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Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Safely and Effectively

  We read and hear every day that Bed Bugs are coming back with a vengeance. More and more people are experiencing the reality of these little scavengers. The bites itch, can be sore, un-attractive, can get infected, but there is no evidence that suggest they spread disease. My concern is not the increase of the Bed Bug population as much is how the human population is dealing with them. Because they affect our living environment we do need to eliminate them but let us do it safely. If we aren’t careful our homes can become more dangerous by the treatment, than the little critters are causing by being there. Want to get rid of them? Think about this for a moment.

“Where do they stay throughout the Day? Well, they are tucked away 

In every little crack and crevice around their Prey.”

So in order to get rid of the bed bugs, you must first know about where you were attacked. Was it on your feet, ankles, legs, neck, face, arms or hands. Have the bites been showing up in the morning? Then it’s a good possibility they could be coming from the bed. In the evening during TV or reading time could indicate the couch or your favorite chair. How long it has been going on and how many bites there are can tell you how bad the infestation is. 

So if you got victimized on the “bed” you’re going to look in and around the seams, under the buttons, tags, corner supports, any fabric tuft of a mattress and box spring. Need to remove webbing under the box springs and inspect where the folds are attached, by and where the wood frames are connected.  Need to look at how the springs are attached. The fiber filling material inside box springs is a great hiding place for these predators. If you think about it, the mattress and box springs could be on a wood bed frame with multiple screw holes that connect it or connection slide points if it’s metal. Is there a head and foot board, end tables, lamps, picture frames? Does the end table have drawers? They could be snuggled in the drawer slides or under the bottom of the drawer or table top. You can find them in and around wood appliqué, drawer pulls and post carvings.  They love light and wall receptacles, base boards, carpet, loose wall paper or sheet rock?  Think any crack or crevice at least 20 feet around the area of their identified meal.

Did you get bit while on the couch? Oh! No! Here we go again looking at every crack and crevice at least 20 feet around the identified area of attack.

So STEP 1: Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Safe and effectively is knowing How and Where to hunt for them.  Where have you been getting attacked most frequent? Look in every little Crack and Crevice in a 20 foot area from the point of attack.  The frequency and amount of bites will determine how much treatment will be necessary. All this comes into play as you start attacking your prey, STEP 2, with your arsenal of choice, .

In Step 1 we have learned to become the Hunter, not the Hunted. Reversing the role of the prey we now have the opportunity to start the process of getting rid of these little blood sucking critters. Since the female Bed Bug lays approximately 5 to 7 eggs a week and 7 to 10 days to hatch it doesn’t take long for the hunting season to become a necessity. Where you have been attacked will determine the first site to focus on. How many bites there are will determine how bad the infestation is and how much treatment will be necessary.  So as we begin our attack lets think about this a moment:

“Where they stay throughout the Day, is where we’ll spray
To eliminate our Prey”

 If we got victimized on the bed let’s remove the spread, covers and sheets and get them ready for washing. Keep in mind that bed bugs not only crawl from place to place they also get taken from place to place. So as we remove the covers and sheets take them directly to the washer, avoiding the hamper. If slacks, socks etc. have been on the bed for any length time then transferred to the hamper, wash them and attack the hamper plus the surrounding area with your arsenal of choice.

While hunting your Prey, in every crack and crevice within 20 feet of their identified area, apply the solution as you go. Don’t leave an area untouched. Apply heavy if you find evidence of the bug, nymphs and their eggs (identification).  Remember hunt and attack all the crack and crevices we mentioned in Step 1. The fiber material under the box springs should be sprayed with more of a fan spray. The material will hold more of the adult bugs than eggs. The eggs are usually attached to more textured surfaces like wood, fabrics, picture frames, baseboards and such and need more of a direct straight type spray.

