Prior to World War II, bed bug infestations were common. Since the development of synthetic organic insecticides such as DDT and chlordane almost 70 years ago, bed bug infestations in buildings have declined significantly - almost disappeared. In fact, in the United States, bed bug infestations have been exceedingly rare - almost non-existent - until a few years ago.
Select and use insecticides safely. There are no magic sprays that kill bed bugs very well.  Most commercial insecticides will kill bed bugs if applied carefully and directly to the insects and their hiding places. An exception is “Bug bombs”, or aerosol foggers. Foggers are mostly ineffective in controlling bed bugs. Because bed bugs hide in crevices and voids where aerosols do not penetrate, they are able to avoid contact with these insecticides. Their use is not recommended. Some of the products you may find helpful include:
For more information about bed bugs, including their biology and how to recognize them, see other factsheets on the Citybugs bed bug page.  The State of Michigan has also recently published a very detailed guide to Do-it-yourself bed bug control. Also, if you decide you need professional help, check out our advice onHow to Select a Bed Bug Control Professional, ENTO-033
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.

Instead, get written quotes from three licensed exterminators detailing their course of action, including pesticides, traps, and/or heat treatments they'll use and how and where they'll use them. "You should ask lots of questions to the companies you interview, because a good company will answer them and will never pressure you to make an appointment," says Dunham.
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.
Bed bugs occur around the world.[36] Before the 1950s about 30% of houses in the United States had bedbugs.[2] Rates of infestations in developed countries, while decreasing from the 1930s to the 1980s, have increased dramatically since the 1980s.[3][4][36] Before the 1980s they were common in the developing world but rare in the developed world.[4] The increase in the developed world may have been caused by increased international travel, resistance to insecticides, and the use of new pest-control methods that do not affect bed bugs.[37]
Because their bodies are flat, they can hide under the smallest spots like the border of beds, under the mattress, edges of carpets, couches, cracks in the walls and ceilings, in your pillows, under your bed sheets, behind electrical plugs and wall sockets, in your cupboards and dressers, or under furniture. In fact, bed bugs prefer any fabric materials. They can travel pretty good distances, too. Expect them to be able to be found anywhere in the room.
Vinegar can kill bed bugs if it comes into direct contact with them and it may help repel them from areas where it is sprayed. However, vinegar cannot be your only defense against bedbugs. For one, vinegar only works if you can see the bugs, and often they will hide or even just be too small to see easily. Second, vinegar will not kill bedbug eggs, which means that vinegar alone will never stop an infestation. Vinegar also needs to be reapplied frequently to have any effectiveness.
Bed bug sprays usually act as an insecticide and repellent. The best kind of bed bug sprays should kill bed bugs on contact and need to be used repeatedly to help eliminate your bug problem. According to the Texas A&M University, bed bug sprays are best used in combination with other bug control methods like natural bed bug powders. This is because bed bugs don’t build up resistance to natural bug powders and products like diatomaceous earth which kills bed bugs as long as the powder is dry.5
Research has shown that some bed bugs are resistant to the pyrethroid pesticides that have been most commonly used in recent years by pest management professionals. Likewise, pyrethroids such as deltamethrin and permethrin have been among the active ingredients most commonly available in pesticides at retail stores. The ongoing use of pyrethroids has undoubtedly contributed to the resistance we see today in some bed bug populations.
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.

A lot of DIY bed bug recommendations involving household items stem from the desire to solve your bed bug problem without spending money or resorting to chemicals. Unfortunately, these recommendations don’t always pan out. Bloggers and forum posters usually aren’t professionals (this blog author being one of the exceptions). They haven’t done the same research, and they tend not to have much experience getting rid of bed bugs themselves.


Bed bugs don’t like being jostled, so they avoid hanging out in your hair or clothes, but they do like to stay close to their food source, namely you. The mattress is the first place you should inspect if you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of bed bugs fast. Bed bugs love to hang out in cracks and crevices. They can fit into any gap the thickness of a business card. One of their favorite spots is the piping along the edge of a mattress. Look for the bugs themselves, their dark droppings, your dried blood, eggs and gold-colored shells that have been left behind after molting.
Inspection requires knowledge, dedication and time. At minimum an inspection should involve a detailed examination of mattresses, box springs and bed frames, as well as likely hiding places for bed bugs within 20 feet of beds and other places where residents may sleep or rest, e.g., on couches). Clutter-free space will be needed to allow furnishings to be moved and manipulated for inspection. In general, rooms with more furnishings will take more time to inspect.
After repeated bedbug bites, a person’s skin may become sensitized to the saliva of the bedbug, and subsequent bites may cause an allergic response, resulting in itching and inflammation. It is important not to scratch the red, itchy spots, as they can become infected. If you think you may have been bitten by bedbugs, talk to your doctor. They may prescribe antibiotic or antiseptic creams to prevent infection and corticosteroids and antihistamines to treat allergic reactions.[25]
The journal Insects published a study on products containing essential oils for bed bug control. It was found that essential oils like cedar oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, and lemongrass oil all have insecticidal properties against bed bug populations. The study concluded that using these essential oils in a bug spray can be an effective way to reduce bed bug populations without putting humans at risk of exposure to chemicals.8
Checking beds for bed bugs was a common practice long ago, especially while traveling. Travelers today should consider doing the same, preferably before unpacking. This would entail examining the bed sheets and seams of the mattress and perhaps box spring for signs of bed bugs, especially along the head (pillow end) of the bed. Experts also remove and check behind headboards since this is a frequent hiding place for bed bugs in hotels. Headboards are heavy and cumbersome, however, and untrained persons should not attempt removal themselves.
Insect bites, including those from the bedbug, have been proposed as a factor contributing to the formation of a cutaneous reaction termed papular urticaria. Patients with papular urticaria have been shown to demonstrate immunoglobulin (Ig) G antibodies to bedbug (C lectularius) antigens. [10] Thus, IgG against C lectularius, Cimex pipiens, and Pulex irritans in patients with papular urticaria may contribute the pathogenesis of this condition.
Bed bugs are attracted to their hosts primarily by carbon dioxide, secondarily by warmth, and also by certain chemicals.[4][16][17][18] Cimex lectularius only feeds every five to seven days, which suggests that it does not spend the majority of its life searching for a host. When a bed bug is starved, it leaves its shelter and searches for a host. It returns to its shelter after successful feeding or if it encounters exposure to light.[19] Cimex lectularius aggregate under all life stages and mating conditions. Bed bugs may choose to aggregate because of predation, resistance to desiccation, and more opportunities to find a mate. Airborne pheromones are responsible for aggregations.[20]
Are there pesticides that kill bed bugs? Yup. There sure are. Pest control companies often use pesticides to exterminate these bugs as part of a heat treatment, and also by themselves. But chemicals have some drawbacks that pest professionals are aware of. These products can drive bed bugs into walls, like an improperly applied heat treatment, and they can be ineffectual if bed bugs are deep inside furniture. There are also safety considerations that need to be considered when applying any pesticide.
Great read and very helpful info. However, when you describe how to use essential oil sprays for bed bug treatment, it would be most helpful if you included the amount of water used to mix with the oils. Simply stating to use “a small spray bottle filled with water” isn’t a very good description. A quick search for “small spray bottle” will get results for a wide range from 2-ml to 16-ounce bottles, all classified as small. This makes for a rather potent mixture to an extremely weak mixture.
Other types of bed bug traps include those that do not rely on humans as bait, but instead use CO2and/or other attractants. CO2 is thus far the most powerful lure for bed bugs, as it is the primary cue they follow to locate hosts. Traps that issue CO2 for a period of time are more expensive than Climbup™ traps, but can effectively trap bed bugs when no host is present, such as in common areas, vacant homes or units, offices, schools, and theaters. Thus they can help confirm infestation and eradication.

Ticks are known transmitters of disease to humans and animals. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Q fever, tularemia, babesiosis, and Southern tick-associated rash illness. Infected ticks spread disease once they've bitten a host, allowing the pathogens in their saliva and mouth get into the host's skin and blood. Tick bites are typically painless, but the site of the bite may later itch, burn, turn red, and feel painful. Individuals allergic to tick bites may develop a rash, swelling, shortness of breath, numbness, or paralysis. Tick bite treatment involves cleaning and applying antibiotic cream.
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Alternatively, place a bed bug proof mattress cover over an infested mattress to trap the bed bugs inside and starve them to death. This will eliminate the need to purchase a new mattress/boxspring and make treatment and future inspections easier. (Starving the bugs CAN take up to 400 days, so make sure your cover stays sealed for at least that long.)[6]
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.
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.
To check for signs of a bedbug infestation, Dr. DerSarkissian says that you may notice rusty-colored spots on bed linen and mattresses. These spots could be either blood stains or bedbug excrement. You may also find shed skins around bed frames, mattresses, and other hiding places. Also, a musty smell is usually present where a large number of bed bugs are living.4

Because bed bugs have become so prevalent in the past few years, many fear they’ll be their next victim. They became so anxious and paranoid of the possible bed bug presence. If you eliminate the pests though, you could have a certain sense of peace knowing that you would not be bothered or bitten them. However, you wouldn’t be able to sleep well for long if you would not kill bed bugs right and continuously do the bed bug preventive steps.

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.
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.
Bedbugs are most often found in hotels, hostels, shelters, and apartment complexes where lots of people come and go. Because bedbugs hide in small crevices, they can hitch a ride into your home on luggage, pets, furniture, clothing, boxes, and other objects. Bedbugs are found worldwide, but are most common in developing countries. Once rare in North America, they may be on the rise due, in part, to increases in international travel.
I have had one bite in threes which cleared up in days and an occasional acne looking sore on my but and arm. I have noted in my car lots of little bites but no marks. My son does not appear to have bites. once he had one on his back that cleared quickly. I really needs some help here as I am getting obsessive with cleaning and making my child change and bath. I have checked my cat for flees and bought her a flee collar as I am thinking the stinging bites I get in the day may be from flees but no itch or real marks. Help please.
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.

Discourage bed bug infestation by keeping clutter picked up, washing bedding and upholstery routinely and not buying used furniture. When you’re traveling, lower your risk of bringing bed bugs back home by opening your suitcase on a hotel desk or luggage rack instead of on the bed; keeping your belongings in your suitcase, not unpacked in dresser drawers; sealing dirty laundry in plastic bags that can be taken straight to the laundry room at home; and inspecting your luggage for bed bug activity before you bring it into your bedroom.
The creatures don't have wings and they can't fly or jump. But their narrow body shape and ability to live for months without food make them ready stowaways and squatters. Bedbugs can easily hide in the seams and folds of luggage, bags and clothes. They also take shelter behind wallpaper and inside bedding, box springs and furniture. The ones that feed on people can crawl more than 100 feet (30 meters) in a night, but typically creep to within 8 feet (2.4 m) of the spot its human hosts sleep, according to the CDC. 

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 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 or heating bags by placing in direct sunlight is one of the most effective methods during the warm summer months.  
Discard affected items. In some cases, infested mattresses and box springs will need to be discarded. Since bed bugs can disperse throughout a building, it also may be necessary to inspect adjoining rooms and apartments. Pay it forward: chop up and/or damage the items you discard so nobody will be tempted to take them home and spread the problem further.[17]
Bed bugs are challenging to eradicate. Since they can hide in so many places, inspections must be thorough and elimination is not always a certainty. Whenever resources allow, it’s prudent to enlist the services of a professional. Experienced pest controllers know where to look for bed bugs, and have an assortment of tools at their disposal. Nonetheless, owners and occupants can assist the professional in several important ways. Affording access to all living areas is crucial, and excess clutter will need to be removed. Belongings strewn about rooms offer many places for the bugs to hide, and impede inspection and treatment. Since bed bugs can disperse throughout a building, it often will be necessary to inspect adjoining rooms and apartments as well. 
Discard affected items. In some cases, infested mattresses and box springs will need to be discarded. Since bed bugs can disperse throughout a building, it also may be necessary to inspect adjoining rooms and apartments. Pay it forward: chop up and/or damage the items you discard so nobody will be tempted to take them home and spread the problem further.[17]
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.

Most bed bug bites go away by themselves and don't need treatment. Keep the skin clean and try not to scratch. Over-the-counter, anti-itching cream for insect bites can help relieve the itching. If the bites are very itchy, your health care provider may prescribe cream or antihistamines to relieve the itchiness. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed for any secondary skin infection from excessive scratching.

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.
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