Knowing how to get rid of bed bugs is not a simple task, nor is it an insurmountable problem. In my opinion, it is quite easy to eradicate them if you do all the necessary protocols to not let them have any chance to survive in your home.
The first condition to know how to get rid of bed bugs is simply to know them and their behavior. Because according to SunTsu, to defeat your enemy, you must first know him.
I. How to recognize bed bugs
Bed bugs are insect pests that live near humans to suck their blood, which is their exclusive food. They are found all over the world due to the increase in travel and tourism between continents.
The bed bug is reddish-brown and has an oval and strongly flattened body shape. Adults are 5 to 7 mm long and 3 mm wide.
Nymphs are similar to adults but are smaller and lighter or translucent in color. Their eggs are 1 mm long and whitish.
When they suck blood, they swell and turn darker in color. They cannot fly because they lack wings and their mouthparts form a long articulated suction pressure, which rests on the back under the head and body. The suction cord points forward when in use.
Bed bugs give off a characteristic odor reminiscent of recent mold.
The problem of infestation by these pests reappeared in the late 1990s in the world, especially in large cities, including Paris, New York, and London where there is a lot of tourist activity.
How do bed bugs come?
Bed bugs or their eggs can come into our homes through suitcases that we bring back infested from vacations, old furniture, or clothes that we buy at the market or on the Internet.
Also if one of our neighbors is infested by them, there is a risk that he transmits us these parasites if we exchange objects with him, or sometimes there is transmission through the pipes.
In particular cases, the nests of birds that are real breeding grounds for bed bugs. Since they can crawl along the walls of the house and can arrive in our apartment through a nest or even through an attic inhabited by domestic pigeons.
But overall, in most cases, we are the ones who inadvertently and ignorantly bring them into our homes.
Here is what they look like:
Always make sure it’s bed bugs before you start fighting them. These adult pests can be recognized with the naked eye. They reach a body length of four to nine millimeters, depending on whether they are blood engorged or not.
These six-legged hairy pests are characterized by their reddish-brown color and very flat body shape. Their eggs are whitish and do not measure more than 1 mm.
II. How to get rid of bed bugs?
It is undeniable that the best way to ensure that there are no bed bugs in a house is to call real professional pest control. They have the tools, products, and experience to eradicate bed bugs.
Knowing that females can lay between 1 to 5 eggs per day and between 200 to 500 during their lifetime, we realize that an infestation is quickly uncontrollable. Especially since two or three eggs left alive can generate a new large infestation.
This causes a psychological disorder for people who have done everything to eliminate them and realize 15 days later that they are still there.
So, let’s have a look at the methods used to eradicate bed bugs.
There is a multitude of insecticides of different qualities and effectiveness on the market, in several forms. Either in liquid form to be sprayed directly on the places where the bugs are hiding, or in fumigant or pads.
It is recommended to spray these insecticides with at least a face protection mask, otherwise, a disposable protective suit is recommended.
The problem with insecticides is that bed bug eggs are not destroyed. Even though most of the eggs die when they hatch simply by contact with the product.
This is why in all serious interventions a second appointment is always made to ensure that there are no eggs that have escaped the elimination by the insecticide.
For humans and vertebrates such as cats and dogs, insecticides are not normally toxic. However, it could cause allergic reactions such as coughing and a runny nose.
Therefore, it is best to leave the room treated for at least half a day, not to go for 24 hours or more, while the insecticide evaporates completely.
2. The Temperature Process
As insects and other pests become increasingly resistant to pesticides, pest exterminators use the heat method as an alternative method to insecticides. The infested room is filled with hot air at about 50 degrees.
Scientific tests have shown that bed bugs die at over 45 degrees after 20 minutes of exposure. The reason for this is that the protein compounds denature from this temperature in the enzymes and stop the metabolic processes.
The same thing happens at temperatures below -18 degrees, they cannot survive.
However, heat or cold treatment remains relatively difficult if it is carried out in inhabited rooms. In addition, some old houses may have some damage from being exposed to high heat for some time.
3. The Cold
Since not all clothes can withstand a 60°C wash or a trip to the dryer, another option can be considered.
You can then put them in the freezer: pillows, clothes, stuffed animals… In a few hours, there won’t be a single live bug left on your stuff.
Don’t forget to put them in a large garbage bag so that you can treat them with insecticide after the freezing process.
A conventional vacuum cleaner cannot systematically eliminate all bed bugs, but it is equally effective in ridding you of large numbers of them as well as their larvae and eggs.
At least you can sleep peacefully for a few days; however, you should consider combining another method of bed bug control.
5. Natural Treatments
First, you need to do a thorough cleaning and you need to clean your house properly. This is the first action to do to exterminate bedbugs.
