Mad About Berries

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs, scientifically known as Cimex lectularius, are small, nocturnal insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. They have earned their common name due to their notorious preference for infesting bedding and mattresses, areas that offer them easy access to their hosts during the night.

While they don't transmit diseases, bed bugs can cause a range of issues from skin irritations to sleep disruptions, and their presence often leads to significant distress.

Published: June 1, 2023. bed bugs 1

The control and elimination of bed bugs can be particularly challenging due to their small size, secretive behavior, and resistance to many common pesticides. They can hide in numerous places around a home, not just beds, making their complete eradication a substantial task.

Nevertheless, with thorough understanding, diligent efforts, and potentially professional help, it is indeed possible to rid your home of these irritating pests.

Signs of Bed Bug Infestation

Detecting a bed bug infestation early can significantly ease the control and elimination process. While these pests are small and often hide during the day, there are several signs you can look out for.

The most common sign of a bed bug infestation is bite marks on your body. Bed bug bites are typically small, red, and itchy, often appearing in lines or clusters. However, because reactions to bites can vary significantly among individuals, bites alone are not definitive proof of an infestation.

bed bugs bites

Physical signs of bed bugs in your environment can provide stronger evidence. These signs may include tiny, dark spots on your sheets or mattress (which are bed bug excrement), shed skins, or the bugs themselves in the seams of mattresses, bed frames, and other hidden locations.

Additionally, a distinct, musty odor is sometimes associated with a heavy bed bug infestation. This smell is emitted from the bugs' scent glands and can serve as an indicator of their presence.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Eliminating a bed bug infestation typically requires a multi-faceted approach.

To begin with, clean all bedding, curtains, and clothes in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Items that can't be washed should be put in the dryer on high for 30 minutes. This heat treatment can effectively kill bed bugs at all stages of their lifecycle.

Next, use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams, removing bugs and their eggs before vacuuming.

Vacuum your bed and surrounding area thoroughly and frequently, paying particular attention to cracks and crevices where bed bugs might be hiding. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag, seal it tightly, and discard it in a trash container outdoors.

Note: Special "mattress vacuums" combine several methods for removing bed bugs, including strong suction, high-frequency vibrations, UV light, and sometimes even a warm air fan. Ordinary home vacuums are not as efficient as such specialized vacuums but can be used as well.

For heavily-infested mattresses or furniture, replacement might be the best solution. If this isn't an option, professional pest control can treat these items with special equipment. Mattresses can also be covered with a bed bug-proof mattress cover to trap bugs inside until they eventually die.

Pesticides specifically designed for bed bugs can be used, but it is generally recommended that they be applied by professionals to ensure safety and effectiveness.

bed bugs and eggs

How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Returning

Once an infestation is eliminated, preventing re-infestation is crucial. To do this, you should reduce clutter in your home to limit hiding places for bed bugs. Be cautious when bringing second-hand furniture into your home as it might carry bed bugs.

Regularly inspect your bed and furniture, especially after traveling, as bed bugs can be brought home on luggage, clothing, or in purchased items. Using protective covers on your mattress and box springs can prevent bed bugs from reaching their favorite hiding spots.

For those living in apartments, it's important to seal cracks and crevices in walls and floors to prevent bed bugs from migrating from neighboring units. Regular professional inspections can also be beneficial in detecting early signs of infestation and taking prompt action.

In general, practicing good hygiene and maintaining cleanliness in your living space can deter bed bugs. However, it's worth mentioning that even the cleanest homes can fall prey to a bed bug infestation, as these pests are not drawn by dirt or filth but by the presence of hosts.

bed bugs in bed

Do Bed Bugs Live On Wood Floors

Bed bugs can indeed live in wood floors. They are tiny and flat, which allows them to squeeze into very narrow spaces, including the cracks and crevices found in wooden floors. While they prefer to be closer to their food source, meaning they generally choose living spaces nearer to the bed or other furniture, they can certainly inhabit and hide in a wooden floor, especially if the infestation is large or other hiding places are scarce.

