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If you choose to perform a DIY inspection to check for bed bugs in your home, public area or hotel/motel, here are a few tips help you be as successful as possible.
We suggest these tools to assist you in inspection:
- A 10X magnifying glass
- Disposable gloves
- LED flashlight
- Screwdrivers (Flat and Phillips)
- Mirror for inspection
- Moist disposable towels
- Note Pad (to record inspection)
- Sticky tape and/or glass collection bottle
- Plastic bags for removal of items
- Change of clothing
- Bed Bug Detection Dog (if you are lucky to have one available)
Things To Remember
If a person is getting bit and suspects bed bugs it is probably safe to assume that the bed bugs will be found in the areas where the person sleeps or relaxes (i.e.) bedroom or den/living room. But do not stop your inspection thinking that you will find them only in that room.
Remember, bed bugs “hitchhike” on clothing, shoes and just about anything and can be moved easily from room to room.
Use your camera to document bed bugs as you find them and note the location of each picture. These pictures can be used as examples in your portfolio for training purposes.
Use sticky tape or glass bottle to capture your findings for proper identification and make notations on inspection ledger.
Starting Your inspection
The first thing you should do is approach your bed and pull back the blanket or comforter. Lift the bottom sheet away from the corners of the bed and check the seams. Pull the seam away to see deep in the crevice. Use the LED light and magnifying glass to look close. Always roll bedding into the center of the bed and be careful not to allow it to touch the floor. Remove bedding and place into a large plastic bag for transport to the laundry room.
After a complete inspection of the upper mattress, lift the top mattress off and set aside. Examine the box spring, corners and seams in the same way. Look where the fabric is stapled on the box spring. Lift the box spring off and check the frame. Make sure to check the mattress tag and plastic around the edges; bed bugs often hide there.
Move to the headboard and check wood, metal or fabric for tiny black spots (like the size of a poppy seed) examine behind the headboard and the footing for, castings [translucent skins] or actual bed bugs. Bed bug spots (fecal matter) are dark brown to black in color and eggs stick to the surface. You can also take a moist towel and wipe the spot to see if it smears and if so, then it may be fecal matter.
Continue to look at the nightstands and dressers alongside
Carefully remove any pictures or wall hangings on the wall behind or alongside the bed. Examine all corners, seams, and folds. Check the wall sockets by removing plates, space between the carpet and wall, digital clock, drapery folds, silk flower pots, etc. If there is a lazy chair or dressing stool, turn it over, remove the cushion[s] and check all seams and areas. If you have found any bed bugs or signs of bed bugs, remove legs from stool or chair if possible. (Look under, around and in everything)
Bed bugs like rough surfaces or raw unfinished wood as under tables and dressers. Tip or turn over these items for thorough inspection. Bed bugs don’t like the light, so they’ll be hiding in areas that are usually dark or have very low light.
Continue your inspection with each bedroom and make notations for each room. Move to rooms adjacent to the bedrooms and continue your inspection thoroughly.
How To Identify a Bed Bug
Bed bugs are very difficult to detect in their early stages so you need a keen eye and knowledge. Because of their size and lack of visibility they can hide in the smallest of spaces. You will be looking beyond just furniture and beds and carefully examining small unsuspected hidden areas and looking for “signs of bed bugs”, fecal stains, castings, eggs. Other signs of bed bugs may include a foul smell. Usually only found in serious infestations the odor has been described in a number of ways, some say it resembles spoiled raw beef, musty odor or a sweet odor such as root beer or fresh red raspberries.
What to look for: Live bed bugs in any stage of growth, fecal matter (sometimes looks like mold) and blood stains on sheets, castings of nymph growth, a peculiar odor. They may be in different stages during your investigation, from larva to any of the 5 stages of growth. Don’t be discouraged, in a short period of time you will be trained to look for certain telltale signs that improve your due diligence.
What NOT To Do
Don’t make these common bed bug mistakes! These mistakes can put your home at risk, spread the infestation and/or make the infestation harder for the professionals to treat. Always contact a professional if you have any questions!
BED BUG FOGGER/BOMBS
These are total release (meaning they release the entire product at once) and were designed for fleas and other insects but were relabeled to include bed bugs. If foggers are used then it is very likely the bedbugs will become scattered, resulting in a more difficult treatment and costs required at a later date.
Additionally, the flammable vapors from bug bombs have led to an estimated 500 fires and explosions a year according to the California Department of Pesticides. The vapors can be ignited by pilot lights (in a stove or water heater, for example), or by a spark from an electrical appliance that cycles on and off (for example, a refrigerator, air conditioner or thermostat).
These are called “contact” killers that mainly kill exposed insects. If you see a bed bug you can kill a bed bug. Problem is since bed bugs nature is to hide; these do not reach those hidden behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices of the bed, under carpet edging and in walls.
Furthermore, they will move away from the smell and scatter the bugs to other parts of the room or home. A prime example is pest control going into someone’s home and seeing bed bugs on the ceiling during early infestations. The first question they ask is who’s been spraying what?
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (DE)
DE is relatively inexpensive and works by dehydrating or drying out the exoskeleton of insects. It is not a contact killer and takes time to work. There are two big mistakes made by many people using DE; these mistakes are getting the wrong type of DE and the another is, over applying it. There are three different types of DE which include pool, feed, and food grade. The pool grade DE is very dangerous when injected or breathed into the lungs. The dust also makes heat treatments and K-9 inspections difficult or impossible, which could reduce the professional services that are offered to you.
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