Bed Bugs FAQ's in Sacramento
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.
Where are bed bugs found?
Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.
Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.
Where did bed bugs come from?
Bed bugs may have evolved when a close relative, the bat bug, switched to feeding off cave-dwelling humans. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans wrote about them. They were part of many peoples’ lives in the U.S. and around the world before World War II.
Then DDT came along. DDT seemed wonderful at the time. Unlike most of the insecticides sold in stores today, DDT had a lasting effecta long residual effect. Insects died when they crawled where DDT was used, even if it had been there for weeks. Though most homeowners used DDT for large pests like cockroaches, it did the bed bugs in too. When the bed bugs came out to feed, there was something there to kill them.
Modern furnishings and appliances helped too. Bed bugs do not care if a home is clean or messy. They just like good hiding spotsand food. When modern furniture came into style they had fewer hiding spots. Home appliances such as washing machines and vacuums helped keep them at bay. Bed bugs were a rarity in the US from the early 1950s through the late 1990s. A whole generation of people grew up who’d never seen one.
By the mid 1970s insecticides like DDT, which were blamed for environmental problems, were on the outs. The pest control industry began to use the environmentally friendly approaches common today. Using noninsecticide traps and monitors, blocking entry into homes, and using pest-specific, least-toxic insecticides became the staples of an integrated pest management approach.
Bed bugs had been off the radar for so long they were almost forgotten. By the time anyone noticed, they were back in a big way. Right now there are no traps or monitors proven to detect a population when it’s still small. And since bed bugs travel on things such as luggage, souvenirs, and furniture we bring into our homes, it’s hard to block their entry.
Fortunately, some modern insecticides work well. Because these insecticides break down quicklymaking them safer for humansthey may not be around to kill the bed bugs that hatch from eggs laid before the insecticide was applied. Two or more carefully targeted applications are the best way to eliminate bed bugs. Leave insecticides to the professionalseven the right ones, used incorrectly, can scatter bed bugs to other rooms. It would take an extremely capable and dedicated person to learn and do everything necessary to get rid of bed bugs on their own.
Do bed bugs spread disease?
Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.
The serious negative effects of bed bugs are more mental than physical, but the itchy bites can’t be ignored either.
The mental effects are stress and lack of sleep. (And then there’s delusory parasitosismeaning the bugs really are gone, but you can’t shake the feeling that they’re still there.) Even if the thought of sleeping with bed bugs doesn’t keep you up at night, the time and money it takes to get rid of them can stress you out.
Bed bugs can be a public relations nightmare. You’d hope customers would respect a proactive hotel, motel, or landlord who tried to educate them before a problem came in, but that’s rarely the case. Simply the mention of bed bugs can deter customers.
And householders worry what friends, family, and neighbors will say if their problem becomes known. Bed bugs aren’t associated with filth or social status, but many people think they are.
What health risks do bed bugs pose?
A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.
What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?
One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:
* the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
* bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
* rustycolored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
* a sweet musty odor.
How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?
It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.
Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.
Where do bed bugs live?
Any place with a high turnover of people spending the nighthostels, hotels near airports, and resortsare most at risk. But the list continues… apartments, barracks, buses, cabins, churches, community centers, cruise ships, dormitories, dressing rooms, health clubs, homes, hospitals, jets, laundromats, motels, motor homes, moving vans, nursing homes, office buildings, resorts, restaurants, schools, subways, theaters, trains, used furniture outlets….
Bed bugs do not choose locations based on sanitation or people’s hygiene. If there is blood, they’re happy.
Bed bugs and their relatives occur nearly worldwide. They became relatively scarce during the latter part of the 20th century, but their populations have resurged in recent years, particularly throughout parts of North America, Europe, and Australia.
What about in your home? Most stay near where people sleep, hiding near the bed, a couch or armchair (if that’s where you snooze)even cribs and playpens. Their flat bodies allow them to hide in cracks and crevices around the room and in furniture joints. Hiding sites include mattress seams, bed frames, nearby furniture, or baseboards. Clutter offers more places to hide and makes it harder to get rid of them. Bed bugs can be found alone but more often congregate in groups. They’re not social insects, though, and don’t build nests.
