These days, the entire hotel industry is trying to figure out how to get rid of bed bugs and even our humble homes are been invaded by this notorious parasite which is scientifically known as Cimicidae. This insect that was once a proverb has become one of the most invasive, tenacious blood-suckers in the U.S. Once these bugs find a home – getting rid of them can become one of the biggest challenges you will ever face and it will not be rare for the cost of eradicating these pests to exceed thousands of dollars if the problem is tackled too late.
The social and financial impact of having bed bugs in your home or business can be devastating and that is why it is critical to solve the problem as soon as it is discovered. It takes a professional and tactical approach that can be costly to kill bed bugs once and for all, especially if these parasites have resided in a given space for a long period of time.
Where do Bed Bugs Come From?
Did you wake up this morning with little spots of blood on your sheets? Then, chances are, you’ve encountered bed bugs. But, these pests are not native to the U.S. They actually come from Asia, Europe and Africa. So, how did they get in your bed?
The bed bugs ended up in your bed the same way Norway rats ended up in New York City – they hitchhiked. Bed bugs are so tiny that you may never see one. And, they so resemble other common bugs, such as the tick, that it may be misidentified. Misidentification is one of the leading reasons it is so hard to get rid of bed bugs.
Bed bugs love dark, tight places. That’s why they love beds. It is speculated that they were brought to the U.S. in the belongings of soldiers returning home from European wars and by students traveling through the European continent, sleeping in hostels. They were virtually eradicated through the use of pesticides in the years following the war, but those pesticides, such as DDT, have been banned. These days, with international travel almost a norm, you’ll find bed bugs prevalent in hotels and in the homes of those who travel a lot.
Bed bugs travel at night, so if you’re in a location with bed bugs, they’ll crawl out of the creases in your bedding. It’s really hard to get rid of these bugs, because they like to burrow down into the seams of your mattress or crawl under it, often even snuggling up in the cracks between the bed frame and mattress or the frame and headboard. That’s why, with a minor infestation, you may not see them when you pull the sheets back. However, as the populations grow, they’ll begin to burrow down into the baseboards, snuggle into carpet, even crawling down into the carpet pad. They’ll wedge themselves between the linings of drapes.
When you go to sleep at night, the bed bugs are attracted by the carbon dioxide you exhale. Basically, your sleep wakes them up, and they get busy. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t eat the dead skin that you shed on your sheets. They eat blood. So, they bite you in your sleep. There are anesthetics in the bite so that you don’t feel it at the time, but later in the morning, you may see 2 to 4 red bumps in a row, and wonder what you got into.
However, these little villains don’t stay in the bed and its surrounding area. They are adventurous, and will tuck themselves into anything nearby – including the seams in your luggage and in the folds of clothes that have remained packed. And, they come home with you. They lay eggs every day, so it doesn’t take long for them to get established in their new home. They also can go for months without food, so as they run from the light, burrowing into the nearest creases and folds, they may find themselves transported to a closet or some other place with no food source, and just hibernate. That way, they can travel with you on your next trip, crawling out of the pocket of your suitcase to start their life cycle all over, again.
Next we will look at how to get rid of bed bugs yourself. There is a lot of advice on what approaches to use to eliminate this nasty insect. If you want to get rid of bedbugs yourself, there are a number of steps you can take to stop a small infestation.
There are numerous sprays on the market that will kill bed bugs. With these sprays, however, you need to carefully read the instructions to make sure they are safe for you and your pets. If the spray recommends usage in a well-ventilated area, believe it. This is, after all, a pesticide. You may be instructed, however, to close off the room after you spray it. Be sure to wait the allotted time before you return to the room. You may not be able to sleep in there within a certain number of hours.
When you spray your bed for bedbugs, remove the bedding linens, first, bag them on the bed to avoid spreading the eggs or larvae, and take the bedding to the laundry. Then, you start the spraying process. You may need a respirator, if you’re sensitive to things like this. The pesticides are supposed to be safe, but when you get rid of bedbugs yourself, you’re exposed to lots of chemicals.
Begin your assassination by spraying the baseboards around your bed, first. Hopefully, this will drive the bugs out of their cover under the baseboards and they’ll crawl through the spray. Include the carpet under and around your bed, as well.
Then, the bed itself needs to be sprayed. Be sure to cover the bed frame. Remember the bedbugs wedge themselves into creases and cracks, so all of the joints on the bed frame must be sprayed, along with every corner. If you have a headboard and footboard, spray those, too. Tip the mattress on its side and spray the underside of it, paying close attention to the seams and binding. Don’t forget to spray the frame where the mattress was lying. Lay the mattress down on the frame, and spray the sides and top. Spray your pillows, too.
