Bed Bug Control - How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Bed Bug Pre-treatment Procedures
- Reduce Clutter
- Launder Infested Garments and Linens
- Dismantle Bed Frames
- Remove Dresser Drawers
- Clean the Area
- Caulk and Seal
Remove all personal items (stuffed animals, soft toys, blankets, electronics, etc) and anything that does not stay in the room permanently. Caution: Be mindful that items from the infested area can transfer bed bugs to other areas. It is best to bag them in plastic with Nuvan Strips.
Launder Infested Garments and Linens:
Infested garments and bed linen cannot be treated with insecticide. They need to be laundered in hot water (120 degrees fahrenheit minimum). If washing is not available, heating the garments or bed linens for several minutes in a clothes dryer may work.
Dismantle Bed Frames:
Dismantling bed frames in infested areas typically exposes bed bug hiding sites. Having access to these areas during cleaning is important. Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric and look for bed bugs. If the fabric is torn (possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Encasements by Mattress Safe. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring when using these encasements. Keep them on for a year.
Remove Dresser Drawers:
Remove drawers from desks and dressers since bed bugs like to hide in these areas. Turn furniture over to inspect and clean all hiding spots. All furniture should be pulled away from the walls.
Clean the Area
Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs. Vacuum the room extensively. Use a vacuum hose attachment to thoroughly vacuum cracks and crevices on furniture and along baseboards on the walls. Vacuum along baseboards, furniture, bed stands, rails, headboards, foot boards, bed seams, tufts, buttons, edges of the bedding, as well as the edges of the carpets (particularly along the tack strips). A good vacuum cleaning job may remove particles from cracks and crevices to encourage greater insecticide penetration. Bed bugs cling tightly to surfaces, so it is best to vacuum by scraping the end of the vacuum attachment over the infested areas to pull out the bed bugs. Caution: It is not good to use a bristle attachment, because you may transfer bed bugs to other areas since they cling to the brush. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bags after you are finished in an outdoor trashcan.
Caulk and Seal
Caulk and seal all holes where pipes and wires penetrate walls and floor, and fill cracks around baseboards and molding to further reduce harboring areas.
Bed Bug Inspection
Bed Bug Appearance
Tip: The common Bed Bug can be seen with the naked eye. Since bed bugs are difficult to see, use a magnifying glass.
Bedbug Pictures: What does a bed bug look like?
Adult bed bugs are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about 1/4 to 5/8 inch long. Note: Their flat shape enables them to readily hide in most cracks and crevices.
Adult Male Bed Bug
Adult Female Bed Bug
Bed Bug Nymph
Tip: Eggs are not placed on the host's body (the person sleeping in the bed), but the eggs are found on surfaces near where the host sleeps.
Bed Bug Inspection Tips:
- Look in any place that offers darkness, isolation and protection to the bed bug.
- Inspect adjoining rooms where an infestation is found. Even when the bed bugs themselves cannot be found, their hiding places can be located by looking for the spots of fecal material they often leave.
- Use an Insecticide Aerosol such as CB-80 or PT 565 to flush the bed bugs out of suspected hiding places. These aerosols kill on contact, but the idea is to flush them out for inspection
Bed Bug Inspection Check ListInspect these Areas:
- The Mattress and Box Spring
- Bed Frame and Head / Foot Boards
- Other Furniture
- Walls and Carpet
- Electronics and Appliances
The Mattress and Box Spring
Check the mattress throughly, paying close attention to seams and tufts along the edges. Flip the mattress over and inspect the bottom carefully as well. Pay particular attention to any rips in the fabric. View the fabric on the bottom of the box spring and shine a flash light to verify that bed bugs have not penetrated the interior of the box spring.
Bed Frame and Head and Foot Boards
Remove the mattress and box frame from the bed frame and shine a flash light all along every potential hiding place on the bed frame. Remember bed bugs can slip into an crack a business card can fit into.
Other Furniture: Desks, Chairs, Dressers, etc
Take out all drawers and cushions from surrounding furniture. Check all seams and crevices carefully with a flashlight. Take your time and inspect thoroughly. Bed Bugs are commonly found in these areas in an infested room.
Walls and Carpet
Inspect the surrounding walls by removing electircal switch plates and any wall hangings. Check under tack strips and behind baseboards where ever possible. Shine light into cracks in plaster and seams along wall paper.
