How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
February 20, 2018
The internet is full of supposed solutions to get rid of bed bugs. Many of them promise instant results. But the truth is that there is no simple, DIY way to get rid of bed bugs. Even the professionals use a variety of approaches, often in combination, to get rid of a bed bug infestation. So your best bet is to call in a professional to get rid of this stubborn bug.
No Simple Solution
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a neat and easy way to get rid of bed bugs? These insects are insidious and can infect even a perfectly clean bedroom. And they are hard to spot, which means you could have them and be spreading them for weeks or months before you realize they’re there. All of this makes bed bugs pretty scary, but getting rid of them is not a simple task.
The internet is full of supposed solutions. Some are different types of homemade insect repellents, like tea tree oil solutions or other concoctions. Other sources say you can get rid of them by vacuuming or other types of cleaning. On the more dangerous end, there are some sites that suggest using harsh chemicals that are potentially dangerous to humans. That’s just a bad idea.
Do I have Bed Bugs?
The first thing to ask yourself if you think you have bed bugs is how you know you have bed bugs. There are lots of bugs and human symptoms that are very similar to bed bugs, so proper identification can be difficult. Add to that the nervousness that most people feel about bed bugs and you can start seeing bed bugs everywhere, even where they aren’t.
Identifying Bed Bug Bites
One telltale sign of bed bugs is the bites they leave. It is completely possible for one member of the household no have bites while the other seems to have none. In fact, both people are getting bit (if you actually have bed bugs), but some people’s bodies react to the bites more than others. And about one out of three people don’t react to bed bug bites at all. Even if you are reacting to bed bug bites, they’re probably not your first bites. Reactions tend not to develop with the first bites. Instead, sensitivity builds with later bites.
But like most signs of bed bugs, bed bug bites can look like a lot of other things that are not bed bugs. The small, somewhat itchy red bumps that are caused by bed bugs can also be caused by a virus, allergy, or skin irritant such as a new laundry detergent. While potential bed bug bites might lead you to look for other signs of bed bugs, the bites alone are not enough to diagnose an infestation.
Identifying Bed Bugs
You would think that seeing the bugs themselves would be surefire way of identifying an infestation, once and for all. Unfortunately, even visual confirmation is not always conclusive. But here what to look for:
- Bed bugs are about the shape and size of an apple seed. Look for them in the crevices and seams of your mattress or around a mattress tag.
- A bed bug that has recently fed will be engorged with blood and appear the same as a regular bed bug, but circular instead of flat and seed shaped.
- Bed bug droppings are mostly digested blood, so they are dark brown in color and about the same shape and size as the bugs themselves.
- In great enough number, the pheromones bed bugs give off can create a slight stench, though there have to be a lot of bugs for the smell to become really noticeable.
Even if you see what you think are bed bugs, that may not be a conclusive sign. An immature state of carpet beetle can be mistaken for bed bugs. They don’t actually look like bed bugs, but they are approximately the same shape and size and live around beds. So if you are nervous about bed bugs you can easily convince yourself that a carpet beetle is a bed bug.
So what should you do if you think you see a bed bug? Try to get at least one into a pill bottle (so it won’t be crushed) and save it to show to a professional exterminator. An exterminator is trained in identifying bed bugs and will be able to much a much more accurate identification than the average homeowner.
Do it Yourself Chemical Treatments for Bed Bugs
A simple search online will turn of dozens of supposed miracle cures for bed bugs. It would be very convenient if any of these worked. Unfortunately, most don’t. They range from a mostly ineffective to downright dangerous.
May homeowners will incorrectly try to use over the counter insecticide sprays. Most of these contain pyrethrin or another pyrethroid, which works in the same way as DDT. But bed bugs have become resistant do DDT, so those sprays will not work. Even is a spray does work, the main problem is that you can only spray bugs you can see. Most of the bedbugs will be hiding out of site, so an insecticide spray will have very limited effectiveness.
There are some suggestions online to use bug bombs, powders, and other strong chemicals against bed bugs. Don’t do it. Misuse of these chemicals can be dangerous to humans and pets and will be mostly ineffective. While a professional exterminator my use some dusts in wall cavities or other targeted chemical applications, this is not something to be tried by the amateur. There is just too much risk for what is really a long-shot at ending an infestation.
Other Do it Yourself Cures
Another method suggested online is vacuuming. In fact, vacuuming may be one part of a professional exterminator’s solution. But when done incorrectly it can make an infestation worse. Vacuuming only gets rid of surface dwelling bugs. And when you go to empty the dust bag of the vacuum, you can inadvertently spread bed bugs to other parts of the house. When a professional exterminator uses a vacuum to scoop up bed bugs, the exterminator will take extra measures to keep the bed bugs contained and avoid spreading them.
Bed bugs are vulnerable to heat, so putting all of your linens, clothes, etc. through a wash and dry cycle on medium to high heat is a good part of getting rid of an infestation. An exterminator will probably suggest that as part of the solution to an infestation. But really ending a bed bug infestation takes an approach that combines several cures, as well as some things that only a professional can do.
What a Professional Exterminator Does for Bed Bugs
Calling a professional exterminator should be one of your first steps when you suspect a bed bug infestation. The exterminator can start by making a positive diagnosis of bed bugs if they really are present. Next, the exterminator will conduct an inspection to determine the extent of the problem, its severity, and the best possible steps to control and defeat the infestation.
Every home and every infestation is different, so every solution will be uniquely tailored to your situation. Heat is a major factor in killing bed bugs, so an exterminator may apply steam to a mattress and/or the surrounding area. Another method is to go room to room, sealing each room and heating it to at least 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least four hours. This extreme heat treatment should be deadly for any bed bugs in the room.
Combined with any other professional treatment, an exterminator will likely recommend running all of your linens and clothing through a wash and dry cycle on high or medium heat. Be careful, though, to make sure that you are not simply spreading the bed bugs as you move your dirty laundry around. Your exterminator can help you with this.
The professionals at People’s Pest Control are trained in bed bug removal. So you can be sure your infestation is dealt with appropriately. See what our satisfied customers are saying about us and then call us today for all your pest control needs.