How Bed Bug Extermination Works
Do-it-yourself Bed Bug Control
Can you get rid of bed bugs on your own?
Treating bed bugs is complex. Your likelihood of success depends on many factors, including:
- How many bed bugs you have;
- How much clutter is available for hiding places;
- Whether your neighbors have bedbugs; and
- Whether all residents of a house or building will participate.
Getting rid of bed bugs completely can take weeks to months, depending on the nature and extent of the infestation. To be successful, everyone will need to cooperate and do their part.
The following steps will help you begin:
You may have to follow these steps more than once to kill all the bugs and their eggs.
Identify the Problem
- Identify the pest:
- Collect a sample of the pest to show an extension agentExitor other insect expert.
- Extension agents can identify the pest at no cost to you. They are trained in pest control and know your local area.
Develop a Strategy
- Make a schedule for completing the steps below. Be sure to include any personal plans, such as vacations.
- Keep records through the whole process. Note the dates and exact locations where pests are found. This will help you track progress and better know where to target your work.
- Keep checking for at least a year after you’re done to make sure all the bed bugs are gone.
Keep the Infestation from Spreading
- Remove infested items. Place them in a sealed plastic bag and treat them. Learn more about treatment methods in the sections below.
- Items that cannot be treated should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and left there for up to a year to ensure any active bugs are dead.
- Empty the vacuum after each use. Seal the bag as tightly as possible and immediately throw it out in an outdoor trash container.
- Discard furniture responsibly if you can’t safely eliminate the bed bugs. Destroy it so someone else won’t be tempted to bring it into their home. For example:
- Rip covers and remove stuffing from furniture items.
- Use spray paint to mark furniture with "Bed Bugs."
Prepare for Treatment
Preparing for treatment is very important; it will make it easier to monitor for bed bugs that haven’t been eliminated. This preparation should be completed whether you are doing the treatment yourself or hiring a professional.
Kill the Bed Bugs
- Make sure the methods you select are safe, effective and legal. See What’s Legal, What’s Not.
- Considernon-chemical methodsof killing bed bugs. Some will be more useful than others depending on your situation. These and other methods can be helpful, but they might not get rid of the infestation entirely:
- Heat treatment:You can use a clothes dryer on high heat. You can also use black plastic bags in a hot, closed car in the sun, but success depends on your climate and other factors. Do-it-yourself heat treatments might not work. Professionals have access to more intensive and proven methods that can even treat whole houses with heat. You may also purchase a portable heat chamber, which is usually quite effective.
- Cold treatmentcan be successful in the home environment if the freezer is set to 0 o F. You must leave the items in a sealed bag in the freezer at that temperature for four days. Always use a thermometer to check the temperature, since home freezers are not always set to 0 o .
- Steam cleaners(wet or dry) can get into cracks and fabrics to treat carpets, baseboards, bed frames, and other furniture. The steam temperature must be at least 130 o F but should not have a forceful airflow, or it may cause bed bugs to scatter. Use a diffuser to prevent scattering.
Evaluate and Prevent
- Continue to inspect for bed bugs, at least every 7 days, in case any eggs remain. You can use interceptors, traps or other monitoring methods. Interceptors are placed under the legs of furniture to catch bed bugs and keep them from climbing the legs. Commercial and do-it-yourself interceptors are options.
- Continue to protect your home from bed bugs.
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If you miss just one pregnant female bed bug you can be reinfested withover 300 adultsand1000 new eggsin three months.
Bed bugs are troublesome household pests. They’re sneaky, hard to find, and can pose potential health risks for you and your family. Armed with pest control capabilities backed by science, over 100 years of experience, and state-of-the-art tools and products, Orkin is well-equipped to assess your bed bug problem and mount a strategic response to rid your home of the pest and provide maximum protection.
Inspection & Treatment For Active Infestations
To the untrained eye, rooting out a bed bug infestation can prove difficult, and even if discovered, home remedies and over-the-counter deterrents are often ineffective. Utilizing our A.I.M. protection process, a highly-trained Orkin specialist will assess your home, implement a solution, and monitor activity to ensure the effectiveness of our efforts and offer added peace of mind.
Ongoing Bed Bug Detection Service
Bed bugs multiply quickly, and in just six months, a few can turn into a full-on infestation of 13,000 or more. Detection is critical to break the bed bug life cycle before they become a bigger problem. Orkin Bed Bug Detection Service gets to the root of the problem with targeted inspections of common bed bug hiding places in your home and ongoing monitoring to ensure the pests never return.
Ongoing bed bug detection service may not be available in all markets. Inspection fee may be necessary for bed bug detection.
Get A Bed Bug Inspection, Schedule a call with an Orkin Specialist
The Orkin Process
The A.I.M. Process: How We Help Get Rid of Bed Bugs
If you have seen evidence of bed bugs or want to help protect your home against this multiplying intruder, your Orkin specialist will come and inspect your home.
Bed bugs are sneaky and hard to find, but your Orkin specialist is trained to pinpoint evidence if they are around. On the first visit, we will examine your entire home including the bed, furniture, rugs, and linens. We will conduct an inspection of target areas, and if required, use tools to check cracks and crevices.
Your Orkin specialist will usually start in the bedroom and work their way through your home, concentrating on the furniture and the areas immediately surrounding the furniture.
Upon completion of the inspection and an assessment of the situation, your Orkin specialist will recommend the best course of action. If the inspection confirms an infestation, Orkin will recommend a treatment plan based on the severity of the infestation and your preferences. We will use the best tools and science to address the causes and treat your bed bug problem in the best way for your family, pets, and the environment. This implementation method targets bed bugs as well as the bed bug larvae — preventing them from maturing into breeding, biting, and potentially disease-carrying adults.
Bed bugs can be difficult to eradicate; so your Orkin specialist will perform a follow-up visit to help ensure the effectiveness of the professional treatment that was performed. Additionally, your Orkin specialist will document the visit and recommend next steps to ensure the best maintenance approach for your home.