Electronics and Other Applicances
Unfortunately electronics and appliances provide a perfect hiding spot for bed bugs. Check them closely with a flashlight and magnifying glass as well. Remove them when possible. Placing smaller ones in a bag with Nuvan Strips is an effective way to save the device.
Additional Bed Bug Inspection Notes
Bed Bug fecal and blood spots (look like rust) are left on sheets and pillowcases when the engorged bed bugs are crushed. These indicators serve as sure signs of infestation. Bed bugs prefer to hide in cracks and crevices during the daytime and come out to feed on the host's blood at night, usually while the host is sleeping.
Since bed bugs can flatten their bodies, they fit in very small crevices, specially around the bed area. They are found in habitual hiding places, preferably close to a blood meal. Even though their preference is to be close they can travel several feet for a blood meal.
Initial infestations tend to be around beds, but the bugs eventually become scattered throughout a room, occupying any crevice or protected location. They can also spread to adjacent rooms or apartments.
Bed Bug Treatment Procedures (Part A)
Do I Have to Throw Out the Mattress?
This question is answered by the condition of the mattress and the size of infestation. If there are holes or tears in the gauze fabric or fabric of the mattress, bed bugs and eggs may be inside, as well as outside. There are restrictions on how beds can be treated with insecticides. We carry both Mattress Safe Bed Bug Encasements and ActiveGuard Mattress Liners.
1. Mattress Safe Encasements: Mattress Safe Products are bed encasements to place over your mattress or boxspring so you don't have to throw them away. They are bedbug certified. If using a labeled insecticide on the mattress or boxspring first, apply on mattress or box springs then zip it up. It has a patented hook to keep the bed bugs inside the encasement so they cannot escape. Keep the encasement in place for one year (due to bed bug life cycles).
2. Active Guard Liners: Active Guard Mattress Liners may be placed on beds and are effective as both preventative and active bed bug treatments. They kill bed bugs and dust mites within 72 hours and will prevent bed bugs from infesting mattresses. ActiveGuard Liners act like a fitted sheet; it comes in single, full, queen, and king sizes that fit up to 17" in depth.
If you decide against Mattress Safe Encasements or ActiveGuard Liners, use insecticides labeled for beds such as Steri-Fab, Cimexa Dust, Phantom Aerosol, Bedlam Aerosol, or Temprid SC (See below).
How to treat the mattress with insecticides:
Look carefully at the folds and seams of the mattress, the headboard, foot board (if present), box spring/support platform, frame, etc for bedbugs and treat these area after vacumming.
The following residual insecticides and dusts are labeled to spray and dust mattresses:
- Cimexa Dust
- Bedlam Aerosols
- CrossFire Insecticide
- CrossFire Aerosols
- Temprid FX Insecticide
- Steri-Fab Bed Bug Spray
Dusts last longer than aerosols, but the crack and crevice tips on the Phantom and Bedlam areosols enable you to get into the smallest cracks. It is a good idea to use a combination of sprays and dusts. Temprid SC may be used on the tufts and seams of mattresses. It works well as a residual insecticide sprayed in other recommended treatment areas such as night stands, chests, dressers, couches and chairs.
Bed Bug Treatment Procedures (Part B)
Treat all baseboards and furniture (Night Stand, Chests, Dressers, Couches and Chairs)
Bed Bug Treatment: Sprays and Dusts
There are several products on the market that work well for bed bugs:
Apply residual liquid, aerosol or dust residual insecticides such as Spectre 2 SC, CrossFire Bed Bug Insecticide Concentrate, Temprid FX, D-Fense NXT, Cimexa Dust , Crossfire Aerosol, Bedlam Plus Aerosol, and Phantom Aerosol.
It is best to use a combination of these products for application purposes.
You can get these at discounted rates in be form of kits: Bed Bug Kits
The kits have the residual insecticide with the dust and aerosols.
Spray liquid insecticides or aerosols:
- Spray around and under the bed and along the baseboards near the bed. After removing the drawers from the furniture, the inside of the cabinetry should be sprayed as well as the bottom and sides of the drawers. Do not treat the inside of the drawers. If needed the clothes in the drawers should be removed and laundered.
- Spray around the inside of closets, door frames and doors.
- Spray molding at the top and bottom of the room. Spray around windows.
