The last two weeks I have had two separate calls on problems with bed bugs. While bed bugs may sound like a death threat if you have them, they can be controlled with the correct measures. These little insects are found worldwide in all living situations. The following article was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency:
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. (Extension agents are trained in pest control issues and know your local area.)
2. Dont panic!
It can be difficult to eliminate bed bugs, but its not impossible. Dont throw out all of your things, because most of them can be treated and saved. Throwing stuff out is expensive, may spread the bed bugs to other peoples homes and could cause more stress.
3. Think through your treatment options Dont 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. 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 wont 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 reach 45C (113F). 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. Dont 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 cant 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 its 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, EPAs Citizens 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.
If you would like more information, you can visit the EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs.
Elysia RODGERS is the
agriculture and natural resources director for the Purdue University Cooperative ExtensionService in DeKalb County.
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