Fighting Back Against Bed Bugs

No one wants bed bugs in their home. They are difficult to get rid of and can cause annoying, itchy welts. Bed bugs do not transmit diseases, so they are not considered a public health threat. However, if you are the one with the bed bugs, they can cause physical (welts), emotional and psychological stress in your life.

Bedbugs can hide in upholstery, and they can enter your home on your suitcases or clothing. Beware of upholstered furniture or beds left curbside; leave them there. Bed Bugs can be also be found on wooden slats, springs as well as the bed frame. They can also live in wallpaper crevices, electrical wall plates, light fixtures, wall hangings, cabinetry as well as carpet fibers and wooden floorboards. Bed bugs are extremely fast. They do not fly or jump.

Signs of bedbug infestations are dark spotting and staining, which is the dried shell of the bugs. Also present will be eggs and eggshells, shed skin of growing babies, and the bugs themselves. Another likely sign of bed bugs is rusty or reddish spots of blood on bed sheets or mattresses.

Bed bugs prefer to hide close to where they feed. However, if necessary, they will crawl more than 100 feet to find a blood meal. Initial infestations tend to be around beds, but as the bugs become over populated, they will eventually become scattered throughout a room, occupying any crevice or location where they can hide. They also can spread to adjacent rooms or apartments. Of course, if you sleep on the couch or recliner, they will gather close by for their next meal.

Bed bugs usually bite people at night while they are sleeping. The feeding takes about three to 10 minutes, yet the person seldom knows they are being bitten. Some people develop an itchy welt or swelling around the bite, while others have little or no reaction. Unlike flea bites that occur mainly around the ankles, bed bugs feed on any bare skin exposed while sleeping. The welts and itching from the bite are often thought to be caused by other insects, such as mosquitoes. For this reason, bed bug infestations can grow and be overlooked for a long time before being noticed.

Bed bugs are very hard pests to control. They hide in many tiny places, so inspections and treatments must be thorough. In most cases, it is best to hire a professional pest control firm. Experienced companies know where to look for bed bugs, and have the right tools for treatment. Each pest management company will have their own requirements for preparing your apartment/home for treatment. Following these instructions are very important for the treatment to be successful. Since bed bugs can move from room to room, it may be necessary to inspect and/or treat adjoining rooms and apartments. Follow up visits from pest management are usually required.

 Below are tips to prevent or control bed bugs:

  1. Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas, bat bugs or other insects.  The Environment Protection Association (EPA) or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are good resources to identify the bugs. If you live in an apartment or a rental property always let management know immediately you believe you may have bed bugs.
  2. Don’t panic! It can be difficult to get rid of 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/apartments and could cause more stress.
  3. Cut the number of hiding places -- Clean up the clutter.  A cluttered home offers more places for bed bugs to hide and makes finding 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.
  4. 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. The heat from the dryer will kill the bugs.
  5. Do-it-yourself freezing may not be a reliable method for bed bug control. While freezing can kill bed bugs, temperatures must remain very low for a long time. Home freezers may not be cold enough to kill bed bugs. Putting things outside in freezing temperatures could kill bed bugs, but there are many factors that can affect the success of this method.
  6. Kill bed bugs with heat, but be very careful. Raising the indoor temperature with the thermostat or space heaters won’t do the job. Special equipment and very high temperatures are necessary for successful heat treatment. Black plastic bags in the hot summer sun might work to kill bed bugs in luggage or small items, if the contents become hot enough. Bed bugs die when their body temperatures reaches 113°F. To kill bed bugs with heat, the room or container must be even hotter to make sure that the heat reaches the bugs no matter where they are hiding.
  7. Don’t pass your bed bugs on to others. Bed bugs are good hitchhikers. If you throw out a mattress or furniture that has bed bugs in it, you should slash or in some way destroy it so that no one else takes it and gets bed bugs. If you know someone you are visiting has bed bugs, be mindful of where you are sitting. A folding or none upholstered chair will likely have less chance of having bugs on it. Do not take any bags or containers in with you that the bugs can hide in. When you leave closely inspect your clothing, zippers and seams can be great hiding places. When you arrive home put your clothes directly into the laundry.
  8. Thorough vacuuming can get rid of some of your bed bugs. Carefully vacuum rugs, floors, upholstered furniture, bed frames, under beds, around bed legs, and all cracks and crevices around the room. Change the bag after each use so the bed bugs can’t escape. Place the used bag in a tightly sealed plastic bag and in an outside garbage bin.
  9. Turn to the professionals! This is the most important tip of all. There are do it yourself steps you can try however they are not very successful. They can take months of very hard work and you still may have bugs.

Having bed bugs can be very frustrating. These feelings can cause a delay in getting the needed treatment or in telling your apartment manager or landlord. This delay only allows the bug population to grow making is harder to get rid of the bugs. It is important to remember, rich or poor, clean or dirty, bed bugs don’t care. They need us for their next blood meal. The sooner treatment can be started, the more successful it will be.

For more tips on Bed Bugs, call Four Corners at (877) 337-3573. Or send email to Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.