Repeat the entire process in 4 weeks to do away with any new hatchlings. You also need to treat any luggage and the closet in which you stored the luggage. And, yes, this means spraying everything in the closet, being careful not to lift items out that may distribute the bed bugs into other areas. Remember, bed bugs travel when they smell carbon dioxide. Otherwise, they stay put, so the closet should be a little easier than the bedroom.
If you have a minor infestation, this should take care of the problem. However, if you have actually found bedbug dirt, you may need professional help.
Here is a list of bed bug sprays that have proven to work:
- Bug Patrol
- Best Yet
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
There are a number of home remedies that you can utilize to terminate these bugs from your home. If these work for you, it is certainly better than using pesticides in your sleeping areas.
The National Park Service says that black walnut tea is a natural insecticide. It is also used for problems affecting the bowels, of all things. It’s actually used for numerous health problems that involve inflammation, from hemorrhoids to skin conditions. The leaf, nut, bark, and hull are all used. However, The black walnut stains fabric, so should not be used in the laundry. It is suggested that it be sprinkled along the bed frame and left in saucers under the legs of the bed.
Boric acid powder is another frequently used home remedy to get rid of bed bugs. This is spread on the migratory path of the bed bugs, and not on the mattress, itself.
You can also purchase a steam cleaner, as exposure to heat is said to kill the bugs. Heating your linens in a close dryer is also supposed to kill bedbugs, if the dryer gets hot enough.
Put up a clothesline. The sunlight will kill any bedbugs hiding in your bed linens, so drape them on a clothesline and kill those bugs.
You can use natural or botanical bug treatments, too. You’ll just have to repeat the treatments frequently, because they don’t last as long as the pesticides.
Talcum powder is said to kill and repel bedbugs, but that sound too easy, doesn’t it? They also don’t like rubbing alcohol. Can you purchase that in 5 gallon drums?
There is also a product called the Original Bed Bug Powder that gets good reviews. Other people put cups or saucers with mineral oil under the legs of the bed. It will trap the bugs, and help you monitor any activity.
Keep in mind that getting rid of bed bugs with home remedies or by yourself using another course of action will only be viable if you diagnosed the presence of bed bugs early on. If there is a bed bugs infestation in your home you will need to use the services of a professional.
Alternative Approaches in Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
The other options to get rid of bed bugs are, unfortunately, very invasive and expensive. You may have to call in professional exterminators and vacate your home for a period of time, because they know what it takes to eleminate these pests. They’ll seal off your house and fumigate it. Then, they’ll come back in 4 weeks and do it again. That’s the quick part. The professional exterminators will also do all of the things you’ve already tried, except with chemicals that will kill the bedbugs. They’ll also use steam to treat all the areas they can. You’ll need to have your house professionally steam cleaned, afterward, to remove all of the dead bugs, feces, and dried blood. This level of infestations is more commonly found in rental property, in which the tenants have neglected the situation so long that it has reached “epidemic” proportions. To make your property inhabitable again, you’ll have to call in professionals.
On a recent trip to the mountains, we stayed in a nice motel. It’s a national chain, and we’ve always had great experiences there. When we arrived in the room, I spotted a small, dead tick in the bathroom sink, but since it was dead, didn’t worry about it.
The next morning, my daughter woke up and said, “I wonder why I bled during the night?” There were little spots of blood all over her sheets, but she didn’t have any spots on her. Since she’s kind of a hypochondriac, and none of the rest of us had problems, I just forgot about it. Later that day she showed me 3 bumps in a row on her arm, and said they itched like crazy.
Fast forward 3 weeks. We’re back home, and all of us are experiencing these little bumps. We notice them about mid-morning. I assume we have spiders or something and strip the beds. There is absolutely nothing on our mattresses or bed linens. I can’t even find spider webs. There was no trace of any kind of bug dirt or anything. My daughter, convinced we had bedbugs, looked it up online, and there it was – the “tick” I saw in the bathroom at the hotel!
Do you remember what I said in the section “How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Yourself?” That’s what we did. That’s how I knew the excruciating detail with which you have to address the problem. The good news is, it does work. We never saw a single bedbug in our house. We never saw any bug dirt, either, but we had bed bugs. And believe me, from now on when we travel, we will use the preventative measures to keep this from ever happening again.
If you know how to get rid of bed bugs, you can prevent them ever getting a start in your home. It is possible to vanquish these parasites once they get started, but if you don’t diagnose the problem early on, you’ll have your work cut out for you.