How infestations spread throughout a home or within an apartment building differs from case to case. Inspect all adjacent rooms. Bed bugs travel easily along pipes and wires and the insides of walls can harbor them.
Before treating, you need to confirm that you have bed bugs. The only way to do that is to find a bug and get it identified.
Look in the most likely places first. We tell you how. If you find one, freeze it for identification or put it in a sealed jar with a 1 tsp. of rubbing alcohol. Then stop lookingyou don’t want to disrupt the bugsand call a professional.
Bed Bug Treatment in Sacramento
Technicians who inspect and treat should be able to answer questions about bed bug biology and behavior as well as explain their plans. Even if someone has already come to inspect and quote the job (some companies will quote over the phone, others inspect first and quote at that visit), technicians should always inspect before treating. At the very least, they should use a flashlight when inspecting. Proper inspection takes time and shouldn’t be rushed.
And what’s their plan for treatment? PMPs should use a range of formulations and methods, both liquids and dusts. The PMP should target cracks, crevices, and behind electrical sockets. Not every company uses a vacuum or steamerthat might be your job. Vacuuming just before the PMP arrives will get dirt out of cracks so the insecticide can get in. The PMP must take care not to spread the problem. Anything that needs to be removed from the treatment area should be covered with plastic. Once an area has been treated, only treated items should be moved back in.
If people or pets are present, they should be in a different room. Don’t enter a room that has been treated with an insecticide for at least 4 hoursor whatever the insecticide label states, whichever is longer. Children’s and sick people’s mattresses shouldn’t be treated.
Follow-Up Bed Bug Treatments
Count on at least one follow up treatment. Bed bugs should be gone after two to three visits. Unless the structure is fumigated (this is different from bombing!), one visit won’t get rid of bed bugs. Follow up treatments should still include a full inspection, followed by insecticide if bed bugs are found.
Because complete elimination is hard to achieve for any pest, most bed bug contracts don’t guarantee it. Bed bugs can be reintroduced. Companies with a good business sense can’t guarantee bed bug work for a long period of time. This doesn’t mean the company won’t go to great lengths to help you. And yes, it is possible to eliminate bed bugs from a home.
Fumigation and full-structure heat treatments work after one treatment, but are very costly. Fumigation is not the same thing as fogging.
How did I get bed bugs?
Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.
Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?
Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.
How are bed bugs treated and prevented?
Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.
What does a bed bug bite look like?
You can’t describe the bites as looking only one way. Some look and feel like mosquito or flea bites. Some people don’t react at all. On the opposite extreme, others get big itchy welts that take two or more weeks to heal. There’s a myth that bed bug bites occur in threes (“breakfast, lunch, and dinner”), but it’s not true. Bites can occur singly, in clumps, or in a line. Bites can show up within hoursor two weeks later. Confirming an infestation on bites alone is impossible. You need evidence: a bed bug.
Bed bugs usually feed while people sleep, about an hour before dawn. But if they’re hungry and given the opportunity, they feed anytime. Feeding itself is painlessthe bed bug’s saliva numbs the skin and makes the blood easier to drink. But later, many people react to the saliva, getting itchy bumps or rashes. After feeding for about five minutes, drawing only a drop or two of blood, bugs return to their hiding places. Although bed bugs can live for over a year without feeding, they typically seek blood every five to ten days.
The only way to know for sure what bit you is to find a bug and get it identified.
Bed bugs live off only bloodlike mosquitoes do. They probably prefer to feed on people. But if people move out, bed bugs can survive by feeding on rats or miceso control these pests, too. They’re attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxidewhat we animals breathe out. They usually feed about an hour before dawn, but given the opportunity, they may feed at other times of day or night.
Remembernot everyone reacts to bed bug bites. (Not everyone reacts to poison oak, either.) You could get an itchy rash while your home companion getsnothing.
