How To Deal With Bed Bugs In The Home?
The first thing to do is not to panic as while bed bugs can be a nuisance to get rid of they are by no means the worst insect infestation to have in a home. Some insects like termites can cause severe damage to a home’s foundation before a homeowner even knows it. Bed bugs on the other hand like to dine on the human residents of the home they occupy. Bed bugs can be treated with a proper treatment plan that includes more than just dumping chemicals all over the house and expecting the problem to go away.
Bed bugs (known by the scientific name of Cimex lectularius) are making a comeback in homes due to the removal of toxic pesticides from the market which were not only effective at killing bed bugs but also did harm to humans and other animals. Bed bugs are called that as they primarily feed at night while the (generally) human host is asleep on their bed. Bed bugs can lays their eggs on the mattress, frame, box spring as well as other furniture and parts of the home close to the bedroom. Their bite is generally painless as bed bugs have painkilling chemicals that is used on their host while they feed. After being bitten humans may not experience any reaction, may experience rashes, irritation at the site of the bite, hives or something else as reactions can vary.
Bed bug females can lay anywhere from 200 to 500 eggs in their lifetime and eggs hatch within 10-15 days depending on the temperature. Bed bugs can survive up to 400 days or maybe longer without feeding. Combine all of the above and you can see why bed bugs can literally drive some people buggy.
How Do You Know If You Have Bed Bugs In Your Home?
Other than actually seeing the bed bugs themselves it is advised that homeowners thoroughly examine areas in and around where they are sleeping. Bedrooms are an obvious location to check but also if there is sleeping done on the couch, lounge chair or more then those areas need to be checked as well. Things to check include underneath fitted bed sheets, on bed posts, box springs, between the mattress and box springs, mattress seams and more. Small black or red spots on the mattress and box springs are indicative of bed bug activity. The black spots are digested blood the bed bugs are excreting out onto the bed and other surfaces. You may also see the insects themselves or egg shells especially in areas they have setup as their home away from the bed. Such areas include dressers, bedroom closets, electrical outlets and any other areas with a small gap where bed bugs can sneak off to.
Insect bites in and of themselves usually is not a good way to tell if you have bed bugs since other insect bites (mosquitoes, spiders, etc.) can produce similar reactions as bed bug bites can. Actual identification of bed bugs, eggs, and their waste product is an easier way to determine if there is a problem and treatment is needed. When in doubt call your local pest treatment professional (LINK to site contact info) for diagnosis.
How Do Bed Bugs Get Into A Home?
You may have an otherwise clean home and work in a clean office environment but that does not mean your home is immune to bed bugs. Bed bugs can come from anywhere. Sometimes bed bug eggs can be transferred to a person riding on public transportation. Bed bug eggs or a pregnant bed bug may hitch a ride on you while you are hitching a ride to work. Children can transfer bed bug eggs or insects while hanging out or spending the night at a friend’s house. Vacation travel is also a common way bed bugs can get into your home as they may have hitched a ride in your luggage from a hotel you stayed at. People who have bed bugs in their home and visit your home can also spread bed bugs to your home.
As noted above bed bugs can travel to a new home in a number of different ways and short of never leaving your home and allowing no guests in your home it can be hard to control all avenues of bed bugs entering your home. Bed bugs don’t care if your home is so clean you can eat off of the floor or the opposite. Bed bugs are only looking for a place to dine on their human hosts. The bottom line is bed bugs can enter your home in a number of different ways that have nothing to do with cleanliness or hygiene standards which some people seem to believe.
Can You Treat Bed Bugs Without The Help Of A Licensed Pest Professional?
The short answer to the question can a homeowner treat bedbugs without the help of a pest professional is yes. Treatment involves more than just spraying chemicals in the home and hoping the problem goes away. In fact many pest professionals are trained in integrated pest management (IPM) techniques which requires an approach of more than just spraying chemicals and hoping the problem goes away.
The first step in treatment for a homeowner wanting a DIY (do it yourself) approach would be to clean up all clutter around the home. Anything left on the floor, next to corners, inside closets become a potential hiding place and a place for bedbugs to leave their eggs. All bedding and fabrics that come into contact with the bed should be removed, washed and dried. The act of drying bed fabrics will kill any bed bugs and eggs that may be in the fabrics themselves. The mattress should be thoroughly examined and all crevices, cracks and corners should be vacuumed up with a vacuum that has a bag type collection system. Any and all cracks, gaps, openings close to the bed area should also be vacuumed up. Once done the vacuum bag should be immediately disposed of in an outdoor trash receptacle. Gaps and cracks found on the floor and walls should be sealed up with caulk, wood glue or some other material that will stop bed bugs from hiding out.
If you suspect bed bugs are using a closet as a place to hide out then it is best to wash and dry all clothes in the closet in order to make sure all bed bugs and eggs on the clothing are killed. Clothes should not be rehung in the closet until you are sure the pest infestation has been controlled. Mattresses and box springs should not be recovered right away and instead an important step to take is to cover both box springs and mattresses with bed bug bed covers. Bed bug bed covers will not keep bed bugs outside of the bed from climbing up but they will keep bed bugs that happen to be in the box spring or mattress from coming out. Bed bug mattress and box spring covers also make it harder (though not impossible) for bed bugs to climb up the bed again.
