Before bed bug removal starts, declutter areas to reduce the number of places for the pests to hide. Vacuum, especially around and behind baseboards and in fabric furniture.
Wash fabrics such as curtains, bedding, pet beds, and stuffed animals in hot water with high heat. Objects that cannot be washed should be dry-cleaned and sealed in plastic bags.
Bed bugs are reddish-brown blood-sucking insects about the size of an apple seed that are small enough to hide in crevices and seams of mattresses, box springs, beds, headboards, and furniture. The pests come out at night to feed on humans. They don’t spread disease but can cause allergic reactions and rashes in some people. Bites from the bugs look similar to those of mosquitos, but they may be more widespread and itchier.
The bites appear at night and usually on exposed areas of the body, like the hands, face, neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. They are usually grouped in a pattern and can be raised, inflamed, itchy, or blistered. Bites from the bugs pierce the skin and draw blood with long beaks. This takes 3 minutes to 10 minutes until the bug is full, and then it crawls away. Itching and irritation from the bites may last for weeks, even after the bugs are gone.
People with a high sensitivity to bites can experience a fever, difficulty breathing, and hives from the allergic reaction. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.
In addition to the bites, other signs of a bed bug infestation include finding tiny reddish-brown or rusty specks on bedding and pillowcases and dark, rusty spots on or around headboards and bed frames. You might also notice a musty smell in the room or see dark stains on your mattress or box spring.
Vacuuming the floor regularly and washing linens in hot water will help keep the pests away from your home. You should also vacuum all of the cracks and crevices in your house, including baseboards and behind loose wallpaper or paneling. If you buy or acquire used furniture, check it thoroughly, particularly the seams, joints, tufts, and all drawers and compartments. Also, get rid of clutter that could provide hiding places for the pests and make it harder for you to spot them. You should also avoid using furniture that can’t be washed and only purchase items made from non-allergenic materials.
Symptoms of bed bug infestation include welts and itchy spots on the skin, dark or reddish stains on sheets, and tiny fecal droppings. If a person sees any of these signs, they should immediately call a pest control company. Bed bugs are difficult to eradicate once they have taken hold, but several treatment options are available.
The first step is to declutter and get rid of things that could harbor the insects, such as stuffed animals, toys, clothes, books, papers, etc. Wash these items in hot water and dry them on high heat. In addition, repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to eliminate hiding places.
It is also important to vacuum the infested area, especially along baseboards. Use a special wand to get into the cracks and crevices. This will remove many of the eggs that are in these hard-to-reach spaces.
Then, it’s time to treat the room itself. Before doing so, separate items that are to be treated from those that will not. This will prevent any untreated items from bringing in bed bugs and eggs. Also, be sure to wrap up and clearly label anything that cannot be treated so it doesn’t end up in another infested home.
Non-chemical treatments include high heat or extreme cold, killing the bugs and their eggs. In addition, encase the mattress and box spring with a zippered bedbug-proof cover to keep bugs from entering or escaping. This is the best way to prevent future infestations.
There are also several insecticides that can be used to kill the bugs and their eggs. These include silicates, such as diatomaceous earth (DED); pyrethrins; carbamates; and neonicotinoids. Each of these works differently and has advantages or disadvantages. The most effective is probably the neonicotinoids, which are not known to cause resistance.
Once nearly eradicated, bed bugs have made a comeback. They are a problem in hotels, apartment buildings, and homes. They hitchhike in clothing and luggage and can be brought in by guests or staff members. Preventing an infestation is possible, but it takes diligence and knowledge of the signs. Vacuum, wash sheets and clothes frequently in hot water, and seal cracks around baseboards, light sockets, and furniture with caulk to minimize their hiding places.
A few preventive steps can help to keep bed bugs from becoming a problem in your home. Start by washing your sheets and pillowcases in hot water and drying them on a high-heat setting to kill the bugs. Use mattress and box spring covers, such as those made for dust mite control, which can trap the bugs and block their entry from outside. Also, seal cracks and crevices where pipes or wires enter the house.
Inspect your room regularly, preferably just after dark. When performing an inspection, look at and under the bed area as well as in dressers, nightstands, wardrobes, and other furniture. Be sure to check the seams and corners of the mattress and box spring, as well as the trim and screw holes in the headboard and footboard. Also, inspect behind wallpaper and paneling, around windows and outlets, and under carpets and furniture.
If you find signs of an infestation, do not panic; reach for the insecticide spray immediately. It is important to be thorough, as many bed bug eggs are immature and may not be spotted by the naked eye. Vacuuming is one treatment option, but remember that vacuums do not remove bed bugs or their eggs from deeply harbored areas.
There are a number of natural and organic products that are available to treat and prevent bed bugs. However, these should be used in conjunction with other treatments and only be applied by someone comfortable working with chemicals. If you choose to try these products, read the label carefully to determine whether they effectively kill the bugs and their eggs.
Another non-chemical prevention method is temperature. Both extreme heat (115 degrees Fahrenheit) and cold temperatures will kill the bugs. Gather affected clothing and linens, wash them in very hot water, and then put them into the dryer for 30 minutes on a high heat setting. In addition, you can make interceptor traps by placing them under the legs of infested furniture. Sprinkle the traps with talcum powder to keep the bugs from escaping. Inspect and clean these traps at least once a week and reapply the talcum powder, if necessary.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are hard to get rid of, but decluttering, cleaning, and chemical treatment will help. You may need to call a professional pest control company if you have a severe infestation.
Start by separating treated rooms from infested areas. Move all furniture to one side of the room to reduce the number of places for bed bugs to hide. Wash all sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and mattress covers in hot water with high heat (115 degrees Fahrenheit). Dry them in the dryer for at least 30 minutes.
Inspect the mattress and box spring along the frame and headboard. Look for dark feces, rust-colored or gold-colored molted skins, and tiny blood spots. Also, look for egg sacs, which resemble tiny translucent apples. Identifying these signs will help you know where to look for bed bug aggregations, which are groups of bed bugs and nymphs that gather together after feeding. Look for these aggregations in cracks and crevices, along the piping of mattresses and bed frames, behind baseboards, near power outlets, and inside upholstered furniture like sofas and accent chairs.
If you find a bed bug, you should spray it with an insecticide labeled for bed bugs. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label and use the product only in the infested area, not in adjacent rooms or the rest of the house. After treating the bed, encase the mattress and box spring in a bug-proof zippered bag. Keep these bags on for at least a year because fully-fed bed bugs can survive 10 months without a meal.
Once you’ve sprayed and vacuumed, consider using a nonchemical treatment. Heat can kill bed bugs and their eggs, so wrap mattresses and box springs in heavy-duty plastic encasements that seal tightly. Place a bed bug interceptor under each bed leg to make any surviving bed bugs easier to spot. Repeat the inspection and treatment process every week for at least a year. This will make the bed bugs so stressed they die and leave your home for good. If you live in an apartment or condo building, be sure to notify your landlord or property manager about the problem. Bed bugs easily transfer from apartment to apartment, and many tenants don’t realize they have a problem.