- Spray seams of drawers, both top and bottom. Spray dressers from below. Spray where dressers touch the floor.
- Spray where the bed touches the floor, spray chairs and underneath chairs.
- Spray all baseboards, loose plaster, behind bed frames and headboards, beneath beds and furniture, and bedsprings and bed frames. Do not apply to furniture surfaces or mattresses where people will be laying or sitting unless using a product labeled for that type of treatment. Infested bedding should not be treated, but should be removed, placed in sealed plastic bags, and taken for laundering and drying at high temperature.
Recommended Liquid Insecticides-Transport Mikron and Temprid FX
Spectre 2 SC has a low odor and is not dectectable by the bed bugs. Adjust the spray pattern to a mist by turning the nozzle. A low fine mist is best for most spraying, but you may need to use a stream to get into some cracks and crevices. If you can't get into the cracks and crevices use one of the aerosols described below with it's crack and crevice tips to reach into these areas.
CrossFire Bed Bug Concentrate has two different active ingredients for dual modes of action (both a quick kill and residual activity). Mix 3 oz of CrossFire Insecticide with one gallon of water or 0.75 oz per quart (Remember to use what you mix-within 24 hours.) Adjust the spray pattern to a mist by turning the nozzle. A low fine mist is best for most spraying, but you may need to use a stream to get into some cracks and crevices. If you can't get into the cracks and crevices use one of the aerosols described below with it's crack and crevice tips to reach into these areas.
Mix 8 ml (about 1/3 oz)(measurements on the bottle) or one 8 ml vial of Temprid FX with one gallon of water. Remember to use what you mix-within 24 hours. Adjust the spray pattern to a mist by turning the nozzle. A low fine mist is best for most spraying, but you may need to use a stream to get into some cracks and crevices. If you can't get into the cracks and crevices use one of the aerosols described below with it's crack and crevice tips to reach into these areas.
Recommended Aerosols-Aerosols are perfect for application where you can not spray liquid mixtures.
Aerosols (D-Fense NXT, Crossfire Aerosol, or Bedlam Plus) Usage: Simply attach the plastic tip to the aerosol can. Apply as a crack and crevice or spot treatment where evidence of bed bugs occurs. This includes bed frames, box springs, inside empty dressers, clothes closets, curtain rods, hollow spaces, carpet edges, high and low wall moldings and wallpaper edges.
Recommended Insecticide Dust: CimeXa Dust
CimeXa Dust: Cimexa Insecticide Dust kills bed bug adults and nymphs, killing bed bug nymphs hatched from dusted eggs. As a lox toxic insecticide dust, CimeXa Dust is composed of 100% Amorphous Silica Gel. It is odorless and does not stain surfaces.
Dust Usage: (Do not dust on top of moist insecticides)
If possible disassemble bed frame and treat from all angles with dust and aerosol. After the mattress and box spring have been treated, enclose both of these with Mattress Safe Bed Bug Encasements. With these covers you can keep your bed and do not have to treat it again.
Important!! Do all of the treatments (as described above) 3 times, 10 days apart.
Bed bugs come out to feed every few weeks, so retreament is critical.
DO NOT USE FOGGERS OF ANY KIND!!! FOGGERS SCATTER THE BED BUGS AND MAKE YOUR JOB MORE DIFFICULT!!!
Integrated and Alternative Approaches to Bed Bug Control
As an alternative or an addition to bed bug control using chemicals, bed bug steamers and heaters have become an increasingly important tool in the pest control industry. Use steamers and heaters where chemical sensitivity is a concern, such as hospitals and nursing homes. These steamers also get rid of allergins, bacteria, germs, and viruses.
Shop Here: Bed Bug Steamers and Heaters
Monitoring and Trapping Bed Bug Infestations
SenSci Volcano Monitors: These bed bug monitors/detectors may be used with the lures or without the lure to capture bed bugs. As an identification tool, you can monitor your bed bug treatment plan or simply to monitor the presence of bed bug. Use the optional lure if a person is not present in the bedroom that is being monitored.
Bugo Bed Bug Monitors/Traps are adhesive traps that are places around the bed legs, catches the bed bugs before than can crawl up the bed leg into your bed.
Bed Bug Monitor Trap: The Bed Bug Monitor Traps recreate the conditions that bedbugs consider perfect including dark, tight tunneling areas and rough woodsy material. Bed bugs would usually be found: inside the small grooves of corrugated boxes, between mattress creases and aound/under wooden furniture.
