No one wants to share their bed with bugs, and this feeling especially applies to the aptly named bed bugs. Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed on our blood while we sleep.
If this sounds unpleasant to you, you aren't alone. While bed bugs don't carry disease, they may leave trails of itchy, red bumps in their wake, and the moment they make an appearance, homeowners are desperate to get rid of them as quickly as possible.
Because bed bugs live in cracks and crevices, they are very hard to treat and eliminate. In addition, they may crawl onto the clothes or shoes of any visitors in your home, hitching a ride to their next destination and infesting a new area.
While bed bugs can often be hard to spot, there are ways to fight back.
When to consider bed bug sprays and treatments
If you wake up with a bug bite on your leg, your first reaction may be to panic. But it's important to confirm what bit you before you start to worry.
Look for some of the telltale signs of a bed bug infestation:
- Rusty or reddish stains, typically left on sheets when bed bugs are crushed
- Small dark spots, indicative of bed bug feces
- Tiny (1 mm) eggs or eggshells
- Live bed bugs (small, brownish, flat, oval-shaped bugs, about the size and shape of an apple seed)
If you see any of these signs, remove the bedding from your mattress and do a thorough examination of the mattress, box spring, bed frame and the areas surrounding your bed.
If you do confirm that you have a bed bug infestation, it's a good idea to follow manufacture's instructions with washing and drying all bedding in hot water or the hottest dryer setting. You should also vacuum the areas surrounding your bed. You can also get a cover for your mattress that will trap any bed bugs inside of it and make it easier to see bed bugs on your mattress.
However, these steps don't always take care of the problem at hand. Even if you thoroughly wash everything, clean around your bed and seal up cracks and other hiding spots, your bed bug infestation may continue.
Most effective bed bug sprays
Getting rid of bed bugs can be tricky. Therefore, preventing those irritating pests from entering your home in the first place is the best approach.
If you do wind up with a bed bug infestation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an approach that applies both chemical (bed bug spray, bed bug insecticide) and non-chemical treatments to get rid of bed bugs.
When shopping around for a bed bug treatment, you don't want to spend money on things that don't work. Most bed bug sprays contain pyrethins or pyrethoids. There is widespread research on bed bugs having resistance to these compounds. Resistance means the products do not have the desired effect on most individuals in a population. Because of this, it is more helpful to find a bed bug spray that uses a combination of insecticides from different classes.
If you use even top-of-the-line sprays with little success, it can mean that your population may be resistant to certain insecticides.
Chemical bed bug treatments
If you choose to use an insecticide to treat bed bugs, look for a product registered with the EPA. Be sure bed bugs are listed on the insecticide's label. Follow the instructions carefully or hire a pest management specialist to conduct the treatment for you. Remember that insecticides contain harsh chemicals and should be used as sparingly as possible.
Use an EPA-registered bed bug spray that is intended for indoor use. Don't use a bed bug spray on mattresses, couches or other areas inhabited by children and pets. Doing so could make your family ill.
After you apply the insecticide, wait a while to see if the problem persists. If you see bed bugs after your initial treatment, you may have missed some spots, or the initial infestation of bed bugs laid eggs that have now hatched. If this is the case, you'll have to treat the infested areas again.
Bed bugs are great at hiding, and it can be difficult to get rid of them all in one try. Visually inspect under the carpet, in electrical outlets and in any small cracks to make sure they're gone for good.
Non-chemical bed bug treatments
If you don't want to use chemicals to eliminate bed bugs, try a heat treatment. Bed bugs can't live very long in high temperatures. Put your infested clothes and bedding in your dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes.
While washing aids in sanitizing your clothes, drying your clothes on high heat in your washing machine can kill bed bugs. However, some items cannot be put in a washing machine. Most of these items won't be harmed by a cycle in the dryer, though. If you're not sure about whether to use the dryer for specific items, have them professionally evaluated or refer to the manufacturer's label and any cleaning instructions.
Another option is to use a cold treatment. Bed bugs won't survive in cold temperatures, either. Freeze infested items below 0℉ for at least four days. Use a thermometer to be sure your home freezer is cold enough to kill the bugs.
It's important to be aware that other treatments, such as sticky traps or powders like silica or diatomaceous earth may not be effective in your battle against bed bugs. Bed bugs can pull themselves off of sticky traps. Additionally, diatomaceous earth is no longer effective since multiple bed bug populations have developed a resistance to the substance by developing a thicker cuticle.
Contact Terminix® to help treat your bed bug problem
While the methods mentioned above may reduce the bed bug population, bed bugs are very difficult to control using DIY methods. Even if you're extremely vigilant, a few bugs may survive. And, even if just a few bed bugs survive, the infestation can rebound within a few weeks. As a result, homeowners could continue struggling with a bed bug infestation for weeks or months.
If you want to take care of your bed bug problem, call the bring in the professionals. The best remedy for bed bugs is treatment by a pest expert. They have the knowledge of where bed bugs hide and what strategies to use to remove them.
The team at Terminix is happy to help take care of your bed bug infestation so you don't have to tackle it on your own. Contact Terminix today to get rid of your bed bugs for good.