Additionally, bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and can easily move from one location to another on furniture, luggage, and other items. So, it's quite possible for them to be introduced to a room and then take up residence in the wood flooring.

It's worth noting that the material of the floor doesn't necessarily attract bed bugs. They are not specifically drawn to wood, but rather to the hiding places and proximity to a host that such structures might provide.

If you suspect you have bed bugs in your wooden floor, look for common signs of bed bugs: dark fecal spots, shed skins and live insects. A professional pest control service can provide a thorough inspection and treatment if needed.

Why Are Bed Bugs So Hard To Kill

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate for several reasons:

  • Size and Behavior: Bed bugs are tiny and flat, enabling them to squeeze into small cracks and crevices and remain hidden. They are mostly nocturnal and stay out of sight during the day. This behavior can make it challenging to identify and reach them.
  • Reproduction: Bed bugs reproduce rapidly. A female can lay hundreds of eggs during her lifespan, and under ideal conditions, these eggs can hatch in about a week. This fast reproduction rate can lead to large infestations in a relatively short amount of time.
  • Resilience: Bed bugs can survive several months without feeding, meaning they can outlive many attempts to starve them out. Additionally, they have a hard exoskeleton that can protect them from certain types of pesticides.
  • Resistance: Over time, some populations of bed bugs have developed resistance to common pesticides, making these substances less effective in controlling them.
  • Hitchhiking Abilities: Bed bugs are excellent at moving from place to place with humans. They can easily crawl into luggage, clothing, or furniture and be transported to a new location, making it difficult to eliminate an infestation entirely without coordinated efforts.
  • Lack of Awareness: Often, people don't realize they have a bed bug problem until it becomes severe. Early infestations can be hard to detect and, hence, allow bed bugs to multiply and establish themselves in various locations.

Because of these reasons, professional pest control services are usually recommended for treating bed bug infestations. These professionals have the knowledge, tools, and experience needed to deal with these stubborn pests effectively.

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Bed Bugs Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about bed bugs and getting rid of them.

How long can bed bugs live without food?

Bed bugs are remarkably resilient creatures and can survive for a long time without feeding. Depending on the temperature and their life stage, bed bugs can live anywhere from a few months to over a year without a blood meal.

Under normal room temperature conditions, adult bed bugs can survive about five months without feeding. However, if the environment is cool and the bugs are in a dormant state (a process called diapause), they can survive for more than a year.

Younger bed bugs, or nymphs, can't go quite as long without feeding. They need regular meals to grow and mature. But even nymphs can survive for several weeks without feeding.

This impressive survival ability is one reason why bed bug infestations can be challenging to eliminate. Simply vacating a room or home for a few weeks will not solve a bed bug problem.

Can bed bugs live on air mattresses?

 While bed bugs prefer traditional mattresses with fabric and seams where they can hide, they can also infest air mattresses. They are not deterred by the plastic or vinyl materials of these mattresses.

Bed bugs are not typically living inside the air mattress itself, but rather in the nooks and crannies of the mattress exterior, bedding, and surrounding areas. They are highly adaptable and can hide in any small space, including the corners and crevices of an air mattress. Additionally, if a box spring, bed frame, or headboard is used with the air mattress, these can also provide ideal hiding spots for bed bugs.

It's important to note that bed bugs are not attracted to the mattress itself but to the human host. They need human blood to survive and reproduce, so any place that provides them with access to their food source and hiding places for the day could be a potential infestation site.

Can bed bugs go in your private parts?

While bed bugs do bite humans for blood, they are not likely to specifically seek out or infest human private parts. Bed bugs prefer to feed on areas of skin that are exposed during sleep. They usually target areas like the arms, shoulders, neck, and face, as these areas are often uncovered.

