The common bed bug has long been a pest – feeding on blood, causing itchy bites, and generally irritating their human hosts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all consider bed bugs a public health pest. However, unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known to transmit the spread of disease.
Knowing what to look for is the first step in controlling bed bugs. Generally, adult bed bugs are 1/4 to 3/8 inch (4-5mm) long, brown in color, with a flat, oval-shaped body; while young bed bugs (also called nymphs) are smaller and lighter in color.
When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams, and tags of the mattress and box spring and in cracks on the bed frame and head board.
(from the EPA website.)
Common Bed Bug Myths
Myth: You can’t see a bed bug.
Reality: You should be able to see adult bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs with your naked eye.
Myth: Bed bugs live in dirty places.
Reality: Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood, and carbon dioxide. However, clutter offers more hiding places.
Myth: Bed bugs transmit diseases.
Reality: There are no cases that indicate bed bugs pass diseases from one host to another. Lab tests have shown that it is unlikely that the insect is capable of infecting its host.
Myth: Bed bugs won’t come out if the room is brightly lit.
Reality: While bed bugs prefer darkness, keeping the light on at night won’t deter these pests from biting you.
Myth: Pesticide applications alone will easily eliminate bed bug infestations.
Reality: Bed bug control can only be maintained through a comprehensive treatment strategy that incorporates a variety of techniques and vigilant monitoring. Proper use of pesticides may be one component of the strategy, but will not eliminate bed bugs alone. In addition, bed bug populations in different geographic areas of the country have developed resistance to many pesticidal modes of action. If you're dealing with a resistant population, some products and application methods may only serve to make the problem worse. It is a good idea to consult a qualified pest management professional (PMP) if you have bed bugs in your home.
(from the EPA website.)
Basic Steps in Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Thoroughly vacuum—several times—carpets, baseboards, outlet boxes, seams of mattresses and cloth covered furniture in all affected rooms. After vacuuming, remove the vacuum bag—place it in a plastic bag, seal, and discard. This should be done on the same day.
Obtain Tempo Dust (100% mortality within 24 hours) or a liquid Tempo Concentrate or Phantom (95% mortality in 48 hours) due to their high efficacy rates according to chemicals tested by University of Kentucky and Cooper Pest Solutions out of New Jersey. Spray hiding places in furniture, bed frames, outlet boxes, and baseboards (they hide in the crack behind the baseboards) about every two weeks to kill emerging nymphs or as needed. If you use a liquid spray from concentrate, do not spray areas that water may damage. (Egg to nymph is about two weeks.)
Obtain zipper mattress covers or the less expensive plastic shipping and storing bags and cover all affected mattresses and box springs. Note: If you have sprayed liquid spray in the seams of the mattress and box springs allow them to dry thoroughly before placing them in the mattress covers to avoid mold problems. Make sure the openings in the plastic covers are well taped and sealed. Bed bugs can live up to a year without a blood meal. Leave the covers on the mattresses for 10-12 months. What makes the biggest difference beyond the use of chemicals is whether or not the person buys and applies a bed bug-proof mattress and box spring cover.
All bedding, clothes, etc. can be washed and dried on high heat. Heat kills bed bugs. Stuffed animals can also be put into the dryer on high heat to kill the critters.
Remove the bottom fabric from couches and spray inside the couches several times and in all seams and crevices. Don't spray on the outside fabric of the couch where people sit. In the evening, turn furniture upside down and spray, and let them sit that way overnight and then turn them over in the morning.
Obtain diatomaceous earth (DE) and generously sprinkle it along all baseboards, around beds and bed posts, across doorways (carpeted), behind and under the couches, etc. The reason for spreading DE across doorways is to inhibit migration from one room to the next.
Generously sprinkle regular table salt in the same areas.
Note: The DE cuts the soft bodies of the bed bugs as they crawl across it; the salt desiccates them. Both of these substances are easily vacuumed up later. Leave these substances along the walls and around the edges of the bed for several months. This process can be repeated as needed.
You can be successful in getting rid of bed bugs, but it does take time and diligence. You can also hire a professional exterminator.
Bed Bug Information from Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
Bed Bug Information from the EPA
Bed Bug Information from the CDC