Bed bugs occur around the world, but that doesn't mean you want them in your home! Experts aren't sure why infestations are on the rise in recent years, but common guesses are complacency, a rise in international travel, and bans on certain pesticides. If you are a homeowner fighting a campaign against a new infestation, diatomaceous earth bed bug power will be key part of your arsenal.

What are bed bugs?

bed bug compared to dimeCredit: bugs are small brownish parasites that feed on blood. While they don't fly, they are very fast to move across floors and up walls.

You'll find them hiding out in crevices and protected locations like mattresses, furniture joints, and corners. They are able to fit into cracks as small as the thickness of a credit card.

How do I know if I have bed bugs?

The first sign most people notice is when they wake up with bug bites they didn't have before going to sleep. Bed bugs are nocturnal and prefer to feed on exposed areas while you sleep.

If you suspect you have bed bugs, start by checking your bedding for any signs of bugs or dark rusty-looking spots. Check the seams of the mattress, the box spring – even peel back the fabric from where it's stapled to the wood. Also check the joints of the headboard and the back corners of the nightstand drawer.

Ack! We have bed bugs – what do we do?

Bed bugs are notoriously hard to get rid of. You need to kill the current generation and also ensure a new round of eggs doesn't hatch and start the cycle over again.  

To add to that challenge, bed bugs are able to survive without food for well over a year.  A successful campaign against an infestation requires vigilance for at least that long before you can declare the battle truly won.

The best results are seen with a three-pronged attack:

Phase 1: Clear the battlefield

In this phase you get rid of as many of the bugs as you can manage. Spray any visible offenders with rubbing alcohol. Launder all bedding and clothing at 120 degree Farenheit temperature minimum.  And of course, vacuum everything – including cracks and crevices. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum contents into a sealed bag.

Buy a steamer or hire a pest control specialist to heat-treat your home and furnishings. Turning up the home thermostat won't do the job -- you need true high-heat steam.  

Phase 2: Bring in the reinforcements

exterminator logoCredit: you can possibly afford it, hire a pest control specialist. Insecticides are your friend in this war and you'll appreciate the expert help. A good pest control specialist will treat the areas you've found bugs and the typical hiding places you haven't thought of.

Keep in mind though that one round with the exterminator doesn't always mean you've finished the battle. As we've mentioned already bed bugs can live for over a year without feeding.  If the pest control specialist misses even just a couple of bugs or unhatched eggs, you will have bed bugs again – which is why you need a good long-term defense.

Phase 3: Establish the long-term defensive perimeter with Diatomaceous Earth

You've been through the early battles.  Now it's time to establish a long-term siege.  Apply food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) powder for this stage of your campaign.

Diatomaceous EarthCredit: AmazonWarning! Be sure to use only food grade Diatomaceous Earth.  It's available online or at any feed store.  The swimming pool version of DE is dangerous to humans and should never, ever be used for in-home pest control.

Begin with a thin layer anywhere bugs might live: joints of the furniture, rubbed into the carpet, everywhere.

Now establish your perimeters. For at least the next year you will want to:

  • Maintain a thin layer of DE around the legs of all your furnishings – particularly beds and anything with upholstery.

  • Dust your carpet lightly with DE after every vacuuming

  • Lightly dust all baseboards, corners, crevices, and furniture joints regularly

Remember, keep the dusting light. You want the bed bugs to walk through it, and they won't if the layer is too thick. Will diatomaceous earth kill bed bugs?  Absolutely.  Bed bugs will take a few days to die after exposure to DE, but they will indeed die.

Food grade diatomaceous earth is a natural, environmentally friendly way to protect your home and furnishings during the final stages of your battle with bed bugs.  Best of luck in your campaign!