If you think bed bugs bit you, have a pest inspector do a thorough inspection to determine whether an arthropod is in your living space, or send samples to a diagnostic lab.
How do I find out if I have bed bugs?
Have these on hand during the inspection:
magnifier or hand lens
a vial, pill bottle, or ziplock bag to hold specimens for identification
tweezers or sticky tape to help grab the bugs
gloves (vinyl, latex, etc.or even a plastic bag over your hand)
knife, index card, or credit card for swiping bed bugs out of cracks
trash bags and tape for bagging infested items
a vacuum cleaner (just in case you find a large group): keep a few for identification and suck up the rest. Since the vacuum bag will have live bugs in it, take out the bag right away. Seal it in a plastic bag and throw it away.
Look for bed bugs in all their life stages: eggs, nymphs and adults. Also look for cast skins and blood spots. But note: blood spots, hatched eggs, and cast skins may be from an infestation that’s been dealt with already. Live bed bugs are the only confirming evidence. Use a flashlighteven if the area is well litand work systematically. A magnifying glass will help you zoom in on hard to see spots. Start with one corner of the mattress and work around the piping, down the sides, and underneath. Do the same with the box spring. If you own the bed, slowly remove the dust cover (ticking) on the bottom of the box spring and seal in a trash bag. Next, inspect the bed frame. If you can take it apart, do so. Bed bugs could be hiding in the joints.
No bed bugs yet? Work out from the bed in a systematic way (clockwise or counter-clockwise) to the walls of the room. Look in the pleats of curtains, beneath loose pieces of wallpaper near the bed, the corners and drawers of desks and dressers, within spaces of wicker furniture, behind door, window, and baseboard trim, and in laundry or other items on the floor or around the room such as cardboard boxes. Inspect everything. Any crack, crevice, or joint a credit card edge could fit in could hide adult bed bugs. This routine gives you a systematic approach and increases the chance you’ll find evidence early on.
One last way to inspectabout an hour before dawn, lift the sheets and turn on a flashlight. It might lead to a discovery, but this method can also be unsettling.
If you don’t find bed bugs but bites continue or you find blood spots on bedding, contact a professional with bed bug experience and have them inspect.
Professional inspection may be done by a person or by a bed bug-sniffing dog and its handler. Dogs have a powerful sense of smell and can be trained to find bed bugs (which do give off an odor). They’re best used to find infestations. If used to tell whether bed bugs are gone, they may find old evidence rather than fresh. If you hire a handler and dog, be sure they’re accredited.
If you find bed bugs at home, it’s best to keep sleeping in the bedor try to find someone who will sleep there. Packing up to spend time elsewhere could bring bugs to an uninfested area. And the bugs could move to neighboring rooms in search of a meal.
How do I have bed bug specimens identified?
Put suspected bed bugs in small, break-resistant containers such as a plastic pill bottle or a zipper-lock bag with 1 tsp of rubbing alcohol in it. Or tape them to a sheet of white paper with clear tape.
First, look at pictures on wikipedia or university websites. If you think it’s a bed bug, package it carefully to prevent damage and send to an expert for positive identification. Bed bugs have close relatives: poultry bugs, barn swallow bugs, bat bugs, and tropical bed bugs to name a few. They too can feed on humans and act like bed bugs do. For accurate identification, send a samplepreferably several adultsto a Cooperative Extension diagnostic lab.
And if the critter is, for example, a bat bug, call a professional wildlife control operator to find and remove bats, then prevent their re-entry.
How did I get bed bugs in the first place?
Bed bugs come in as stowaways in luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes, and more when these are moved between dwellings. Moving out won’t solve the problem, since bed bugs will just come with you. In fact, while dealing with bed bugs it’s best not to sleep away from home. Used furniture, particularly bed frames and mattresses, are most likely to harbor bed bugs. Watch out for items found on the curb! Because they survive for many months without food, bed bugs could already be present in clean, vacant apartments.
