Complete removal is the only sure method of stopping bed bugs from biting. Bed bugs have flat bodies that make them very adept at concealing themselves. Because they can easily survive for many months without feeding, even homes and apartments that have been vacant for a while may still harbor bed bugs.
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?
Bed bugs can hide anywhere with cracks and crevices are present, even if the room contains no furniture. Folds and creases in linens, pillows and draperies, as well as the seams and tufts in mattresses, box springs, bedding materials and furniture fabrics provide ideal hiding places. Their small size makes bed bugs “stowaways.” That's why hotel rooms and cruise boat cabins are particularly vulnerable. Use extra caution when contemplating the addition of used furniture to your living space, especially street items.
Identifying a Bed Bug Infestation
You may suspect the presence of bed bugs, but because they bear such a close resemblance other insects, the first step is to collect a live, crawling specimen. Have its identity confirmed by a professional, usually a licensed pest control operator. If you are a tenant, contact your property owner or manager to discuss your respective options and obligations. Property owners are generally required to contract with a licensed pest control operator.
Options for Removal of a Bed Bug Infestation
Because of their knowledge and experience with insecticides, it may be best to have a licensed pest control operator remove your bed bug infestation. If you choose this option, ask for and contact the references provided to you. Request a written integrated pest management plan detailing a list and description of the anticipated actions and insecticides used.
Once confirmed by a professional, you may opt to undertake the removal yourself. If so, be sure to develop an extensive plan and follow it precisely. If this plan includes the use of insecticides, make certain you fully understand the types of insecticides that are appropriate for the situation, particularly how and when to apply them. Most importantly, make certain you are fully aware of the risks involved and are prepared to accept any resulting consequences.
Removing Bed Bugs Yourself
Below are steps you can follow to rid your home of a bed bug infestation without the use of insecticides:
- Remove all clutter, thus limiting potential hiding places for bed bugs.
- Thoroughly clean both the infested rooms and others in the vicinity. Scrubbing infested surfaces with a stiff brush will dislodge eggs and dismantling bed frames and turning furniture upside down will expose additional hiding places.
- Follow-up by going over all surfaces, cracks and crevices with a very powerful vacuum cleaner, thus removing bugs, eggs and their accompanying debris.
- Encase the mattress and box springs with a special mattress bag, trapping the bed bugs inside where they will die off over time. Make certain the bag is virtually airtight as bed bugs can maneuver through even the smallest of openings.
- Make certain the bed is not in contact with any walls and that all sheets, blankets, comforters and other bedding materials are not touching the floor.
- Whenever possible, place the legs of bed frames and those of other furniture in dishes filled with mineral oil, teal tree oil or vaseline, all of which repel bed bugs.
- Seal all areas that bugs might utilize to return to your home. Completely seal areas around pipes, electrical wiring and any other components that penetrate walls. Examine your home and fix any cracks around baseboards, openings under doors and any other areas through which a tiny insect might pass.