Friday, 2 May 2014

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How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Edited by Dan McGillen, Jack Herrick, BrettCapewell, Ben Rubenstein and 103 others
Bed bugs were once a common public health pest worldwide, declining in incidence through the mid 20th century. However, bed bugs have undergone a dramatic resurgence and there are worldwide reports of increasing numbers of infestations. Bed bugs are one of the great travelers of the world and are readily transported via luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. Read on to find out how to get rid of bed bugs in your own home.

Part 1 of 3: Finding the Bed Bugs

  1. 1
    Dismantle the bed and stand the components on end. Things to look for are the bugs themselves and the light-brown, molted skins of the nymphs. Dark spots of dried bed bug excrement are often present along mattress seams or wherever the bugs have resided. Oftentimes, the gauze fabric underlying the box spring must be removed to gain access for inspection and possible treatment. Cracks and crevices of bed frames should be examined, especially if the frame is wood (bed bugs have an affinity for wood and fabric more so than metal or plastic).
    • Successful treatment of mattresses and box springs is difficult and infested components may need to be discarded.
    • Alternatively, place a bed bug proof mattress cover over an infested mattress to trap the bed bugs inside and starve them to death. This will eliminate the need to purchase a new mattress/boxspring and make treatment and future inspections easier. [1]
    • Bed bugs also hide among items stored underneath beds.
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  2. 2
    Empty nightstands and dressers. Examine them inside and out, then tip them over to inspect the woodwork underneath. Oftentimes, the bugs will be hiding in cracks, corners and recesses.
  3. 3
    Check upholstered chairs and sofas. Pay close attention to the seams, tufts, skirts and crevices beneath cushions. Sofas can be major bed bug hotspots when used for sleeping.
  4. 4
    Check other common places. These include along and under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting (especially behind beds and furniture), cracks in wood molding and ceiling-wall junctures. Bed bugs tend to congregate in certain areas, but it is common to find an individual or some eggs scattered here and there.
  5. 5
    Use a flashlight. Inspectors sometimes also inject a pyrethrum-based "flushing agent" into crevices to help reveal where bugs may be hiding.