In a few cases, bats or birds could introduce and maintain bed bugs and their close relativesusually bat bugs and bird bugs.
The source of the infestation determines where your inspection should start. Look through these scenarios and see which fits:
Only one bedroom: inspect that room first.
People watch TV or snooze on a couch: check it after inspecting the bedroom.
A traveler returned home: insects can hide in luggage and then crawl out when it’s dark and peacefulbegin where luggage was placed upon returning home.
A used bed or piece of furniture (bought or from the curb) was brought into the house: inspect it first.
The problem began after a visitor stayed overnight: inspect the beds that they slept in and where their luggage was placed. Next, inspect the nearest place where people sleep.
An infestation persists after several treatments by a professional: bed bugs may come through the wall from a neighboring apartment. Inspect rooms that share a wall with a neighbor.
(This scenario happens in large apartment complexes and hotels where management didn’t get adjacent rooms treated.)
If the building has a laundry room, inspect it too.
Home health aides come in frequently: bed bugs may have hitched a ride on their bags.
Backpacks go to and from school: could have bed bugs. Inspect the bed or couch nearest the spot where backpacks are kept.
How can I avoid bed bugs when traveling?
Every traveler should learn about bed bugs. Always inspect before settling into any room. Pack a flashlight (even the keychain LED variety) and gloves to aid in your inspection. The inspection should focus around the bed. Start with the headboard, which is usually held on the wall with bracketslift up 1 2 inches, then lean the top away from the wall to gain access to the back. If you’re traveling alone, someone on staff should help. After checking the headboard, check sheets and pillows for blood spots. Next, pull back the sheets. Check the piping of the mattress and box spring. Finally, look in and under the drawer of the bedside table. If all these places are clear, enjoy the night. The next morning, look for blood spots on the sheetsbed bugs poop soon after they feed.
If you can avoid it, don’t unpack into drawers and keep luggage closed on a luggage rack pulled away from the wall. Never set luggage on the bed.
If you find evidence, but no live bed bugs, the evidence may be old and doesn’t mean that the hotel is dirty. Tell the front desk discreetly what you found and ask for another roomone that doesn’t share a wall with the room you just vacated. Bed bugs are a PR nightmare for the hospitality industry. If you run to a competitor (who’s just as likely to have bed bugs) it makes it less likely that the industry will become more open about this issue. Communication is key. Ideally hotels and motels would pride themselves on their bed bug programs and show customers how to inspect to keep all parties bed bug free.
Will bed bugs actually travel on me?
It’s unlikely that a bed bug would travel on you or the clothes you are wearing. You move too much to be a good hiding place. Bed bugs are more likely to be spread via luggage, backpacks, briefcases, mattresses, and used furniture.
What can I do if I just got back from a place where there might have been bed bugs?
Launder your clothes before or as soon as these items are brought back into the home. If you found bed bugs after moving into a hotel room, you could ask the hotel to pay for launderingand for steam-cleaning your luggage. The hotel may refuse, but it’s worth asking. Regardless, once home you should unpack on a floor that will allow you to see bed bugsstay off carpets! Unpack directly into plastic bags for taking clothes to the laundry. Suitcases should be carefully inspected and vacuumedfreeze if possible.
I have bed bugs. What do I do?
Step back a minute. Because several different kinds of insects resemble bed bugs, specimens should be carefully compared with good reference images and sent to a professional entomologist.
Next: make a plan. You want to get rid of bed bugs, limit your exposure to insecticides, and minimize costs. Don’t get rid of stuff and don’t treat unless you have a plan. A big part of your plan: hire an experienced professional. Trust us, it’ll save you time and money in the long run. You’ll still have a lot to dojust leave the insecticides to the pros. Working as a team with a professional is the quickest way to get bed bugs out of your life.
Inspection: ALWAYS inspect. Proper identification helps you know what to do and where to target your efforts. Along with looking, you should write down what you do and see. Use this reporting form to track what you’ve done. Having a history will help if more people become involved.
