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Bed bugs are small, oval, flat, brownish parasites that feed primarily on the blood of humans and other animals. Adult bed bugs are easily visible to the unassisted eye, as are their immature nymphs and eggs. Bed bugs are routinely found in direct proximity to sleeping areas such as beds and frames, mattresses, box springs, or other furniture where people rest for extended periods of time.
Cockroach nymphs are occasionally mistaken for bed bugs, but their bodies are more cylindrical and elongated whereas bed bugs are more round and oval. Carpet beetles and booklice can be misidentified as bed bugs as well. Before beginning any bed bug treatment program, proper bed bug identification is essential.
Bed Bugs are customarily discovered through the presence of live adult bugs on or in proximity to sleeping areas. But live bed bugs are certainly not the only indication of a bed bug infestation. As bed bugs establish themselves and expand their populations, an increasing presence of blood stains and fecal matter will begin to become readily apparent upon closer inspection. Whereas the blood stains may be out in the open on bed sheets or mattress covers, the fecal matter may be closer to the harborages where bed bugs hang out while not feeding. This fecal matter, usually evidence by concentrations of black or brownish specks, can be found in the seams of mattresses, joints of furniture, around and behind switch plates, joints of baseboards, and at the junction where walls meet ceilings. If you discover this sort of evidence, the time has come to move quickly towards a bed bug resolution strategy.
When dealing with bed bugs, a complete, comprehensive inspection is the key. Inspecting for bed bugs is not easy, meaning even the most skilled bed bug inspectors can miss finding the presence of bed bugs. Equip yourself with a quality flashlight and be prepared to examine all cracks, crevices, joints, folds, and other tight spaces anywhere bed bug activity may be suspected.
Get your bed bug monitoring program in high gear. If you weren't able to find any evidence of bed bugs during your inspection, monitors will drastically enhance your inspection efforts. Use a combination of monitors, including sticky traps, interceptors, and reservoirs in various locations and check the monitors daily. These monitors will provide valuable insights into the presence or absence of bed bugs, where concentrations may be located, and how widespread the infestation may be.
Once you've confirmed the presence of bed bugs, don't delay. Whatever evidence you discovered is likely to be representative of a much larger bed bug problem. Although bedbugs may be slow to reproduce as compared to some other insects, each adult female can produce about one egg per day which takes about 10 days to hatch. Left unresolved, bed bug problems can get out of hand rather quickly. The longer you wait to begin a remedial treatment strategy, the harder the bed bug problem is likely to be to resolve.
Start eliminating things in the environment that might create cover or harborage for bed bugs, and vacuum floors, carpets, beds, mattresses, cracks, and anything else you can find. Discard the contents in a sealed container away from the home. Vacuuming is an excellent way to immediately remove bed bugs from the area, as compared to some pesticide applications which may produce slower results. The fewer protective hiding spots available to bed bugs, the less likely it becomes for a bed bug population to sustain itself.
Anything that can be laundered, should be laundered. Clothes, toys, blankets, linens, curtains, rugs, whatever you've got. Remember, it's the heat that kills bed bugs, not the water. So wash on hot water and dry on the highest heat setting. When you remove the laundered contents from the dryer, place in sealed containers or bags that you know to be free of bed bugs and keep them in there until you're confident the bed bug problem has been resolved.
A critical step in your bed bug control strategy is getting specialized bed bug encasements for all mattresses and box springs throughout the home. These covers are designed to not only prevent bed bugs from getting into the mattresses, but also to keep them from coming out. Because bed bugs can survive for up to 18 months without a meal, sealing these off is essential to preventing bed bug recurrence. It is best practice to seal ALL mattresses and box springs throughout the house, even in bedrooms where bed bug activity is not suspected. Better to take all precautions on the front end than find yourself going through the entire process all over again later on.
Start treating for bed bugs, using any combination of methods that are practically available to you. If you decide to go the route of pesticide application, be sure to follow all label instructions and use the recommended safety equipment. And remember, effective control of bed bugs is a marathon, not a sprint, requiring dedication and commitment over an extended period of time to ensure total elimination and non-recurrence.
Approach your bed bug elimination program as just that...a program. Your bed bug infestation is unlikely to be resolved overnight. Keep your monitors in place long after bed bug activity is no longer detected, and keep treating as long as activity continues to be found. With the right level of persistence, your bed bug problem will eventually be a thing of the past.
