How To Make Sure You Don’T Spread Bed Bugs

How to Move Without Bringing Bed Bugs With You

Moving is stressful enough already. Dealing with moving companies, boxing up everything you own, and figuring out how you’re going to fit your grandmother’s armoire into a Prius is all more than enough to induce a migraine or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about bringing bed bugs with you while you’re moving.

Unfortunately, if you have bed bugs in your current residence (whether or not you even know that they’re there), there’s a good chance that they will follow your family to their next nesting ground. To top it off, addendums in the fine print pinning bed bug extermination costs on the tenant is an increasingly popular tactic among landlords.

Whether or not you’ve been waking up to bed bug bites, it would be smart to take a few simple precautions to insure that your new home isn’t exposed to an infestation. Here are a few things you can do to make the big move without bringing bed bugs along for a ride:

Launder your clothes, bedding, and pillows.

Before you pack away the clothes in your closet, throw them in the washer and dryer. Whether they’ve been worn recently or not, clothing is a very common hiding place for bed bugs. They’re easy to treat; the high heat setting on any dryer will kill bed bugs and their eggs in a short cycle. Do the same for your beds’ sheets, covers, pillowcases, and pillows. Just make sure to check the labels on each item so nothing gets damaged.

Use a portable bed bug heater.

Since your shoes and books won’t make it out of the dryer in the best shape, you’ll need another treatment method for them. Portable bed bug heaters, like the new ZappBug Oven, are perfect for heat-treating your belongings. A ZappBug can safely heat up your shoes, books, luggage, chairs, rugs, papers, bedding and more. It can be set up in minutes, and starts heating with a push of a button; within six hours, any bed bugs or eggs inside will be toast.

Use new packing material and boxes.

Asking neighbors, family members, and local stores for their empty boxes has always been a smart way to move on a budget. However, this does carry a risk of inviting bed bugs to join you on the ride to your new home. To avoid this, consider purchasing new, sealed boxes and packing materials. You can find everything you need at your local post office, office supply store, or business shipping center. Don’t open the packages until you’re ready to start packing, to prevent bed bugs from hiding in them.

Don’t buy used furniture.

In the same vein of avoiding used boxes and packing peanuts, you should definitely steer clear of used furniture. Couches and mattresses on the street are one of the most common ways that bed bug infestations spread. The previous owners may or may not have known that they even had bed bugs, but either way it’s simply not worth the risk. If you do come across a pre-owned sofa or loveseat that you can’t resist, treat it with a vacuum and steamer as soon as you bring it home – when done properly, this will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside the upholstery.

Do you have any advice for staying bed bug-free on the move? Don’t keep it to yourself; throw us a tip in the comments or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ page.

How to Move Without Bringing Bed Bugs With You

Moving is stressful enough already. Dealing with moving companies, boxing up everything you own, and figuring out how you’re going to fit your grandmother’s armoire into a Prius is all more than enough to induce a migraine or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about bringing bed bugs with you while you’re moving.

Unfortunately, if you have bed bugs in your current residence (whether or not you even know that they’re there), there’s a good chance that they will follow your family to their next nesting ground. To top it off, addendums in the fine print pinning bed bug extermination costs on the tenant is an increasingly popular tactic among landlords.

Whether or not you’ve been waking up to bed bug bites, it would be smart to take a few simple precautions to insure that your new home isn’t exposed to an infestation. Here are a few things you can do to make the big move without bringing bed bugs along for a ride:

Launder your clothes, bedding, and pillows.

Before you pack away the clothes in your closet, throw them in the washer and dryer. Whether they’ve been worn recently or not, clothing is a very common hiding place for bed bugs. They’re easy to treat; the high heat setting on any dryer will kill bed bugs and their eggs in a short cycle. Do the same for your beds’ sheets, covers, pillowcases, and pillows. Just make sure to check the labels on each item so nothing gets damaged.

Use a portable bed bug heater.

Since your shoes and books won’t make it out of the dryer in the best shape, you’ll need another treatment method for them. Portable bed bug heaters, like the new ZappBug Oven, are perfect for heat-treating your belongings. A ZappBug can safely heat up your shoes, books, luggage, chairs, rugs, papers, bedding and more. It can be set up in minutes, and starts heating with a push of a button; within six hours, any bed bugs or eggs inside will be toast.