Additionally, bed bugs do not live on humans or burrow into the skin like some parasites do. After feeding, they tend to retreat to their hiding places, which are usually nearby in mattresses, furniture, or cracks and crevices.

However, if a bed bug were to come into contact with any part of the human body, including the private parts, it could potentially bite there. If you suspect that you have been bitten by bed bugs, it's important to clean the bite area, avoid scratching to prevent secondary infections, and consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns or if symptoms persist.

Can you get bed bugs from the laundromat?

While it's not common, it is possible to pick up bed bugs from a laundromat. Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and can move from place to place in clothing, luggage, and other items. If a person with a bed bug infestation uses a laundromat, there's a chance that some bugs might be left behind. These bugs could then crawl into your laundry or your laundry bag, and you could inadvertently bring them back to your home.

There are steps you can take to minimize the risk of bringing home bed bugs from a laundromat:

  • Inspect the machines: Before you use a washer or dryer, look around the edges, crevices, and cracks for signs of bed bugs. This includes live bugs, as well as small dark spots (which could be bed bug excrement) or shed skins.
  • Use high heat: Washing your clothes in hot water and then drying them on a high heat setting for at least 30 minutes can kill bed bugs at all stages of their life cycle.
  • Seal your laundry: Consider using sealed plastic bags to transport your laundry to and from the laundromat. After unloading your clean laundry at home, immediately seal the empty bags until you can wash or dispose of them.

Remember, while the risk is there, getting bed bugs from a laundromat is relatively rare. If you suspect that you've brought home bed bugs, it's best to act quickly and contact a pest control professional to prevent an infestation.

Can you get bed bugs from movie theaters?

 While it's not a common occurrence, it is technically possible to encounter bed bugs in movie theaters. The plush seats found in movie theaters can provide a good environment for bed bugs. They offer hiding spots and direct access to humans, their source of blood meals.

Just like other public spaces where many people come and go, movie theaters can become a transit hub for bed bugs if they hitch a ride on someone's clothing or personal items. If a person with a bed bug infestation attends a movie, some bugs might crawl off and stay behind in the theater seats. These bugs could then crawl onto the next person who sits in that seat.

If you're concerned about the possibility of encountering bed bugs in a movie theater, here are a few preventive measures you can take:

  • Check your seat: Before you sit down, take a moment to inspect your seat. Look for signs of bed bugs, which could include the bugs themselves, small dark spots (bed bug feces), or shed skins.
  • Keep belongings off the floor: Bed bugs are excellent climbers. Keeping your belongings on your lap or in the seat next to you, rather than on the floor, can reduce the risk of bugs crawling into them.
  • Inspect your belongings and clothes: After leaving the theater, inspect your belongings and clothing for any signs of bed bugs.
  • Wash your clothes: If you're concerned that you might have been exposed to bed bugs, washing your clothes in hot water and then drying them on high heat can kill any bugs that may have hitched a ride.

While the risk of picking up bed bugs from a movie theater is low, it's worth being aware of this possibility. If you suspect you've brought bed bugs home, it's crucial to act quickly and contact a pest control professional to prevent an infestation.

Can bed bugs live on a leather couch?

Bed bugs can indeed be found on a leather couch, but they are less likely to take up residence there as compared to upholstered furniture. Bed bugs prefer to hide in small crevices and cracks, and they often choose fabric environments because these materials offer better grip and more hiding spots. A smooth material like leather doesn't provide as many places for them to hide.

However, if the leather couch has seams, cracks, or other small spaces, bed bugs could certainly hide there. They could also hide in cushions, pillows, or throws on the couch, as well as in the structure of the couch itself, such as in the frame or under the feet. Remember, bed bugs are not attracted to the material of the couch, but to the people who sit on it, as they feed on human blood.

If you suspect you have bed bugs on your leather couch, look for common signs of bed bugs: dark fecal spots, shed skins, and live insects. It's best to call a professional pest control service if you suspect an infestation, as they can provide a thorough inspection and treatment.