How to Identify Bed Bugs — 0:54
Bed bugs can multiply quickly, so early detection is critical to help prevent an even larger infestation. Our integrated A.I.M. protection process works to assess your home, implement solutions, and monitor any bed bug problems you may face.
At Orkin, we never stop learning from bugs. We use the latest technology and unparalleled training, so we can protect your home with an effective plan suited to your specific needs. Simply put, we have Pest Control Down to a Science®.
Bed Bug Resources
What do bed bugs look like?
Learn the unique characteristics of adult and newly-hatched bed bugs. Learn more >
What are the signs of bed bug bites?
Learn bed bug bite characteristics and how they can impact your health. Learn more >
What are the signs of a BED BUG infestation?
Learn the signs to look for to determine if you might have a bed bug infestation. Learn more >
HOW DO YOU GET BED BUGS?
Learn how bed bugs travel into your home, what they’re attracted to, and where they hide. Learn more >
What our customers have to say
We’re not happy until you’re happy.
- 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
- If pests return between treatments, your Orkin Tech will return for a touch up at no extra charge.
- If we are unable to solve your pest problem, we’ll refund your last service payment for as long as you are our customer
We’ve been here from the beginning
Our more than 100 years of pest control experience began in 1901 by then fourteen-year-old Otto Orkin. In that time, we’ve become an industry leader in specialized protection against common pests including insect, termites, rodents, and more .
BED BUG CONTROL AND TREATMENT
Terminix® offers powerful, customized bed bug treatments that eliminate bed bugs where they live and breed. We work quickly and effectively with as little disruption as possible.
BED BUG CONTROL AND TREATMENT
Terminix® offers powerful, customized bed bug treatments that eliminate bed bugs where they live and breed. We work quickly and effectively with as little disruption as possible.
YOU’LL REST EASY.
HOW OUR BED BUG SOLUTIONS WORK:
- A Terminix technician performs an extensive inspection of your home, including beds, furniture and linens.
- Terminix removes visible bed bugs and treats the area to eliminate any hidden bed bugs and their eggs.
- Terminix backs the work with our Bed Bug Guarantee.
CALL OR FILL OUT THE ONLINE FORM TO SCHEDULE A FREE INSPECTION TODAY.
BED BUG TREATMENT
Terminix knows how to determine if bed bugs are in your home. We offer bed bug control solutions, including steam or RapidFreeze ® , which are fast, effective and non-toxic. If you think you might have bed bugs and need a bed bug treatment, call Terminix today and schedule a FREE Bed Bug Inspection.
MORE PROTECTION. BETTER RESULTS.
Looking for fast, effective commercial bed bug treatment?
Don’t worry, Terminix Commercial has you covered.
THE TERMINIX BED BUG GUARANTEE:
KNOW THE ENEMY: BED BUGS
Have you been searching for how to get rid of bed bugs? Once an afterthought, these pests have made quite the resurgence recently. The more you know about bed bugs, the better your chances of avoiding them.
BED BUG BASICS
This pest gets its name from the fact that it is usually found in close proximity to beds. That’s because bed bugs need the blood of warm-blooded animals to survive.
Unfortunately, bed bugs can mature in about 35 days. They then live about seven to 12 months. This makes bed bug removal difficult to do without the help of a professional.
THE BED BUG BITE
Bed bugs primarily feed on humans sleeping in bed at night. The bite is painless, and the blood meal takes about 10 minutes.
BED BUGS ON THE HUNT
How do bed bugs find hosts while they are asleep? Body heat, the carbon dioxide from exhaled breath and other biological signatures help focus the bed bugs on unsuspecting, snoozing hosts.
The bed bug feeds, then retreats back to its place of harborage for days or even weeks before coming back out. This can make detection difficult until the infestation is well established.
BED BUGS ON THE MOVE
Bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers. In fact, they are primarily transported by humans and human belongings like suitcases.
KEEPING YOUR EYES OPEN FOR BED BUGS
The smaller the infestation, the easier bed bug extermination is to conduct. That’s why it’s important to spot any possible infestation as early as possible.
SIGNS OF BED BUGS
Bed bugs are good at hiding, but not good at hiding evidence. The careless clues they leave are the best indicator your room is overrun with bed bugs. The clues to look for include:
- Shed bed bug skins, exoskeletons or shells
- Fecal stains on your mattress and bedding
- Blood stains on your sheets and pajamas
SIGNS OF BED BUG BITES
Bed bug bite reactions in skin look similar to those caused by fleas and mosquitoes. Telling which insect caused a bite might not be possible.
Look for these signs of symptoms of a bed bug bite:
- Raised, red welts
- Burning and itching
- Bed bug bite rash across a localized area
- Straight lines of multiple bites
WHERE TO LOOK
Proper bed bug control requires a watchful eye. To feed on humans, bed bugs want close proximity to the host.
In the bedroom, box springs, headboards and bed framing are favorite spots for these pests. They may also settle into furniture and fixtures that are close to a bed.
Bedrooms are not the only place where bed bugs can be a concern. The feeding doesn’t have to be at night. All bed bugs are looking for are human hosts inactive long enough to provide a meal.
Getting rid of bed bugs is difficult. Any place that humans sit, rest or sleep can be a place that bed bugs are introduced or feed.
Sitting for two hours in a movie theater makes you a target. A favorite recliner in the living room can also make you a target. You can also become a target taking a taxi across town.
PUT BED BUG WORRIES TO REST
WHEN YOU TRAVEL
Bed bugs have an uncanny ability to spread using unsuspecting people and their belongings as carriers.
Following the steps below will help minimize the chances of you running into bed bugs. More importantly, it will help you minimize the chances of you bringing some home with you.
- First, check travel reviews before visiting a hotel, and be careful of those with multiple reports of bed bugs.
- When you check into a hotel, check the mattress, headboard, bed frame and pictures for any signs of bed bugs.