Use new packing material and boxes.

Asking neighbors, family members, and local stores for their empty boxes has always been a smart way to move on a budget. However, this does carry a risk of inviting bed bugs to join you on the ride to your new home. To avoid this, consider purchasing new, sealed boxes and packing materials. You can find everything you need at your local post office, office supply store, or business shipping center. Don’t open the packages until you’re ready to start packing, to prevent bed bugs from hiding in them.

Don’t buy used furniture.

In the same vein of avoiding used boxes and packing peanuts, you should definitely steer clear of used furniture. Couches and mattresses on the street are one of the most common ways that bed bug infestations spread. The previous owners may or may not have known that they even had bed bugs, but either way it’s simply not worth the risk. If you do come across a pre-owned sofa or loveseat that you can’t resist, treat it with a vacuum and steamer as soon as you bring it home – when done properly, this will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside the upholstery.

Do you have any advice for staying bed bug-free on the move? Don’t keep it to yourself; throw us a tip in the comments or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ page.

US EPA

Bed Bugs

Top Ten Tips to Prevent or Control Bed Bugs

Related Information

1. Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas, ticks or other insects.

You can compare your insect to the pictures on our Identifying bed bugs Web page or show it to your local extension agent.Exit (Extension agents are trained in pest control issues and know your local area.)

2. Don’t panic!

3. Think through your treatment options — Don’’t immediately reach for the spray can.

Be comprehensive in your approach. Try other things first. Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques may reduce the number of bed bugs and limit your contact with pesticides. If pesticides are needed, always follow label directions or hire a professional. There is help available to learn about treatment options. (4 pp, 480 K, About PDF)

4. Reduce the number of hiding places — Clean up the clutter.

A cluttered home provides more places for bed bugs to hide and makes locating and treating them harder. If bed bugs are in your mattress, using special bed bug covers (encasements) on your mattress and box springs makes it harder for bed bugs to get to you while you sleep. Leave the encasements on for a year. Be sure to buy a product that has been tested for bed bugs and is strong enough to last for the full year without tearing.

5. Regularly wash and heat-dry your bed sheets, blankets, bedspreads and any clothing that touches the floor.

This reduces the number of bed bugs. Bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry containers/hampers Remember to clean them when you do the laundry.

6. Do-it-yourself freezing may not be a reliable method for bed bug control.

While freezing can kill bed bugs, temperatures must remain very low for a long time. Home freezers may not be cold enough to kill bed bugs; always use a thermometer to accurately check the temperature. Putting things outside in freezing temperatures could kill bed bugs, but there are many factors that can affect the success of this method.

7. Kill bed bugs with heat, but be very careful.

Raising the indoor temperature with the thermostat or space heaters won’t do the job. Special equipment and very high temperatures are necessary for successful heat treatment. Black plastic bags in the sun might work to kill bed bugs in luggage or small items, if the contents become hot enough. Bed bugs die when their body temperatures reaches 45°C (113°F). To kill bed bugs with heat, the room or container must be even hotter to ensure sustained heat reaches the bugs no matter where they are hiding

8. Don’’t pass your bed bugs on to others.

Bed bugs are good hitchhikers. If you throw out a mattress or furniture that has bed bugs in it, you should slash or in some way destroy it so that no one else takes it and gets bed bugs.

9. Reduce the number of bed bugs to reduce bites.

Thorough vacuuming can get rid of some of your bed bugs. Carefully vacuum rugs, floors, upholstered furniture, bed frames, under beds, around bed legs, and all cracks and crevices around the room. Change the bag after each use so the bed bugs can’t escape. Place the used bag in a tightly sealed plastic bag and in an outside garbage bin.

10. Turn to the professionals, if needed.

Hiring an experienced, responsible pest control professional can increase your chance of success in getting rid of bed bugs. If you hire an expert, be sure it’s a company with a good reputation and request that it use an IPM approach. Contact your state pesticide agency for guidance about hiring professional pest control companies. Also, EPA’s Citizen’s Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety provides information about IPM approaches, how to choose a pest control company, safe handling of pesticides, and emergency information.

Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

Bedbugs

In this Article

In this Article

In this Article

Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.

Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime.

Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year.

Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.

Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.

Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.

When Bedbugs Bite

Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.

Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.

People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.

Continued

Signs of Infestation

If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:

  • Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
  • Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
  • Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
  • An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands

If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.

Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.

If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.

Bedbug Treatments

Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:

  • Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
  • Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
  • Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
  • Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
  • Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
  • Get rid of clutter around the bed.

If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.

Continued

Bedbug Extermination

While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.

Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.

Sources

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: "Bed Bugs."

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: "Bed Bugs."

The New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene: "Stop Bed Bugs Safely."

University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Lancaster County: "Managing Bed Bugs."

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Your Dirty Clothes, New Study Finds

Share this:

With the holidays fast approaching, you might find yourself frantically Googling “how to get rid of bed bugs in luggage,” after discovering you’ve brought home a colony of bed bugs. According to a new study, there’s a way you can reduce the chance a group of these blood-sucking pests hitches a ride in your suitcase.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Sheffield in England looked at whether or not leaving your dirty clothes out at a hotel had any effect on the spread of bed bugs. They created two simulations: One room contained clean clothes while the second contained dirty, soiled clothes. The researchers also pumped extra carbon dioxide into one room with clean clothes and one room with dirty clothes to simulate human breathing.

What they found was that in the absence of a human — in this case, the rooms without the added carbon dioxide — bed bugs were twice as likely to collect on the dirty laundry pile. When researchers added carbon dioxide to the room, bed bugs were more likely to leave their hiding spots and begin host-seeking behaviors.

So how can you prevent bed bugs from latching onto your dirty clothes and coming home with you? William Hentley, PhD, one of the lead researchers, writes that there’s a pretty simple solution: “Our study suggests that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them, which may reduce the spread of infestations.”

You know those space-saving vacuum packs people use for their clothes? Maybe it’s time to stock up before you leave the state to see the family for Thanksgiving. The holidays are a stressful time, and you don’t want to be dealing with bed bugs if you have family staying with you.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Luggage

Let’s say you read this article after you got home, and you, unluckily, caught a case of bed bugs. How do you get rid of bed bugs in your luggage? Here’s your step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Empty our your suitcase.

If you haven’t already, you need to empty the contents of your luggage and place them in sealed bags until you can wash and or sanitize them. Your clothes will need to be washed at a high temperature — at least 120 degrees — to ensure that the bed bugs die.

Step 2: Take your luggage outside and thoroughly vacuum it.

With a stiff brush, you’re going to want to give your suitcase a good scrub to loosen up any dead bed bugs or bed bug eggs that may be clinging to the lining. Once you’ve done that, you need to vacuum the entire thing

Step 3: Mist it with a bed bug spray.

You can find these sprays at stores like Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, and the like. If you are worried about the pesticide smell lingering, you can rent or purchase a steamer and steam the entire suitcase two or three times to ensure that you get all the bed bugs.

Step 4: Vacuum the suitcase again.

Now that you’ve killed and shaken loose all the bed bugs and egg clusters, you want to vacuum the entire thing again. Once you’re done, remove the vacuum bag and discard it, making sure the garbage bag that its in is knotted tightly so that no bugs can escape.

Step 5: Let your suitcase bake for a little while.

Now that the hard part is done, leave your suitcase out in the sun for a little bit. If you check back and notice that there are still bed bugs, you will have to repeat the process. If you’ve tried multiple times to clean your luggage and nothing has worked, you might want to consider biting the bullet and getting a new suitcase.

Planning a Vacation? Here’s How to Make Sure You Don’t Bring Any Bed Bugs Home With You

If anything can wreck the bliss of a hard-earned, long-awaited summer vacation, it’s a bed bug—or even just the fear that one might be lurking in your supposedly spotless hotel room or airplane seat, ready to ruin your brief, wondrous getaway.

In some ways, the myths that have spread as quickly as a bed bug infestation itself make the odious little insects seem worse than they are. They don’t carry diseases, they can’t fly, and they can be seen with the naked eye. But their resilience in the face of eradication is practically legendary; they’re even developing thicker exoskeletons to better resist insecticides.

