Bed Bug Treatment- Frequently Asked Questions
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are wingless insects that cannot fly or jump. They feed only on blood, preferably human, but will bite other mammals and birds if a human food source is not available. Because they are nocturnal, bed bugs feed on their host at night while they sleep. Bed bugs are small—only about the size of an apple seed—and are dark red in color.
Will I know if I’m bitten by a bed bug?
You will not feel the bed bug bite you, but many people do have an allergic reaction to the saliva the bed bug injects when it bites. The reaction varies and can range from small, localized itchy lesions to large itchy welts or fluid-filled lumps. In rare cases, bed bug bites have been known to cause asthma attacks. Bed bugs are not known to transmit disease; however, Hepatitis B virus has been detected in bed bugs and their excrement up to 60 days after feeding on an infected host.
What types of places have bed bugs?
Bed bugs can be found in single-family homes, public housing, hotels and resorts, retail stores, office buildings and more. Because bed bugs do not discriminate, you are just as likely to find them on designer luggage as you are a discarded mattress. The prevalence of bed bugs has nothing to do with the cleanliness of the places they live, and bed bugs have been reported in all 50 states.
I want to inspect my room for bed bugs. Where do they hide?
Bed bugs are often found along the seams and undersides of mattresses or hiding in the joints of the bed frame or headboard. They also hide in creases in bedding and drapes. Because of the flat shape of bed bugs, they can also hide in electrical outlets, electronic devices, behind pictures, in cracks and crevices of furniture and under carpeting.
I’ve been bitten, but I don’t see any bed bugs. What should I do?
Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Even a trained inspector may not be able to find the bed bugs because of their ability to hide under carpet and in cracks and crevices. The best way to determine if you have bed bugs is to have a bed bug detection dog inspect your property. Because of their extraordinary sense of smell, these dogs have been specially trained to detect bed bugs and their eggs, regardless of where they hide. The dog can inspect a room in about five minutes and will alert the handler to the presence of bed bugs.
I definitely have bed bugs. How do I get rid of them?
Historically, pesticides have been used to try to eradicate bed bugs. Unfortunately, bed bugs are showing signs of resistance to pesticides, even those that are professionally applied, according to recent university research (Dr. Michael Potter, University of Kentucky). Another downside of pesticides is that they have to be applied multiple times (i.e. multiple costs), and they cannot be used on mattresses and furniture so belongings will need to be discarded. In some instances, people have had a reaction to pesticides.
The recommended treatment method is heat treatment. Laboratory testing has shown that bed bugs begin to die in temperatures as low as 113 degrees F. Field research has shown 100% effectiveness in killing bed bugs and their eggs when exposed to high temperatures. Unlike pesticides, heat kills both bed bugs and their eggs in a single treatment, and it is an environmentally-friendly means of getting rid of these unwanted pests.
Are heat treatments safe?
When properly applied by trained technicians, heat treatments are safe. Our predominant heat and filtration technology has been applied successfully to tens of thousands of structures in North America. In addition to eradicating bed bugs, a heat treatment pasteurizes a structure, killing bacteria, viruses, some types of mold and allergens, and even odors.
What makes a heat treatment effective?
Bed bugs are naturally attracted to heat because it indicates the presence of a food source—humans. As we begin to heat your home, bed bugs will come out of hiding in search of a blood meal. By the time they realize that it is too hot, the bed bugs are too weak to try to escape. And because we use thermal probes to make sure there are no cold spots—places cooler than 130º F—there would be nowhere for them to hide anyway. Since the heat penetrates the structure and all of your belongings inside, it kills bed bugs and their eggs, so there’s no need to replace your furniture and mattresses.
Can I use bait or poison to kill bed bugs?
No. Bed bugs only eat blood, so they would not be attracted to or consume bait or poison.
I’ve seen do-it-yourself products advertised. Wouldn’t it be cheaper for me to get rid of bed bugs myself?
According to a recent survey from the National Pest Management Association, 76% of pest control operators surveyed said bed bugs are the toughest pest to control—more difficult than cockroaches, termites and ants. Do-it-yourself products on the market, such as bug bombs and sprays, contain chemicals that bed bugs are resistant to. Rather than kill the bed bugs, such efforts only cause them to move into other rooms, traveling through walls and spreading the infestation. While these products are enticing, they’ll only make your bed bug problem worse.
Mattress covers can help with bed bugs already found on the mattress and only provide partial control thereafter. Encasements will not stop bed bugs from crawling onto your sheets and blankets from behind headboards. Since bed bugs hide in many parts of the structure, as well as on other pieces of furniture, encasements will not effectively put an end to your bed bug problems.
For health and safety reasons, please consult a trained professional when dealing with bed bugs. Do-it-yourselfers have suffered property damage and even death when attempting to rid their property of bed bugs by themselves.