- Rather than storing luggage on the bed or floor, keep your luggage on the luggage rack.
- Avoid storing clothes in dressers and hang clothes that can be hung.
Still, there’s no guarantee bed bugs won’t sneak into your home some way. If they do, call Terminix. Our effective bed bug removal solutions will get them out. Guaranteed.
Bed Bug Extermination Cost How Much In 2020?
You might have just found a bed bug and now wondering how much is this going to cost me?
It really varies depending on the treatment method you decide on.
In this post you’ll learn the bed bug extermination cost and how much in 2019 those costs will be.
Before we get started one thing to consider is the level of infestation you have.
If you have caught this problem early you can do it yourself for much less money as I did.
How Much Is Bed Bug Extermination Cost?
The National Average Cost:$1,700
Hight End :$5,000
Depending on the size of your home and the level of infestation you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $5,000
Bed Bugs are extremely difficult to get rid of so it’s very important to treat this situation as an emergency.
Another reason these pests are resilient is that they can survive without food for a long time in this case food is blood that they feed on.
Usually when you are sleeping and even if you’re not sleeping you normally won’t even feel when they bite you.
How Is Bed Bug Extermination Cost Calculated?
Well there are several ways exterminators can charge you to get rid of your bed bug problem.
They can charge a flat fee, by room, or square footage.
The Average Cost by Size Per Visit:
Studio/ One Bedroom Apartment :$300 – $900 ( Each Visit )
Two or Three Bedroom House:$400 – $1,200 ( Each Visit )
Whole House Heat Treatment:$800 – $2,500 ( Each Visit)
Depending on the company you choose each one has it’s own way that they will bill you. And remember that you may need multiple treatments depending on the severity of the infestation.
Which Cities Have The Highest Rates Of Bed Bugs?
Every year professional extermination companies release a list of the tops cities with the most bed bugs according to their service records.
The reason for this list is that if your city happens to be on it you can expect to pay more money than cities less prone to bed bugs.
In some cases up to3 Times more…
Based on cost of living and level of demand.
The cities with High Rates For Bed Bug Extermination:
- Las Vegas, NV
- New York, NY
- Washington, DC
- Baltimore, MD
- Chicago, IL
- Los Angeles,CA
- San Diego, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinatti, OH
- Detroit, MI
- Dallas, TX
- Phoenix, AZ
- Tuscon, AZ
- Denver, CO
- Atlanta, GA
- Tampa, FL
- Philadelphia, PA
And because of travel even tropical climates such as Hawaii are susceptible to bed bug infestations.
There are also opportunities for bed bugs to infest hotels, apartments, hospitals, movies theatre, and even office buildings because these buildings are climate controlled.
You bed bug extermination cost can vary greatly depending on the type of treatment you decide on too.
We will get into those costs next…
Bed Bug Extermination Cost By Treatment
Steam :$250 – $1,000 Per Room
Fumigation:$4 – $8 Per Square Ft
Chemicals And Pesticides:$100 – $500 Per Room
Heat Treatment/ Thermal:$1 – $3 Per Square Ft
Bed Bug Treatment Using Steam:This treatment method is good for killing bed bugs and their eggs. It’s also a way to treat your furniture such as mattress, box springs, sofa, and chairs with cushions.
Bed Bug Treatment Using Fumigation:
This is one of the most expensive ways to get rid of bed bugs. At up to $8 per square foot, it can cost you up to$50,000 to fumigate your home.
Fumigation is also considered the most successful way to get rid of bed bugs in your home, but you’ll pay a high cost too.
Bed Bug Treatment Using Chemicals and Pesticides:
This method is least expensive and if you have a small bed bug problem you can start here. It’s probably not as effective for a home that is completely infested. So early detection is key to making this work effectively.
Bed Bug Treatment Using Heat/ Thermal:
If you decide on this method you’ll be looking to spend $2,000 to $4,500. The exterminator will drive hot air into the space to get the temperature to Over 120 Degrees.
Bed Bugs have a low tolerance for an elevated temps making this effective, but there is a down side.
Using this method does not prevent residuals which are chemicals sprayed or remain as a residue after service to block any remaining bed bugs.
By using the heat method alone it won’t leave such chemicals.
Alternative Bed Bug Extermination Cost
Sniffing Dogs Treatment:
Pest control companies that use trained dogs to do inspections will cost anywhere from$300 – $1,200.
These dogs are expert at detecting infestations and are known for having a higher accuracy level than humans.
Bed Bug Extermination Cost Hiring Professional Exterminator Company
Orkin: $400 – $3,000 / 30 Day Service Guarantee
Terminix: $500 – $2,000 / 30 to 90 Day Service Guarantee
Arrow: $500 – $2,800 / 30 Day Service Guarantee
Orkin– Tends to price their services a bit higher than the other companies. They have a program that boasts a thorough inspection that factors in climate, geography and the source of an infestation, and careful monitoring after the visit along with 30 day service guarantee.
Terminix-Will perform free, thorough inspections and offer a freezing option, which is a non-chemical dry ice method if you so choose.
After treatment, if you notice more bed bugs they will treat again for free as long as it’s within the 30 days.
If you want 90 days you can get this same deal as long as you purchase and install their mattress and box spring covers.
Arrow– Is a family business that has been around for over 50 years. They use their own environmentally mindful method, known as STEPS (Sustainability Through Environmental Practices and Solutions), which ensures the use of the eco-friendliest products possible for each situation. You will get a 30-Day Guarantee with this company too.
Hiring Bed Bug Extermination Cost For Service
There are a few things you should check for before making a decision on which bed bug exterminator to choose from.
You should make sure the company is licensed Pest Management Professional (PMP). They are trained to get rid of stubborn pests.
Once you have selected the professional of your choice they will usually give you some preparation tips before they arrive on the scene.
Here is a sample list of some of the action steps you may need to take before the technician arrives:
Declutter –You’ll want to put all of your lose items in boxes and put them on the counter tops. Some technicians may want you to store items in re-sealable bags or containers.
