Move your bed away from the wall and put on a bedbug-proof cover, which may be called an encasement or liner. You’ll want to do the same for your box spring if you have one. Unless you have a severe infestation, you may not need to get rid of your mattress. Your exterminator can help you decide if that’s a good option. Either way, it’s important to wait until after treatment is complete to bring a new mattress into your home to avoid it becoming infested, too. (4, 5)
Bedbug bites, like all insect bites, can become infected through excessive scratching, as underneath the fingernails lies a host of bacterial pathogens. If your bites become infected, they will appear red and swollen, feel tender and may drain pus. Typically there will not be a fever unless a substantial area of the skin is involved. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must seek medical attention as it points to a secondary infection. Your physician may prescribe antibiotic therapy or, if the infection is mild, an antiseptic medication that you can buy without a prescription.
The size of bed bug bites varies with a number of different factors. Bed bugs inject an anti-coagulant along with their saliva when they pierce the skin to take a blood meal. This anti-coagulant is mostly responsible for how a person reacts to the bite and determines the size of the bug’s bite. Since people will have various sensitivities to the bed bug’s bite, the size of the bite will vary, as well. Another factor that influences the size of a bed bug reaction is the number of times a person is bitten. Bite reactions of people bitten many times are also variable, and their response may be either more or less intense as the number of bites increases.
Start in the corners and along edges of an open wall. With the card, see if you can dig things out of the cracks and crevices. Work your way along the cracks and crevices. For example, if you are checking a baseboard along the floor, see if you can get the card between the baseboard and the floor, as well as the top of the baseboard and the wall. If you have a bare tile or wood floor, consider using a damp cloth or map to wipe the floor. Don’t use too much water as floors can be slippery. Look for anything moving after you wipe the floor. If you have carpeted areas vacuum the clean area. See Vacuuming Items to Capture Bed Bugs. Don’t forget to check pictures and other items on this wall.
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.
Never treat any bedding, mattress, etc. with anything other than the treatments listed: borax, enzyme cleaner, Comet, sodium borate. Other pesticides and exterminating fluids can be harmful to humans. Even so, bedding and mattresses treated with chemicals such as borax or Comet should be left outside to dry naturally in the sun, then wrapped in plastic before next use, so as not to irritate the skin.
One method of applying freezing temperatures to bed bugs entails the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) applied as “snow” with a portable application device, i.e., Cryonite™. When applied directly onto bed bugs, the frozen CO2 will kill them. However, this method is similar to using contact pesticides, that is, there is no residual activity. It can kill only as many bed bugs as the applicator can find. The advantage of using this type of freezing device is that bed bugs may be killed quickly and without the use of more hazardous pesticides. Again, this is not a stand-alone treatment, and it is recommended that it be used as a supplemental to the application of residual pesticides and/or other means of control.
You must repeat the entirety of Step 2 (except for the mattress and box spring treatment if you are encasing) every 7-10 days until no one in the home has bed bug bites and there is no further evidence (live bugs, cast skins, or fresh blood spots) found. This is absolutely crucial! Depending on the severity of the infestation it can take a minimum of 7-8 weeks, including repeat treatments. Failure to be thorough can prolong the process of getting rid of bed bugs and can make it harder to eliminate them.
It’s perfectly natural to want to eliminate a bed bug infestation without spending a ton of money on professional-grade products or a treatment by a pest control operator. When people discover that they have bed bugs, they often turn to do-it-yourself recommendations from discussions on the Internet. These suggestions might include household items, some of which are recommended more often than others. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular items and how they might be used against bed bugs:
Mechanical approaches, such as vacuuming up the insects and heat-treating or wrapping mattresses, are effective. An hour at a temperature of 45 °C (113 °F) or over, or two hours at less than −17 °C (1 °F) kills them. This may include a domestic clothes drier for fabric or a commercial steamer. Bed bugs and their eggs will die on contact when exposed to surface temperatures above 180 °F (82 °C) and a steamer can reach well above 230 °F (110 °C). A study found 100% mortality rates for bed bugs exposed to temperatures greater than 50 °C (122 °F) for more than 2 minutes. The study recommended maintaining temperatures of above 48 °C (118 °F) for more than 20 min to effectively kill all life stages of bed bugs, and because in practice treatment times of 6 to 8 hours are used to account for cracks and indoor clutter. This method is expensive and has caused fires. Starving them is not effective as they can survive without eating for 100 to 300 days, depending on temperature. One expert recommends not trying to get rid of bed bugs exclusively on one's own.
^ Kambu, Kabangu; Di Phanzu, N.; Coune, Claude; Wauters, Jean-Noël; Angenot, Luc (1982). "Contribution à l'étude des propriétés insecticides et chimiques d'Eucalyptus saligna du Zaïre (Contribution to the study of insecticide and chemical properties of Eucalyptus saligna from Zaire ( Congo))". Plantes Médicinales et Phytothérapie. 16 (1): 34–38. hdl:2268/14438.
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You can check bedding, mattresses, furniture, and crevices in walls for bed bug infestation. Do your inspection just before dawn, which is when they are the most active. The bugs will be larger and slower after feeding. Bedbugs will quickly flee from light, so live bugs are best located in the folds and seams of mattresses and sheets. Bedbugs are about the size of an apple seed, about 1/4 inch long. They change from light brown to purple-red after feeding. You may also see their eggs, which are about the same size as the adults. The eggs will often be in seams, cracks, or crevices.
Bedbugs can live in any area of the home and use tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture as hiding places. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses or mattress covers, box springs, and bed frames. They do not infest the sleeping surfaces of beds as commonly as cracks and crevices associated with the bed frame and mattress. Other sites where bedbugs often reside include curtains, edges of carpet, corners inside dressers and other furniture, cracks in wallpaper (particularly near the bed), and inside the spaces of wicker furniture.
This includes identifying the bed bugs, assessing the structure and considering your treatment strategy. Bed bugs generally hide in cracks and crevices during normal daylight hours. They enter such areas easily because of their extremely flattened bodies. Typical hiding places are in the folds and tufts of mattresses, coils of springs, cracks and hollow posts of bedsteads, and upholstery of chairs and sofas. However, they are not restricted to these places. In heavy infestations, bed bugs are frequently found in places such as behind loose wallpaper, behind pictures on the wall, under door and window casings, behind baseboards, and even in light fixtures or medicine cabinets. When inspecting for bed bugs, you must look in any place that offers darkness, isolation, and protection.
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.
Some bed bug products cannot be used where others can. Also, bed bugs can build up a resistance to certain pyrethroids, making them difficult to treat. This is why using a variety of products to kill and control bed bugs will produce the best results. We recommend using one of our bed bug kits. These kits include our most powerful and effective products for a variety of applications to save you time and money.
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.  Thus, IgG against C lectularius, Cimex pipiens, and Pulex irritans in patients with papular urticaria may contribute the pathogenesis of this condition.
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.
Adult bed bugs are brown, 1/4 to 3/8 inch long, and have a flat, oval-shaped body. Young bed bugs (called nymphs) are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs hide in a variety of places around the bed. They might also hide in the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, and in the folds of curtains. They come out to feed about every five to ten days. But they can survive over a year without feeding.
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.
Although bedbugs are generally nocturnal, they're like humans—if they're hungry, they'll get up and get something to eat. "If you go away to visit a friend for a week and you come back and sit down on the couch, even though it's daytime the bedbugs will come looking for you," Schal says. Keeping a light on, then, unfortunately does not keep these tiny vampires away.
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