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.
That means despite your preventive steps, bed bugs could still get into your house. But of course, that doesn’t translate that taking preventive measures is futile. In contrast, it is a great help in reducing the chance of bed bugs to infest. Nonetheless, it couldn’t completely protect you and your home from the said pests. Hence, you must always be ready to kill bed bugs whenever they get past your defenses.
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.
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.
Occasionally, you might find other bugs which resemble the common bed bug including the bat bug and swallow bug. Both of these species superficially resemble the common bed bug. However, their primary hosts are bats and birds and there are small but diagnostic morphological differences. Problem infestations with these bugs may occur in attics or unused chimneys. Typically, when one host is gone these bugs seek an alternative host blood meal. This is when humans are bitten. It is important to differentiate between the common bed bug and other bugs that feed on bats and birds because control efforts can be targeted at the wrong sites and infestations can continue.
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
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.
Whether you use traps or not, beds and bedclothes should not touch walls or furniture, and bed clothes should not contact the floor. In this way the bed is isolated, forcing bed bugs that attempt to access a sleeping person, to enter the traps, be captured and expire. Wrapping double-sided carpet tape or duct tape around bed legs also can trap bed bugs attempting to enter beds.
Heat treatments of this type are advantageous because they present no pesticide hazard. However, they also provide no residual activity. That is, they do not prevent a structure from being re-infested after it is heat treated. For this reason, residual pesticides are often applied in conjunction with heat treatments. Such applications may not prevent re-infestation, but help control any bed bugs not killed by the heat. A certain percentage of heat treatments, perhaps 10 to 20 percent, fail to kill all the bed bugs present. Often this is due to residents failing to adequately prepare the premises for heating.
Pull carpet edges back from walls. Being careful, take a pair pliers and gently grab the corners of the carpet and pull the carpet back about 1 foot. Do this one wall at time during treatment. After treatment as described below, replace the carpet and tuck under the baseboards. If you do this 1 wall at time you will not usually need to re-stretch the carpet.
Considering how time-consuming and costly it can be to eradicate bed bugs, it’s prudent to take precautions and avoid infestations in the first place. Householders should be vigilant when acquiring used furnishings, especially beds and couches. Discarded items should be avoided, and secondhand articles should be examined closely before being brought into the home. Look carefully in the folds and seams of furniture for signs of bed bugs (see the previous section entitled "Description and Habits" for more details). There is no reason to stop shopping in consignment stores, yard sales, etc., but it would be prudent to run clothing and fabric items through the washer or dryer before storing them in the home. The risk of acquiring bed bugs from items purchased in antique stores would generally be insignificant.
While most of the bed bugs were wiped out by the chemicals, three groups continued to thrive after being treated with chlorfenapyr, and five groups were still kicking after being treated with bifenthrin. That means that while some bed bugs will respond to these chemicals, others won't—and it's likely that more and more bugs will become resistant over time.
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.
Now that you’ve killed the bed bugs hiding in your bed, it’s time to put up defensive measures to keep them out. Remember, bed bugs can be hiding in all sorts of cracks and crevices throughout your bedroom – in furniture, along baseboards, and inside of the walls – so you need a way to keep them out of your freshly treated bed. By cutting off the infestation’s food supply (you), you halt their breeding and reproductive cycle, making the treatment a whole lot easier.
Spray all baseboards, loose plaster, behind bed frames and headboards, beneath beds and furniture, and bedsprings and bed frames. Do not apply to furniture surfaces or mattresses where people will be laying or sitting unless using a product labeled for that type of treatment. Infested bedding should not be treated, but should be removed, placed in sealed plastic bags, and taken for laundering and drying at high temperature.
Treat other areas in your home. This is perhaps the most challenging part of do-it-yourself bed bug control. If you catch an infestation early you may not need to do anything more than treat and isolate your bed as described above. But if an infestation has spread to other parts of the home, bed isolation may not be good enough. Here is where professional help may be needed, especially if you’re not up to moving furniture. Still determined? Here are some tips that may improve your chances of success:
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).
I work @ a hotel, and just found out that one of the rooms has a bed bug problem. I work at the front desk, and never go into the rooms. But i work third shift, and sleep in the chair in the lobby. Just wanted to know what my chances were of catching them? I will be going home and looking just to make sure. But since i work here, and its un-avoidable, what are some things i can do to protect myself from taking them home?
Bedbugs often invade new areas after being carried there by clothing, luggage, furniture or bedding. The creatures don't discriminate between dirty and clean homes, which means even luxury hotels can be susceptible to bedbugs. The most at-risk places tend to be crowded lodgings with high occupant turnover, such as dormitories, apartment complexes, hotels and homeless shelters.
Bedbugs are diagnosed in two ways. The first is the appearance of bites on your body. However, these are very similar to other insect bites and can appear days after being bitten. Finding the signs of bedbugs in your sleeping environment is more conclusive evidence that there is an infestation. You will usually do your own self-diagnosis, but you might see a doctor due to unexplained bite marks or a skin infection after scratching. Learn how to determine whether you have been bitten by bedbugs.
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.
Bedbugs are found all over the world. Bed bug infestations were common in the U.S. before World War II and became rare after widespread use of the insecticide DDT for pest control began in the 1940s and 1950s. They remained prevalent in other areas of the world and, in recent years, have been increasingly observed again in the U.S. Increases in immigration and travel from the developing world as well as restrictions on the use of stronger pesticides may be factors that have led to the relatively recent increase in bedbug infestations. While bedbug infestations are often reported to be found when sanitation conditions are poor or when birds or mammals (particularly bats) are nesting on or near a home, bedbugs can also live and thrive in clean environments. Crowded living quarters also facilitate the spread of bedbug infestations.
Bed bugs are highly vulnerable to heat; exposing them to a certain amount of direct heat will kill them instantly, while lower temperatures can kill them in a matter of minutes. This is why many forms of heat treatments are recommended. Some methods, such as steamers and portable heaters, have been proven effective through professional use and are quickly becoming standard issue in holistic treatment arsenals.
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My husband works for a garbage company (this is how we think the invasion started) and at the moment they are localized to our bedroom and our bathroom. However, the first place we found them was in our headboard & footboard. It is wood with an intricate carving. We checked the mattress and box spring and didn’t find a thing. But they LOVE that wood.
A flashlight: Bed bugs hide in dark areas and in cracks and crevices. Bed bugs are a dark red to brown color, but they can be light brown if they haven’t been feeding. This makes it very hard to see them. When hunting for bed bugs hold your flashlight parallel to the surface being inspected, this will cause eggs and small bed bugs to cast a shadow, making them easier to find.
This question is answered by the condition of the mattress and the size of infestation. If there are holes or tears in the gauze fabric or fabric of the mattress, bed bugs and eggs may be inside, as well as outside. There are restrictions on how beds can be treated with insecticides. We carry both Mattress Safe Bed Bug Encasements and ActiveGuard Mattress Liners.
Preparing for bed bug treatment is tedious yet important. Very comprehensive preparation is necessary when infestations are heavy and the bugs are widely dispersed. More limited prep may be adequate for light infestations since at these levels the bed bugs typically are more confined to sleeping areas (beds, sofas, and recliners). Pest control firms have their own policies, however, regarding preparation requirements which may also depend on the manner of treatment.
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.
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