Although the preferred host for bed bugs is humans, they will feed on other animals, such as poultry, mice, rats, canaries, dogs, and cats if necessary. They normally feed at night, but may feed in the daylight in rooms that are not used at night.
Bed Bugs Life Cycle
Bed Bugs Life Cycle Diagram
The life cycle stages of a bed bug are egg, nymph, and adult. The reason they are called bed bugs is that they readily infest mattresses, bed frames and box springs. Eggs are laid along the edges of or around buttons on the mattresses. Eggs can also be glued to rough surfaces. Bed bug females lay about 200 eggs, usually at the rate of three or four a day. Eggs are placed in cracks, crevices and other isolated and protected shelters. Females lay eggs after a blood meal. Eggs will hatch in one or two weeks into Nymphs. Newly hatched bugs (Nymphs) begin feeding immediately. At room temperature, and with an available food supply, the nymphal period will last 14 to 30 days. They shed their skin (Instar) five times before becoming adults. Bed bugs will mate soon after becoming mature, so the time from egg hatch to egg laying is 4 to 9 weeks, under favorable conditions. The average life span of the bed bug is 6-12 months and they feed every 10 days or so during this time. Bed bugs can survive many months without a blood meal and their reproduction is high.
- The female lays eggs in cracks and crevices along the edges of mattresses, box springs and bed frames. Bed bugs also inhabit other cracks and crevices throughout infested rooms. These other areas include; behind picture frames, switch plate covers, loose wallpaper, under door and window casings, baseboards or along the edges of carpets.
- Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices during daylight hours.
- They hide in the folds and tufts of mattresses, coils of springs, cracks and hollow posts of bed stands bed rails and headboards. They may be found in box springs, inside the cabinetry of furniture and the bottom and sides of drawers.
- Bed bugs may hide in upholstery of chairs and sofas.
- They are not restricted to these places, however.
- A second common source for bedbug infestation occurs in homes where bats, swallows, chimney swifts, pigeons, or other wild hosts have been roosting. Although similar in appearance, these bedbug species that normally feed on bats and birds can be differentiated from the Common Bedbug that prefer humans.
- The bat bed bug can and often feeds on humans. The bat bedbug has long hairs on it's body. Eliminate their bat hosts from the building and seal all openings so that bats cannot enter.
- Another group of bugs resembling the bed bug infest birds. These bugs are usually confined to bird nests. To control these parasites, the birds and their nests must be removed, and an application with a residual spray such as Temprid SC should be applied to the area.
What do bed bug bites look like and do they carry disease?
- Bed bugs do not carry disease.
- They do suck blood from their host with piercing mouth parts but the bite is painless.
- The skin may become irritated or inflamed due to the salivary fluid injected by the bed bugs. A small, hard, swollen, white welt may develop at the site of each bite.
- It is important to recognize that not all bites or bite-like reactions are due to bed bugs. Bed bugs or their signs will be present if it is a bed bug bite.
- Bed bugs do not live under the skin. If you experience biting sensations during the day, it may be an allergy related condition.
- (Other possible sources of irritation are discussed in University of Kentucky entomology fact sheet Invisible Itches: Insect and Non-Insect Causes).
Preventing Bed Bug Infestations
It's important to inspect used furniture, particularly bed frames and mattresses before bringing it into the home. Mattresses, in particular, carry the greatest risk of harboring Bed Bugs and their eggs. You should be wary of acquiring used furnishings, especially beds and couches.
A practice that we have incorporated in our traveling is to inspect for bed bugs in hotel rooms. If possible, carry a flashlight with you and inspect the bed area completely as described above. Also, you may want to inspect or vacuum luggage when you arrive home to prevent tranferring bed bugs to your home.
ActiveGuard Mattress Liners, impregnated with Permethrin will prevent bed bug infestation on beds.
Spray this ready to use spray both on your luggage and mattresses during travel.
ActiveGuard Mattress Liners
Can I prevent bed bugs from entering my home?
- After coming home from a trip some infestations can be prevented by washing any clothing or bedding used on the trip. Do this immediately.
- If you buy used furniture, inspect all the items before bringing them into your residence.
- Never bring discarded bed frames, mattresses, box springs, or upholstered furniture into your home.