Empty Closets– In some cases, this might not be necessary, but you technician will advise what to do in your situation.
Wash Your Clothing In Hot Water –You will need to immediately store them in clean, re-sealable bags or containers. Then depending on the method used you will want to up four hours before taking clothes out of the bags or containers.
Plans & Pets– You may be instructed to temporarily remove your pets and plants. If you are fumigating you’ll also need to remove food and medication.
This is just a sample list and you’ll need to check with your exterminator on any prep they want you to do before they arrive on the day of treatment.
Bed Bug Exterminators
Bed bugs are insects that belong to the family of Cimicidaes. There are several different species of these insects found throughout the world.
The cimex lecturlariuss species is generally found in cooler temperature regions of Central Asia, Europe and in the northern United States. On occasion, they can be found in southern temperature areas although another species, the Cimicidae Hemipterus, is more likely to be found in tropical regions with warmer climates.
California is the exception to this and typically deals with the species known as Cimicidae Lectularius, a species that thrives from feeding on humans, but also feeds on birds, rabbits, rats, mice and chickens.
A Common Problem in Homes
In recent years, beg bug infestations have become a common problem. Although they were often previously associated with overcrowding and dilapidated housing environments, this is no longer the case. They have returned and can be found in the cleanest living accommodations including fine hotels and large apartment buildings.
The reasons they have returned is not fully understood, but is believed to be partially due to an increase in travel among people, which includes easy movement of luggage or other items that may have become infested.
Due to changes in regulations, pesticides that previously were used to control these offending insects are no longer being used, which may also be a contributing factor to their resurgence.
Have Bed Bug Problems?
They can be very difficult to get rid of, especially if there is a severe infestation. Usually when this is the case, it is more cost- and time-efficient to hire a professional bug exterminator to eliminate the infestation and help prevent a re-infestation.
What Do Bed Bug Exterminators Do?
One of the initial tasks of control is inspections to locate where the pests are hiding and to determine the degree of infestation. The results of a thorough inspection can determine the treatment protocol.
Experienced exterminators know exactly where to look and use a wide array of tools to assist them with this task. Because they can travel throughout a home or building, inspections of adjoining rooms or apartments are also often required.
Integrated Pest Management
Most pest management professionals practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which includes a combination of treatment methods such as steam heat, freezing and pesticides, which are selected and applied carefully according to factors that are present with the infestation.
IPM programs may also include strategies to manage pests such as sealing cracks and crevices where they may hide and modifying windows and doors to prevent pests from entering dwellings. Professional exterminators are trained and licensed in pesticide application to ensure safety of occupants and effectiveness of controlling these pests.
Professional exterminators also educate the residents when the infestation is severe, helping to determine how the infestation occurred and steps that can be taken to avoid a re-infestation after the treatment has been completed.
What Happens During the Inspection
When an exterminator is hired, they will come prepared to do a treatment, bringing pesticides, monitors, professional steam machines and vacuums to use in their treatment. They will perform an inspection of the room suspected of being infested as well as adjoining rooms to identify how extensive the infestation may be. If they find bugs, they will use the safest and least toxic treatment to kill and remove them.
Once the inspection has been completed, the exterminator will perform the initial treatment as well as instruct the occupant on perhaps encasing the mattress or removing excessive clutter from the area. They will also instruct the occupant about proper laundering of bedding.
The exterminator will then return to do a follow-up inspection about two to three weeks later and if more bugs are found, will treat the area again.
Portable Monitors and Interceptors
Some exterminating companies prefer to use monitors for inspection purposes. These devices can be important tools in detection. There are currently two types of monitors being used by professional exterminators, portable monitors that use carmines, carbon dioxide and heat as lures and moat style interceptors.
Portable monitors are new devices that some exterminators are using to lure and trap the bugs in the device where they then die. Because they are new and rather expensive, their use is limited.
Moat-style interceptors are used around the legs of the bed with talcum powder placed on the walls of the moat. This causes the bugs to fall in the trap and remain trapped.
Interceptors are useful after treatments have been completed to confirm the infestation has been eliminated. They also inform the exterminator as to whether the pests are coming from the bed or the floor and can help reassure the occupant that the bugs will not get back onto their bed.
These devices also save time if the occupant suspect there is an infestation, but has not actually seen the bugs. They are especially useful in apartment buildings when property managers suspect bed bug infestations in several apartments as they are very cost efficient when compared to canine inspections or professional inspectors.
How Exterminators Detect Them
Exterminator treatments are based on their findings during a careful inspection as well as the concerns and needs of the occupant. If the infestation is mild, finding live bugs can be difficult.
Exterminators will inspect for any evidence including unhatched eggs, skins, fecal staining around the bed as well as on sheets.
The initial inspection will include careful examination of bed linens, pillowcases, sheets, seams of mattresses and box springs. They will also examine the headboards and bed frames looking for any evidence of the insects in cracks and crevices as well as other hiding places where they are apt to dwell.
If the exterminator cannot find any live bugs or eggs during their inspection process, they will take further action using a more aggressive and through inspection.
Confirming the Bed Bug Problem is Important
If an occupant has been bitten, the occupant may ask for the area to be treated, even if visual evidence is lacking. This is not recommended since bug bites are similar to other insects. Exterminators must determine the offending insect before applying treatments.
Along with a visual inspection, the exterminator may seek information regarding any previous complaints, any prior treatments and if nearby buildings or residences have had similar problems. Large buildings will often be mapped out, identifying rooms that are infested to help determine how extensive the infestation may be.
Locating an Infestation
The exterminator will use several tools to help carry out the inspection such as a powerful flashlight, an inspection mirror, magnifier, screwdrivers, crescent wrench, pry bar for inspecting hidden critical areas, forceps and vials that contain alcohol to collect specimens.
Once the exterminator confirms the infestation, they will identify where the infested areas are located and how severe the infestation has become. This information will help in determining an appropriate treatment.
