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Bed bugs are troublesome to deal with. If you fail to eliminate even a single pregnant bed bug, your household runs the risk of getting infested with over 300 adult bed bugs and 1000 eggs in less than three months.
Bed bugs are common household pests that are oval in shape and brownish in colour. They are parasites that live on the blood of humans and animals.
Immature bed bugs are known as nymphs. Nyphms shed their skin five times before becoming mature. They need a complete meal of blood before each shedding. These nymphs require a little less than a month to develop fully and produce three generations of offsprings in a year, under favourable conditions.
So, where do these pesky pests come from? Bed bugs can enter your home (and life) through clothes, luggage, couch, beds, and mattresses. They have a flattened body and can fit into any available space are hard to detect. They do not have nests but live in groups. Bed bugs initially hide in mattresses, headframes, box springs and places from where they will have easy access to sleeping people, and feed on them. They later spread to other places.
Bed bugs bite while you are asleep. They pierce the skin and suck blood using their beak. They feed for up to 10 minutes and crawl back, unnoticed. Bed bug bites may or may not swell, after a complete meal. The bites are painless but soon starts itching.
Bed bug bites might look similar to mosquito bites and so, it is difficult to understand a bed bug infestation. You will need to identify the bed bugs first.
How to Remove Bed Bugs?
These small bloodsuckers can create havoc in your life if not eliminated completely. It is not difficult to remove bed bugs. A little bit of patience and knowing what needs to be done, can help in removing these tiny pests.
There are both non-chemical and chemical approaches that you can take, and that depends on the extent of the infestation.
Here is how to get rid of bed bugs permanently:
1. Identifying the Infested Areas
It is cheaper (and easier) to treat bed bugs when the infestation is small as compared to a large one. Smaller infestations are difficult to detect, but nevertheless, you will need to put in the effort to ensure the infestation does not become a large one.
You can do the inspection yourself or hire a professional for the same. Some professionals even hire dogs to track bed bugs using their smell.
As already mentioned, bed bugs can easily squeeze into seams of couch and mattresses and even folds of curtains. And, these are the places where you will need to start your inspection from.
Some of the other places that you are most likely to find them are
- Inside the cracks of headboards and bed frames
- Near-bed spring and mattress tags
- Between couch pillows and cushions
- In between furniture joints
- Underneath wall decor accents, paintings, and posters
- In baseboards
Use a magnifying glass and a torchlight to inspect these places thoroughly. These are some of the signs that you need to be on the lookout for:
- Living bed bugs that are reddish-brown in colour and about 0.25 inch long.
- Bed bug droppings are nothing dark spots measuring the same as a period.
- Crushed bed bugs on the couch or bedsheet that leads to reddish stains.
- Tiny, pale and yellow eggs and eggshells.
- Yellowish skin that nymphs shed.
If you find a bed bug, keep it inside a sealed jar containing rubbed alcohol. A lot many bugs look similar to bed bugs. If you are not sure of what you have caught, you can call an entomologist or exterminator for identification.
2. Control the Infestation
Once you are sure that it is a bed bug infestation, you will have to contain it so that the infestation does not become a large one. Using vacuum is one of the best ways of trapping bed bugs. Run your vacuum over all the possible hiding places like your bed, carpets, dresses, and others.
Now seal the vacuum content in a plastic bag and dispose of properly. Do not forget to clean the vacuum thoroughly.
Next, seal all your infected clothes and linen in a plastic bag until you can wash them. While washing them, select the highest temperature setting for the dryer and washer. This will help in eliminating the bed bugs permanently.
If there is something that cannot be washed, keep it sealed in a plastic bag. Open the bag only when you are sure that all the bed bugs have been killed. For furniture that cannot be cleaned, throw it away. Tear the cushions and pillows and paint the word ‘bed bugs’ so that no one else takes those home.
3. Preparing for Bed Bug Treatment
Treating bed bugs is not easy, and a little bit of preparation will only increase your success rate.
Ensure that carpets, clothes, linen, drapes, and furniture have been cleaned thoroughly or discarded.
Next, you will need to get rid of all the bed bug hiding places. Are there books, newspapers, and magazines lying at the same place (like underneath the beds) for over a year? It is time to throw them away. Be careful not to move items from an infected room to a clean one.
Glue down loose wallpapers and seal all cracks and open areas. Block furniture and baseboard cracks. Tape up loose electrical outlets. Shift your beds and couch at least six inches away from the wall and furniture so that the bed bugs cannot climb back.
4. Killing the Bed Bugs
There are different by which you can kill these insects.
Killing Bed Bugs at Home
How to get rid of bed bugs from mattresses and clothes is a common question that people have in mind.