Educate yourself: find out about bed bug biology and behavior to become even more effective.
Cultural and Mechanical Control: This makes your home unwelcoming to bed bugs, blocks them from feeding, or at least makes finding them easier. Don’t skip these steps and go straight to insecticides. Examples:
Choose furniture of plain design. A metal chair offers fewer places for a bed bug to hide than a wicker one.
Don’t buy or pick up used furniture.
Choose light-colored beddingeasier to see insects and blood spots.
Don’t store things under beds. In fact, get rid of clutter anywhere near the bed.
Use tightly fitting, zippered, bed-bug proof mattress and box spring encasements. Putting them in place ahead of time (proactively) makes bed bugs easier to see since encasements have no piping or tags and they’re light-colored. Putting them on during an infestation means no need to throw away the mattress and box spring. But … check periodically to be sure they haven’t torn.
Vacuum regularly. Use an attachment to get in cracks and crevices.
Maintain a gap between the walls and your bedroom and living room furniture.
Seal cracks in wooden floors.
Repair peeling wallpaper.
Keep bedding and dust ruffles from touching the floor. Better yet, remove the ruffles.
When returning from a trip, unpack on a light-colored, bare-wood or vinyl floor keeping an eye out for bed bugs. Put everything that traveled in a warm dryer for an hour or a hot dryer for 60 minutes. Put things that can’t be heated in a freezer for two weeks. Everything else … inspect carefully!
When you travel, inspect rooms, keep luggage closed and use luggage racks away from the walldon’t leave things on the bed! Take along a traveler’s card to guide your inspection.
Biological Control: No known biological control agents target bed bugs well enough to keep them at bay.
Chemical Control: Insecticides supplement but don’t replace your work. Get a pest management professional (PMP) involved. Licensed PMPs know what products, in what formulations, should be usedand where. PMPs know how to be selective and effectivefewer insecticides used and best results. Any insecticide used should be labeled for the pest and location where it is being used. Many products are not labeled for mattresses.
Monitoring: This involves inspecting regularly to be sure:
Control is working.
Bed bugs haven’t been brought back in.
Encasements haven’t torn.
There isn’t any way you could improve your cultural or mechanical control.
Use the reporting form every time you inspect.
What are the legal repercussions of bed bugs?
The question, “Who’s responsible for a bed bug infestation?” has no clear answer. It’s hard even to identify who’s technically at fault because bed bugs can enter a space in so many ways. Landlords and property owners do have legal obligations to provide safe and habitable accommodations for tenants. Bed bugs may be an unacceptable condition. Tenants have an obligation to cooperate with owners and landlords. This includes preparing the apartment so the pest management professional can easily inspect rooms and treat if necessary.
Laws are changing and every situation is different. Local health departments and law offices have the best answers to legal questions. The only thing that’s for sure is that bed bug problems won’t just work themselves out. Left untreated, they will spread. The best way to cover all bases is to inform all who are potentially involved early onmanagers, neighbors, friends…
If you are a landlord, inspection should be done often with the permission of the tenant. Some tenants will not view bed bugs as a problem. It can get ugly if their infestation spreads to other units and unhappy tenants report that they have bed bugs. Inspect often to find infestations before they spread.
Landlords and tenants should make sure bed bug work is specified in their lease. For example, an agreement that requires tenants to do thorough preparation for bed bug treatment and to leave the living space while a pest management professional works can go a long way if bed bugs arrive. The pest control inspector should visit all rooms or units that share a wall (including directly above and below). Everyone needs to cooperate. Having a plan ready can save time, frustration, and money.
Safety is always the first priority. Bed bugs aren’t known to spread disease. Don’t put yourself or anyone else in danger on account of bed bugs. Anyone who inspects apartments must be cautious of sharp objects or weapons under mattresses or in furniture. Always look with a flashlight before touching.
Document ALL prevention and control in a unit. This helps prove you took precautions and helps PMPs evaluate the situation.
What shouldn’t I do when trying to eliminate bed bugs?
