Found throughout the world, bed bugs (cimex lectularius) are blood-sucking insects that feed mostly on people, but are also known to attack birds, bats and other animals. Bites occur mostly at night and are generally painless when inflicted. However, fluids that are injected during feeding often produce painful welts on the skin that itch and may become severely irritated. As pest numbers increase, more bites occur, and the problem can become progressively worse, often very quickly. Read on to learn our 8 step treatment program for getting rid of bed bugs naturally and save BIG money doing it yourself!
Adults (1/4 – 3/8 inch long) are oval-shaped, reddish brown insects that are wingless and flat. After a meal, they become swollen and elongated when engorged with blood. Eggs are white and are about 1/32 inch long. Newly hatched nymphs are the same shape as adults, but are yellowish-white in color.
Active at night, female bed bugs lay white eggs in batches of 10 to 50 on bedding and in cracks and crevices. Under favorable conditions one adult female can lay as many as 200-250 eggs over her lifetime. Young nymphs hatch in about 10 days and use their beak-like mouthparts to feed on hosts. It takes 1-2 months for nymphs to become mature adults. Adult bugs can live a year or longer (most live about 10-11 months) and there may be three or more overlapping generations per year.
Note: While bed bugs carry human pathogens, it has not been shown that they transmit these diseases to humans or animals.
How to Control
- Determine if bed bugs are present with the First Response Trap. This monitoring device uses heat, pheromones and carbon dioxide to work quickly. It is safe and effective!
- If present, wash linens, vacuum cracks and crevices to provide long-lasting protection against many insect pests.
- Apply temporary barriers to keep crawling insects from migrating into the bed at night. Often this can be achieved by placing bed legs in containers full of soapy water or by spreading a 2-3 inch layer of petroleum jelly around them.
- Caulk cracks and other daytime hiding places found around frames, floors and moldings.
- Remove or eliminate animal nests, such as bird nests or bat roosts, from your house. These animal habitats may be the source of the infestation.
- Spray Orange Guard, made from citrus peel extract, to kill on contact. Approved for organic use, Orange Guard is a broad spectrum insect killer that’s safe to use indoors and out. Repeat applications may be necessary.
- Diatomaceous earth contains no toxic poisons and works quickly on contact. Apply lightly around baseboards and in cracks and crevices where many pests are found.
- Least-toxic botanical insecticides should be used as a last resort. Derived from plants which have insecticidal properties, these natural pesticides have fewer harmful side effects than synthetic chemicals and break down more quickly in the environment.
Tip: During the day these biting pests hide under folds in mattresses, along seams and in between bed posts and slats. At night they are on the move and can often be found by checking on and under sheets.
1. Identify the Bed Bugs
This is one of the most important steps. You have to make sure you are dealing with bed bugs, because the following methods might not be effective if the bugs you have found in your home aren’t what you assume. An adult bed bug can be identified by several clues, such as:
- Typically the size of an apple seed
- Reddish-brown, elongated and balloon-like when fed
- Brown, flat and oval-shaped when not fed
- Musty-sweetish odor
- Elongated, segmented beak
- Antenna with four parts
- Wings not used for flying
- Short, golden-like hairs
If you really do have an infestation, you may notice these bugs hiding by tags and in cracks and seams of mattresses. You might see rusty-colored stains on your mattress or sheet from the little bugs getting squished. There are other common signs you should look for as well. If you don’t know what type of bug you are dealing with, you should get the advice of a professional exterminator.
3. Contain the Infestation
Before you can start the treatment, you have to make sure your bed bug infestation won’t spread to other parts of your home. Contain items like cushions, pillows and clothes in plastic bags that can be completely sealed off. If possible, you should treat the items in the bag. Some items cannot be treated, so you should leave the items in the sealed bag for an extended period of time until you’re sure the bugs are dead. You can also try putting the bags in the freezer to speed up the death of the bed bugs.
You can also work on containment by vacuuming the area. Make sure you immediately empty the vacuum and dispose of the trash. You may have to throw out some furniture, but other pieces can be rid of bugs and kept. There will be more on this type of treatment in a following section. If you do have to get rid of furniture, you have to be sure to throw it out responsibly. Destroy it by ripping up covers and removing stuffing, so no one else will be able to take the furniture home and spread the infestation into their house as well. You can even mark the furniture with spray paint to make sure everyone will know.
