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:
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.
The life cycle stages of a bed bug are egg, nymph, and adult. The reason they are called bed bugs is that they readily infest mattresses, bed frames and box springs. Eggs are laid along the edges of or around buttons on the mattresses. Eggs can also be glued to rough surfaces. Bed bug females lay about 200 eggs, usually at the rate of three or four a day. Eggs are placed in cracks, crevices and other isolated and protected shelters. Females lay eggs after a blood meal. Eggs will hatch in one or two weeks into Nymphs. Newly hatched bugs (Nymphs) begin feeding immediately. At room temperature, and with an available food supply, the nymphal period will last 14 to 30 days. They shed their skin (Instar) five times before becoming adults. Bed bugs will mate soon after becoming mature, so the time from egg hatch to egg laying is 4 to 9 weeks, under favorable conditions. The average life span of the bed bug is 6-12 months and they feed every 10 days or so during this time. Bed bugs can survive many months without a blood meal and their reproduction is high.
Thanks to pesticide resistance, those cans of spray at your local hardware store simply will not do, Schal says, adding: "Relying strictly on chemicals is generally not a good solution." The most effective solutions are fumigation and heat treatments, but these can cost a cool $2,000 to $3,000 apiece for a single-family home. Scientists are diligently pursuing other strategies, including freezing and bait similar to that used for cockroaches. In the October 2010 issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology Schal and colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a technique that employs inexpensive infrared and vibration sensors to track bedbug movement, which could be applied to the development of automated traps that detect the pests.
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:
Do encasements work? Yes. When you put an encasement on your mattress or box spring you can lock bed bugs in and prevent new bed bugs from getting in. No chemical control is needed, so you don't have to worry about being poisoned by powders or some other toxin in your bed. The problem is that encasements by themselves, or when used with traps, are simply a bandaid. They are not likely to contain or stop a bed bug infestation. As mentioned above, this method can lead to the growth of an infestation and, ultimately, a prolonged and frustrating infestation.
Pest management professionals are increasingly looking to heat to control bed bugs. Whole houses and, in some cases, multi-unit structures are heated to temperatures well above those lethal to bed bugs, to help assure uniform heating of household contents. Rooms must be heated for several hours during which bulky contents are turned to help ensure heat penetration deep enough to kill bed bugs hiding inside.
They also have the ability to travel beyond the bedroom, so all adjoining rooms should be checked for infestation. Any area that offers a layer of protection, e.g. dark, isolated areas, should be checked. They do leave excrement droppings behind, so even if they are not seen, you can often see where they have been. The best method to find them is to check only at night, and with a red light.
Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.
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.
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.
If a trap method does not effectively stop bed bugs, then I wouldn’t consider it. Instead, I would recommend a set of ClimbUp Insect Interceptors. These are pitfall traps that go under the legs of your bed and trap bed bugs in a talcum-lined pitfall that is too slick and smooth for them to climb out of. ClimbUp Interceptors have been proven over the years to be effective, and are an essential part of our recommended treatment process.
According to a study carried out on Ortho Home Defense, it contains a chemical bifenthrin that is considered relatively safe and kills off bugs that pyrethroid-based insecticides can’t. It is also effective against bed bug eggs and larvae.12 It should be sprayed as a spot treatment in any crevice where bed bugs can reside. You can get more information about Ortho Home Defense bed bug spray and purchase it in Amazon here.
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.)