Part 2 of 3: Treating and Controlling Bed Bugs

  1. 1
    Follow an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. This involves multiple tactics such as preventive measures, sanitation, and chemicals applied to targeted sites.
  2. 2
    Spray bed bugs with rubbing alcohol. This kills them on the spot. Use the rubbing alcohol and a dish brush to kill the visible eggs, then call an exterminator.
  3. 3
    Bag and launder (120°F/48.8ºC minimum) affected items. Smaller items that cannot be laundered can sometimes be de-infested by heating. Individual items, for example, can be wrapped in plastic and placed in a hot, sunny location for at least a few days (the 120°F/48.8ºC minimum target temperature should be monitored in the center-most location with a thermometer). Bedbugs also succumb to cold temperatures below freezing, but the chilling period must be maintained for at least two weeks. Attempts to rid an entire home or apartment of bed bugs by raising or lowering the thermostat will be entirely unsuccessful.
    • Wash all linen on hot, dry on hot setting. Gather all linen, cloth and leather bags, mattress covers, clothing, teddy bears... etc. Machine wash on hot - wash the laundry bag also. Tumble dry on hot. Steam kills bed bugs. Some metropolitan areas offer bed bug laundry and dry cleaning services which have the added benefits of proven methods for killing bed bugs and bagging or storing cleaned items so they do not become re-infested while the home is still being exterminated.
    • If something cannot be washed or discarded (such as a valuable leather purse) spray with non-toxic bed bug spray, seal in a plastic bag and leave for a few months.
    • Dry clean to remove odor if need be.
  4. 4
    Point steam on them. You may get a simple device capable of generating steam at your local hardware store. You may also convert a simple electric kettle to a steam machine by attaching a flexible tube. Steam should kill all bedbugs and the eggs. Thoroughly spray steam at all corners and seams.
  5. 5
    Vacuum your house. This will remove bugs and eggs from mattresses, carpet, walls and other surfaces. Pay particular attention to seams, tufts and edges of mattresses and box springs, and the perimeter edge of wall-to-wall carpets. Afterward, dispose of the vacuum contents in a sealed trash bag. Steam cleaning of carpets is also helpful for killing bugs and eggs that vacuuming may have missed.
  6. 6
    Repair cracks in plaster and glue down loosened wallpaper to eliminate bed bug harborage sites. Remove and destroy wild animal roosts and bird nests when possible.
  7. 7
    Consider using insecticides. Residual insecticides (usually pyrethroids) are applied as spot treatments to cracks and crevices where bed bugs are hiding. Increased penetration of the insecticide into cracks and crevices can be achieved if accumulated dirt and debris are first removed using a vacuum cleaner. Many readily available aerosol pesticide sprays will cause bed bugs to scatter making eradication more difficult. Dust formulations may be used to treat wall voids and attics.
    • Repeat insecticide applications if bed bugs are present two weeks after the initial treatment. It is difficult to find all hiding places and hidden eggs may have hatched.
  8. 8
    Enlist the services of a professional pest control firm. Experienced companies know where to look for bed bugs, and have an assortment of management tools at their disposal. Owners and occupants will need to assist the professional in important ways. Allowing access for inspection and treatment is essential and excess clutter should be removed.
  9. 9
    Discard affected items. In some cases, infested mattresses and box springs will need to be discarded. Since bed bugs can disperse throughout a building, it also may be necessary to inspect adjoining rooms and apartments.
  10. 10
    Apply silica gel. Grind up some crystal silica gel and apply it all over in your bed room. Put some on your mattress, around the bed and along the wall. The fine silica gel will get stuck to the bug and it cannot be shaken off, causing the bug to dehydrate and die. [2] Be careful not to inhale it. Alternatively, use a natural dehydrating substance called Diatomaceous Earth. Make sure you ask for the "Food Grade" variation! Diatomaceous Earth has the same effect as silica gel but is safe and exposure to it is not dangerous for your children and pets.[3]
    • If you have a cat, change the cat litter (crystal silica gel) every 5 days so the newly hatched eggs will dehydrate too. Repeat for 5 weeks.

Part 3 of 3: Preventing Bed Bugs From Entering

  1. 1
    Be wary of acquiring secondhand beds, bedding, and furniture. At a minimum, such items should be examined closely before being brought into the home.
  2. 2
    Examine beds and headboards for signs of bed bugs when traveling.
  3. 3
    Elevate your luggage off the floor.
  4. 4
    Be vigilant. Warehouses, storage facilities, trucks and railroad cars may be infested so common bed bugs can infest homes by stowing away on new furniture stored or shipped from these places. Familiarity may help to avoid infestation, or at least prompt earlier intervention by a professional

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Here is a step by step guide on getting rid of bed bugs

  • The bed bugs appear dead when you see them hiding, but they aren't. They don't move usually until you hit them with the steam. Make sure you steam them until they stop moving.
  • Occasionally check for new bites. This could prevent future problems.
  • Apply witch-hazel to the skin to stop the itching caused by Bedbug bites.
  • No insecticides are labeled for use on bedding or linens. These items should be dry cleaned or laundered in hot water and dried using the "hot" setting. Use certain labeled insecticides on the seams or folds of the mattress. Do not spray insecticides on the flat surface of the mattress, where you lay down.
  • Bed bugs are rarely seen in daylight. They emerge from their hiding spots at night.
  • A thorough treatment of a home, hotel or apartment may take anywhere from several hours to several days.
  • Bedbugs are often found in mattress corners. Inspect those areas carefully.
  • Use a spray bottle with alcohol to kill bedbugs immediately. Use at night when they are most active.
  • Depending on your own individual tolerance for the bites, you may not discover you have been bitten for days, while some people know it immediately or within a few hours.
  • If disposal isn't an option, encasing the mattress and box spring will be helpful if bugs are still present (allergy supply companies sell zippered bed encasements for dust mite prevention). Vacuuming and brushing will further help to remove bugs and eggs from mattresses and box springs that cannot be discarded. Some pest control firms also treat beds with portable steam machines. The technique is useful, but does not kill bugs or eggs that are hidden inside the box spring or mattress.