First question: Do I actually have bed bugs?
Since bed bugs have become so common, it’s normal for bed bugs to be the first thing on your mind if you wake up itching.
While it could certainly be bed bugs, there are plenty of other causes for skin irritation. From a laundry detergent that doesn’t agree with you to being bitten by other pests before hand (most likely mosquitoes during the warmer months), simply being itchy in the morning does not mean you have bed bugs.
That being said, it’s important to know what to look for if you want to perform a bed bug inspection yourself (especially before you sleep in a hotel).
We offer this service of course, and we’re better at it than you are (because it’s our job and we’re bug geeks), but it’s important to be generally familiar with what goes into a bed bug inspection.
Plus, you’ll learn some things about bed bug biology along the way (this is where you push your imaginary geek glasses into position).
Know the Bug
Adult Bed bugs are roughly the size of an apple seed. If you don’t know what size an apple seed is, you need to eat more apples because they’re really tasty.
The most common area for a bed bug infestation to start is on the bed (yeah, go figure), because bed bugs only food source is mammal blood and their favorite mammal is humans.
You’ll want to look at the head of the bed first, which includes the head of the mattress and box spring as well as the head of the bed frame and especially behind the headboard. Also look at the wall at the head of your bed, especially around the baseboard, window sill, or electrical outlets.
Bed bugs are attracted to heat (among other things), and our heads give off a lot of it.
When performing a bed bug inspection, you shouldn’t just be looking for adult bed bugs. They can be difficult to find because they prefer to hide in cracks and crevices for safety.
Other indications of bed bugs that are sometimes easier to find are cast skins (bed bugs shed their skin to grow), bed bugs eggs (which are small and translucent) which are typically near staining that bed bugs leave behind.
This staining is the blood they’ve processed and excreted. I’m trying to dress it up, but it’s bed bug poo.
The staining is not blood colored, but more like black ink.
I FOUND A BUG IN MY BED!
While it could be a bed bug, it doesn’t have to be.
Carpet beetles are another common bug to be found on and around beds (especially their larva). The larva are wormlike in appearance and also cast their skin, but should not be confused with Bud bugs. Carpet beetles don’t bite humans (they feed on animal based materials like wool, felt, fur, etc) and while they can destroy clothes, they are not biting you at night.
If you positively identify that you have bed bugs, what’s the next step?
In order to start, let me go over some things that you SHOULD NOT DO.
DO NOT buy a store bought pesticide and bomb the crap out of your bed room. All the over the counter pesticides you’ll find are residual repellents, which may kill a few bed bugs but will push the insects into atypical hiding spots which will make the elimination process much more difficult.
Rubbing alcohol will kill bed bugs on contact, so it can be used on bed bugs you found hiding but rubbing alcohol is flammable. Common sense should be used, so I wouldn’t recommend using it while ripping a fat spliff.
Also, DO NOT grab your mattress and boosting and drag it down the hallway to get rid of it. This may cause bed bugs to fall off along the way and help spread the issue.
Things to do
Buy good quality mattress encasements. These are sold at most household stores and the concept of the the encasements is to trap bed bugs which are on your mattress and box spring so they can’t escape (and they’ll eventually die).
This isn’t a solution in and of itself (since there are more than likely bed bugs in areas other than the mattress and box spring) but it’s a start. Plus it makes future bed bug inspections easier since bed bugs are simpler to find on encasements.
If you want to throw out your bed frame, this would be a reason to do it (although it’s not necessary if you have a pro handling the issue), but be careful to bag the pieces before moving it out of the bed room (for the same reason you don’t drag your mattress out of the room).
Inspect all items around the room (especially near or under the bed). And items that can be discarded can be placed in trash bags and brought to a dumpster.
If bed bug are infesting smaller items you care about, you can put them in tight sealing Plastic containers. Since bed bugs aren’t high heat tolerant, items can be placed in the attic or car (if those spaces heat up to more than 112 degrees) for as long as you can leave them (the temp has to soak into all the items to make sure all the bed bugs die).
At the end of the day, bed bugs are incredibly difficult to get rid of yourself.
The tips above will certainly help, but depending on the circumstances, getting rid of 100% of the bed bugs in your home is a job for the professionals.
We specialize in bed bug remediation and have decades of experience and thousands of happy and bed bug free customers.
We offer both thermal (heat) treatments and conventional options based on the situation.
We offer a warranty to ensure the problem is eliminated and will immediately schedule an inspection for you.
So we urge you to reflect on their value before we tell you how to manage them. You don’t have to paint portraits of them or make them individual graves, but maybe just a little decorum.
Jeremiah Smith, Owner