Pavel Krasensky / Shutterstock
The first thing to know is that there is a difference between detecting a bed bug and having a full-blown infestation. An infestation is when bed bugs have taken up residence in places like a hotel or dorm, a multi-unit apartment or a single-family home, basically, anywhere that has a consistent source of food (human blood) says Jody Green, PhD , an urban entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The way you are most likely to encounter mistakes is in the form of an "introduction," says Green, which sounds better but still causes panic. "An introduction is when a bed bug falls off or crawls on an item that may have been caused by an infestation." What you do next may be the difference in finishing the problem quickly or the mistakes that establish a foothold in your home, leading to an infestation.
Step 1: Do not be scared
If you wake up with a bite or see a tracker, do not assume it is a bed bug, says Green: "Panic has people to throw away their mattress and all their things." That may be imprudent, she says, since transport is infested. The furniture can distribute insects around the house or allow them to spread to neighbors. If you see a bed bug, and this is its appearance, pick it up and place it in a sealed container. Then call a pest control company to get confirmation of what you think it is. Because a bed bug does not equal an infestation, says Green, do not rush to the store to buy an insect bomb or insect repellent; These can make the problem worse.
Step 2: Do an inspection
If you do not have a sample but you suspect you might have bed bugs, take a flashlight. "First make an inspection of the bed and work it out," says Green. Look for evidence of bed bugs such as molted skins, eggs, droppings (it looks like an ink mark), nymphs and bed bugs under the mattress seams, the bed frame or the sofa / recliner. Also check the headboard and the frame and the nearby nightstand, including the drawers. Finally, check cracks and crevices near the bed, including the molding. If you see any evidence of bed bugs, you should contact a licensed pest professional immediately. (If you live in an apartment, contact the owner first). "Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to control and can not be treated effectively with DIY measures," says Brittany Campbell, PhD, an entomologist at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). bed bug infestation that may be losing.
Step 3: Declutter
Even if the exterminators are on the way, it's a good idea to deal with any mess, like stacked magazines or boxes on the floor and loads of clothes, because bedbugs love it. Cleaning makes it easy for the exterminator to treat your home; In addition, a house without clutter is easier to monitor for future infestations. If you feel tempted to push your piles of books or clutter in the garage or in a closet, you should know that you may be spreading insects. Instead, take a deep breath, put on gloves and carefully pack everything that can be washed in sturdy trash bags and seal them with tape. Simply tying a bag does not work, insects can easily escape. If you have a lot of clutter, do not think that's the reason you have an infestation: this is what really causes bed bugs.
Step 4: Empty
"Thoroughly vacuum rooms, including often overlooked places, such as curtains, the back of the images and the bottom of the furniture, all known hiding places for bed bugs if you suspect that any of these items are infested "says Campbell. Do not forget to give the floor molding a good vacuum. (If you see a loose molding, do not repair it until you talk to your exterminator, you will not want to seal or caulk cracks with live bugs). Use the slit tool to make the seams on the mattress and box. Spring, the recliners, and even the sofa. Do not use a rigid brush attachment since bedbugs and eggs can stick to the brush and transfer to another surface. If your vacuum cleaner does not have a bag, carefully empty it in a trash bag and put it in the trash. If your vacuum cleaner has a bag, carefully place the bag in a trash bag and put it in the trash. Wash the suction tools in hot, soapy water. Store the vacuum cleaner in a plastic trash bag and seal it with tape until you can inspect for bed bugs.
Step 5: Make your bed an island.
Although you will be tempted to throw away your mattress and start over, you may not have to. Your exterminator can treat the bed, depending on the treatment option you choose. If it will be a few days before the exterminator arrives, you can isolate your bed. First, move it a few feet from the wall. Remove all bedding and place it in a sealed plastic bag until it reaches your washer. Run the bedding through a hot wash cycle and then dry it for at least 30 minutes at the highest temperature: soapy water will not kill the bugs, but the heat will. Now, place a bed bug proof cover on your mattress and box springs. Make sure the zipper closes tightly so that the bedbugs trapped inside remain there and starve, which, by the way, can last up to a year, so do not look. Tuck all the sheets so they do not touch the floor and place the bed bug interceptors under each leg of the bed (you can do the same with the furniture). Interceptors trap bed bugs and help with monitoring efforts. Keep the area under the bed clear.
Step 6: Store the right things
In case you are worried: you probably will not have to let go of your precious memories. However, if an item is infested with bed bugs, such as a book or upholstery, it can be difficult to store. The exterminators can help you with this, and they will have a detailed plan and a checklist to complete. If you have to stay out of your home during treatment, says Campbell, plan to take only the items you absolutely need; Everything you leave will be treated. Just make sure everything you take is free of errors. "The smallest items can be placed in plastic bags for transportation, such as clothing, if you need to wash your clothes. As with bedding, anything that can be washed should be washed with hot water and dried at the highest temperature for at least 30 minutes to kill the bed bugs. Be sure to use a clean bag once the items are returned after treatment to prevent bed bugs from returning home, "she says.
Step 7: Store items that can not be washed
Depending on the type of treatment, you may need to eliminate the artwork and the decoration of the walls. Stuffed animals, picture frames, electronics, books, and other items that can not be washed should be placed in a clear bag with an airtight seal until the exterminator can thoroughly inspect them, and potentially treat them in the container. Ask the pest management company which treatment is best for your items. Avoid having to go through all of this again by following these bed bug infestation prevention tips.
How do the experts get rid of the bugs?
Its two main weapons are chemicals and heat. While fumigation is a solution, it is not as popular due to the cost, the tents and the toxic gas that permeates the house. Other options include spraying surfaces with chemicals that will repel or kill insects and others that kill insects on contact. This approach focuses on sleeping areas and where insects are active. "Eggs are not susceptible to chemicals, but there is usually at least one follow-up treatment and their residue in the selected areas and they can kill the bugs for a while," says Green. "The thermal treatments use commercial heaters, fans and thermal sensors to verify that all the areas have reached lethal temperatures during the required time. This type of heat kills all stages of bed bug life and can be used throughout the house. " Once the bugs have disappeared, use these home remedies to keep them out forever.