Many clothing items, fabric toys, and more do not need to be thrown out. If those items can handle a 20-30 minute dryer cycle at the normal temperature setting then the bed bugs and any eggs will be killed as a result. If those items cannot handle heat then cold can kill bed bugs instead. If the items can fit in a freezer then spending at least 3-4 days in a freezer that has an internal temperature of -18 degrees Fahrenheit will make sure bed bugs and eggs are killed on those items. If you suspect your electronics or kid’s toys with electronics have bed bugs hiding in them, be careful about exposing them to extreme heat or cold as that could damage those items permanently.
When spraying consumer grade bed bug chemicals in and around areas where bed bugs are found it is best to concentrate on spraying in corners, nooks and crannies where bed bugs will hide. Bed bugs can even hide inside electrical boxes and wall switches. ALWAYS BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL around electrical boxes and switches. Homeowners may inadvertently start an electrical fire or electrocute themselves when attempting to treat around live switch and electrical boxes. You are better off not applying any chemicals directly on the electrical components in the boxes and instead applying the pesticide outside around the box and then only when the power has been shut off. As bed bugs do not fly and instead crawl to where ever they have to go it is best to also spray any parts of the bed and furniture that touch the floor which the bed bugs may be using as a point to move off of furniture. Pesticide powders can be used to get in hard to reach places. Some of those powders kill based on mechanical methods as opposed to having any lethal chemical within the powder.
How Does A Pest Management Professional Treat For Bed Bugs
A pest management professional (PMP) has a number of options available in their toolkit for treating bed bugs. As noted above in the article heat can be particularly effective at killing bed bugs. Some PMPs may have invested in heavy duty heat generating devices that allow room temperatures to be raised to 130-140 Fahrenheit degrees or more so that bed bugs can be killed with the heat within a couple of hours. Heat treatment in an entire room or an entire house does require sufficient preparation in order to make sure things that are heat sensitive or flammable are removed from the home. Additionally if a home has air leaks due to not being properly sealed a heat treatment may not effectively treat all parts of the home resulting in the bed bugs hanging out in a cooler area until the temperatures go down.
Another big issue with the heat treatment method is that it only kills bed bugs and their eggs that are currently inside of the home. If the residents of a home are still coming into contact with bed bugs or their eggs outside of the home they run the risk of reintroducing those bed bugs again into the home and starting the cycle all over again. The upside of heat treatment is no need for chemicals to be used since heat is used for killing the bed bugs.
PMPs also have the use of licensed and regulated pest control chemicals which are used to treat bed bug infestations. Many of these chemicals are able to kill both the bed bug itself and the bed bug egg. Often times the chemical treatment requires multiple visits in order to effectively target and kill bed bugs since bed bugs are not always easily accessible. Many of the chemicals used have residual effects which means even after the spray has dried it will still kill bed bugs when come into contact with the dried residue. The chemicals used for bed bugs may also be effective to treat other pest problems the home might have like fleas, roaches and more.
How Does Cincinnati Pest Services Treat Bed Bugs?
Cincinnati Pest Services takes an integrated approach to bed bug management. Spraying chemicals alone will not cure the problem. Any home or business suffering from bed bug related issues will receive an in person inspection by a licensed pesticide applicator. The applicator will review the layout of the home or business and determine if any changes are needed to the way items or furniture are situated. As mentioned above clutter can provide bed bugs with plenty of places to hide and as multiple generations of bed bugs seek new less crowded places a cluttered location allows for a complete takeover. Only by effectively dealing with clutter first can chemical treatments be expected to work properly. Cincinnati Pest Services does utilize chemicals in the treatment of bed bugs as those chemicals allow not only for an immediate extermination of bed bugs with direct exposure but also kills bed bugs that walk over the dried spray for some time after chemical has been applied.
Bed bug treatments generally require multiple visits every 10-14 days for evaluation and reapplication of chemicals. The amount of treatments needed depend on the level of infestation and size of the areas needed to be treated. Both the pest professional and the owner will need to monitor for signs of bed bug activity to determine if further treatments are required.
Final Thoughts and A Special Offer
Bed bugs are a persistent bug that requires a plan to not only control them directly but to also control them by restricting where they can hide. Bed bugs seek out any nook or cranny to hide in and lay eggs which only lead to more bed bugs. By cleaning up clutter around the home and working on a plan to keep the home clean bed bugs have fewer places to hide. With fewer places to hide the chemical treatment methods are more likely to be successful in controlling the bed bug problem your home may have.
Interested in a free bed bug evaluation for your home or business in the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio area? Mention reading this article when you contact us for an appointment and the initial bed bug evaluation will be free and get an additional $25 off your first treatment.
Further Reading On Bed Bugs
- Do It Yourself Bed Bug Treatment at Solutions Pest & Lawn
- Bed Bug Information at University of California
- Prevention and Control Of Bed Bugs at University of Minnesota