Upon completing the treatment, the follow-up visit will include verifying that the infestation has been successfully eliminated.
The Approximate Costs of Bed Bug Exterminators
The cost of exterminators does depend on the size of the affected area and the degree of infestation as well as the exterminating company. Homes that are severely infested can cost up to $5,000 for inspections, cleaning and exterminator fees. Exterminating large apartment buildings can cost as much as $80,000 to eliminate these pests.
Generally, exterminators charge between $250 and $900 per room. Successful elimination usually includes combining thorough cleaning with repeat professional exterminating treatments using pesticides and other types of treatments.
When an infestation is suspected, a visual inspection by a professional exterminator is the best way to detect these pests. They are small and can be very difficult to see. Their preferred hiding spots includes box springs and mattresses, picture frames, night tables, cushions and behind light-switch and outlet covers.
Because they are nocturnal and only come out at night to feed, they usually are not visually apparent. Most people who suspect they have a bed bug infestation do so because they awaken with the bites.
Some professional exterminating companies do provide free inspections, whereas others may charge a fee of $50 to $200.
Services With Trained Dogs
There are also some exterminating companies that use dogs who are trained specifically to sniff out adults as well as their eggs. Dogs who are well trained can lead the exterminator directly to where they are hiding so these areas can be effectively treated.
Inspections that include the services of trained dogs can cost $300 to $600 for a home.
Comparing Current Bed Bug Treatments With Historical Treatments
These bloodsucking insects have long been despised, with recordings of infestations since history started being recorded. Exterminating treatments were difficult and dangerous, carrying risks not only to the bugs, but also to the people.
With the development of strong residual pesticides in the latter part of the 20th century, these pests stopped being such a threat. However, in recent years, they have come back with a vengeance, causing sleepless nights for people all around the world.
Lessons from the Earliest Exterminators
Many of the exterminating methods that are used today date back to the early European exterminators who discovered that yearly inspections helped significantly in preventing infestations. Without inspections, the bugs would become so numerous, they would not only colonize in beds, but anywhere else they could find. This historical preventative advice from early exterminators has taught that early detection using inspections is important in reducing infestations and reducing the cost of treatments. However, many people today often wait until an infestation has occurred before taking action.
Early exterminators were also well aware of how they traveled and spread, warning people to carefully inspect furniture and beds when buying them for any bug marks that could assure the bugs were present although may not be seen. Women were also warned in not sharing their laundry baskets with others, which could cause infestation in those that had no bugs.
The 19th Century: Extreme Treatments
Early exterminating treatments were extreme, such as filling the cracks of beds with gunpowder and setting it on fire. During the 1800s, beds were made using sassafras wood, which was believed to repel the pests, although as a precautionary measure, the crevices of the beds would be doused with a mixture of sulfur, arsenic and boiling water.
Travelers from this period often moved beds away from the walls and set the legs of the bed in pans that contained oil while others used pyrethrum powder to dust between sheets to prevent the bugs from biting them while sleeping.
During the mid-1800s, overcrowded poor areas were especially plagued by infestations while wealthy homes who had domestic help found that constant and vigorous housecleaning and bed changing significantly helped prevent infestations. Beds were often broken down, inspected and doused with boiling water or greased using bacon or salt pork.
The 20th Century: Severe Infestations
During the early 1900s began to thrive year-round with the inventions of electric fans, cast-iron radiators and forced air heating. Infestations became so bad that it was estimated that one-third of all dwellings in the major cities had infestations. These pests became numerous; they were often seen traveling from house to house along piping, gutters and walls.
Early formulas to kill them often contained pyrethrum powder, which was dispensed between sheets. Strict disinfestation protocols were also put into place to help prevent people from transporting the bugs from one house to another.
The problem was so severe that England made families go to cleansing stations to disinfect their personal belongings using steam. Larger personal property items such as furniture were placed in vans, which were then fumigated using hydrogen cyanide.
Many property owners in Germany demanded a written report from an exterminator for proof that the residence being vacated was free of any signs of infestation.
The War Years
Wartime also brought troubling times as the bugs were easily spread between soldiers on backpacks, belts and helmets. The infestations became so abundant during World War II that families of soldiers pressured Congress into taking measures to stop infestations.
After hearings were held, barracks begin being fumigated using hydrogen cyanide. It was shortly after this that DDT was found to be safer and more cost-efficient in controlling military infestations.
At this time they were commonly found in businesses, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, restaurants and other public places much like what is occurring again today. Measures were taken to help control the population such as replacing wood bed frames with metal frames and careful and frequent examinations of clothing and beds.
History of Insecticides
Insecticides also have an interesting and long history that include early concoctions of dust, liquids and gases, many being toxic to both people and bugs. Early concoctions were often prepared by druggists, which included mercury and arsenic compounds mixed with alcohol, water or turpentine. They were then applied using a brush or eyedropper where the bugs were found.
Poison was a popular treatment, which was actually Mercury chloride, a very dangerous compound. Pyrethrum was also commonly used as an insecticide, which was often prepared into powders and sprays.
Gasoline, alcohol, turpentine and benzene were widely used to spray onto beds, but their effects were short-lived, working only for a day as they did not kill eggs and often did not directly come into contact with the live bugs. Therefore, this required numerous follow-up treatments.
Because early pesticide treatments contained no residual action, these treatments were often only effective when infestations were in their early stages.
For heavy infestations, fumigants were often used. These included using sulfur, which was burned, producing sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide. This method involved placing the sulfur into a kettle, placing the kettle into a larger container to catch the molten and prevent a fire and setting this in the middle of the room. A cup of alcohol was then added to the burning sulfur.
Following this fumigation method came the hydrocyanic acid fumigation method, which was highly effective although more costly and dangerous. The entire home had to be vacated when using this method and was best performed by professional exterminators.
