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.
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.
First up is the most commonly recommended tool by far: rubbing alcohol diluted in water. This is suggested because alcohol can kill bed bugs on contact, and evaporates shortly after, so it’s considered safe for use pretty much anywhere in a home. A recurring theme in these recommendations are household items that are considered to be safer for people than mainstream chemicals.
It often seems that bed bugs arise from nowhere. The bugs are efficient hitchhikers and are usually transported into dwellings on luggage, clothing, beds, furniture, and other items. This is a particular risk for hotels and apartments, where turnover of occupants is constant. Bed bugs are small and agile, escaping detection after crawling into suitcases, backpacks and belongings. Acquiring secondhand beds, couches and furniture is another way that the bugs are transported into buildings. Bed bugs also can be carried in on one’s clothing, shoes or wheelchair. Once bed bugs are introduced, they can crawl from room to room or floor to floor. They can also be transported throughout buildings on people and their belongings.
Waking up with bites might be the first indicator that you have a bed bug problem. Their bites are often arranged in lines or clusters on the face, neck, arms or hands. Where there are bed bugs in large numbers, you might smell a sweet, musty odor (from the bugs’ scent glands) or see rust-colored spots on your bedding or mattress caused by bed bug blood or excrement. If you look closely, you might see adult bed bugs themselves, usually in mattress folds or seams or on the wall behind the headboard. Bed bugs prefer to stay close to their food source and are typically found hiding out within 1 to 5 ft of infested beds or furniture.
Human infestation with bedbugs, lice, and mites are common causes of dermatologic symptoms. Although these organisms thrive in conditions of overcrowding and decreased sanitation, Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds may be at risk for infestation. Clinicians must maintain high suspicion in the appropriate set of clinical circumstances to identify and treat infestations, as they can cause substantial dermatologic and psychological discomfort for patients. Images courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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.
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
Susceptibility to arthropod bites depends on many external factors, such as occupation, conditions of employment, cohabitation with a variety of domestic animals, housing, climate, and clothing. An arthropod is usually attracted to its host by body heat, carbon dioxide in exhaled air, vibration, human sweat, and/or odor. The Cimex (bedbug) genus attacks both mammals and birds. C hemipterus (the tropical bedbug) bites mostly humans and is found in warm climates, whereas C lectularius (the common bedbug) also attacks bats and domestic animals, such as chickens.
Especially in situations where a large amount of time would be required for a pest management professional to thoroughly inspect a structure, bed bug detecting dogs are sometimes employed. Well-trained and handled dogs can also be of value in structures or units with lesser infestations, i.e., where human inspectors might easily overlook bed bugs because only a few bugs are present.
Bed bugs can survive more than a year without feeding, but most adults and nymphs probably do not live more than six months without a meal. This ability lets them wait for transient hosts that periodically inhabit camp cabins, apartments and temporary housing. It also helps them survive transportation. Today, bed bugs “hitchhike” more easily than ever, via public transportation and luggage, and in secondhand furniture, mattresses, bedding and clothing. In multi-unit buildings, bed bug infestations that are not adequately attended to often spread between units with or without human help, making eradication much more difficult and costly.
Bed bugs multiply quickly, and in just six months, a few can turn into a full-on infestation of 13,000 or more. Detection is critical to break the bed bug life cycle before they become a bigger problem. Orkin Bed Bug Detection Service gets to the root of the problem with targeted inspections of common bed bug hiding places in your home and ongoing monitoring to ensure the pests never return.
Itchy swollen bites may be the first sign of a bed bug problem. However, these itchy bites can take as long as 14 days to develop in some people, so it's important to look for other clues if you are concerned about an infestation. Bed bugs typically infest mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and couches. You may be able to find them hiding within the cracks and crevices of beds, furniture, floors, and walls. Bed bugs often leave evidence of small dark stains (fecal droppings) and rusty red spots (bloodstains) on bedding sheets, mattresses, and other areas they hide in or travel along. Heavy bed bug infestations can cause a sweet, musty smell.
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.
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.
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.
While vacuuming may seem like an obvious remedy, it is fairly unconventional in the sense that it does not usually prove effective against the majority of the bed bugs in a contained area. Due to its low level of effectiveness, it is generally not recommended as a sole treatment. Vacuuming can, however, increase the effectiveness of other treatments.
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.
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.
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.
Dismantling bed frames in infested areas typically exposes bed bug hiding sites. Having access to these areas during cleaning is important. Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric and look for bed bugs. If the fabric is torn (possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Encasements by Mattress Safe. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring when using these encasements. Keep them on for a year.
Repeat this same search with the box-spring. The only difference is that box-springs usually have plastic edge guards and a loose fabric called “ticking” stapled on the underside. These seams and edges on the underside of the box-spring are very common hiding places for bed bugs. To ensure there are no bed bugs inside the box-spring, you should remove the ticking and check the wood, cracks and crevices, and screw holes within. After inspection, the ticking can be re-stapled in place.
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.)