They may travel from room to room through the walls by way of electrical wiring. The light switches and wall receptacles are also great places for them to stay throughout the day. So the wall voids are definitely an attack zone. Dusting is the best way to go in the wall voids. Liquid should not be applied to electrical components so dusting is the safest and effective approach. Dust will stay in the voids longer creating a residual that’s not exposed to the living environment. So remove the switch and receptacle plates and carefully apply the dust, not touching the wiring, in and beside the mounting box that holds the switch and receptacle. There are dusting bulbs that are used with long nozzles but some products come with a narrow plastic mouth that makes it convenient to apply the dust.

 In Step 2 we have applied our arsenal of choice to specific crack and crevice areas around the identified initial point attack. The carpets, floors, fiber filling under box springs and furniture, have been fan sprayed while the wall voids have been dusted. All covered at least 20 feet around the area of their identified attack.  Could they have moved from one location to another? If so we will have to continue the process at the other location. Don’t forget the area between the one location and the other. We become more effective hunters as we know more about our prey, how to attack and our arsenal of choice.

There are all kinds of methods and products out there to treat for bed Bugs. It can be confusing which way would be most effective. A lot of these treatments would be difficult and not cost effective for individuals to do themselves and requiring a professional service. So to determine if you can do it yourself look at the technique you are interested in, how many bites you have and how long has it been going on. Step 2 mentioned the facts that let you know how bad the infestation is and how much treatment it will require. So now think about this for a moment:

“Where you sit and lay, be careful what you spray
Because you, your family and pets live there all day”

There are several techniques to treat bed bugs. The most common treatments are heat, steam, freezing, pesticides, and natural alternatives. Which one is more safe and effective depends on a lot of factors. Factors like how bad they are, your living situation and personal tolerance level of the treatments.

Heat treatments require getting the areas of infestation to 114⁰ F for 7 to 10 minutes for adults and nymphs and 60 minutes for eggs to kill bed bugs. The question is will it get to all areas of the infestation. Will the heat damage certain types of clothing, computer wiring, candles, makeup etc..? The equipment is very expensive and wouldn’t be cost effective to do it yourself. A professional would be required.

Steam units are less expensive, you could do it yourself, but again will it get to all areas the infestation is. Heat can penetrate wall voids but not steam. Steam is a liquid form so I would not advise steaming electrical areas.

Freezing might aid in killing some of the critters in clothing but requires 2 weeks at -18⁰ F which most freezers won’t do. Can we put our furniture in a freezer or freeze wall voids? There are some CO2 freezing machines which can crystallize to -115⁰ F but can you freeze all areas that need to be. So again look at the living situation Pesticides come in liquids and dust. Depending on the applicator one uses a pin or fan spray can be utilized. They are effective because they can be applied in all crack and crevices an wall void areas. Pesticides have also been formulated to leave residuals that can be deadly hours and sometimes days after it has been applied. Most all chemicals are restricted on how and when they can be applied, so read the label before it’s used. Some of these poisons can’t be sprayed on areas your body makes contact with. So you may not be able to apply on the mattress and all areas of the box springs, couch or chair. Think about the areas the chemical treatment had to be placed and are you, your children, and pets accessible to those areas.

Natural products also come in liquids and dust. The Bio-Based solutions are very safe and effective. Some of these products don’t carry a long residual, but can be used all the time and as often as needed. The products that do have residuals do not harm you, your children or pets, just the bugs. Some natural solutions dry up the eggs which a lot of pesticides don’t, and heat, steam and freezing might not get to. Also make sure the product is safe as well as natural. Pyrethrums or pyrethrins are called natural but are mixed with other ingredients, called inert, that could be harmful.

No matter what arsenal of choice you use, it has to be applied as mentioned in Step 2. There are no short cuts while hunting and attacking you prey. Keep in mind how many bites you have, where you’ve been attacked, what your living conditions are when studying your options. Remember to be careful so you don’t make your home more dangerous from the treatment than the little critters are causing by being there.

DuRon                                                    about the Author