The Rise of DDT
When DDT was discovered and developed, it was solely used by the armed forces to protect soldiers from mosquitoes, flies and disease-carrying lice. After testing it for its effectiveness at killing bed bugs, it was deemed to be the new potent weapon against these pests.
DDT was very effective due to its lasting ability to kill long after the pesticide had dried on surfaces, which was reported to last for at least six months. DDT also only required one application to effectively destroy all the bugs and hatching eggs and it was inexpensive, making it available to anyone.
This pesticide was so effective that within five years of beginning its use, these pests were nearly eradicated. However, reports began to appear about the bugs becoming resistant to DDT, especially in tropical regions.
Although infestations were no longer troublesome, because of the resistance reports on DDT, the National Pest Control Association began to recommend the use of Malathion as a replacement to DDT. Other alternatives included lindane, diazinon and chlordane. These pesticides also only required one treatment to be effective.
History of Bed Bug Traps
Devices were also commonly used throughout history for trapping the bugs.. Pans filled with kerosene or oil were placed under the legs of beds to prevent the bugs from climbing up into the bed. Devices that provide similar effects are still being marketed today.
The Use of Heat
Another method that has been used for centuries includes the use of heat. Boiling water was sometimes used to scald the pests. The first portable steamer to control bugs was patented in 1873, which consisted of a spout that emitted steam, which was moved over areas where bugs were suspected of hiding. Today, these steamers are more sophisticated and often used by professional exterminators.
Lessons for Today
With the recent return of infestations and knowing their history, prevention and detection requires skilled exterminators as well as public education.
One of the most important aspects of management throughout history has been the exterminator’s thoroughness when using pesticide sprays. Skilled exterminators find every possible hiding place of bugs, which often involves taking beds apart, removing dresser drawers, rolling rugs back and taking pictures down from walls. They may also pry loose moldings and inspect books and floor lamps as well.
Comparing Exterminator Treatments With DIY Treatments
When comparing the treatments that exterminators use to do-it-yourself treatments, over-the-counter pesticide products that are labeled to control these pests are not recommended. Most of these products have not been tested for effectiveness.
Professionals use pesticides that have been researched and tested for their effectiveness at controlling bugs and they are trained to safely apply those using thorough applications to control infestations.
Other do-it-yourself methods include vacuuming the bed using a strong suction wand. This method must be done thoroughly to remove the bugs and their eggs.
Areas that must be vacuumed include mattresses, box springs, carpets and baseboards. This may require repeating the vacuuming several times to ensure all bugs have successfully been removed.
Vacuums should have disposable bags so they can be tossed out after vacuuming. If left in the bag or if using a bag-less vacuum, the bugs can escape and possibly spread the infestation to other areas of the residence.
Portable steam machines can also be used to kill them, but must be directly applied to the pests to be effective. This method can be difficult when infestations are severe since finding and directing the steam onto the bugs takes time and thoroughness.
Professional exterminators use more advanced steam technology to provide thorough applications, making this method more effective than DIY steam treatments. Clothing and bedding, however, can easily be treated by placing them into a dryer and running it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Ambient Heating Services
There are also licensed and bonded commercial ambient heating services that treat invested rooms. These services heat the room to 140°, which is maintained for a minimum of two hours to kill the bugs and their eggs.
Heat treatments consist of fans and a heating device to heat the area to the required temperature and maintain that temperature for the duration of the treatment time.
Ambient heat treatments are sometimes used when the area is extremely cluttered and cannot be cleared out. They also are a good alternative treatment for residents who do not want the use of pesticides. Heat treatments are chemical-free and can be effective at eliminating the infestation.
Freezing Using Liquid CO2 Snow
Freezing these insects is also an effective method of killing these pests. Some exterminators are now using a new special machine that sprays liquid CO2 snow, freezing the bugs in all stages of their life. The snow is non-toxic and leaves no messy residue.
Using a powerful pressurized CO2 snow, the bugs can be frozen instantly, even in areas that are difficult to reach. Although the snow is -110°F, targeted surface temperatures can reach as low as -20°F, making it a very effective eradication method.
This freezing method is a green system that contains no pesticides, health risks or odors. It can be the ideal solution for killing bugs in areas where pesticides cannot be used.
Mattress encasements can be purchased to seal the mattress, suffocating the bugs. These types of encasements are made specifically for this purpose and are particularly useful in facilities that house many beds. This method has not been completely researched and oftentimes it may be wiser to replace the mattress with a new one.
Do-it-yourself traps can also be made using petroleum jelly to coat the legs of the bed, making it difficult for the bugs to climb up the legs. Do-it-yourself products are available at certain large retail store.
Pesticides that come in dust form can be purchased for about $30 and liquid insecticides cost approximately $100 and are in concentrated form, requiring diluting with water.
These products are not intended to be used directly on bed linens, but only on mattresses and box springs that have been stripped. They can also be used along baseboards and in cracks and crevices where bugs may be hiding.
When using these types of products, read and follow the directions carefully as they can be dangerous to humans and pets if not used correctly.
Determining Whether to Hire an Exterminator or Use Other Methods
Although professional exterminators can be more expensive than DIY treatments, oftentimes it is more practical to hire an exterminator if the infestation is severe.
When determining if a professional exterminator should be hired or if another method may be more practical, there are certain things to consider along with the severity of the infestation.
Doing Your Own Research
Doing some research on how to eliminate these bugs can give you a good idea about if you will be able to safely and effectively treat the infestation yourself. If you are unsure as to what the identity of the bug is, you can take it to your local agricultural extension office.
You can also find information about managing these bugs online at UC Pest Notes. This information should help in determining if you can manage the infestation yourself or if it would be safer and more effective to hire an exterminator.
Health Risks Associated With Bites
You should also be aware that some people might be at risk of developing a severe reaction to the bites. Although these pests are not considered to be disease-carriers, individuals have been known to have allergic reactions, which include hives, asthma and severe allergy attacks requiring immediate medical treatment.
Individuals who are highly sensitive to bug bites or have numerous allergies may find that hiring a professional will be a safer choice. Exterminators can provide more effective treatments, reducing the time it can take to eliminate the bugs.
When these bugs feed on humans, they generally spend about 10 minutes. Although most people do not know this is occurring, they will awaken with itchy red skin due to the saliva of the bug being injected into the skin. Scratching the bites can also result in infections. Some people experience swelling at the site where they were bitten and these pests have stink glands, which leave behind foul smelling odors.
Because managing an infestation is difficult, the harm these pests can have on individuals should be considered carefully when deciding on whether to hire an exterminator or trying to manage the infestation yourself.
Availability of Pesticides for Home Use
Another thing to consider is the pesticide products that are available if you choose to do-it-yourself. When an infestation is serious, insecticides are usually required to eliminate the bugs.
Most over-the-counter insecticides contain active ingredients that are not registered federally for the use of eliminating bugs. On the other hand, exterminators use registered products that have been proven to be more effective at eliminating serious infestations.
Additionally, repeat treatments are usually required and for those who may not have the time or the skills to carry out the treatments, they may want to consider hiring a professional exterminator.
Undertaking an Inspection of Your Home
Performing self-inspections to detect infestations can also be difficult for someone who is not trained to know where these bugs are likely to hide. Because they are nocturnal, finding all their hiding spots can be challenging although most of the bugs will be found in or around the bed.
Inspections should include the mattress, box spring, headboards and bed frame. Sheets should also be searched for blood spots, black fecal matter and egg cases. Using a flashlight can help with this process as well as a magnifying glass for finding the eggs. If the area is heavily infested, there may also be a foul smelling odor.
Other areas to inspect include furniture, baseboards, carpets, hanging pictures and if wallpaper is installed, inspecting behind areas that have become loose.
For homeowners who do choose to exterminate an infestation themselves, they should have perseverance and patience as this can be a persistent problem.
Some professional bed bug exterminators use dogs to find infestations. These trained dogs are 97% effective in searching and finding infestations. Exterminators also use double-cupped monitors, which are installed on the bed’s legs to trap the bugs.
The Treatment Must Be Thorough to Be Successful
Individuals who prefer not to hire a professional exterminator should also realize that using only an insecticide will not be effective. These products must be used along with cleaning beds, removing bedding, clearing sites that harbor the bugs, daily vacuuming, weekly linen changes and performing regular inspections to ensure the treatment was successful.
Know Your Insecticides
Professional exterminators use commercial pesticides and applicators that are more effective for applying the pesticide. They also are trained in detection and isolation of infestations.
Professional insecticides come in dusts and liquids, which can be applied to bed frames, cracks and crevices, along baseboards and other areas bugs are found. However, they are not used on bedding or mattresses due to possible risks to humans.
Insecticides may contain pyrethrum or synthetic phyrethroid to quickly kill off some of the bug population although they will not provide long-term control.
Products that are more recent contain chlorfenapyr, also known as Phantom, combined with the growth regulator Gentrol to cause sterilization in adult bugs. These products do take several days to work, but are effective.
Dust insecticides work by sticking to the bug’s cuticles causing their protective wax coating to wear away and kill the bug. The bugs are also poisoned during grooming. Dust insecticides may contain boric acid, fumed silica, diatomaceous earth or phyrethroid formulations and can be effective for long-term control when placed in dry areas that are undisturbed.
Consider an IPM Professional
Hiring a professional exterminator who practices IPM methods can provide the safest and most up-to-date technology to effectively treat infestations. When toxic chemicals are part of a treatment plan, it is usually safer for occupants to have them applied by a trained professional.
Exterminators also have access to pesticides that are more effective as well as sophisticated technology that consumers cannot obtain. These factors should all be carefully considered before deciding on how to safely and effectively rid the infestation.
Hiring a Canine Inspection Team
Canines that are specifically trained in sniffing out the scent of these bloodsucking insects are considered one of the most effective ways of detecting these pests.
Under certain circumstances, visual inspections can be very difficult in determining if an infestation has occurred and how severe it may be. When this occurs, canines can offer a valuable service. They also are very useful when large buildings require comprehensive inspections such as schools, theaters and large office buildings.
When hiring a canine inspection team, they should be certified. This certification demonstrates and confirms the canine’s competency in the ability to locate bugs and their eggs. The handler of the canine should be educated in the biology, identification, behavior and proper inspection methods.
This inspection team should also hold a current third party, independent certificate that is in accordance with the Minimum Standards for Canine Bed Bug Detection Team certification guidelines.
How Long Treatments Take to Rid Infestations
Because these bugs multiply rapidly, with females laying up to 300 eggs at one time, infestations can occur quickly. This can cause the elimination of an infestation to be a long, drawn-out process for residents who choose to treat the infestation themselves.
The process does require vigilance in finding the bugs and treating all the areas. This can involve vacuuming and steam cleaning mattresses and carpets repeatedly as well as sealing all cracks and crevices where bugs may be hiding.
Hiring a Professional Ensures Effective Treatment
If choosing to hire a professional exterminator, they can provide an effective treatment that can be completed within a few hours. Trained professionals are keen on where these bugs hide and also use professional strength pesticides as well as advanced technology to destroy the pests immediately.
They also will know if the mattress should be treated or discarded, depending on the level of infestation and the condition of the mattress. Mattresses that have tears in them are often untreatable and will need to be replaced.
A Follow-up Inspection is Crucial
Trained professionals will also do a follow-up visit to re-inspect the area and repeat the treatment if necessary. Adjoining rooms will also need to be inspected and treated if bugs are found. When this is the case, it often is better to hire a professional exterminator who can take the proper actions to quickly and effectively treat the rooms.
These bugs can also live up to a year or more without feeding while remaining in their hiding places. Without a professional inspection and treatment, the resident may find that their treatments were ineffective after a few months, having to perform the treatments again.
Preventing the Recurrence of Bed Bug Infestations
They usually find their way into people’s homes by way of clothes that are placed in luggage after staying at a hotel or a dwelling that is infested.
