When it comes to Bed Bugs, there is no fix-all, easy solution. Complete control requires a carefully planned and designed integrated approach.
Ask anyone who has previously fought the battle of the bed bugs; we all wish there was some quick and easy, one-step program to getting rid of them, or perhaps some miracle pesticide that we could spray once and then be done. We don't want to live with, sleep with, and continue feeding these unwelcome home invaders (with our own blood, nonetheless!) one day longer than we have to! The fact is, bed bug control takes time, patience, and persistence. But take courage! The following 5-step management program can assist in guiding your efforts to rid your home, structure, or other dwelling of bed bugs.
A 5 Step Program for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
The first step in bed bug management and control is to properly identify the pest. Most people know that bed bugs "drink blood", but in addition to this repulsive fact, it is also wise to have an idea of what bed bugs look like so that 1) you can be sure you are using the right control program, and 2) you won't miss them when inspecting other areas of your home for infestation in step 3. Here's what bed bugs look like:
- Oval in shape, wingless, and rusty red or mahogany in color.
- About 1/5 inch long
- Bodies are flattened
- Well-developed antennae, small eyes, and, and the area behind the head expands forward on either side of the head
- Appearance of nymph is similar to that of the adult except smaller in size and lighter, yellowish white color
The second step in bed bug management and control is to pinpoint, as nearly as possible, the hot-spots of infestation within the dwelling by conducting frequent, detailed inspection. While bed bugs typically thrive in areas where humans sleep and spend large amounts of time at night, they do not always infest human beds. Instead, the source of infestation may be an armchair where a teenager spends time watching television late into the night, a throw blanket, or a well-worn garment. Locating the most heavily infested areas will allow you to focus the bulk of your control effort in the right places for optimum results.
These visual signs of bedbug activity can help point out the favorite hiding places of bed bugs:
- Blood lots smears on light-colored surfaces such as walls, bedding, and curtains
- Fecal deposits or smears, resembling dark black or brown spots, and sometimes "salt and pepper"
- Egg shells and cast skins
Thorough bed bug inspection for both visual signs and live bed bugs should include all the following areas:
- Mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards
- Anything attached to the wall or ceiling: mirrors, picture frames, electrical conduits, smoke detectors, etc.
- Areas where hardware for window finishings mount to the wall
- Within the folds of drapes and curtains.
- Furniture such as sofas and chairs: Check the undersides, wooden framework, and within upholstered seams.
- Remove drawers from dressers and nightstands to inspect all cracks and crevices.
- Small cracks and crevices.
- Any place where humans sleep or spend large amounts of time at night.
3- NON-CHEMICAL CONTROL METHODS
Although the implementation of non-chemical measures alone are not likely to solve your bed bug problem, they are an absolutely essential component of the overall management program and should be among the first to implemented. These methods, in conjunction with the proper use of chemical pesticides in less-sensitive areas of the infested home or building, can aid you in achieving full control.
- Vacuums. Using a vacuum to target infested bed bug harborages can be useful if it is done properly. Because bed bugs and their eggs cling tightly to surfaces, it is best to scrape the end of the vacuum repeatedly over the target area. Do not use a brush attachment, as some bed bugs and eggs will remain alive in the bristles and be transferred to other areas of the home. After vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be removed, sealed tightly in a garbage bag, and discarded immediately to control for bed bugs and eggs that may have survived the ride down the suction hose.
- Steamers. Temperatures of 120 degrees F are lethal to bed bugs (as well as most other insects), and the use of a steamer at kills both bed bugs and eggs on contact. The best steamer to use for bed bugs is one that emits very little moisture and has a large brush head. Steam vapors should be too hot to touch to be effective, and the steamer head should be directly over the surface being treated. Finished wood surfaces or other items that might be damaged by high heat should not be treated with the steaming technique.
- Washer & Dryer. When bed bugs manage to infest personal items such as bedding and clothing that cannot be treated with pesticides, a great non-chemical treatment is to wash and dry the items on the hottest possible setting. The typical dryer will reach up to 180 degrees F ten minutes into its cycle, a temperature that is lethal to bed bugs and their eggs. Other items that can be treated in the washer and dryer, or just the dryer alone include soft toys, rugs, backpacks, and footwear.
- Disposal. The quickest and easiest non-chemical way to take a sizeable chunk out of a bed bug population is to throw out infested items. Before discarding infested items, always bag or wrap them to prevent dislodgement of bed bugs on the way to the dumpster.
- Encasement. If an old infested bed is to be kept, your best non-chemical method of control is to place a smooth, tight-fitting, hardy cover over your old mattress. This is known as encasement. Encasing the mattress and box springs prevents an infestation from growing by denying bed bugs access to the hard-to-treat inner areas. You will easily be able to spot and remove new clusters of bed bugs on the smooth cover, and bed bugs that happen to be inside the cover become entombed and will eventually die.
- Elimination of Harborages. As available harborages are limited, the bed bug population becomes stressed. Bed bugs will have to travel greater distances in order to find suitable environments to occupy, and will be exposed to more pesticides in the process of pilgrimage. Eliminating harborages include using caulk or other sealants to close off cracks, crevices, gaps around plumbing and ductwork, and other entry points near floors, walls, and ceilings. Clutter (stacks of books, papers, boxes, piles of clothing, etc) should also be eliminated, since these also provide favorite bed bug harborages.
4- USE OF PESTICIDES - (The Powerful Punch)
To achieve the maximum level of control, it will be necessary to incorporate some form of pesticide use as part of the overall approach to bed bug management. Think of pesticides as the powerful punch of your program. When applying pesticides, be sure to treat all surrounding areas to the infestation, in addition to the source itself, including wall voids between infested rooms.
Product Recommendations: To get rid of bed bugs effectively we'd recommend purchasing at least one of each type of product below for a complete bed bug control treatment. Don't forget to purchase enough for a follow-up treatment in two weeks:
- Dusts. Dusts such as Drione Dust with pyrethrins for crack and crevice treatments. Dusts kill bed bugs where they are most likely to harbor: in cracks and crevices. Use the Hand Duster for easier and safer application.
- Liquid Insecticide Concentrates. Use a Residual (long lasting) liquid concentrate such as or Suspend SC/Demand CS/Cyonara 9.7; or an aerosol like D-Force HPX - 14 oz., or CB Intruder HPX. Use each as their respective label directs for applying to mattresses, furniture pieces, the bed frame and cracks and crevices.
- Contact Kill Aerosols: Contact sprays with pyrethrins such as CB-80 Extra Aerosol - 17 oz. or 565 PLUS XLO kill bed bugs immediately, on contact. These aerosols are great for spot treatments.
- IGR's (Insect Growth Regulators): Gentrol IGR Concentrate or Gentrol Aerosol IGR - 16 oz.may be used as an added measure in addition to the produts above (and not as a replacement). IGR's prevent bed bugs from reproducing.
All product labels can be found on their respective product page on our site. We also have pre-packaged Bed Bug Kits which include all the products you will need for the initial and follow-up treatments. Visit our Bed Bug control page for more specific instructions on pesticide application for Bed Bug infestations.
The final step in bed bug management is the most important. You will probably see a significant improvement after the initial treatment and implementation of the steps in this program. However, as we mentioned in the introduction, complete bed bug elimination takes patience, persistence, and time. Following an initial treatment and implementation, you should continue to actively engage in step 2 (Inspection) on a regular schedule (every 2 or 3 weeks) to monitor bed bug populations. Steps 3 through 5 will likely need to be repeated on a bi-monthly to monthly basis until all signs of infestation disappear completely.
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