Bed bugs are small, nearly wingless, flattened bugs that are external parasites of humans. There are closely related species that feed on bats, cliff swallows, woodpeckers, raptors, chickens and other types of birds. Bed bugs do not transmit any diseases, but they are probably the most profitable bug in the pest control industry. If you made a list of the 100 most dangerous bugs on the planet, bed bugs wouldn't make the list. If you made a list of the top ten most profitable bugs, they would be at the top of the list. You can control bed bugs yourself in your home or business and you don't need toxic pesticides to do so.
The first step in controlling bed bugs is to completely inspect the room to determine the extent of the infestation. Pay close attention to the sleeping areas. They can be hiding anywhere but they will stay as close to the food source as they can. Small crevices in solid structures, such as the joints in the bed's headboard or between the wall and the baseboard are the bed bugs' refuge of choice. Strip the bed so you can inspect the mattress and box spring. Examine the seams and buttons on the mattress as well as any labels. Bed bugs will hide in all of these areas. Stand the mattress on end if you have to. Examine the box spring if there is one. Stand it up and look at the underside, especially along the edges. Also look behind pictures hanging on the wall, between and behind any books or magazines in close proximity to the bed and in any furniture nearby. You may have to turn some of the furniture over and examine the underside. Carefully check anything that is under the bed including storage boxes. If there is any litter under the bed, it should be removed. Also check for dried cast skins (exuviae) from the molting process and fecal matter.
Before you start the treatment, there are a few preparations you should do. Wash all the bedding in hot water (120 + degrees). This will kill any bed bugs in the bedding. Personal items such as stuffed animals, blankets, etc. should be vacuumed and placed in plastic bags for a couple of weeks. If you have a clock, phone, radio or other appliance near the bed, they should be opened and inspected as bed bugs will hide in those places as well. Thoroughly vacuum the entire room including inside closets and dresser drawers. If the infestation is severe, you will have to use a crack and crevice vacuum tool to suck the bugs out from along the edge of the carpet, from behind switch plates which you will have to remove, from all around the bed frame, inside the box spring and inside any furniture in the room. If you see any eggs on the mattress along the seams, you can remove these by picking them up with duct tape and discarding them or brushing them off with a stiff brush. After vacuuming the room or rooms, remove the bag from the vacuum and discard it right away.
Next, use a hair dryer to blow hot air in all the cracks and crevices and along the edge of the carpet and on the furniture to get any bed bugs the vacuuming missed. You want to get as many bed bugs as you can before the final treatment.
Now it is time to treat the bed. Use a flashlight and carefully examine the seams, buttons and any folds in the mattress along with the headboard and footboard if they are present. Check the box spring and frame as well. If you missed any bed bugs with the vacuum or hair dryer, they will be visible. Spray any bed bugs you see with an EcoSmart spray as well as all cracks and crevices in the bed. Spray the underside of the box spring as well. If you don’t see any bed bugs, then spray along the seams and around the folds and all the other areas mentioned. Make sure to use plenty of solution so the sprayed surface is wet. Then put some diatomaceous earth (DE) in a duster and puff it on all the sprayed areas, including under the box spring. The EcoSmart will kill any bed bugs in several hours and the DE will prevent any from hiding in these areas in the near future. You can also sprinkle fine body/bath powder on the mattress and rub it into the fabric.
Now you have to treat all the furniture in the room including night stands, chairs, couches, dressers, etc. Make sure you carefully inspect all the wooden furniture and treat them as you treated the mattress, box spring and bed frame. If any of the furniture, such as bunk beds, have metal framing, treat inside the metal tubing with EcoSmart and DE.
Finally, you need to make your bed difficult for bed bugs to access. Tape up any tears in the box spring or mattress with duct tape or, better yet, enclose them in a zippered mattress cover used for dust mites. Put the legs of the bed in plastic food bowls or metal cans and coat the inside with Vaseline. Don’t let the bed touch any walls or let the bed covers touch the floor.
If you have any pest questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 505-385-2820. My book is available on my website at askthebugman.com.