Finding Them and Getting Rid of Them
Bedbugs will remain close to their food source; however, they can disperse over 100 feet if competition or resource limitations apply. When seeking out populations, begin within 5–10 feet of the bed or couch, if sleeping activity occurs there, and search outwardly. You may need to force them out of areas they are hiding in by using a thin item like a credit card to slide between small cracks and crevices.
There are sealed covers available that are designed to enclose the mattress and the box spring; these are a good idea to not only prevent bedbug infestations from occurring on your mattress but quarantine any existing populations that may already exist.
Once the infested areas have been located and measures have been taken to minimize their spread, cleaning, decluttering, and disposing of items should occur. Wash everything that you can! The heat from washing and drying will clean the item and kill all life stages of the bedbug. If you can place items such as pillows, cushions, stuffed animals, curtains, and bedding in the dryer it is your best bet. Heat of 140 degrees for 20 minutes is the threshold for all bedbugs and is the only absolute sure way of killing them.
If you are trying to decide if you can handle control by yourself or if a professional should be called, keep in mind a few things. It is certainly less expensive to address these concerns yourself first, but it is usually difficult unless you have caught it before they have seriously infested your home. Consistency and being thorough are key to controlling bedbugs on your own. If you believe the problem is extensive, time is of the essence and a professional is the best option.
Positive identification is a must before treating any sort of pest problem. Using the wrong products may actually make your problem worse rather than better; therefore, it is necessary to find the source of the problem and have it correctly identified by a professional before chemical applications or measures take place.
Trapping is a good way of identifying the pest as well as the location of populations within your home. There are several easy ways to collect/trap bedbugs, such as with sticky traps, petroleum jelly on legs of furniture, and water placed at the base of furniture. Because bedbugs cannot fly—they must physically crawl from place to place—when going from the wall to the bed, for instance, they must crawl up the leg of the bed in order to get there. By placing traps on the floor or on the legs by the bed or furniture you will likely be able to capture them in transit and confirm their presence for further measures.
Begin with cleaning everything; this may uncover areas that are infested as well as remove some of the bedbugs that are simply occupying various places. The second step is to vacuum thoroughly, use attachments to vacuum along baseboards, moldings, and under furniture. Vacuum cushions, mattresses, and other fabric surfaces; this is a simple yet critical step that can be done often. Remember to dispose of the bag or contents afterward as live bedbugs may multiply or escape.
After cleaning and vacuuming it is best to seal off items known to be free from bedbugs; this helps keep them from becoming newly infested and separate them from other areas that may still need treatment.
If you choose to use chemicals to control bedbugs in your home, remember the following things:
- Never apply pesticides directly to your mattress or places you may be in direct contact with.
- Bug bombs are not effective in treating bedbugs.
- Use a combination of treatments, including aerosols, baits, and dusts.
- One application will not likely be enough—there are several life stages and one treatment may miss one or several of the insects. Eggs may not have hatched yet, leaving them unaffected by chemical treatments and nymphs/adults may be hiding in places that do not get exposed to the treatments being made.
- Always use products labeled for the use you intend and follow those instructions specifically.
If disposal of furniture is ultimately deemed appropriate, wrap the furniture in plastic and clearly label it so that it is not picked up and they are spread to other locations. Do not donate the furniture and do not pick up furniture from unregulated sources.
If you feel you need to contact an exterminator/pest control professional, look online or in the yellow pages for your area.