Wash your pillows and sheets if possible with boiled water at 90 °C. and for delicate textiles that do not tolerate high temperatures, place them in a freezer for two to five days at -18 °C.
Sprinkle the floor with baking soda as well as carpets and rugs, and leave it for a few hours. Then vacuum it up.
There are also steam cleaners that are very effective in killing bedbugs and their eggs by simple contact. It gives off so much heat on a given spot that it is impossible for these insects to survive.
The only condition for its good use is not to leave any millimeter of the infested place without passing on it with the steam cleaner.
And for more effectiveness, it is recommended to make it pass twice or even three times to be sure of a good result.
b. Baking soda against bed bugs:
There are two main ways to fight bed bugs using baking soda that are sometimes complementary:
Sprinkle it on:
Fact that baking soda is in powder form, the first way to use it is to sprinkle it on all the places that can be affected and all the elements that surround the infested corners, such as mattresses, box springs, the ends of the floor and all the flat corners so that this powder does not scatter.
Because a simple contact of the bed bugs with the baking soda is enough for them to be killed.
Spray it on:
To make this way more effective, first, dissolve the baking soda in an adequate amount of water (the more concentrated the better) and put the solution in a sprayer, and spray all the nooks and crannies that are not accessible with the first technique of using baking soda, such as cracks and holes that are in the infested places or even surrounding it.
This trick is more effective because the bugs are attacked and then reached directly into their hiding place and die immediately.
c. Essential oils
Secondly, you can use essential oils, because some essential oils are very good bed bug repellents.
To do this, here is a solution that you will pour into a spray bottle and spray the floor of your house.
Here is the composition of the mixture: four cups of water associated with two tablespoons of Neem oil added to twenty-five drops of lemongrass, lavender, clove, and finally twelve drops of peppermint.
d. Lavender against bed bugs
Lavender is a very good home remedy that effectively protects clothes from moths and bed bugs.
But if you want to avoid the attacks of these insects with the scent of lavender, you can only partially succeed.
Bed bugs, like many other insects, don’t like the smell of lavender, but that barely keeps the hungry animals from breaking through the smell barrier to come and take their share of blood.
The effectiveness of essential oils is seen precisely when bed bugs are looking for a place to lay their eggs, they will try to bypass a room with a strong smell of lavender and choose another less fragrant.
e. diatomaceous earth
It is a totally natural insecticide, ecological and without risk for humans.
In the form of a white powder, it is composed of fossilized microscopic algae containing silica which is harmful to bedbugs (but also to all harmful insects).
Simply pour a thin layer on the floor around the bed and against wall complaints, and the bed bugs will disappear after about ten days.
Silica earth (diatomaceous earth) has the effect of drying out the vital organs of the insect.
Isopropyl alcohol with the chemical formula CH3CH(OH)-CH3 also creates a deadly environment for bed bugs.
To apply this home remedy for bed bugs, aggressively spray all infested items with this alcohol.
The bed bugs will have no choice but to come out due to the strong smell of the isopropanol, so collect them immediately afterward with a glove in a cup and dispose of them right away in the outside trash can in a sealed bag.
Normally, most bed bugs and their eggs affected by this alcohol will die within a few hours.
Be careful, isopropanol is very flammable, there is a risk of fire!
g. Glue and petroleum jelly traps
Another tip for getting rid of bed bugs is to use glue traps and Vaseline.
Place the glue traps in the areas that are infested with bugs. To get the best results, you should place several traps in different locations.
There are several ways to use petroleum jelly as a bed bug repellent. One popular method is to apply it to the bed frame, headboard, and footboard.
The idea is that the pests will get stuck crawling around the bed looking for a host.
Also, note that glue traps are usually used to detect the presence of Cimex Lectularius in order to apply the other products to kill bed bugs forever.
As for Vaseline, you should know that it does not kill these blood-sucking bugs on its own, but it does not allow them to access the bed by trapping them inside and thus avoid biting the sleepers.
Otherwise, there are only insecticides and some natural products that can get rid of Cimex Lectularius.
III. Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?
The favorite hiding places of bedbugs are undeniably beds and mattresses. At night, they are attracted by the heat, smell, and breath of the human body.
They usually move on and around the bed, and only when the infestation is very heavy do they spread throughout the house.
Bed bugs also hide behind pictures, wallpaper, baseboards, light switches, cracks, and in all furniture.
Electrical outlets, appliances, blinds, and curtains are also known to harbor these pests.
Most humans do not notice the infestation until they have been bitten by these bugs, because they are nocturnal and hide during the day and all the time they do not have the need to feed. This makes them almost invisible.
