At the first sign of a bed bug infestation, it’s imperative that you put control measures into place. So we put together an extensive fuide of everything you need to know about how to get rid of bed bugs. A few bed bugs may seem like a minor issue, but a handful of adults is all it takes to turn a minor nuisance into a full-blown infestation over the course of several months. The sooner you take action to get your bed bug infestation under control, the higher your chances of successfully eradicating the pests.
Professional pest control services yield the highest chances of successfully controlling bed bugs, though there are plenty of DIY options you can try as well.
Understanding Bed Bug Behavior
Having basic knowledge about bed bug behavior will help you identify an infestation and make the most of your bed bug treatment. Most bed bug infestations require repeated treatments, so you’ll also want to keep an eye on the infestation over time to determine whether the treatment is working.
Here’s what you need to know about bed bug behavior:
- Bed bugs feed readily on humans but may also feed on other animals
- Though they can’t fly, bed bugs can move very quickly
- A bed bug will travel anywhere from 5 to 20 feet from its hiding place to feed
- Bed bugs are primarily active at night but will feed during the day when desperate
- It takes anywhere from 3 to 12 minutes for a bed bug to feed
- A bed bug may void the remains of earlier meals when feeding, creating rusty spots on bedding
Once they reach adulthood, bed bugs will mate and produce eggs for the rest of their short lives. The complete cycle from egg to egg-laying adult only takes 4 to 5 weeks and a single female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs during her lifetime. The average lifespan of a bed bug is 6 to 12 months.
Tips for Eradicating an Infestation
Bed bugs are very difficult to eradicate, so you should seriously consider enlisting the help of a professional exterminator in the early stages of an infestation. If you think you can go it alone, know that 76% of pest removal professionals say beg bugs are the hardest bug to get rid of.
Tips for Controlling Bed Bugs
Once you’ve confirmed that you are, in fact, dealing with a bed bug infestation, don’t delay in taking action to get it under control. Your first instinct may be to stock up on pesticide spray or bug bombs but know that these options are not only potentially hazardous but most likely ineffective. Insecticides may kill bed bugs that are openly exposed to it, but it won’t touch the ones hiding under your mattress, in the crevices of your flooring, and behind the baseboards.
The best method for getting a bed bug infestation under control involves through and repeated treatments. We recommend a multi-pronged approach.
Here are some DIY treatment methods to help you get bed bugs under control:
- Strip your mattress of all bedding and double-bag it for transport to your washing machine – throw away the inner bag after putting the bedding in your washer.
- Wash your bedding in hot water (it doesn’t hurt to do a double rinse) and dry it on the highest heat setting for at least 30 minutes.
- Vacuum your mattress and box spring thoroughly then empty the vacuum outdoors and dispose of the bag properly in a sealed trash bag.
- Cover your mattress and box spring with bed bug-proof encasements – these go all the way around your mattress instead of just stretching over the top like a fitted sheet.
- Move your bed to the middle of the room and place bed bug interceptors under the feet – if you don’t currently use a bed frame, get one to raise your bed off the ground.
- Treat the bedroom and other areas of your home by thoroughly scrubbing and vacuuming each room – don’t miss a single crack or crevice.
- Examine all of your furniture for signs of bed bugs then clean and treat as needed – follow the same double-bagging procedure as above for fabric items that can be washed.
- If you choose to use insecticides, stick to desiccant dusts like silica aerogel and diatomaceous earth or low-toxicity sprays like Bedlam® or SteriFab®.
- Check the interceptor cups under your bed frame often to keep tabs on the progress of your control methods – empty them into a bucket of soapy water to kill any bed bugs you trap.
Bed bugs are incredibly stubborn and, because they are so small, it’s easy to miss a few when you’re deep-cleaning your home. Your best bet is to be as thorough as possible and repeat your chosen treatment methods every two to three weeks. If you see no signs of bed bugs three weeks after your last treatment, you can be cautiously optimistic that you’ve gotten the issue under control.
Should You Throw Away Your Mattress?
When faced with a bed bug infestation, it’s a common gut reaction to get rid of the mattress they’re hiding in. While this may seem like a simple solution to eliminate a significant number of bed bugs from your home, it isn’t recommended. Moving your mattress increases the risk of transferring bed bugs to other rooms in your home or to another home entirely, should someone else take the mattress or come in close contact with it. For the most part, replacing your mattress is unnecessary as well – you can remove bed bugs with thorough treatment and ongoing preventive measures.
Read Next: How to Prevent Bed Bugs
Frequently Asked Questions
What kills bed bugs instantly?
Bed bugs are extremely difficult to eradicate, especially since they reproduce so quickly. It takes time to get an infestation under control, but there are a few things you can do to kill individual bed bugs quickly. Washing bedding in hot water for 30 minutes or closing them in a vacuum-sealed bag may work.
How do you get rid of bed bugs overnight?
Getting rid of bed bugs is typically a drawn-out process and not something you can easily accomplish overnight. If you’re up for the challenge, however, you can try scrubbing the infested area with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs then vacuum the area well. Finally, go over the area with a strong heat steamer.
Can you beat bed bugs on your own?
Yes, you can get rid of a bed bug infestation on your own, but it will take time and, most likely, multiple treatment approaches. You’ll need to thoroughly clean your mattress, box spring, and bedding then take steps to remove bed bugs from their hiding places. It can take weeks and several repeated treatments to really get a bed bug infestation under control.