Bed Bugs: Prevention, Sanitation, and Removal
In the past decade, bed bugs have begun making a comeback across the United States; they are starting to be considered a major pest. International travel and commerce are thought to facilitate the spread of these insect hitchhikers, because eggs, young, and adult bed bugs are readily transported in luggage, clothing, bedding, and furniture. Bed bugs can infest airplanes, ships, trains, and buses. Bed bugs are most frequently found in dwellings with a high rate of occupant turnover, such as hotels, motels, hostels, dormitories, shelters, apartment complexes, tenements, and prisons. Such infestations usually are not a reflection of poor hygiene or bad housekeeping.
The first step in keeping a bed bug free home is prevention. It is important to carefully inspect clothing and baggage of travelers, being on the lookout for bed bugs and their telltale fecal spots. Also, inspect secondhand beds, bedding, and furniture. Caulk cracks and crevices in the building exterior and repair or screen openings to exclude birds, bats, and rodents that can serve as alternate hosts for bed bugs.
A thorough inspection of the premises to locate bed bugs and their harborage sites is necessary so that cleaning efforts and insecticide treatments can be focused. Inspection efforts should concentrate on the mattress, box springs, and bed frame, as well as crack and crevices that the bed bugs may hide in during the day or when digesting a blood meal. The latter sites include window and door frames, floor cracks, carpet tack boards, baseboards, electrical boxes, furniture, pictures, wall hangings, drapery pleats, loosened wallpaper, cracks in plaster, and ceiling moldings. Determine whether birds or rodents are nesting on or near the house. In hotels, apartments, and other multiple-type dwellings, it is advisable to also inspect adjoining units since bed bugs can travel long distances.
Sanitation measures include frequently vacuuming the mattress and premises, laundering bedding and clothing in hot water, and cleaning and sanitizing dwellings. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag, seal tightly, and discard in a container outdoors-this prevents captured bed bugs from escaping into the home. A stiff brush can be used to scrub the mattress seams to dislodge bed bugs and eggs. Discarding the mattress is another option, although a new mattress can quickly become infested if bed bugs are still on the premises. Bed Covers such as Protech-a-Bed should be used on both the mattress and the box spring.
Repair cracks in plaster and glue down loosened wallpaper to eliminate bed bug harborage sites. Remove and destroy wild animal roosts and nests when possible.
After the mattress is vacuumed or scrubbed, it can be enclosed in a zippered mattress cover such as that used for house dust mites. Any bed bugs remaining on the mattress will be trapped inside the cover. Leave the cover in place for a year or so since bed bugs can live for a long time without a blood meal.
Something simple like a climb-up may be used at each bed leg to prevent bed bugs from climbing up onto the bed. Sticky traps or glueboards may be used to capture bed bugs that wander about. However, the effectiveness of these traps is not well documented.
Residual insecticides (usually pyrethroids) are applied as spot treatments to cracks and crevices where bed bugs are hiding. Increased penetration of the insecticide into cracks and crevices can be achieved if accumulated dirt and debris are first removed using a vacuum cleaner. Avoid using highly repellent formulations, which cause bed bugs to scatter to many places. Dust formulations may be used to treat wall voids and attics. Repeat insecticide applications if bed bugs are present two weeks after the initial treatment since it is difficult to find all hiding places and hidden eggs may have hatched.
Do not use any insecticide on a mattress unless the product label specifically mentions such use. Note that very few insecticides are labeled for use on mattresses. If using an appropriately labeled insecticide on a mattress, take measures to minimize pesticide exposure to occupants. Apply the insecticide as a light mist to the entire mattress, opening seams, tufts, and folds to allow the chemical to penetrate these hiding areas. Allow the treated surface to completely dry before use. Do not sleep directly on a treated mattress; be sure bed linens are in place. Do not treat mattresses of infants or ill people. Alternatives to using an insecticide on a mattress are discussed in the 'Sanitation' and 'Trapping' sections.
No insecticides are labeled for use on bedding or linens. These items should be dry cleaned or laundered in hot water and dried using the "hot" setting.
Bed bugs are a nuisance to New York City and Long Island residents, but with proper precautions and procedures, they can be eliminated from your home. Contact Magic Exterminating today for a free onsite estimate.