Migration to other rooms in the house only takes place when no food source is available. But it should be noted that they have the ability to remain without food for several months.
Therefore, even rooms that have been uninhabited for a long time and have not been renovated can be contaminated by these pests.
IV. Signs of the presence of bed bugs if the house
There are signs that can also indicate the presence of bed bugs in a house:
- line of buttons: it is practically the only insect pests that leave by biting their host a line of buttons.
- Blood trails: As they feed on the blood of their host, bed bugs usually drop a few drops of blood on bedding, comforter covers, sheets, and pillows as they return to their hiding places.
- Feces: Small black spots on bedding can be a sign of their presence.
- Dead bugs or nymph skins: In addition to live bed bugs and dead insects, nymph skins may indicate an infestation.
V. How to detect bed bugs
Actually, when we talk about insects sucking blood, the real term is bites. These insect pests suck the blood of their host and last from ten to twenty minutes, depending on the stage of development of the nymph. At first, bed bug bites often go unnoticed because the insects secrete an anesthetic solution.
People react differently to bed bug bites. While some people experience pain and redness, others hardly notice the bites.
Bed bugs bite exposed parts of the body, such as the arms, legs, feet, shoulders, neck, and face.
It is not easy to distinguish bed bug bites from flea bites: both insects are part of the leeches and leave several bites. Although insect bites often go unnoticed at first, flea bites usually cause more itching and sometimes papules (a pea-sized thickening on the skin).
VI. Treatment of Bed Bug Bites
Fortunately, bed bugs do not transmit diseases. In most cases, bites can be treated with ointments or over-the-counter medications. Depending on the intensity of the itching and the type of reaction, agents such as cortisone or hydrocortisone may be used. If in doubt, contact a physician.
If the affected areas are swollen, itchy, and papular, an allergic reaction may be the cause of the problem: The ingredients in the saliva are released to cause the reaction. In this case, you should also contact a doctor.
Also, you can consult our article on natural treatments against the bites of these insects.
It is advisable not to scratch the areas of bites, even if it is very uncomfortable, because it could be a small wound in which the bacteria cause inflammation.
VII. Cost of extermination
The costs depend on the type and number of treatments due to the extent of the infestation. The treatment with insecticides is generally less expensive than the treatment with heat and cold which costs are often higher.
The larger the infestation, the more treatments are needed. The fight can then extend over several weeks.
Most pest control professionals have prices ranging from $400 to $4000. And this of course is due to the size of the infestation and the number of rooms to be treated.
VIII. Some tips to protect yourself from Bed Bugs
It is difficult to prevent bed bugs. There is no way to protect yourself from these pests. But you can still take some precautions to reduce the risk of infestation. The answer to how to get rid of bed bugs starts upstream, by avoiding bringing them home. Here are some tips for those who are traveling:
- Before checking into a hotel or hostel, always check for bed bugs and ask for another room if you have serious doubts.
- Always carefully inspect all used furniture that you bring home to eliminate any insects that may be present. If possible, leave the furniture outside for a few days in the winter to be safe.
- Never put your suitcase in the hotel room on the floor or near the bed and put it preferably on the shelves in the wardrobe.
- It is recommended to store dirty clothes in waterproof bags when traveling if there is no way or time to wash them at a high temperature. Bed bugs are attracted to the human odor and therefore often nest with clothing.
- In addition, clothes should be washed at least at 60 degrees after returning from vacation. Also, if a person buys used clothes from the Internet or flea market. Anything that cannot be washed at 60 degrees in the washing machine can also be frozen for 48 hours or more.
IX. Frequently asked questions about bed bugs
1. Which essential oil against bed bugs?
Bed bugs are insects that hate certain scents. The essential oils that are used as a repellent are:
- Lavender essential oil
- Tea tree oil
- Essential oil of lemon eucalyptus
- Tea tree oil
- Clove essential oil
2. How do bed bugs come to your house?
There are several ways in which bed bugs come into a home. We can bring them home from a trip in our own suitcases. They may have crept in during a stay in an infested hotel or inn.
They can arrive in old furniture or clothes that we buy at flea markets. or simply come from our neighbor who is already infested by these bugs.
3. How to get rid of bed bugs without poisoning yourself?
The only answer is natural products like diatomaceous earth, baking soda, and heat treatment.
4. How do you know if you have bed bugs?
In most cases, due to their extreme discretion, we realize their presence when we are bitten by these bed bugs, the next day by seeing the buttons on the arms and feet.
Also one can realize it by the droppings and the skins which they leave behind them, as well as traces of blood on the pillows and the mattresses.
The two species of bed bugs (Insecta: Hemiptera: Cimicidae) usually implicated in human infestations are Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus