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How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs (Bedbugs)

Updated on May 2, 2016
Bed Bug Life Cycle
Bed Bug Life Cycle

Good News about Eliminating Bed Bugs

This article aims to demolish the myths about bedbugs and offers practical tips on how to beat these irritating pests.

So don’t be afraid of the bugs because they won’t bite (although they they do inset a needle-sharp proboscis in order to suck a little blood!).

There is lots of bad press regarding bed bugs at the moment. Their numbers are increasing throughout the United States and also in Europe. London, with its high number of international visitors, is seeing an epidemic. I have various family members and friends who have recently been affected (infested).

People often think bedbugs are not visible to the naked eye. This is because once the 'bite' gets itchy the bugs have fed and gone. The grownups actually measure 4-5mm (6-7mm after a full blood feed, almost ¼ inch) so they can easily be seen with the naked eye. Bedbugs are pale yellow or brown before feeding but turn to a reddish brown colour after a blood feed.

A Typical Bed Bug on a Human Hand
A Typical Bed Bug on a Human Hand

Bed bugs typically hide in a mattress, bed frame or close to an occupied bed.

They don't move very quickly and prefer to live close to their 'meal'.

The place they hid is known as a harborage and if not the bed itself is typically a hole in plaster or wood or an enclosed radiator.

You'll also find them underneath the floor, carpet or inside a grill (for example air conditioning) or inside an electrical fitting.

They detect their host (you) by your body heat, carbon dioxide you breath out or your human odeur.

They sometimes reach their host by dropping from the ceiling if they can't access your bed via the legs.

So How Do You Know you have Bed Bugs?

Bed Bugs located along the Seam of a Mattress
Bed Bugs located along the Seam of a Mattress
  • Bites: If they are feeding, you may become aware of skin irritation similar to a mosquito bite. When they feed they inject a local anesthetic so you won't feel the itch until long after they've fed.
  • The bites are sometimes in a line, typically following a vein. Some people hardly notice them while others have an allergic reaction to the bite.
  • Mattress and bedding stains: You may notice small red blood marks on your sheets. The mattress and sheets may also have dark marks from the droppings of your bug guests.
  • (If you are moving to a new furnished flat or apartment, it is well worth checking mattresses before signing any tenancy agreement!)
  • Visible Bed Bugs: Careful inspection of the mattress or bed frame may reveal some living bugs; particularly the ones who have fed well and are too full to crawl into a proper hiding place!
  • Smell: If the premises are heavily infested there may be a musty sweet smell; some describe it like rotten raspberries or almonds. Incidentally specialist dogs are now increasingly being trained to detect the location of bugs.

This is all getting a bit depressing so what about some good news? Why aren't bedbugs as bad as some people would have us believe?

Bed Bugs are not as bad as Vampires!
Bed Bugs are not as bad as Vampires!

10 items of The Good News about Bed Bugs!

  1. Bed bugs are not as bad as vampires!
  2. Various chemicals and natural products can kill them.
  3. Bed Bugs are nothing to be ashamed of. Bed bugs are not the preserve of dirty people. Anyone can get them. They may be spread by a single bug getting into clothing or via a bag on public transport, for example.
  4. Bed bugs are vulnerable to extremes of temperature. You can kill them and their eggs by exposing them to extreme heat or cold. Useful if you live in an extreme climate. The desert sun or a frosty night can finish them off, for example.
  5. Harborages tend to be near their food source (a human bed) so they are relatively easy to locate.
  6. They don’t harm humans except for the allergic reaction some people get to the bite. There is no evidence of bed bug's transmitting diseases.
  7. Both eggs and bugs are easily visible to the naked eye.
  8. Bed bugs are relatively slow moving making them easy to see and limiting how far they spread
  9. The young, once hatched, are relatively vulnerable and need to feed at each stage of their development in order to upgrade to a larger frame so they can grow to adulthood. In other words they need to feed once a week for five weeks to reach maturity. In addition the eggs must hatch within 3 months or die.
  10. A hot wash and hot dry in a tumbler dryer will kill both eggs and living bed bugs. Alternatively a spell in the freezer will have a similar effect.


Exterminate, Exterminate! Bed Bugs will be Exterminated!
Exterminate, Exterminate! Bed Bugs will be Exterminated!

"Good night, sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite"

Traditional humorous goodnight rhyme for children

Getting rid of Bed Bugs - Kill or Exterminate them!

There are two approaches. You can either get in a professional pest exterminator specialising in bed bugs or buy suitable chemicals and do it yourself. Doing it yourself has the advantage that you can react quickly if the problem returns.  You can use both bed bug sprays or powder to kill them.

In the UK, local authorities and town councils will exterminate a range of pests, including bed bugs, at a subsidised rate.

Generally bed bugs are not eliminated completely during the first treatment but a second treatment normally finishes off the survivors plus any newly hatched young.

Remember the young need to feed weekly for 5 weeks in order to shed their skins and grow to reach adulthood so they are very vulnerable.

Although it might sound a little unpleasant, It can be helpful to continue to sleep in the infected room after the room is treated because this draws any remaining bugs out to feed and the bug-killing treatment then finishes them off.

Once the bed bugs are gone you can get a good night's sleep!
Once the bed bugs are gone you can get a good night's sleep!

Summary

If you don't have bed bugs at the moment then great, but it may be worth finding out more about them and if bedbugs are widespread in your area.

If bedbugs are in your neighbourhood then take simple precautions to avoid catching them. Beware of where you leave your coat or bag. Check beds in hotel rooms or if you sleep over at someone else's house.

If you find you have unexplained bites check to see if they could be from bed bugs. A medical professional can help identify them.

Finally don't be intimidated by all the bad news about bed bugs! Revolting though they are they can be eradicated and exterminated and the worse bedbugs can do to you is give you the odd bite!

All you need to do is either contact a bed bug exterminator or buy the necessary kit online to kill them yourself.

Comments

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    • profile image

      fatima 

      4 years ago

      i have lots of bed bugs in my childs baby cot .i treated them with spray but those are still walking on walls of my room.. pls tell me how to get rid of them permanently..

    • profile image

      nikki 

      5 years ago

      I am very interested to see an answer to the last inquiry, as it is my experience exactly...

    • profile image

      frustrated bb sufferer 

      6 years ago

      I live in a very old home (100+ yrs). There are cracks & wholes in the wood floors and the plaster walls. Last year I treated our home month after month from last spring through late fall until the bugs seemed to disappear. All winter I seemed to finally be free from the pests. Then, last month, the little ba$#@RSS returned!!! I disposed of our worst infested sofa, safely of course. I've heard that they crawl into the cracks & wholes in walls, baseboards & floors. What can I do/use in my case? I'm a low-income disabled single mother & I've already spent $100's on my attempts! Is there any hope? Or do I need to move?

    • Rik Ravado profile imageAUTHOR

      Rik Ravado 

      8 years ago from England

      Miralice - Sorry you feel your Dad is exploiting you. I would never do such a bad thing! My own children are happily sweeping chimneys and picking pockets in London as I type this. They are just greatful for the opportunity to be part of a worthwhile enterprise and they don't even notice the bed bugs!

    • profile image

      Miralice 

      8 years ago

      I'm going to join hubpages and write a hub about daddies who cash in on their daughters' painful parasite experiences...

    • Rik Ravado profile imageAUTHOR

      Rik Ravado 

      8 years ago from England

      Thank you Vivenda - by the way watch out for those fleas!

    • Vivenda profile image

      Vivenda 

      8 years ago from UK (South Coast)

      Great article, Rik - trust you to come up to scratch!

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