Can hand sanitizer kill bed bugs?

 Hand sanitizer, which is primarily composed of alcohol, can kill bed bugs upon direct contact. The high alcohol content may dehydrate the bugs by evaporating their protective body fluids. However, this is not a reliable or recommended method for controlling bed bugs for several reasons.

First, hand sanitizer would need to be directly applied to each and every bug and egg in order to be effective, which is nearly impossible given that bed bugs are excellent at hiding. A missed bug or egg could rapidly lead to a rebound in the population.

Second, hand sanitizers are not designed to be used as pesticides and may pose a fire risk or damage certain materials if used in this way.

Third, using hand sanitizer would not address an infestation's root cause or prevent future infestations. It does not offer residual protection, meaning bed bugs can return once the alcohol has evaporated.

Lastly, frequent and improper use of alcohol-based products can lead to the bed bugs developing resistance, making subsequent professional treatment more difficult.

Does ammonia kill bed bugs?

Ammonia, known for its strong and pungent smell, is a common ingredient in many cleaning supplies. While it is an effective cleaner and can kill many types of germs, it's not considered an effective method for eliminating bed bugs.

Though ammonia might kill bed bugs on direct contact, just like with hand sanitizer or alcohol, it would be nearly impossible to ensure that it reaches all the bed bugs in an infestation. Bed bugs are adept at hiding in small, hard-to-reach places, and ammonia won't be effective unless it directly contacts the bugs.

Moreover, ammonia is a powerful chemical that can be harmful to humans and pets if it's inhaled, ingested, or comes into contact with skin. Therefore, it is not recommended to use it as a DIY pest control solution, especially considering its questionable effectiveness against bed bugs.

Does salt kill bed bugs?

 Salt is not an effective method for killing bed bugs.

Bed bugs, unlike some other pests, do not have a biological reaction to salt that would cause them to dehydrate and die.

Salt doesn't have the same impact on bed bugs as it might have on, for example, snails or slugs.

Can you see bed bugs with a black light?

The use of black light (also known as UV or ultraviolet light) to detect bed bugs has been suggested, but it is not a reliable method.

While certain substances might glow or fluoresce under UV light, bed bugs do not consistently show this characteristic.

They generally do not glow under UV light, and their small size and adept hiding skills make them difficult to spot, even under ideal conditions.

If you're trying to detect a bed bug infestation, it's better to rely on more established signs.

These include small, dark spots (which could be bed bug feces), shed skins, tiny white eggs, and the bugs themselves, which are about the size and color of an apple seed.

Do bed bugs stay on your skin after a shower?

Bed bugs do not typically stay on the skin like lice or ticks. Instead, they tend to live in nearby environments, like beds, furniture, or carpet and only approach their hosts to feed. This is usually during nighttime when the host is sleeping.

After feeding, bed bugs retreat back to their hiding places. They don't stay on their hosts like ticks or lice do. Therefore, taking a shower won't typically remove bed bugs because they aren't usually on your body in the first place.

However, it's worth noting that regular cleaning, including washing and drying bedding and clothing on high heat, can help to kill bed bugs and reduce the risk of an infestation.

bed bugs 3

Few Final Words

Bed bugs, though small, can present a significant problem when they infest our homes. Their adaptability, resilience, and elusive nature make them challenging to eliminate. However, understanding their behavior and recognizing signs of their presence can lead to early detection and more effective control efforts.

Remember, getting rid of bed bugs often requires a multifaceted approach and a great deal of persistence. Cleaning, heat treatment, vacuuming, and possibly professional pesticide application may be necessary. Once eliminated, preventative measures such as regular inspections, sealing cracks, and reducing clutter can help ensure these pests don't make a comeback.

Bed bugs can cause much distress and discomfort, but with the right knowledge and tools, it is entirely possible to reclaim your home from these unwelcome guests.

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