So what can you do to prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking a ride home with you? Keep your dirty laundry from coming into contact with your hotel room bed or floor, Insider reports.

As University of Sheffield entomologist William Hentley toldScience, bed bugs are attracted to the smell of humans, which is stronger in our dirty clothes. For his study, Hentley placed two bags of clothes—one clean, one dirty—in a hotel room and released a cage of bed bugs into the room to roam freely. After 96 hours, Hentley and his team found that about twice as many bed bugs had chosen the dirty clothes over the clean ones.

If you leave your suitcase open on the floor and your worn clothes strewn about the room, bed bugs can simply crawl in. So don’t underestimate the power of the luggage rack; bed bugs can’t climb up the metal legs, so it’s worth keeping your suitcase on top of it. To prevent them from sniffing out your dirty clothes in the first place, try storing your worn items in an airtight plastic bag. Also, since bed bugs can live for months without a meal according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, they won’t die just by being contained in your suitcase during the trip home; wash and dry your dirty clothes on high heat to kill them for good.

And because educating yourself on an issue is often the best defense against disaster, make sure you can recognize a bed bug if you see one and know how to check your hotel room for them in the first place.

How Swedish Students Let Off Steam—By Screaming in Public

"At 22:00 precisely the windows open and the screaming begins," says an Uppsala University webpage covering "academic traditions."

The line is referring to a local phenomenon that’s been taking place in a specific area of the Flogsta neighborhood of Uppsala, Sweden, since at least the ’80s, and possibly as early as the ’70s. The locals call it the Flogsta Scream, and it’s pretty simple: At the same time every night, a bunch of people lean out of their windows and scream.

The Scream isn’t restricted to only students, of course—or even to Flogsta, for that matter. The Lappkärrsberget residential area near Stockholm University has a neighborhood scream as well, known as the Lappkärr Cry, while Lund University students in the Delphi neighborhood of Lund, Sweden, participate in the Delphi Roar. (Other names include the Tuesday Scream—Lappkärrsberget screams on Tuesdays only—and Elvavrålet, or "the eleven roar," for the version in Lund, which happens at 11 p.m.)

Vuvuzelas (the plastic horns often found at South African soccer games) are incorporated in some versions as well. The screams generally last between one and two minutes, but they vary on a case-by-case basis. Some can last up to 10 minutes.

The lore behind this strange tradition varies as well. Some say that—at least in the case of Flogsta—the practice was started by students in the physics department at Uppsala who needed to let off stress and angst during exam season; others say it was begun as a memorial to a student who died by suicide.

It doesn’t necessarily happen every night, either. Arvid Cederholm, who lived in Flogsta in the early 2000s, tells Mental Floss, "I don’t remember it being every evening, but rather if someone started it, others joined in. The angst wasn’t a very pronounced part of it, I feel. It was more of a fun thing than an angsty thing."

Experienced the Flogsta scream for the first time tonight, I’m a true Uppsala student now

I always forget about the flogsta scream and I’ll just be watching netflix or studying or w/e and just hear people screaming and freak out

Back in late 2014, the Flogsta scream received a small burst of attention on the internet thanks to a Reddit thread and a subsequent post on MTV’s website. Amid the swirl, the story somehow changed from "people collectively scream out of their windows at 10 p.m. in certain areas in Sweden" to "you can scream out of your window anywhere in Sweden and people will scream back." There was so much misinformation circulating surrounding the Flogsta scream that Snopes finally wrote a piece about it in order to set the facts straight. (They also noted that similar practices aren’t unknown on U.S. campuses.)

So just to be clear: This doesn’t happen everywhere across Sweden, only in Uppsala, Lund, or Stockholm, and only on specific university campuses. You can’t just show up in, say, downtown Gothenburg, start screaming, and expect folks to join you. You will just annoy the Swedes. Definitely don’t do this.

But if you ever happen to find yourself at the right Swedish university around 10 (or 11) at night and you’re feeling brave, it might be worth a shot. Maybe wait for someone else to start screaming first, though. Just in case.

Add Comments: