Fighting against bed bugs is never easy. Bed bugs are such resilient and stubborn pests that even experts admit it takes a lot of one’s effort, time, discipline, and patience to get rid of these critters for good. The United States Environmental Protection Agency likewise maintains that bed bug removal is a complex process and the success of treatment depends on several factors such as the extent of infestation (both at home and in the neighborhood), amount of clutter, willingness and commitment of everyone in the household to observe preventive measures. Moreover, bed bugs are very tiny and are discreet in movements, making it easier for them to hide in small holes or crevices and go unnoticed for a long. They also reproduce so fast that they can inflict a full-blown infestation in just a matter of several days or weeks.
What Bed Bugs Do
Bed bugs depend on warm human blood to live, but they can survive for many months or a year without feeding. Indeed, eliminating these pesky critters is not like a walk in the park. Once they have settled in your home and multiplied their numbers, they will invade more areas other than the bedroom. You can find them crawling on fabric, clothes, carpets, furniture, walls, electrical outlets, and other objects in the household.
Bed bugs are known to bite during the night when their host is asleep, leaving red flat welts on different exposed parts of the body like the arms, neck, face, and torso. Their bites can be extremely itchy and can linger on for several days or longer before they heal. Although bed bugs have not been found to carry or spread diseases, they can cause anxiety and even trigger allergic reactions in some people.
Guide to Eliminating Bed Bugs
So much has been written about how to kill bed bugs and prevent an infestation. Some of the techniques recommended can be in a Do-It-Yourself way. However, according to a professional at a bed bug and pest control in York, PA, “Certain bed bug treatment procedures require expertise and have to be performed only by licensed professionals.” Still, as homeowners or residents, we need to know the different ways to combat bed bugs and keep them at bay. Here are the things you can do at home:
1. Search for the signs of infestation.
It is best to first confirm whether there really are bed bugs inside your home. Thus, you must look for the following telltale signs of bed bugs:
- Bite marks. One of the most obvious indications that you might have bed bugs is the group of red bite marks that form a zigzag or straight line pattern on your skin. These bites are way itchier than the usual mosquito bites.
- Dark fecal matter. Bed bug excrements look like small black dots you make using a marker. They can be found in areas like the sides and seams of the mattress, wallpapers, and other areas where the bugs usually hide.
- Musty smell. The stench lingers in the air even after you clean your room. It is like the smell of damp towels left for days or of old dirty locker rooms.
- Molted Skin. Bed bugs shed skin five times before reaching full maturity and so they always leave behind exoskeletons wherever they go, especially in their hiding spots like box springs, headboards, drawers, and those dark spaces with small cracks or crevices.
- Blood stains. Bed bugs are often accidentally crushed by their host during sleep, thereby staining the sheets and even your pajamas with their blood.
2. Inspect your travel essentials.
Aside from the signs of bed bug activity mentioned above, you also need to find evidence of the bugs by conducting a thorough inspection of your room and your belongings especially if you are one who travels a lot. Bed bugs may be acquired from hotel rooms and hitchhike on clothes and luggage. Hence, whenever you come back home from a trip, make sure to inspect your clothes, luggage, and other belongings for possible signs of bed bugs. Healthline suggests using a flashlight and a magnifying glass when checking areas where bed bugs usually dwell such as cracks in bedframes, furniture joints, in between cushions, electrical outlets, paintings on walls, picture frames, box springs, near tags of mattresses, loose wallpaper, headboards, etc.
3. Heat/Freeze your clothes and other belongings.
Bed bugs have very fragile bodies that they could not survive in a very hot or cold environment. That is why heating your clothes using a steam cleaner or washing them with hot water helps eliminate bed bugs. You may also place other items, particularly those that are non-washable, in the freezer for 24 hours to kill the bugs.
4. Apply bed bug treatment methods.
Some DIY methods you can use at home to prevent bed bugs from thriving include sprinkling diatomaceous earth on cracks and other hiding spots, applying insecticides specifically intended for bed bugs and using bed-bug-proof encasements for your mattresses. If you opt to call in the professionals, heat remediation or chemical treatment is likely to be used. However, pest control companies usually prefer heat treatment because it is safe for people and the environment. Besides, heat treatment only requires a one-time application that kills bed bugs within minutes of application. Chemical treatment needs two to three additional sessions before completely eliminating the bed bugs.
5. Protect your bed.
One of the ways to keep bed bugs off your bed is to make your bed inaccessible to pests. Installing interceptors effectively protects your bed from bed bugs. Interceptor cups, for example, trap bed bugs and prevent them from climbing the bed posts. Another way to keep your bed safe from bugs is to isolate it in a way that it does not touch your walls, floor, and furniture so that the bed bugs will not find any other means to crawl to your bed.
6. Consult a pest control expert.
Pest control professionals have the license, knowledge, and experience about pests, the behavior of pests, and the appropriate treatment method for certain pest problems. Hence, if you suspect a bedbug infestation and are unsure of what to do, the best people to call are the professionals. Also, treatment methods should be left to the hands of experts to do away with danger or accidents.
Get rid of them all at once!
Bed bugs will invade any household. When faced with a bed bug problem, the best thing a homeowner can do is to know the preventive measures and be consistent with observing them at home. It is not a guarantee that bed bugs will no longer re-infest after applying the treatment procedure. Even after a successful bed bug removal procedure, homeowners still have to continue practicing the measures that keep bed bugs away.