Want to know how to get rid of bed bugs? If you’ve found the creepy little critters in your house, you might be concerned that you’ve got a long, tough battle ahead of you. While getting rid of bed bugs isn’t easy exactly, the good news is that bed bugs, unlike cockroaches for example, are comparatively fragile and are susceptible to a number of effective treatment options.
In this blog we’ll go over some of your options.
What is the main cause of bed bugs?
Before we get into ways of getting rid of bed bugs, we thought we’d touch briefly on why you might have them in the first place. Knowing the most common ways they invade your home may not always prevent future outbreaks, but it can help minimize the possibility.
First of all, despite what you may initially worry, bed bug infestations are not a result of bad hygiene. The cleanliness of the house is a secondary concern as well. While clutter, like old newspapers or magazines for example, can give bed bugs a place to hide, they don’t need these things to infest a place to begin with thanks to their small size and unique shape.
This means that an otherwise clean and orderly space still offers multiple places for bed bugs to set up shop.
Another reason is their source of food. Unlike, say, ants which might feed off of foodstuffs left lying around the house, bed bugs don’t eat the same food we eat. Instead, we are the source of sustenance for bed bugs, specifically our blood. Bed bugs feed off of the blood of animals, including people.
The main cause of bed bugs is that they are simply brought in from somewhere else.
Bed bugs are well-traveled insects. A very common source of the wretched little things is staying in a place that is already infested like a hotel room, on the other side of the country or even the world, and having them stow away in or on your luggage or your clothing.
How do I know if I have bed bugs?
We went over this important topic in a previous blog post so we won’t belabor this point beyond these five signs: you can see blood stains on your bed sheets, you can see their eggs, you can see their molted shells, you can see stains from their feces, and you can actually see the bugs themselves.
If you see one or more of these signs, you might have an infestation. If you are ever unsure if you have a bed bug infestation or are mistaking possible signs for something else, you can always get a hold of us and one of our pest control experts who will confirm whether you have bed bugs or not.
How to get rid of bed bugs
Alright, you’ve seen the signs, you’ve done your due diligence and you’ve confirmed that you have an infestation. Time to take action. There are a number of ways of treating bed bugs. Here are a few that will produce results.
Can I get rid of bed bugs myself? How to kill bed bugs for the DIYer
Yes, while you can get rid of bed bugs yourself, anticipate a good amount of work to be successful.
First off, don’t bother with things like rubbing alcohol or sticky traps. These are great for some pests, but not particularly effective for bed bugs. If you’re looking for a chemical option, consider the following first.
There are a number of insecticides that are highly effective against bed bugs. If a DIY insecticide is your bed bug treatment of choice, be sure to use it as directed. The efficacy of the insecticide and prevention of the bugs developing a resistance to it will depend on proper usage.
General purpose insecticides
General purpose insecticides like pyrethrins and pyrethroids are used to kill a variety of insects by attacking their nervous systems. These chemicals come in a variety of mediums and can be very effective against bed bugs when used properly.
Unfortunately, their frequent use has led to the development of resistance to the chemicals in the insect populations. They’ll still work more likely than not, but there is the possibility that at least some bed bugs will survive the treatment.
Simply put, desiccants are chemicals that dry things out.
When deployed against bed bugs, desiccants gradually kill the bugs by literally sucking them dry.
Desiccants are effective and it is not possible for the bugs to ever develop a resistance to them the way they may develop a resistance to insecticides. The uphost is that they do work very slowly. It may take months after administering a desiccant for it to kill the affected bugs.
Take care to select the correct desiccant for the job. While any desiccant will work, look for one that is designated as a pesticide as these are designed to be lethal to bugs while not causing harm to humans or pets.
Neonicotinoids are chemically similar to nicotine and kill bugs by attacking their nervous systems. These are often deployed against bed bugs that have become resistant to other chemical treatments.
A negative upshot to neonicotinoids is that they are especially harmful to some beneficial insects like honey bees so their users should adhere strictly to the manufacturer’s directions for use.
Foggers or “bug bombs”
Foggers are devices that create a fog or aerosolized chemicals (often pyrethrins or pyrethroids) that fill an entire enclosed space with the deadly insecticide.
While highly effective against many species of insects, foggers have mixed results when treating bed bugs. When bed bugs are immersed in the fog, it will kill them unless they are resistant to the specific insecticide, but the fog does not always penetrate into the places that bed bugs like to hide, meaning that even if they kill several, a few may survive.
Also, foggers do require all human and animal occupants of the room/building being treated to vacate the premise until the fog clears which can be inconvenient.
We aren’t trying to discourage the use of foggers, just know that their effectiveness in treating bed bugs can be a bit of a crapshoot.
Extreme heat and cold: non-chemical treatments
If you don’t want to use chemicals, the good news is that there are some highly effective non-chemical bed bug treatment options.
Despite how well-traveled and ubiquitous they are, bed bugs are surprisingly vulnerable to extreme temperatures. You can use this to your advantage.
Generally speaking, cold treatment, while not totally unviable, is not that effective.
If your infestation is limited exclusively to some clothing items, luggage or some bed linens, it is possible to kill bed bugs using cold treatments.
Basically, what you need to do is take the infested item, seal it in a plastic bag, and put it into a deep freezer, the colder the better.
Then wait. For days. Maybe even weeks. Even then there are no guarantees.
Extreme cold will kill bed bugs eventually, but it has to be very cold and consistently so. Any variations that bring the temperature above freezing can complicate the process.
And, obviously, this only works on items that can be packaged up and sealing in a freezer. Infestation of a room or building cannot be effectively treated with cold treatment.
Steams and clothes dryers: heat treatments for bed bugs
If you want to kill bed bugs efficiently then extreme heat is the way to go. Bed bugs do not like heat. When done correctly, heat treatment can be a 100% effective bed bug treatment.
If the infestation is limited to individual items, heat treatment can be as simple as exposing it to hot steam (~150 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter) or putting it in a clothes dryer for an extended period of time.
It’s also possible to apply heat treatment to an entire building. This is a more complicated process that requires special equipment that most people don’t just have lying around is best handled by professionals. This leads us to our last suggestion on how to get rid of bed bugs
Hire a professional to do it
While DIY bed bug solutions can certainly be effective, they can be time consuming and may not always be the most effective. So why not entrust this job to somebody who deals with obnoxious pests for a living?
Professional pest controllers have the training, tools and knowledge of the latest techniques to treat any infestation, including bed bugs.
If you are dealing with a bed bug infestation or just suspect that you may have one, give us a call!
We’ll come to your home and determine what’s going on and then explain what your options are. If you decide to hire us to get rid of the problem for you, we’ll make sure the job gets done right!