Tips to Prevent or Control Bed Bugs
Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas, ticks or other insects.
You can compare your insect to the pictures on our Identifying bed bugs Web page or show it to your local extension agent.EXIT (Extension agents are trained in pest control issues and know your local area.)
It can be difficult to eliminate bed bugs, but it’s not impossible. Don’t throw out all of your things because most of them can be treated and saved. Throwing stuff out is expensive, may spread the bed bugs to other people’s homes and could cause more stress
Think through your treatment options — Don’t immediately reach for the spray can.
Be comprehensive in your approach. Try other things first. Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques may reduce the number of bed bugs and limit your contact with pesticides. If pesticides are needed, always follow label directions or hire a professional
Reduce the number of hiding places — Clean up the clutter.
A cluttered home provides more places for bed bugs to hide and makes locating and treating them harder. If bed bugs are in your mattress, using special bed bug covers (encasements) on your mattress and box springs makes it harder for bed bugs to get to you while you sleep. Leave the encasements on for a year. Be sure to buy a product that has been tested for bed bugs and is strong enough to last for the full year without tearing.
Regularly wash and heat-dry your bed sheets, blankets, bedspreads and any clothing that touches the floor.
This reduces the number of bed bugs. Bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry containers/hampers Remember to clean them when you do the laundry.
WHAT ATTRACTS BED BUGS?
You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression, “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” And as a child, bed bugs might have been some creature that you thought only existed in silly bedtime rhymes. But these insects are absolutely real and, if you’re like most people, you don’t want to find them anywhere in your house
What Do Bed Bugs Eat?
Bed bugs need the blood of warm-blooded creatures to survive. Though they may feed on animals, bed bugs are generally found feeding on the blood of humans
As bed bugs feed on warm-blooded creatures, it’s only natural that they’re attracted to you. Specifically, they’re drawn in by your body heat, the carbon dioxide you exhale and other biological signatures. In fact, they’re called bed bugs because they’re often found on or around bedding. Cracks and crevices in box springs, headboards and bed frames make cozy homes for the bed bugs that are waiting for you to rest so they can get a nice warm blood meal.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are adept at hitchhiking. They’re typically transported by people or their belongings, such as suitcases, purses or coats. More or less, any place where you’ve sat or rested is a location where you could pick up bed bugs. In addition, people who travel — or who have guests come to visit — might have an increased risk of getting bed bugs
What Should You Do if You Suspect Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are excellent hiders and prolific breeders and can live for around 12 months as an adult, so this isn’t a situation in which do-it-yourself methods are a good idea. If you think you have bed bugs, your best bet is to contact a bed bug control professional.
How To Choose A Pest Control Company
FIND A PEST CONTROL COMPANY: NARROWING YOUR BEST OPTIONS
According to Andy Architect of the National Pest Management Association, there are more that 19,000 pest management firms operating in the United States. Unfortunately, these companies are not all created equally
Use web and telephone directories to locate several pest management firms in your area. Some may designate themselves as bed bug specialists, but this designation should only be an indicator and not a deciding factor
Only utilize companies that have been registered to apply pesticides by the pesticide regulatory agency in your state. Lacking this license should serve as an immediate red flag
Search for companies that use integrated pest management (IPM) services. IPM is a form of pest management designed to minimize the use of pesticides. Companies that utilize an IPM approach are more likely to provide ongoing monitoring and a multidisciplinary approach to bed bug management
INTERVIEWING COMPANIES: QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD KNOW TO ASK
Once you hire a pest management firm they may be entering your home and spraying pesticides or performing services that can cost hundreds of dollars. Interviewing the selected companies is not only your right, it is strongly advised.
What to Do If You Have Bedbugs
You woke up with some strange marks on your pillow case. Or, you’ve noticed mysterious red welts on your arms. Maybe you’ve spotted them right there in your bed. Bugs!
Bedbugs have spread rapidly over the past two decades, and the prospect of infestation can strike fear into the most cool-headed of people. We understand—at least five of our staff members have battled bedbugs in the past few years, including me. When we were researching our guide to the best mattress cover, we found a real lack of levelheaded, practical advice on what to do if you suspect a bedbug infestation at your home.
To find out the first steps you should take if you think you have bedbugs, we talked to Molly Wilson, then the director of the Bed Bug and Urban Pest Information Center at Virginia Tech; Jeff White, technical director of Bed Bug Central, an educational resource on dealing with bedbugs; and Matt Kelly, owner of Philadelphia-based Prodigy Pest Solutions. We also put together some tips on how to avoid encountering or bringing home bedbugs when you travel
If you think you have bedbugs, don’t move furniture out of the room, don’t throw mattresses and other belongings away (we’ll explain why this is almost never necessary), don’t rip up carpet, and don’t use DIY pesticides on the bugs—all of this can spread the bedbugs further throughout your home.
There are many bedbug lookalikes, including carpet beetles, spider beetles, roach nymphs, and bat bugs, Matt Kelly explained.
Until fairly recently, most people (and even pest control professionals) had never seen a bed bug. Bed bug infestations actually used to be very common in the United States before World War II. But with improvements in hygiene, and especially the widespread use of DDT during the 1940s and ‘50s, the bed bugs all but vanished. The pests persisted, however, in some areas of the world including parts of Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Over roughly the past decade, bed bugs have made a dramatic comeback in the U.S.― they’re appearing increasingly in homes, apartments, hotels, health care facilities, dormitories, shelters, schools and public transportation. Other places where bed bugs sometimes occur include movie theaters, laundries, rental furniture, and office buildings. Immigration and international travel have contributed to the resurgence of bed bugs in the U.S. Changes in modern pest control practice, less effective insecticides ― and a decrease in societal vigilance ― are other factors suspected for the recurrence.
Description and Habits
Bed bugs are small, brownish, flattened insects that feed solely on the blood of animals. Although the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) prefers feeding on humans, it will also bite other warm-blooded animals, including dogs, cats, birds and rodents. It has done so since ancient times; bed bugs are mentioned in medieval European texts and classical Greek writings back to the time of Aristotle.
Adult bed bugs are about 3/16” long and reddish-brown, with oval-shaped, flattened bodies. They are sometimes mistaken for ticks, cockroaches, carpet beetles or other household insects. The immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs do not fly, and they don’t jump like fleas do ― but they can crawl rapidly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces. Adult females lay their eggs in secluded places, depositing 1, 2 or more eggs per day, potentially hundreds during their lifetime. The eggs are tiny (about the size of a dust spec), whitish and hard to see without magnification, especially on light-colored surfaces. When first laid, the eggs are sticky, causing them to adhere to surfaces. At room temperatures, bed bug eggs hatch in about a week. Newly emerged nymphs are straw-colored and no bigger than a pinhead.
As bed bugs grow they molt, shedding their skin five times before reaching maturity. A blood meal is needed between each successive molt. Adult females also must feed in order to lay eggs. Under favorable conditions (70-80°F), the bugs can mature fully in as little as a month, producing multiple generations per year. Cooler temperatures or limited access to blood prolong the development time
Bed bugs are very resilient. Nymphs and adults can persist months without feeding which is unusual for most insects. The ability to survive without a blood meal is longer at cooler temperatures ― potentially up to a year or longer at 55°F or less. In temperature-controlled buildings, a more typical duration is about 2 to 6 months. Consequently, it is usually impractical to leave buildings unoccupied in hopes of ‘starving out’ an infestation. When infested dwellings such as apartments are vacated, bed bugs often disperse to nearby units, or reduce their activity until the unit is reoccupied.