February 18, 2013
I have bed bugs. What do I do?
First: step back a minute. Because several different kinds of insects resemble bed bugs, specimens should be carefully compared with good reference images and sent to Pest Ops for accurate identification.
Next: make a plan. You want to get rid of bed bugs, limit your exposure to insecticides, and minimize costs. Don’t get rid of stuff and don’t treat unless you have a plan. A big part of your plan: call Pest Ops (865-966-0750) for a team of experienced professionals. Trust us, it’ll save you time and money in the long run. You’ll still have a lot to do â€” just leave the treatment to the professionals. Working as a team with Pest Ops is the quickest way to get bed bugs out of your life.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the way to go for pest control. Itâ€™s cost-effective, it works, and it lessens reliance on insecticides. Note: IPM does not mean that no insecticides are used. You should call Pest Ops, a company dedicated to IPM, so the least amount of insecticides can be used and still be effective.
Here are the basics of bed bug IPM:
Inspection: ALWAYS inspect. Proper identification helps you know what to do and where to target your efforts. Along with looking, you should write down what you do and see. Use this reporting form to track what youâ€™ve done. Having a history will help if more people become involved.
Cultural and Mechanical Control: This makes your home unwelcoming to bed bugs, blocks them from feeding, or at least makes finding them easier. Here are some examples:
â€¢ Choose furniture of plain design. A metal chair offers fewer places for a bed bug to hide than a wicker one.
â€¢ Don’t buy or pick up used furniture.
â€¢ Choose light-colored bedding (easier to see insects and blood spots).
â€¢ Don’t store things under beds. In fact, get rid of clutter anywhere near the bed.
â€¢ Use tightly fitting, zippered, bed bug proof mattress and box spring encasements. Putting them in place ahead of time (proactively) makes bed bugs easier to see since encasements have no piping or tags and they’re light-colored. Putting them on during an infestation means that there is no need to throw away the mattress and box spring. But check periodically to be sure the encasements haven’t torn.
â€¢ Vacuum regularly. Use an attachment to get in cracks and crevices.
â€¢ Maintain a gap between the walls and your bedroom and living room furniture.
â€¢ Seal cracks in wooden floors.
â€¢ Repair peeling wallpaper.
â€¢ Keep bedding and dust ruffles from touching the floor. Better yet, remove the ruffles.
â€¢ When returning from a trip, unpack on a light-colored, bare wood or vinyl floor while keeping an eye out for bed bugs. Put everything that traveled in a warm or hot dryer for an hour. Put things that can’t be heated in a freezer for two weeks. Inspect everything else carefully!
â€¢ When you travel, inspect rooms, keep luggage closed, and use luggage racks pulled away from the wall â€” don’t leave things on the bed!
Chemical Control: Get Pest Ops involved. As licensed pest management professionals, the team at Pest Ops knows what products and treatments should be used and where. Pest Ops knows how to be selective and effective â€” fewer chemicals used and best results.
Monitoring: This involves inspecting regularly to be sure:
â€¢ Control is working.
â€¢ Bed bugs havenâ€™t been brought back in.
â€¢ Encasements havenâ€™t torn.
â€¢ There isnâ€™t any way you could improve your cultural or mechanical control.
What shouldn’t I do when trying to eliminate bed bugs?
Don’t panic. Although bed bugs can be annoying, you can get rid of them if you adopt a well-considered strategy.
Don’t put the legs of the bed frame in kerosene or coat them with petroleum jelly. Bed bugs have been known to climb on the ceiling and drop down onto the bed. Plus, kerosene is a fire hazard.
Don’t depend on thyme oil. Thyme oil may discourage bed bugs, but it won’t kill them. Chances are it’ll spread, not fix, the problem.
Don’t leave the home unoccupied through winter as a control measure. Bed bugs have adapted to the unpredictable habits of humans. If given time to go dormant â€” for example, in a vacation cabin that slowly gets cooler, then cold over fall and winter â€” bed bugs can survive, living without a meal for many months while waiting for humans to return. The quick penetration of killing cold (or heat) is the key to any temperature treatment.
Don’t turn up the heat. Exposing bed bugs to 120 ÂºF or more an hour will kill all life stages. But high heat must be maintained at every point in the building: the outer walls, deep in the sofa, etc. for the full hour. Pest Ops encloses the structure, using tools to guarantee that it reaches the right temperature.
Don’t sleep with a light on. Bed bugs feed when hosts are inactive. Usually that’s when it’s dark, but they’ll feed under lights if they’re hungry.
Don’t sleep in a different room. Bed bugs will move to a neighboring room if they can’t find food. And they can live months between meals. Sleeping in a different room, staying at a hotel, or moving in with friends won’t solve the problem. And the chances of carrying the bugs to a new place are good. Keep sleeping in your bed. If you have awful reactions to the bites, try to get someone to sleep in the bed.
Don’t throw a bed bug-infested mattress away and buy a new mattress. Buying a new mattress won’t solve the problem. Bed bugs hide in more than just mattresses. New mattresses might be transported in the same trucks that pick up used and possibly contaminated ones. If you need a new mattress, wait until the infestation is eliminated before buying a new one. (Remember: A bed bug-proof mattress and box-spring encasement kept in place for 1 Â½ years will starve them to death. Inspect often for torn spots in the encasement (and evidence of bed bugs).
Don’t dispose of good furniture. Infested furniture can be cleaned and treated. Placing infested furniture (particularly mattresses) into common areas or on the street could spread bed bugs to other peoples’ homes. If you’re getting rid of infested furniture, deface it; make it less attractive to other people. Paint a picture of a bug on it and write “bed bugs.” Building managers should make sure disposed furniture is in a dumpster or taken to a landfill or waste facility right away.
Don’t wrap items in black plastic and leave them in the sun: it needs to get hotter than that to kill bed bugs, and heat needs to evenly penetrate the entire item.
Don’t move infested items out of the room without wrapping them in plastic. Bed bugs or eggs could be knocked off into an uninfested area.
What do I do with my pets if I have bed bugs?
Pest management professionals have seen bed bugs feeding on pets, but no one knows if they prefer pets. The bugs might get caught in a pet’s hair, but they won’t live on pets the way fleas do. Still, a pet could carry a bed bug from one room to another.
Since bed bugs rarely feed for more than 10 minutes and their feet don’t grip onto hair, twenty minutes of grooming outside lets you rest at ease. All bedding and cage items should be inspected and washed and dried (one hour on hot) or frozen (for 2 weeks). Inspect furniture, floors, and walls near the pets’ areas.
How long does it take to get rid of bed bugs?
It will take at least three weeks to be rid of bed bugs. Here’s why:
â€¢ Preparation usually takes about a week.
â€¢ Two weeks in a freezer kills the crawling bed bugs.
â€¢ Insecticides don’t kill the eggs, which take about two weeks to hatch â€” Pest Ops will inspect again and apply more insecticides if needed two full weeks after the first treatment.
â€¢ The fastest IPM fix relies on the team effort of Pest Ops and the homeowner. The homeowner must do the necessary preparation and do the cultural and mechanical control work while Pest Ops handles the treatment.
What should Pest Ops do for me â€” and vice versa?
â€¢ Pest Ops educates you so you understand why time-consuming and thorough preparation is so important.
â€¢ Pest Ops may ask you to launder all clothing, bedding, and draperies; buy resealable bags for all possessions in drawers and closets; clean rooms thoroughly; and vacate rooms on all treatment days.
The time and money it takes to battle bed bugs will be easier to grasp if you understand:
â€¢ Clutter makes it harder for Pest Ops to find and treat all likely hiding spots of loner females that could restart an infestation.
â€¢ Bed bugs aren’t found just in beds. Any space a credit card edge could slide in is a possible hiding spot. Pest Ops needs to treat baseboards, picture frames, bed frames, dressers, drawers, and tables.
â€¢ Remember: Insecticides don’t penetrate the eggs, which take up to two weeks to hatch. The follow-up treatment is usually scheduled two or three weeks after the first treatment to get those newly hatched nymphs. You want to get them before they become adults and lay more eggs. Prepare the same as for the first treatment. You can save time and money by unpacking only a few essentials until the follow-up is done.
Technicians who inspect and treat should be able to answer questions about bed bug biology and behavior as well as explain their plans. Technicians will always inspect the area before treating. Proper inspection takes time and shouldn’t be rushed.
If people or pets are present, they should be in a different room. Don’t enter a room that has been treated with an insecticide for at least 4 hours.
Count on at least one follow up treatment. Bed bugs should be gone after two or three visits. Unless the structure is fumigated, one visit won’t get rid of bed bugs. Follow up treatments should still include a full inspection, followed by insecticide if bed bugs are found.
Because complete elimination is hard to achieve for any pest, most bed bug contracts don’t guarantee it. Bed bugs can be reintroduced, but it is possible to eliminate bed bugs from a home.
If you are experiencing problems with bed bugs, contact Pest Ops at 865-966-0750.