattress, usually resembling patches of rust,” Durham says. Those spots are left behind after a bedbug has been smashed.
Bed bugs occur in all regions of the globe. Rates of infestations are relatively common, following an increase since the 1990s. The exact causes of this increase is unclear; with proposals including greater travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings, a greater focus on control of other pests, and increasing resistance to pesticides. Bed bugs have been known human parasites for thousands of years.
You’ll likely only see them in their hiding spots or crawling across the floor since, unlike other insects, bedbugs cannot fly or jump. Durham says to check along the edges of your mattress. You may see the exoskeletons that bedbugs have shed as they matured, or you may notice a musty smell, both of which indicate there could be bedbugs in the area. It can also be helpful to check your bed with a flashlight during the middle of the night (since these crawlers tend to be more active at night.)
But the bites will look different from person to person, and some people won’t develop any reaction whatsoever. “The same bedbug could bite two different people and one could have no reaction at all and the other can have an extreme reaction with a swollen arm or itchy rash,” says Eric Braun, a board-certified entomologist and business manager for the national pest control company Rentokil Steritech, who is based in Redding, Pennsylvania. Some people end up developing a rash that looks like eczema. (5)
I'm a former scientist, using words and an audio recorder as my new research tools to untangle the health and food issues that matter most to consumers. I live in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I cook as much as possible. You can find me in the grocery aisle scrutinizing the fine print of every food item I put into my cart. Follow me on Twitter @juliacalderone.