To prevent reoccurring infestations, when traveling, inspect mattresses and linens in hotel rooms and inspect luggage when leaving. Once home, all clothes that were packed should be washed immediately.
Another way they enter homes is when people buy second-hand furniture. When doing so, these items should be inspected carefully before bringing into the home.
Replacing Infested Mattresses
When replacing a mattress that has become infested, the mattress should be taken to a dump immediately and not left near the home. If a re-infestation is suspected, actions should be taken at once to prevent a serious infestation.
When infestations are small, they are much easier to control and keeping the room free of clutter can make less hiding places for these bugs. Cracks, crevices and potential areas where they can hide should be sealed.
Experts all agree that using a mattress encasement can be effective at preventing a recurrence of infestations. Encasements that are made with tightly woven material and contain zippers with locks are considered the most effective as these types have no openings allowing insects to enter or leave the mattress.
Depending on the size of the bed, encasements can range in price from $70 up to $150. Encasements that are made of vinyl should be avoided as they can crack or tear.
Bedding, clothing and anything else that will fit in a dryer should be washed and dried using the highest setting for about 15 to 20 minutes. This will effectively kill any bugs that may still be alive. When transporting these items to the laundry room, be sure to place them into a plastic bag, which should be discarded immediately.
Items that cannot be placed into a dryer can be packed in plastic bags or bins, but should remain there for up to a year to ensure bugs are dead.
Expensive items or heirlooms may need to be professionally fumigated, which may require the items be taken out of the home and returned after being decontaminated. This service generally costs about $1,000.
Tips and Precautions for Hiring an Exterminator
1. When choosing to hire an exterminator, it is best to find a company that is well established and has at least five years of experience in dealing specifically with pests.
2. Because one treatment may not be sufficient in killing all the bugs, the exterminating company should include follow-up treatments, which should be quoted in the price.
3. Exterminating companies should be licensed, registered and certified in the state you reside. California pest control companies must have a California State Structural Pest Control Board issued license to operate in the state. To verify an exterminating company’s license, check online or call 800-737-8188.
4. When searching for an exterminator, speak to friends and family members about exterminators they may have used, which can often be helpful in finding a good exterminator who treats bed bug problems.
5. Before hiring an exterminator, call and discuss what methods they use and if toxic pesticides will be used. Discuss what the effects of the pesticides have on pets, the elderly, infants or individuals who are hypersensitive to chemicals. Find out how and where the pesticides will be applied.
Good exterminators generally use Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This type of management program uses several methods of treatments, which could include less toxic pesticides, offering a safer, yet thorough approach.
If the exterminating company only plans on using one form of treatment to eliminate the bugs, they most likely will be unsuccessful. Single-treatment approaches can be evidence that the company is not very experienced.
Also, avoid exterminating companies that want to spray chemicals around the outside perimeter of the dwelling, as this method is costly and ineffective.
6. Discuss inspections with them and if they charge a fee for this service. Many companies waive inspection fees if hired to exterminate the pests. Inspections should include a written diagnosis of the pest and the problem as well as an explanation as to where the pests are located and how the exterminating company will manage treatment.
Inspection reports should include what pesticides will be used, if needed, how often treatments will be applied and an estimated cost of providing the treatment plan. Information regarding the safety and protection of children and pests should also be included in the inspection report.
7. Discuss any legal requirements that may require certain precautions after treatment. Most exterminating companies will provide a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet that explains any chemicals being used as well as their hazards and precautions that are necessary.
8. Discuss their experience with exterminating these specific pests and see if they can provide references demonstrating their experience with this specific pest.
9. Before signing a contract with an exterminating company, review the contract to make sure the name of the company is on it, the treatment plan has been listed, a certain number of treatments are included, if there is a guarantee, although most exterminating companies will not guarantee complete elimination.
Also, check with the company about their liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance and any possible exclusion related to canceling the contract. Will you be penalized if you cancel the contract?
The contract should also include the preparations that the resident will be responsible for as well as preparations they will provide.
10. Once an exterminating company has been hired, stay in close contact with them until the infestation treatment has been accomplished. Check to make sure the company is performing the pest management treatments as agreed upon in the contract and be sure to do your part in any preparation work that may be required. This is important in helping ensure that treatments are successful.
Occupant’s Responsibilities in Treatment Preparations
Extermination often requires both the professionals as well as the occupants to work together for successful elimination. When hiring an exterminator, residents should cooperate with the exterminator in regards to their instructions in preparations and allow access to infested rooms and adjoining rooms.
Depending on the exterminating company, some do require the owner or occupant to prep the infested room by removing all the bedding from the bed, emptying nightstands and dressers, clearing out closets, washing clothing and bedding, removing clutter and vacuuming. When this is the case, the exterminator should provide careful instructions on how to avoid spreading them to other locations.
Preparation instructions should be provided to the resident before the first scheduled treatment. Some exterminators do prefer to handle the preparation work themselves to prevent relocating the bugs before treatment.
The exterminator may also require the homeowner or resident to correct structural problems that may be contributing to the infestation. This could include removing wallpaper or re-gluing peeling wallpaper, fixing loose moldings and sealing cracks and crevices.
Exterminator’s Safety Concerns for Occupants
Because bed bug exterminators often use insecticides as part of their treatment, keeping occupants safe is an important part of their job. Good exterminators will speak with occupants about any health risks they may have that could be a concern from the use of pesticides.
If the occupant does have health risks, the exterminator will recommend that they speak with their physician before any treatments are applied. Treatments will then be applied in accordance with what is advised by the physician.
To ensure the safety of residents, the exterminator will also advise the occupants as to when they can reenter a treated room as well as special precautions they should take and the exact locations of where treatments were applied.
In addition to keeping residents safe, they also are concerned with pets’ safety. Exterminators will instruct occupants on when pets can reenter the treated room based on the pesticide’s labeling directions.