Don’t panic. Although bed bugs can be annoying, you can get rid of them if you adopt a well-considered strategy.
Don’t put the legs of the bed frame in kerosene or coat them with petroleum jelly. Bed bugs have been known to climb on the ceiling and drop down onto the bed. Plus kerosene is a fire hazard.
Don’t depend on thyme oil. Thyme oil may discourage bed bugs, but it won’t kill them. Chances are it’ll spread, not fix, the problem.
Don’t leave the home unoccupied through a winter as a control measure. Bed bugs have adapted to the unpredictable habits of humans. If given time to go dormantfor example, in a vacation cabin that slowly gets cooler, then cold over fall and winterbed bugs can survive, living without a meal for many months while waiting for humans to return. The quick penetration of killing cold (or heat) is the key to any temperature treatment.
Don’t turn up the heat. Exposing bed bugs to 120 ºF or more an hour will kill all life stagesand whole-structure or “container heat treatments” do work. But the caution is similar to using cold. High heat must be maintained at every point in the building: the outer walls, deep in the sofa, etc. for the full hour. Professionals enclose the structure, using tools to guarantee that it reaches the right temperature. If you go with a full-structure heat treatment, consider if the heat could damage belongings.
Don’t sleep with a light on. Bed bugs feed when hosts are inactive. Usually that’s when it’s darkbut they’ll feed under lights if they’re hungry.
Don’t sleep in a different room. Bed bugs will move to a neighboring room if they can’t find food. And they can live months between meals. Sleeping in a different room, staying at a hotel, or moving in with friends won’t solve the problem. And the chances of carrying the bugs to a new place are good. Keep sleeping in your bed. If you have awful reactions to the bites, try to get someone to sleep in the bed.
Don’t throw a bed bug-infested mattress away and buy a new mattress. Buying a new mattress won’t solve the problem. Bed bugs hide in more than just mattresses. New mattresses might be transported in the same trucks that pick up used and possibly contaminated ones. If you need a new mattress, wait until the infestation is eliminated before buying a new one. (Remember: A bed bug-proof mattress and box-spring encasement kept in place for 1 ½ years will starve them to death. Inspect often for torn spots in the encasement (and evidence of bed bugs).
Don’t dispose of good furniture. Infested furniture can be cleaned and treated. Placing infested furniture (particularly mattresses) into common areas or on the street could spread bed bugs to other peoples’ homes. If you’re getting rid of infested furniture, deface it: make it less attractive to other people. Paint a picture of a bug on it and write “bed bugs” or “chinches.” Building managers should make sure disposed furniture is in a dumpster or taken to a landfill or waste facility right away.
Don’t wrap items in black plastic and leave them in the sun: it needs to get hotter than that to kill bed bugs, and heat needs to evenly penetrate the entire item.
Don’t move infested items out of the room without wrapping them in plastic. Bed bugs or eggs could be knocked off into an uninfested area.
Don’t apply insecticides unless you fully understand what you are applying and the risks involved. You are legally liable if you misapply an insecticide or apply it without a license to the property of othersincluding common spaces in apartment buildings. In most cases, landlords, owners and building managers cannot legally apply insecticides unless they are licensed to do so.
What do I do with my pets if I have bed bugs?
We have seen bed bugs feeding on pets, but no one knows if they prefer pets. The bugs might get caught in a pet’s hair, but they won’t live on pets the way fleas do. Still, a pet could carry a bed bug from one room to another.
Since bed bugs rarely feed for more than 10 minutes and their feet don’t grip onto hair, Twenty minutes of grooming outside lets you rest at ease. All bedding and cage items should be inspected and washed and dried (60 minutes on hot). Inspect furniture, floors, and walls near the pets’ areas.
How do I kill bed bugs with insecticides?
Unless you have a pesticide applicator’s license, you shouldn’t apply insecticides to treat bed bugs. Why? If you try to get rid of the bed bugs on your own and it doesn’t work, then you call a pest control company and … Even more insecticides get used.
