While bed bugs are not known to transfer disease to humans, the itchy welts created by their bites can make living with them extremely uncomfortable. Unfortunately, bed bugs can also be one of the most difficult home pest infestations to control on your own. Here are some essential tips that any homeowner can use if they suspect they have a bed bug infestation.
Identify the Signs of Bed Bug Infestation
Seeing red, itchy welts on your skin isn't enough to guarantee that bed bugs are the cause of the problem. Many people with bed bugs confuse their bites with fleas or even mosquitos. However, bed bug bites will be found on all exposed areas of skin, unlike flea bites which are typically on the ankles. You are also more likely to notice new bites in the morning, as bed bugs are active at night and remain in hiding during the day.
To confirm that bed bugs are the problem, you will need to look for indicators of their activity around your home. Aside from locating the bed bugs themselves, one of the biggest signs of a bed bug infestation is dark excrement staining on your mattress, pillows, sheets, walls, and other linens and furniture throughout your home. Bed bugs will also often leave skin husks, egg shells, and blood stains in these same areas.
De-Clutter Your Home
While cluttered homes are no more likely to get bed bugs than perfectly clean ones, clutter gives bed bugs more places to hide after an infestation has already begun. Before you begin battling the infestation, take the time to thoroughly de-clutter your home so that the bugs have fewer hiding spaces.
When cleaning, it is important to take some extra steps to make sure you are removing as many bed bugs as possible in the process. Bag any small items in a sealed plastic bag so that bed bugs cannot crawl back out while you are in the process of cleaning. You should also seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag every time you vacuum, as bed bugs can easily crawl back out of it.
Bed Bug Control Methods
Exterminating bed bugs will require a comprehensive approach, involving several treatment steps for every affected item. The first and easiest step you should try is to wash and dry affected linens on the highest heat. Next, use a carpet steamer on all carpeted floors, and use the hose attachment along every corner in your home.
For items that cannot be washed or dried, you will need to purchase non-toxic bed bug spray. Spray the items and seal them in a plastic bag. Leave them in a sunny area for up to a month, allowing the bed bug spray and heat to work together to kill any bed bugs that are hiding in the item.
Like many other insects with exoskeletons, bed bugs will become dehydrated if they are coated with diatomaceous earth, also known as silica. You can purchase food-grade silica in powdered form and leave it around the corners in every room for a non-toxic method of bed bug control. Make sure you are purchasing food-grade silica and not amorphous silica (silica gel), as amorphous silica is highly toxic when inhaled or ingested.
Know When to Hire a Professional
While following a careful bed bug control plan can give you a good chance of eliminating smaller infestations, there comes a point where the only option is to hire a professional exterminator. Exterminators have access to professional-grade chemical pesticides that can kill any infestation, as well as the experience and training to use these chemicals safely and effectively.
A bed bug infestation does not have to be a permanent problem if you know the right steps to get rid of them. Use these tips the next time you suspect you have bed bugs in your home, but be sure to call an exterminator from a company like Ace Walco & Sons Termite & Pest Control if your DIY bed bug removal attempts have not been successful after two to three months.