It would be nice if getting rid of bed bugs was as easy as going to the grocery store, buying regular bug spray and zapping the blood-sucking pests out of existence. Manufacturers and retailers of bug sprays will tell you that it is that easy. According to them, the only thing you need to know about how to avoid bed bugs is to buy their products.
Don’t be misled. While it’s true that some sprays may kill bed bugs upon contact, you first have to make that contact. That’s an extreme challenge because bed bugs make their nests in tiny nooks and crannies.
Chances are you will have no idea where their nests are, but even if you do, you probably won’t be able to reach them with your spray can. And regular bug sprays don’t kill for long. So you can’t just spray into every crack and crevice and figure that you’ll get them. You actually have to squirt them directly, and it’s virtually impossible to do that for every bed bug in an infested home.
Another drawback to store-bought bug sprays is that their active ingredient is a synthetic pyrethroid, despite the fact that research and practical field experience by pest control specialists are revealing that bed bugs are developing a strong resistance to the pyrethroid class of pesticides. In large part this is due to governmental restrictions on the chemicals available to the general public.
Bed bugs are difficult to avoid in public places and hotels, and they can infest any home, no matter how well kept it is. But there are 4 steps you can take for avoiding bed bugs, despite their reemergence as a common pest.
Guideline for Avoiding Bed Bugs
1. Be wary of bed bugs when traveling
Inspect all hotels rooms or rental units for bed bugs before accepting them, looking not only for bed bugs but also eggs, shed skins, and brown spots, which are a sign of their excretion. Of course, pay close attention to the beds, but bed bugs can also hide in nooks and crannies in other parts of the room.
2. Take precautions when returning home
When coming back from trips, don’t bring your clothing inside without first sealing it in plastic bags. Put the clothes directly into your washer from the bags and wash in hot water that reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which will kill the bed bugs.
To avoid bed bugs getting into your home, you’ll also need to treat your luggage by heating it to 120 degrees before bringing it indoors. The easiest way to do this is to use a PackTite portable heating unit in which you can place the luggage.
3. Make your home inhospitable to bed bugs
Bed bugs like to hide far out of sight in nooks and crannies, so look over your home and make sure there are no tiny openings for bed bugs to crawl into. In addition to beds, you’ll need to check other furniture, walls, and floors.
You can also put bed bug mattress covers on your bed to keep bed bugs from crawling on you to feed as you sleep, while also trapping and killing them.
4. Don’t bring used furniture or clothing into your home without making sure it’s not infested with bed bugs
To avoid bed bugs, used clothing should always be washed, just as when returning home from a trip. Used furniture should be thoroughly inspected, making sure to check all the parts, including the underside.
Professionals Provide the Solution
If you search the Internet for objective websites about how to avoid bed bugs (e.g., government extension programs, entomology schools), you’ll find that they all recommend professional extermination for the removal of bed bugs.
Professional pest control specialists—sometimes using bed bug dogs trained to sniff out the insects and their eggs—know how to find bed bugs. And they have the chemicals, application tools, and knowledge of bed bug biology necessary to exterminate them.
You may not want to pay for a pest control specialist, but you’ll just end up paying more if you throw your money away on bug sprays.
Learn more about Bed Bug Infestation