The bed bugs will be in new hiding spots, making it harder for us to target them.
If, despite our warning, you try over-the-counter products, READ THE LABEL of any product you use. If it isn’t labeled for indoor use, don’t use it. If it isn’t labeled for use on a mattress, don’t use it on a mattress. Keep records of everything you dothe date, location, and insecticide or tool used.
You have the right to know what’s being applied in your home and at what concentration. The EPA registration number (EPA Reg. No.) is on the label. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are available online for the active ingredient for all products. (Your pest control company might have them too). If you’re worried about children, the elderly, pregnancy, ill people, or pets, a doctor or veterinarian can use the EPA Reg. No. and MSDS to tell them what precautions to take. If the label doesn’t have an EPA Reg. No., don’t buy it! For more info on pesticides, call the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 800-858-7378, or go online at npic.orst.edu. Ask your pest control company about their standard operating procedures for sensitive cases. Generally, it is best to leave your things in your home or apartment when it’s treated. All food, plates, silverware, etc. should be protected from insecticides.
Insecticides used to treat bed bug infestations consist mainly of:
Insecticidal dusts, such as finely ground silica powder, which abrade an insect’s waxy coat and cause it to dry out and die quickly. Some dusts are mixed with other dry insecticides. These dusts are applied in or behind permanent fixtureswalls, light switches, and the like. Piles of dust won’t work. If you can see the dust, it’s not being used right. Read the label!
Contact insecticides kill the bugs shortly after they come into direct contact with the product or its residue. These products tend to knock down bugs that wander over or otherwise contact the insecticide. BUT some repel bed bugs. Use the wrong product, and bed bugs could survive the pesticide and spread to other rooms.
Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) affect the development and reproduction of insects. Although they can work well, they don’t kill bugs quickly. PMPs often use these products to supplement other insecticides.
How do I kill bed bugs without using insecticides?
Cleaning: Thoroughly clean infested rooms as well as others in the residence. Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs and use a powerful vacuum to remove bed bugs from cracks and crevices. This won’t ensure that you’ve got all the eggs since they can be cemented deep in cracks. But it will help. Dismantle bed frames to expose additional hiding sites. Remove drawers from desks and dressers and turn furniture over, if possible, to inspect and clean all hiding spots.
Vacuuming: A vacuum is not a stand-alone solution. But it will suck up some bed bugs and, used frequently, help keep their numbers down. The narrowest attachment should be used along seams, cracks, and crevices. There’s no guarantee it’ll suck all bed bugs out of hiding. Immediately after, the bag or canister should be removed. Bed bugs in that bag will still be alive! Put the bag or canister contents into a plastic bag, freeze for two weeks, then dispose of properly. Wash the canisterbe sure it’s unplugged! Inspect the vacuum to be sure no bugs remain inside.
Steam: Research is underway on how well steamers work. A good steamer will kill eggs, nymphs, and adults on contact. But we’re not sure how deeply killing heat penetrates wood and fabrics. And it offers no defense against reintroducing bed bugs. When using a steamer, move extremely slowly (1 foot in 15 seconds) and methodically. Don’t use a small nozzle that blows bed bugs away from the treatment areathey will survive. The heat needed to kill bed bugs will burn skin. Manufacturer’s instructions take priority over anything that anyone tells you. Afterward, let things dry completely. This prevents moisture or mold damage. Steam can carry electricity. Stay away from switch plates, electrical outlets, and plugged in appliances.
Heat: Extreme heat will kill bed bugs. 60 minutes on the hottest setting in a dryer kills eggs and insects. If taking belongings to a laundromat sort at home and put loads in a bagdispose of the bag once empty. Don’t use the same bag to bring clothes back. Dry cleaning kills bed bugs, but tell them that the item might be contaminated. If the clothes won’t be damaged by heat and stains won’t set, put them in a dryer before going to the dry cleaner. Blankets, pillows, some shoes, children’s plush toys, curtains, rugs, seat cushions, and fabric bagsif the item can survive heat and tumbling and it won’t damage the dryer, it can go in a dryer. Check the lint filter for bed bugs afterwards. It’s another way to confirm their presence.
