Bedbugs, even the name can make the skin crawl so seeing signs of bed bugs or the insect pests themselves is more than enough to make most people seek methods of bed bug extermination. There are three main considerations when trying to control bed bug infestations. First, identify the pests as actually being bedbugs. Second, determine how bad the problem really is by having a bed bug inspection. Third, use the right pest control bed bug products and methods for total bed bug extermination and prevention.
Some of the signs of bedbugs are seeing the small, flat, reddish brown, bugs or finding the black fecal stains they leave on surfaces as they feed. If the bugs are able to jump or fly then they are not bedbugs which can only crawl. Bed bugs look like small baby roaches except they are very flat. When not feeding they hide in cracks and crevices making them hard to find. Another unfortunate sign of bed bugs are the raise, red, itchy, bumps they leave on the skin of their victims. Bedbugs only feed on blood with their sucking mouthparts and they only stay on their victim while feeding. The bedbug lifecycle is a simple one with eggs in clutches up to 50, being glued to rough surfaces and hatching around 10 days later. The young nymphs resemble the adults except for being smaller and amber in color. It can take them from one to five months to mature depending on the temperature and availability of food. Bed bug females can breed all year long, producing up to 500 eggs per breeding cycle, and can live for over a year.
When doing a bed bug inspection of a room look in the places the bugs like to hide. Check between mattresses and box springs, along the bed frame, under loose wallpaper, along the seams of furniture or mattresses, under cushions, behind wall pictures, along window sills, inside box springs, and around baseboards. Don't just look for the bugs themselves, watch for the dry papery skins the young bed bugs shed as they grow and look for the black fecal stains they leave on sheets, mattress covers, walls, and curtains. Bed bugs will hide in carpeting and in clothing that they can reach such as items left lying on a bed or set on the floor. Check where the carpet meets the walls and under clothing packed in drawers or boxes.
Once bedbugs have been found, it is necessary to find out how widespread the problem is in the house. How many rooms are infested with bed bugs, are they in the couches and stuffed chairs, or are they limited to one room and maybe to only the bed? There is no need to use bed bug control products on the whole house if only one room shows signs of bed bugs. If however, several rooms are involved, then it is time to call in a professional exterminator to have the whole house fumigated and each room treated with bed bug control products that only licensed exterminators can use. Bed bugs will hitch rides on people and pets as well as on personal items to get to other areas of the house.
Bed bug extermination can be hard to achieve because of how quickly they breed and their many hiding places. DE, diatomaceous earth will kill bed bugs and other insect pests. It is non toxic to pets and people and will remain active as long as it remains dry. It is important to only use food grade diatomaceous earth as other types can be carcinogenic. The DE powder can be sprinkled on carpets, behind baseboards, under mattresses, and inside box springs. It can cause skin irritations and lung problems with extended exposures. Boric acid based products such as roach powders are good pest control treatments for bed bugs. While non toxic to mammals, boric acid is poisonous to insects and birds. The fine powder can also irritate the lungs and cause metals to rust. Like DE, boric acid will remain active as long as it remains dry so neither of these products can be used outside in the weather. Fumigating bombs are a great way to control bedbugs as the gaseous toxins will enter the bedbug hiding places. Fumigants may have to be used several times to ensure total control as they won't last long enough to kill any newly hatched bedbugs or their eggs. Pest control products containing pyrethrins, cyhalothrin, bifenthrin, deltamethrin, and permethrin can be used to kill bedbugs but often those available to the general public are not strong enough or they do not have a long residual effect. Professional exterminators are able to use the best pest control products. When using any pesticides always read and understand the labels and heed any warnings that are given.
The use of heat is another way to kill not only adult bed bugs but also their eggs. Sheets, pads, pillow covers, mattress covers, clothing, and curtains should all be washed in 120 degree water if possible and then placed in a medium hot drier for at least 10 to 15 minutes to exterminate all the bugs and their eggs. Place all infested items in large plastic bags and seal them up before removing them from the room for washing. Throw the empty plastic bags away immediately and do not take infested items to a dry cleaners as that will simply spread the bed bug infestation. Steam will also kill bedbugs and their eggs. Use a good steam cleaner to thoroughly go over any surfaces that can safely take the steam and have carpets steam cleaned if possible before appling any pesticides. There are whole house or room based heating processes that can be used to eradicate bedbugs, but the environment has to be heated to at least 130 to 140 degrees for a period of 2 to 3 hours. The procedure is costly, possibly dangerous, and all types of preparations have to be taken before it can be used. High enough temperatures cannot be reached using standard home heating systems.
Furniture and bed frames should be vacuumed down thoroughly, and the cracks and crevices steam cleaned before treating with a pesticide. Use a good vacuum, fitted with a narrow nozzle to go over baseboards, window frames, and carpets to dislodge eggs and suck up bugs. Seal up and throw away the vacuum bag immediately. Be sure to check all boxes, books, and book shelves when doing a bedbug inspection. After the thorough cleaning have the room or house fumigated.
Lastly take steps to prevent bed bug infestations before they happen. Bed bugs often enter premises by hitching rides on clothing, furniture, suitcases, and mattresses. When buying second hand clothing or furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, do a bed bug inspection on all of them. Clean all items and place mattresses and box springs inside bedbug proof covers. Bed bugs can survive for over a year without feeding by going dormant or as eggs, so the mattress covers should never be removed once put into place. When travelling always do a bed bug inspection before settling into a room. Keep suitcases up off the floor, off the bed, and off of upholstered furniture. Place all suitcases and loose clothing into plastic bags to seal them up during the night. Move beds away from the wall so the bugs cannot crawl onto the bed from the wall or bedside furniture. Beds can be safe guarded from floor crawling pests by placing the legs in containers of soapy water or by using double sided sticky tape around each leg. Bedbugs can also be found in public places like movie theaters, resturants, hospitals, schools, and libraries. Be careful of where bags and purses are set in any public place. Be especially careful when visiting foreign destinations as bed bug infestations may be worse there. Whenever red itchy bumps turn up on your skin or on the skin of children after waking up, do a check for bed bugs to catch any infestation before it spreads.