Traditional bed bug treatments center around targeted pesticide applications in areas where bed bugs are likely to rest, hide, or travel. Many professional exterminating companies today still rely on pesticide applications as their primary service offering for bed bug control. Products such as Crossfire Bed Bug Insecticide are specifically formulated with bed bugs in mind. A ready-to-use aerosol formulation such as Bedlam Plus comes in an easy to apply aerosol can that can be used in many different locations for excellent control of bed bugs.
When using pesticides for bed bug control, comprehensiveness is essential, as treatment needs to get any place and every place any bed bug may happen to be. Sometimes this can be difficult, especially if bed bugs have gotten inside mattresses, box springs, floor boards, wall cavities, or other inaccessible areas. Most effective bed bug strategies involve a combination of treatment efforts in addition to targeted bed bug pesticide applications.
One of the most common questions we get is whether or not bed bugs can be eliminated without using any chemicals or pesticides at all? And the answer, generally speaking, is YES. In fact, some bed bug infestations can be resolved without any real "treatment" of any type at all, including non-chemical means. But that all depends on a number of important factors and relies heavily on an unfaltering commitment to a consistent process over a period of time, with bed bug trapping and monitoring being valuable parts of that process.
Some bed bug traps serve as bed bug interceptors, designed to be positioned beneath the legs of bed frames or other furniture to intercept bed bugs as they seek to climb up to access their hosts. Other bed bug traps are sticky glue board traps which can be used for ongoing monitoring or early detection of bed bugs newly introduced into an environment. Still other bed bug traps act as attractants, emitting certain chemicals designed to draw bed bugs towards the trap device. The best approach is often to incorporate several different types of monitoring devices at the same time for optimal results.
Because bed bugs don't hold up well against heat, bed bug steam treatments have become an invaluable non-chemical treatment option for rapid bed bug elimination. Bed Bug Steam Machines allow directed steam applications to targeted areas where bed bugs and their eggs are likely to be, such as seams of mattresses and box springs, furniture folds, and other cracks and crevices. Steam removes the concern of pesticide exposure to furniture and other parts of the environment.
As with pesticide treatments for bed bugs, however, steam is only effective if bed bugs are adequately exposed. Bed bugs hiding in areas removed from the point of steam will not be impacted by steam treatments. For this reason, comprehensiveness is essential with any bed bug steam treatment, and the application is only as good as the applicator allows it to be.
Bed bug heat machines have risen in popularity in recent years, in large part due to their ease of use and the comprehensive, non-chemical approach to bed bug elimination they provide. Bed bug heaters are designed to elevate the temperature of a treated environment to levels that bed bugs and their eggs cannot withstand. Under the right sets of circumstances, heat treatments can be a preferred option, but unless repeated use is expected, purchasing bed bug heaters can be cost-prohibitive.Bed Bug Vacuums
Vacuuming can be an incredibly effective tool for immediate removal of bed bugs and their eggs. Vacuuming should be done vigorously and often, being sure to discard vacuum bags in a sealed container away from the home. Do NOT vacuum for bed bugs using a centralized vacuum system, as bed bugs and their eggs may get lodged within inaccessible interior components of the system and complicate bed bug eradication efforts.
As with heat and pesticides, the effectiveness of vacuuming is limited to the specific areas in which vacuuming is done. For instance, acompromised mattress, hosting bed bugs inside, will not be impacted by simply vacuuming the surface of the mattress.
Structural fumigation for bed bug elimination is typically considered a last resort, as it often brings with it maximal expenditure and inconvenience to occupants. Fumigations use gases to penetrate all parts of the structure, killing bed bugs along the way. During fumigations, occupants typically need to be out of the property for 3 days and 2 nights, sometimes longer. Because of the nature of bed bugs and their eggs, concentrations of gas required for bed bug elimination during a fumigation is typically 3 to 4 times higher than what is required for a structural termite fumigation. For this reason, fumigating for bed bugs tends to be a comparatively expensive option.
Bed bug freeze treatments are offered by some professional exterminating companies under highly specialized service protocols. For do-it-yourselfers, putting infested items in a freezer can kill bed bugs if certain conditions are met. Freezing causes ice to form inside the bed bug, causing injury or death. Freezing bed bugs is relatively simple, but not all impacted items, such as electronics, can be frozen, along with many other limiting factors.