Freezing: More research is needed on how well freezing works. Quickly expose items to 32 ºF or below and leave them there for at least two weeks. All crawling life stages will die. To kill the eggs, 30 days is needed.
Mattress Encasements: Mattresses and box springs can be permanently encased within bed bug proof zippered mattress encasements. They must stay on for a full year and a half. Inspect them often to be sure they don’t have rips. If you find holes or tears, seal these completely with permanent tape or buy a new bag. Any bugs trapped within these sealed bags will eventually die.
How can I kill bed bug eggs?
Eggs keep unborn bed bugs safe from insecticides. Sixty minutes in a hot dryer heat will kill bed bug eggs, and freezing (below 32°F) for 30 days will too. Fumigation (not the same as foggers or “bombs”) also kills eggs. Steam is another option as long as the nozzle is moved slowly and the steamed item is given time to dry. Bed bug eggs hatch in about two weeks. A follow up inspection after two weeks is necessary to confirm that they’re gone.
Has there really been a resurgence in bedbugs in the U.S. and how do you know?
There has been an increase in bedbug infestations. In fact, the 2015 Bugs Without Borders survey conducted by NPMA and the University of Kentucky found that bed bug infestations in the United States continue at high rates, with 99.6 percent of respondents having treated for bed bugs in the past year. Prior to 2000, only 25 percent of respondents had encountered a bed bug infestation. In addition, one in five Americans now report they have had a bedbug infestation or know someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel, according to a 2011 NPMA survey.
Where have you been finding the bedbugs?
These pests are not limited to any one specific type of dwelling. Pest control companies have been reporting the infestations everywhere including single family homes, multi-family housing, apartments, hotels, hospitals, schools and college campuses, office buildings, retail stores, movie theaters and even public transportation. Nowadays, even five-star hotels and high-end clothing stores are susceptible to infestation.
What states have been affected?
Pest control companies have reported bed bug activity on a national scale. Bedbugs are being found from the East to the West Coast and everywhere in between. Specifically, the pests were encountered by 17 percent of Bed Bugs in America survey respondents in the Northeast; 20 percent in the Midwest; 20 percent in the South; and 19 percent in the West.
Why are bedbugs so hard to treat?
Bedbugs should not be equated with filth or sanitation problems -- in hotels or in homes, for that matter. Bedbugs are very elusive, transient pests. They are often found in other areas besides the bed. And they are hardy. They can live for several months without eating and can withstand a wide range of temperatures from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Bedbugs can be controlled with vigilance, constant inspection and treatment by professional pest control companies.
What can a person do to protect themselves from bedbug infestations?
To prevent bedbug infestations, consumers need to be vigilant in assessing their surroundings. When returning from a trip, check your luggage and clothing. If you think you may have a bed bug infestation, contact a pest control professional. This is not a pest that can be controlled with do-it-yourself measures.
Why are bedbugs an issue for hotels, visitors, and homeowners?
Bedbugs leave itchy, bloody welts on human skin. Adult bed bugs can live for several months without eating, making them especially hard to control. Once inside a hotel or home, bed bugs spread rapidly from room to room - through pipes, in vacuum cleaners, on clothing and luggage. In a hotel, bed bugs can even spread to neighboring rooms, since guests are may end up moving to another room.
Are bedbugs just in beds?
Bedbugs are not just in beds. They can be in chair cushions, sofas, behind electrical outlets, cracks and crevices around baseboards, or even behind picture frames. In other words, they can be live pretty much anywhere.
How does one control bedbugs?
Any effective bedbug control strategy should start with a careful, thorough inspection by a pest control professional of all known and suspected spots where the bugs may be harboring. This is not a pest that can be controlled effectively with do-it-yourself measures. As they are discovered, the pest control professional will develop a treatment and control strategy with the customer depending on the extent of the infestation.