You have accepted the realization that your home has been invaded. Bed bugs have moved in and you are ready to do something about it. Deciding how to kill bed bugs is a complex issue, but maybe you are ready for a big challenge. You know it costs money to bring in a professional. Though you may decide that in time you are going to hire a professional, for now you have decided to take charge of the bed bug extermination.
Fair warning — if you have an infestation of any size, the best you can probably accomplish on your own is a measure of bed bug control and not a complete extermination. Bed bugs infestations pose a difficult and complex problem, even for experienced pest professionals. It requires a great deal of specialized knowledge and experience. While you are reading, keep that in mind. In fact, if you haven’t done so already, read Bed Bug Extermination — Can you get rid of bed bugs on your own?.
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Okay, so now what? How are you going to go about controlling a bed bug infestation in your home? There are many do-it-yourself bed bug control tools available to you. Different products have different effects and uses. A combination of methods is necessary.
Prepare your home
Before you can start, you’ll need to take care of a few things.
- Inspect your home thoroughly. Use flashlights and magnifying glasses to check dark places and crevices where bed bugs may likely be hiding. Keep in mind that bed bugs can hide in beds, bedding, furniture, picture frames, appliances, drapes, carpet edges, wall voids, etc.
- Carefully check all beds. Look under mattresses; see if there are rips that the bed bugs can crawl into, bed boards with wooden slats are often a favorite place for bed bugs to hang out. Thoroughly check the box spring.
- Clean and then clean again! Get out the vacuum and hit every imaginable spot you can. This is a good way to get some of the eggs as well as the bed bugs. (Remove your vacuum bag and put it directly into a plastic bag. Seal it and throw it away immediately.)
- Reduce clutter, the less you have around, the fewer areas for them to go.
- All clothes and stuffed toys need to be loaded into plastic bags and sealed tightly. Clothes will need to either be dry cleaned or washed and dried at temperatures of over 120 degrees. When clothes have been washed, seal them in zipped up bags to prevent reinfesting them.
Bed bug extermination
Now that you have prepared your home, it is time for bed bug removal and extermination. Here are some popular products used to help you achieve that goal.
- Bed bug contact killers come in the form of sprays, both aerosol and liquid, they can be sprayed directly on the bed bug and into crevices where they are likely to be breeding and hiding. Read the directions carefully to make sure which surfaces it is safe to use these chemicals.
- Bed bug proof box spring encasings as well as bed bug proof mattress encasings.
- Diatomaceous earth is a natural bed bug dehydrator that can be applied without threat to the health of children and pets. Please make sure you choose the proper type. There are Diatomaceous products that are meant for swimming pool filters and these are very harmful to living things. You want to specifically buy the type that is labeled for the use of bed bug removal.
- Buy and apply barrier tape. Place it around the legs of the bed or if you have a platform bed it can be used along the bottom of the wood. The adhesive disallows the bed bugs to get anywhere beyond that point, hence its name.
- You should know that the tape might leave some residue of adhesive on the wood, if this is a problem, use utility tape first and then apply the barrier tape.
After taking these steps and any insecticides have dried, you may put on the mattress encasements. You’ll keep the encasement on for over a year since bed bugs can go up to 18 months without feeding. Then put the bedding back on. Make sure that none of it touches the floor. Pull the bed away from the wall so that it doesn’t touch. Pull furniture away (such as night stands) from the bed to make sure nothing is touching it. The bed should be completely isolated except for the legs.
You should find that there is a reduction in sightings and bites. A warning is due here however — you’ve probably only addressed the symptoms of a bed bug infestation and not the underlying problem. If you had a very light infestation, then you might have successfully exterminated them. Chances are though, you have just protected the bed. Unless you kill 100% of the bed bugs, including nymphs and eggs, the infestation will likely grow larger and spread.
If the do-it-yourself bed bug elimination is your choice of action for bed bug extermination, research, knowledge and patience are your best tools. If after you have given it your all and the problem still exists contact a professional bed bugs exterminator. Bed bugs are a formidable foe, and there is no shame in calling in a pro to help you out.
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