You always do not need chemicals to get rid of them. Intense cold or high heat is enough to kill them.
Wash linen and clothes in hot water for over 30 minutes. Put them in the dryer with the highest heat setting for 30 minutes to remove bed bugs permanently. You can use a steamer on mattresses or any other probable hiding place. You can also pack the infested items in a plastic bag and keep it inside a car on a hot day. Or you can keep the bag inside the freezer for a couple of days.
Now that you have managed to kill all the bed bugs, you will have to make your house bedbug-proof. Bed bug-proof covers are available for box springs and mattresses. Cover your mattresses with these and zip up completely. The existing ones will die, and new ones will not be able to enter.
If the infestation is large, you will have to use an insecticide.
Chemical and Non-chemical Treatment Options
Want to know the way to get rid of bed bugs fast? You will have to make use of insecticides. Some of the available options include pyrroles, pyrethroids and pyrethrins, bug bombs and many more. Most of these can be harmful to human health, if not used properly. Read the label before using any of these. Let’s take a look at them in detail:
- Pyrethroids and Pyrethrins: These are among the most common chemicals used to eliminate bed bugs. However, some bed bugs have grown resistant to these chemicals.
- Neonicotinoids: These are nothing but artificial nicotine. These work by damaging the nervous system of bed bugs. This chemical works on bed bugs that are resistant to common insecticides.
- Pyrroles: They work by disrupting the bed bugs at the cellular level.
- Bug Bombs or Foggers: These are very effective in killing bed bugs but cannot get into crevices and cracks, and so might not be a great option. Read instructions carefully before using a fogger.
- Desiccants: These destroy the outer shell of bed bugs and the bugs eventually die. The results are slow, but the good thing is that bed bugs cannot get resistant to these.
- Plant oil-based bed bug killers are also available in the market.
You will have to do the treatments every 10 days for at least three times to ensure that all the bed bugs are gone.
5. Keep Monitoring
Even after the bed bugs are dead, you will have to keep on monitoring as bed bugs are hard to eliminate. Even a single living pregnant bed bug can give birth to hundreds of more. So, you will have to make sure that there is not a single bed bug left in your property.
Make sure to check the infested areas and all the hidden areas for any bed bug activity every 6-7 days.
You can consider using bed bug interceptors for this purpose. You will need to place these interceptors under each leg of your bed and couch. These work by catching the bugs before then you can climb onto the furniture. You will have to keep doing this at least for a year, as bed bugs can be pretty persistent.
6. Retreat As and When Needed
Bed bugs are really hardy. Just the moment you think that you have eliminated the last living bed bug from your property, you will see one crawling under your bed. You will have to retreat if required.
As far as treating the bed bugs is concerned, you will have to try different methods to see what is working for you. What worked during the initial treatment might not work now.
If nothing helps, you will have to hire the services of a professional exterminator.
7. Take the Help of Professionals
If the infestation is quite large, you will have to hire an exterminator. Also, if none of your methods are working, it is best to leave it to the pros.
Professional exterminators and pest control companies have access to chemicals that you do not have access to. Also, they are trained to use these chemicals without causing harm to the surrounding environment.
They make use of insecticides that do not only kill the bed bugs in contact but insecticides that stay inside furniture cracks and broken electrical outlets to prevent future infestation. In short, they give you long-term results.
Some pest control companies resort to whole room heat treatment. They make use of special equipment and devices to heat up the entire room with the temperature being in between 135 and 145-degree F. Such a temperature range is enough to kill every living bed bug in the room.
Before treating your property, a professional exterminator will tell you what all you need to do to prep for the treatment. Make sure you follow all the instructions to ensure that all the bed bugs are wiped out.
You will be asked to stay out of the treated room unless the insecticides dry. Professional treatment can take up to a few days, depending on the level of the infestation.
8. Preventing Bed Bugs
Once you have managed to eliminate the bed bugs, you will have to ensure that they do not come back. Reduce clutter and do not leave clothes, paper, and magazines on the floor.
Use a bedbug cover to protect your couch cushions and mattresses. Keep them zipped so that the bed bugs are not able to enter. Wash linen, carpet, and furniture often. Clean your furniture on a regular basis as well. Seal cracks and crevices on the floor, around electrical sockets, and baseboards so that the bed bugs stay away. Look for bed bugs while staying in hotels or travelling by public transport. If you suspect bed bug marks on your skin, wash your clothes and bags immediately using the highest heat setting in your washer or dryer.
If you are purchasing used furniture, make sure to inspect it thoroughly.
In most scenarios, it is easier to hire professionals as they take care of all the requirements and ensure that the bed bugs are gone. But then again, with these methods provided. You can do it yourself!