Bed Bugs
In this photo released July 24, 2001, by the University of Florida, a common bed bug is engorged with blood after feeding on a human arm. ( AP Photo/University of Florida, File)

You are most likely here because you either have bed bugs and would like somebody to get rid of them or you would like to try and figure how you can get rid of them yourself.

The first step is identification.  Do you have bed bugs?  Normally a person discovers bed bugs because they begin to experience bites on their body.  Bites are typically identified by a pattern of 3 to 4 bites in a row or in a cluster.  Many people are surprised to find out that bed bugs are a real insect.  Prior to World War II, bed bugs were a common problem in the United States.  With chemicals such as DDT and other potent pesticides, bed bugs were reduced to the scale of a relatively scarce problem in the U.S.  Approaching the year 2K, bed bugs were gaining ground as one of the fastest growing pest problems in the U.S.  It is believed that the resurgence of bed bugs in the U.S. is primarily attributed to the use of alternative insecticide application methods such as baiting for roaches and ants and other pests rather than the former wide use of broad spectrum spray insecticides.  It has also been widely stated that the other major contributing factor has been the increase in international travel to and from the U.S. in recent years.

The following are some of the frequently asked questions about bed bugs:

1.)  How do I know that I have bed bugs?

Most individuals discover that they have bed bugs when they begin to notice bites on their body.  Bites may be  found on any part of the body, normally grouped in rows or clusters of 3 to 4 bites.  The bites may feel itchy and irritated.  Individuals may react in varying degrees to bed bug bites.  Some people may show little to no evidence of being bitten.  It is possible for two people to share the same bed and show varying degrees of reaction to bed bug bites.

2.)  How did I get them?

There are a number of ways to bring bed bugs into your living space.  The following are some of the most common ways people get bed bugs:

a.) Staying in a hotel room, motel room or any other place that is infected with them and then having the bed bugs hitch hike home in your luggage or personal items.
b.) Guests that you have invited into your home that have brought bed bugs with them.
c.) Used furniture that you have brought into your living space that was infected with bed bugs.

3.)  Is it possible to eliminate bed bugs from my living space?

Yes, it is possible to eradicate bed bugs from a structure.  Depending on the time that has lapsed since the infestation started and the number of bed bugs present in the environment will influence the degree to which bed bugs may be eliminated easily or with difficulty.  Early detection, when few bed bugs are present, is the ideal circumstance to eliminate bed bugs quickly.  Medium to heavy level infestations may present more of a challenge to eliminate from a location.

4.)  How do I eliminate them?

This depends on whether you want to do it yourself or enlist the services of a professional.  If you are going to go for it on your own, you should be thoroughly familiar with what you are up against and what your plan of attack is going to be.  Read what you reasonably can on the matter.  Try to find information that is congruent from multiple and reliable sources if you are doing research online.  If you are going to receive assistance from a professional, again, do your homework and ask questions that are going to address and satisfy your specific issues and concerns. You should feel both comfortable and confident with the company you choose.  Bed bugs can be expensive to eliminate through the use of a professional.  Professionals should be willing to take the time to explain their processes and procedures to you.  It is your privilege to know what is being done in your home and what products and methods are being used.

5.)  Do I need to throw away my furniture and personal items?

There is not a clear cut answer to this question.  Each situation should be evaluated on a case by case basis.  Many times people will throw away furniture prematurely.  Sometimes people think they have bed bugs when they do not and throw furniture away.  You should always be absolutely sure that you have bed bugs before you discard furniture or move forward with a remediation process.  Even if an item of furniture has been lightly infected with bed bugs it may be treated and retained under most circumstances.  If you discard your infected furniture and do not eliminate the bed bug problem, the new furniture you bring in is just going to be reinfected anyway.  Furniture that is in good condition and shows a minimal signs of bed bug infection (i.e. live bed bugs, molted skins, fecal deposits) can generally be treated and freed of contamination.  Sometimes, furniture may be in a dilapidated condition or heavily infected with bed bugs.  Under those conditions it may prove prudent to discard these items.  If mattresses are torn for example, bed bugs may find their way deep into the inner recesses of the material making it difficult to kill bed bugs with chemical, thermal or cry0nite (freezing) methods.

6.)  Is this something I can do myself?

Yes, of course it is.  If you study enough, you can figure out the processes, procedures and techniques which professionals employ.  The question is whether you want to spend the time figuring it all out.

7.)  What about the safety of my family and pets?

As for the bite of bed bugs themselves, the most current information asserts that bed bugs are not able to transmit disease through their bite.  A recent study showed the possibility of bed bugs spreading a flesh eating bacteria through touch, but it should also be kept in mind that many insects are capable of spreading disease simply through touching a surface infected with a bacteria or virus and then passing it on through touch.

As for control solutions posing a threat to the health and safety of your family and/or pets, if you do it yourself, and you follow all instructions on the product label, chemical control should pose very minimal risk to humans or animals.

If you are going to try thermal or cryonite (freezing) remediation, you are likely going to be enlisting the services of a professional that has the equipment to implement these solutions and they should be able to explain the health risks associated with these tactics.  Many companies will supplement thermal and cryonite solutions with some chemical control for difficult to penetrate areas such as wall voids and so forth.

Control Strategies: (Strategies may vary depending on the level of infestation)

1.) Vacuum cracks and crevices on furniture and around baseboards thoroughly.
2.) Steam clean carpets and furniture that either is or suspected to be infected with bed bugs.
3.) If you do decide to discard furniture, wrap it in plastic as you move it through the living space, so as not to spread the problem to other areas of the living space by having bed bugs fall off while you are moving the furniture.
4.) If bed bugs have spread to dressers and closets, washing clothing, bedding and other fabrics in hot water and running it through the dryer should kill bed bugs at each developmental stage from egg to adult.
5.) If you are going to use over the counter chemical control products, you will need to take your bed apart, separating the mattress, box spring and bed frame in order to be effective.  The linen lining which is normally stapled to the bottom of the box spring will likely need to be taken off in order to treat inside of the box spring.  Mattress and box spring encasements may be used to lock bed bugs in and out of these two pieces.  You will want to find an encasement that has been certified that it can lock bed bugs in or out of the box spring and mattress.  These encasements will not kill bed bugs, but rather make it easier to monitor and control the problem.  Bed bugs may possibly need to stay locked in an encasement for up to a full year in order to kill the most resolute adult bed bugs.





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