4. Prepare the Area
Before you can start the treatment, you have to prepare the area for the process. There are a few steps you have to take during this preparation, including:
- Remove clutter. Beg bugs can hide in magazines, clothes and other clutter. Removing the clutter eliminates places bed bugs can hide.
- Move your bed. If your bed is an island (meaning it is at least six inches from any wall), new bed bugs will have a harder time getting to the bed. Use bed bug-proof covers, bed bug interceptors and other tools to keep bed bugs from getting to your bed.
- Eliminate habitats. Reducing clutter, filling cracks, repairing wallpaper and cleaning electrical outlets is a great way to eliminate places for a bed bug to live.
- Clean the area. Before the treatment, you should also deep clean clothes, bedding, furniture, baseboards, drapery and carpet. This cleaning will help remove bed bugs, but a treatment will still be necessary.
The preparation step is important because it will help the treatment succeed the first time.
5. Kill the Bed Bugs
Finally, it is time to start the treatment to kill and remove the bed bugs. You can choose to use either a non-chemical or chemical route. If you do decide to use chemicals, you need to make sure:
- It is EPA-registered
- It is used for bed bugs
- You use extreme care with foggers
- You, your family and your pets are clear of the area
- You follow the steps listed on the chemical bottle exactly
Non-chemical treatments include a heating and cooling treatment option. Both treatments are often used to clean bedding, clothes, drapery and the like. The heat treatment is most often completed using a dryer or by leaving black plastic bags containing the infested items out in the sun. The cold treatment requires putting bagged items in a freezer that is set at zero degrees.
The most common treatment method requires a combination of the non-chemical routes and the chemical route. If the initial treatment does not get rid of all of the bed bugs, you will have to repeat the process. Because repetition is sometimes needed, it is a good idea to keep a detailed schedule of the process.
6. Re-Evaluation and Prevention
After the initial treatment, a re-evaluation period is necessary. You should look for signs of bed bugs at least once every seven days. Keep bed bug interceptors in place to catch bugs that may be trying to get back on your bed. You can also use other forms of monitoring methods, such as traps, to make it easier to notice signs of a re-infestation.
Part of the re-evaluation method should also include prevention. Common preventative methods include:
- Inspecting any second-hand furniture before you bring it into your home
- Using protective covers to encase both box springs and mattresses
- Vacuuming regularly
- Using portable heating chambers
- Reducing clutter around your home
- Cleaning electrical outlets regularly
It is important you take the time to re-evaluate the situation to make sure you have completely removed the bugs in question. You’ll thank yourself for this extra effort when you don’t have to deal with these pesky bed bugs ever again.
Banishing Bed Bugs
Getting rid of any pest is not always easy. You have to be vigilant and patient. Use the above tips to ensure your home isn’t overrun by bed bugs. Remember, if you take the right steps, you should be able to rid your home of the little critters completely. If the bed bugs remain, do not hesitate to call in a professional.
Signs You Have Bed Bugs
Before you run to the bedroom to burn your mattress, let’s make sure that you actually have bed bugs.
First of all, you should know what bed bugs look like.
The main physical characteristics of bed bugs are:
- Resemble a tick
- Around 1/5 of an inch long
- A rusty brown color
- No wings
So now you know what they look like, you can look for these signs that may indicate you have a bed bug infestation:
- There may be blood stains/spots on the bed sheets
- Carefully inspect your mattresses, bed frames, floors and walls for any signs of the bed bugs them selfs. Be sure to check cracks and crevices carefully
- Inspect your mattresses, bed frames, floors and walls for signs of bed bug feces – these will be rusty brown spots or smudges
- There may be a musty odor from the bugs themselves
DON’T FORGET UNDER THE BED! Don’t forget to check under the bed and on the floor for all these signs. Another important place to check is piles of clothes.
If you have found signs of a bed bug infestation, then getting on top of it as quick as possible is important. The sooner you break the life cycle of this biting pest, the quicker they will be gone.
What If The Bed Bugs Come Back?
If after all this, you still find your bed bug infestation returns then you have a few options:
- Try again -painful but will be the cheapest and most natural option
- Use insecticides – not natural…. but you might just be at your breaking point
- Call an exterminator – Oncea again, not natural… but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes
Pricing last updated on 2018-12-03 at 02:34 / affiliate links – Details