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Bed Bug Control
Unfed bugs are 1/4 to 3/8 inch long
The bed bug has a sharp beak that it uses to pierce the skin of the host. It then begins feeding, injecting a fluid which helps in obtaining food. This fluid causes the skin to become swollen and itchy. Bed bugs are nocturnal, that is, they feed at night, often biting people who are asleep.
Management consists primarily of finding places where the bed bugs hide in the daytime and cleaning these sites as thoroughly as possible. Where are bed bugs found? Hiding places can often be discovered by keeping an eye out for black or brown spots of dried insect excrement on surfaces on which the bed bugs rest. Eggs, eggshells and cast skins may also be found in resting places. Early in an infestation bed bugs are likely to be found only about the seams, tufts or folds of mattresses or daybed covers, but later they spread to crevices in the bedsteads. In severe infestation they may be found behind baseboards, window and door casings, pictures and picture frames, in furniture, loosened wallpaper, cracks in plaster and the like.
Management should focus on mechanical methods such as vacuuming, removing or sealing loose wall surfaces (wallpaper, paint, etc.), caulking cracks and crevices, and other hiding places. A thorough cleaning may need to be done more than once as eggs may be missed, or bugs may be well hidden during the cleaning process. Vacuum the mattress, especially paying attention to tucks and along seams where bedbugs like to hide. Be sure to remove and seal the vacuum cleaner bag immediately after cleaning. Place the vacuum cleaner bag into a plastic garbage bag, tightly seal, and discard. (The effectiveness of steam cleaning has been questioned, because the mattress quickly absorbs the heat and the bedbugs are not harmed.) In addition, one may put a zippered mattress cover, such as is used for dust mites, on the mattress. This traps any bugs inside. However, effectiveness of this method depends on the thoroughness with which the slats, springs and frame are cleaned. If bedbugs are still in the frame, they may crawl over the mattress cover to reach a host. If they are trapped in the cover, and none are left on the frame or other places in the room, the biting should cease. Bed bugs can live a long time without a meal, so it is best to leave the cover on the mattress for at least a year.
After thorough cleaning be sure the bed is moved away from walls so it does not touch them. You may want to coat the bed legs for 3 or 4 inches with something to prevent bugs from crawling up into the bed. Petroleum jelly is sometimes used for this purpose, but put something under the legs in case it drips. Remove dust covers, and keep bed covers and blankets up off the floor.
If the infestation is severe, or you are unable to get control with other methods the services of a pest management professional is a good idea and may be needed.
If you decide to treat yourself, apply a household insecticide that is labeled for bed bug control. Insecticides registered for homeowner use for bed bug control in the home include cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, diatomaceous earth, silica gel or permethrin. Apply to hiding places around baseboards, moldings and floorboards. Caution: DO NOT USE ANY INSECTICIDE ON A MATTRESS - unless the label specifically discusses application to a mattress. Most household sprays are not suitable for application to mattresses. Some people would rather discard the mattress, which is fine, but you may also consider putting a dust mite cover on it as described in mechanical control above.
If an approved spray (for mattresses) is applied to treat a bed:
Spray the slats, springs and frame. Apply enough spray to wet thoroughly. Do not miss any crevices where bed bugs may hide.
If a mattress must be treated, spray a light mist to the entire mattress. Open seams, tufts and folds. REMEMBER: Only use a spray labeled for application to mattresses. Material should be thoroughly dry before use.
Mattress marked by dark spotting and staining, which is the dried excrement of the bugs
Bed Bug Bites