Bedbug bites can lead to anxiety, sleeplessness and even secondary infections, but there have been no reported cases of bedbugs transmitting disease to humans. They do, however, harbor human pathogens: At least 27 viruses, bacteria, protozoa and more have been found in bedbugs, although these microbes do not reproduce or multiply within the insects. Canadian researchers announced (pdf) in the June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases that bedbugs isolated from three individuals in a Vancouver hospital carried methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, aka MRSA. Still, there have been no reported cases that the bugs actually transmit human disease.
Bedbugs are highly resistant to many sprays. There are, however, certain sprays that may be able to kill bedbugs. Check with a professional exterminator about advice using sprays to try and remove the bedbugs yourself. Dead bedbugs usually won't move, may be arched back, or red in color. Ultimately, you may be better off replacing your mattress and bedding and fumigating your home to kill the bedbugs.
Successful control of bed bugs often depends on thorough inspection of the premises believed to be infested. Finding no insects identified as bed bugs does not mean that bed bugs are not present. It can mean that the inspection was inadequate, or that bed bugs are present but so few in number that the inspector missed them. It is not uncommon for even the most diligent and experienced inspectors to fail to find all of the bed bugs present in a structure.
Bed bugs have been pestering humanity for thousands of years, but in the 1950s they finally met their match: the pesticide DDT. Then DDT was banned, but for most of the 40 years since, bed bugs have not been a major problem. Now, however, these blood-sucking vermin are back with a vengeance. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, unlike mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs don’t spread disease, and there are practical steps you can take to prevent an infestation. And if you do get bed bugs, you can get rid of them yourself. We’ll show you what to look for, how do you get rid of bed bugs if you find them, and how to keep them out!
As mentioned earlier, applying insect repellent at bedtime will probably not deter bed bugs from biting. When working in severely infested dwellings, there may be some benefit to spraying tops and bottoms of shoes with DEET-based repellents. Those working in bed bug-infested environments may also want to hot wash or run clothing, etc. through a dryer upon returning home or to the office.
Dust the wall voids. Bed bugs can often travel from room to room, especially in apartments, hotels and condo's. They travel along electrical wiring and plumbing lines. Specifically treat wall voids with a hand duster either by removing wall switch plate covers and/or drill access holes discreetly between studs. Cimexa Dust or Delta Dust are excellent choices for void applications. It kills populations in walls and voids and creates a repellent, hostile environment which reduces the likelihood of bed bugs traveling through voids to other areas. Use a small hand type duster to "puff" insecticidal dusts into these areas. A light coating is all that is needed. To much dust and the bed bugs will just crawl around it.
Unfortunately standard insect monitors (“sticky traps”) are not very good at trapping bed bugs. To date, the best bed bug trap as measured by cost, ease of use, and effectiveness, is the “Climbup™ Insect Interceptor.” This trap resembles a plastic dish and is placed beneath the legs of beds and other furniture on which persons might relax and serve as “bait” for bed bugs. Bed bugs that climb into the dish are unable to climb its slippery inner surface (which is coated with talcum powder). Studies have shown that even inspections performed by trained and experienced pest management professionals often miss some bed bugs, especially in heavier infestations, and that bed leg traps can catch many of those missed bed bugs.
Monitor your home. Bed bugs like to hide in cracks and crevices like walls, luggage, boxes, and clothing, but since they feed on humans while they sleep, they’re most commonly found in beds. If you suspect an infestation, or if you live in an apartment building with a bed bug problem, regularly inspect your bed sheets, mattress (including underneath), and box-spring seams for bugs. They’re flat and oval-shaped, with red or brown bodies, roughly the size of an apple seed. Watch for adults, nymphs, and eggs, as well as exoskeletons (casings that the bugs leave behind when they molt) and dark, rust-colored spots (feces).
To know it's bedbugs, it's important to find the bugs themselves. Look at bedsheets and mattresses for little spots of blood, rusty-looking stains (crushed bugs), or black dots (bugs' poop). You might see live bugs around the seams or tags of mattresses and box springs, or in cracks of bed frames and other furniture. They can even hide in books, carpet edges, and electrical outlets.
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.
Some less proven heat weapons have been suggested online, such as clothes irons. Clothes irons might reach the temperature needed to kill bed bugs, but the heat won’t penetrate deep into soft materials to where bed bugs might be hiding. You also can’t iron areas besides clothes and sheets, like cracks and crevices in walls, floors, and furniture. The metal surface and high surface heat would damage many of the materials it wasn’t designed to be used on.
Bed bugs were mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 BC, and were later mentioned by Aristotle. Pliny's Natural History, first published circa AD 77 in Rome, claimed bed bugs had medicinal value in treating ailments such as snake bites and ear infections. (Belief in the medicinal use of bed bugs persisted until at least the 18th century, when Guettard recommended their use in the treatment of hysteria.)