How to Prevent and Treat Bed Bug Infestation…Naturally
Bud bugs. Mention those two words in a group of friends and most likely you will get looks of horror accompanied by deafening silence even though there is nothing dirty about the ways in which one can get them.
The common bed bug, which was almost unheard of thirty years ago, has made its return in U.S. communities everywhere. Even though it is true that most infestations are found in hotels/motels, dormitories and multifamily housing, private residence infestation continues to grow rapidly. Hospitals are also being plagued by these tiny critters. More than a third of pest-management companies treated bed bug infestations in hospitals in 2012, 6% more than the year before and more than twice as many as in 2010, according to a survey released by the National Pest Management Association. The percentage of exterminators dealing with bed bugs in nursing homes has also almost doubled since 2010, to 46%. Bed bug experts also report finding bed bugs in ambulances. And it’s no wonder since the common bed bug can survive up to 18 months without a food source. And like all insects, it has adjusted to do exactly that: survive.
In this instance, the best offense is a strong defense. Below are some steps you can take to lessen the likelihood of a bed bug infestation.
PREVENTING BED BUGS
- Move your bed so that it does not touch walls and wood work. Despite the name, bed bugs living accommodations are in your walls, not your mattress. Make sure you are not providing easy access to your bed.
- Caulk all holes in trim and fix cracks in walls. Bed bugs seek out nooks and crannies, so you will want to prevent them from making breeding sites around cracks, loose wallpaper and even in pictures on the wall.
- Clear all clutter in your home since it provides a great place for bed bugs to congregate.
- Use a bed with metal legs. Bed bugs are unable to climb metal.
- Place wooden bed legs in glass jars for the reason above.
- Get rid of your box spring. The hollow wood framing is an ideal nesting place for any kind of pest. And with today’s thicker mattresses, they really are not needed.
- If you are staying in a hotel, ask for a vacuum cleaner to vacuum out your travel bags. When you get home immediately wash all clothes and store the suitcase away from living areas.
- Never bring used furniture indoors. You may not see bed bugs on the furniture, but this is one of the main ways many people get bed bugs.
- It’s a good idea to schedule regular visits from an exterminator who uses natural and non-toxic extermination.
IF YOU NEED TO GO TO BED BUG WAR
- Zip a vinyl cover over your mattress and seal the zipper with duct tape. While bed bugs are difficult to find, they are easy to suffocate. You can also use a handheld steamer to go over your mattress.
- Bag and wash every bit of clothing from the infested room or area. Extremely hot water is best.
- Shampoo and vacuum any area rugs and only place them in a treated room.
- Throw out your pillows. For a few dollars per pillow, it’s best to just throw them out and buy new ones.
- Add 20 drops of lavender essential oil to the final rinse when you wash your sheets, blankets and nightwear. This will help keep bed bugs from biting until you eradicate them. Placing lavender flower buds in a sachet bag under your mattress and pillow will help too.
- Clean the entire house with a natural cleaner. An effective cleaner on the market is a product called Kleen Free Naturally. It’s a product made specifically to clean insect-infested places, it’s natural and it’s biodegradable and not harmful to you, your children or your pets. Make sure you clean every surface, behind every piece of furniture, inside every cupboard and drawer, along the baseboards, light fixtures, wall sockets – basically everything in your room or house.
- EcoRaider was rated the number one effective natural bed bug killer on Pest Control Technology in a 2013 study performed by Rutgers University Entomology Lab comparing 11 commercial natural bed bug products on the market. Read the full article here on the current April issue online: http://www.pctonline.com/pct0313-biopesticides-testing-bed-bugs.aspx
- Another effective natural product on the market for killing bed bugs is “Bed Bug Patrol.” It is 100% pesticide free and will not harm you or anything around you.
- The study by Rutgers indicated that EcoRaider caused 100 percent mortality after 10 days in both tests. Bed Bug Patrol caused an average of 92 percent and 91 percent mortality after 10 days in the first and second experiment, respectively. Neither of these two products caused more than 75 percent mortality at three days after treatment.
- Some exterminators prefer to attack the bed bugs in their nests with diatomaceous earth made of fossilized shells. Diatomaceous earth seems to have a very high kill rate, is non-toxic and presents minimal risk to humans and animals. Though organic, it’s advisable to get a professional to apply this substance since you don’t want to get the dust in your lungs. However, if you decide to DIY, it is imperative to wear a respirator at all times while using diatomaceous earth.
- A chemical-free alternative, called ThermaPureHeat, basically cooks the bugs to death. The process involves all sorts of gadgetry: thermal-imaging photography (pictured here), remote probes, and hydronic heating tubes or Mylar air ducts. But it’s fast, safe, and effective, according to E-Therm president David Hedman.
- Don’t forget your car. Vacuum your car thoroughly and treat it with some of the products mentioned above. You should also treat your handbag, hats and coats to make them less attractive to bed bugs when you’re out in public. Bed bugs also hang out in restaurants, department store dressing rooms, movie theaters, public transportation and anywhere else people spend time. The more you can do to make yourself unattractive to them, the less likely you’ll bring any of these free loaders home.
Once everything is clean, it’s time to put back all of your belongings, sheets, pillows etc. Repeat everything on this “war list” again in 10 days, again in another 10 days, and one more time in a third 10 days. Bed bugs can be a nightmare to get rid of, but if you make sure you keep cleaning, you should be able to get rid of them naturally within a 30 day period.
AFTER THE WAR
- Keep your mattress wrapped.
- Keep unwashed clothes sealed in plastic until they are washed. Don’t reuse the bags.
- Throw away or bag for several months any upholstered or fabric items you cannot wash. Adult bed bugs suffocate in the bag; however, their eggs are sticky and if they are able to cling to the bag’s contents, they may cause a re-infestation.
- Consider investing in hanging plastic wardrobes that zip closed. They should protect the items in them should another bed bug war occur and it definitely beats paying to re-wash clean clothes.
- Go back into prevention mode.
We are told that bed bugs do not transmit disease; however, they do bite. Itching can be an undesirable side effect which can quickly lead to infection. Young children and the elderly are most susceptible to developing infections or more serious health concerns if bed bug bites are not cared for properly. For bed bug bites, I recommend using ACS 200 Advanced Cellular Silver® Extra Strength on the bites.