Why Are Bed Bugs So Hard To Get Rid Of?

We’ve all heard the tales of bed bug infestations and what they can mean to the average homeowner. Although these parasites don’t carry disease or anything quite as harmful as that, no one wants them in their home. The problem is that bed bug removal can be quite difficult.

Why are these pests so hard to get rid of? Let’s take a look at a few factors.

They are quite small

what size are bed bugs

Bed bug exterminator with bed bug in his finger.

If you’ve ever seen a bed bug, you know what we mean. Even though bed bugs go through several life cycle stages, they are quite small in each stage. Thankfully, they’re not microscopic, and they are visible to the naked eye, but that’s little comfort. The fact is they can often be difficult to see, even when you know what you’re looking for. Because of this, bed bugs often go unnoticed in a person’s home. Until the biting begins, of course.

They are fantastic hiders

A bed bug’s size not only makes them hard to spot, but also enables them to hide in small spaces where you might not even think to look. Many people believe that they are limited to furniture, hence the name “bed bug.” But in reality, they can be located in various places around your home. In fact, they love to hunker down inside your walls — completely hidden from view — until they’re ready to feed. The worst part is that this ability to squeeze into tight spots means that spraying poison and using bug bombs will often do nothing to eliminate the pests, because the poison will never reach them.

They aren’t part of a colony

Some types of household bugs, such as ants and termites, are a part of a colony. The advantage with a colony is that, in many cases, you can eliminate all of the pests at one time. Termites build a home inside your basement or other area of your home where wood is plentiful. An ant colony will be located outside most of the time, but even if you don’t know where it is, you can use ant traps wherein the little critters take poison back to their colony for dispersal. Bed bugs are often spread out, however, which means you must painstakingly check every nook and cranny of your home.

Signs of bed bugs

Can You See Bed Bugs During the Day? Where do They Hide?

Many bed bug infestations go unnoticed until their numbers are extremely large, you may wonder how this is possible, but bed bugs are great at staying hidden from the human eye. If you are not actively searching for something, then it is much more likely you will not notice it at all. Bed bugs are small, flat pests that are usually dark brown to black in color, often compared to the appearance of an apple seed. These small pests are also nocturnal, staying less active during the day and actively feasting at night.

Bed bugs are known to hide in areas like the crevices of couch cushions, the seams of mattresses and sheets and even throughout carpet fibers. At night, they will crawl out of these hiding areas, search for a host, which is usually you or a family member sleeping comfortably in bed, sink their jaws into your skin and begin sucking your blood.

bed bug fecal matter on mattress

Bed bug fecal matter on mattress

Signs of Bed Bugs on Mattresses, Sheets, Wood Furniture & Other Areas of Your Home

Just because bed bugs are difficult to spot doesn’t mean that there are not signs and clues they leave behind. There are a handful of signs to look for when searching for bed bugs besides waking up with bed bug bites.

When you are cleaning your sheets, inspect them closely and your mattress as well for any sign of small blood spots.

These small blood stains are a strong indication that bed bugs are in your home. Bed bugs that are engorged with your blood can leave blood spots on your sheets or your mattress while they are leaving the area, or sometimes you may even roll over a bed bug in your sleep, killing it and causing a small blood splatter to occur.

Bed bugs also leave behind a foul odor that has been compared to mold, coriander and sometimes even dirty socks. The strongest sign that bed bugs are in your home is when you wake up with a line of bites somewhere on your body. Bed bug bites can be very irritating and can take some time to go away as well.

 

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs In Clothing

Knowing how to get rid of bed bugs in clothing also helps keep the nasty pests out of your home in the first place. One of the causes of the sharp rise in bed bug infestations is travel. Many travelers pick up bed bugs in their clothing in hotels and then bring them into their homes.

Whether you already have them or are being wisely preventative, the following steps are effective in getting rid of bed bugs in clothing.

Wash all your clothes in hot water.

Temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit kill all stages of bed bugs, so this simple step gets the job done. Washing should be done immediately after returning from a trip because bed bugs will quickly spread from clothing to other areas of your home. It’s a good idea to bag all clothing taken on a trip before bringing it into your home at all.

Take your clothes to a dry cleaner. 

This is a fail-safe (but relatively expensive) way to ensure there’s no exchange of bed bugs between clothing and your home. Using a dry cleaner also allows for treatment of dry-clean clothes you can’t wash at home.

Use a clothes dryer. 

If you have dry-clean-only clothes that aren’t dirty and you don’t want to pay for unnecessary dry cleaning, you can run them in a clothes dryer for 10 to 15 minutes on medium-high. This shouldn’t hurt your clothes, but it’ll kill any bed bugs. After you’re done, be sure to bag the lint in the lint trap and dispose of it outside.

how to get rid of bed bugsThe “sun and plastic bag” treatment.

Place the clothing in a sealable plastic bag, along with a thermometer. Put the bag in the sun (perhaps in your car if you’re absolutely sure it’s securely sealed) for several hours until the temperature reaches 120 degrees.

Portable heating units.

These products allow you to place clothing into them for heat treatment. You can even put luggage directly into them before unpacking. This ability is significant, because bed bugs can also live in the luggage itself.

How to get rid of bed bugs: The DIY Approach

Pre-Treatment:

The first step is to determine all the places the bed bugs might be hiding. This might involve removing any clutter, dismantling bed frames, and emptying drawers and cupboards. Use a flashlight and be thorough in your search for bed bugs. This will help to make sure no areas go untreated. Be sure to vacuum all personal items to get rid of bed bugs that might be hiding.

Bed Bug Infestation in the wall of a Brooklyn Apartment

Bed Bugs hiding in a wall crack

Treatment:

Launder all bedding, garments, curtains, and other fabric items in water that is at least 120° F since bed bugs cannot survive this heat. Scrub all surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge bed bug eggs. Vacuum all areas, including cracks and crevices of furniture and baseboards. Be sure to get rid of the vacuum cleaner bag or rinse out the bagless canister with extra hot water. Use caulk to seal up as many of these areas as possible. You may need to treat the mattresses and furniture with insecticides.

Post-Treatment:

Wrap all mattresses with a mattress encasement or with a mattress liner, which will kill any bed bugs that got away during the treatment process and will continue preventing infestation in the future. Continue to inspect on a regular basis as you change bedding and clean house, and especially when returning home from a vacation. Diligence is the best post-treatment strategy.

Don’t do this when getting rid of bed bugs:

Don’t waste your money on store-bought insect sprays

They don’t work. To kill bed bugs, the spray would have to come into direct contact with the bed bugs. But by their nature, bed bugs nest in the remotest of places, in cracks and crevices far out of sight and far out of reach of sprays. Even if you manage to reach bed bugs, store-bought sprays have little residual strength.

Don’t use bug bombs or foggers

Household bug bombs/foggers are intended for flying insects, not bed bugs. And not only are they ineffective, they can make your bed bug problem worse. Although it doesn’t kill them, the fogging does irritate bed bugs, causing them to scatter—often into places that were not previously infested!

Don’t use products not intended for pest control

Garden pesticides, alcohol, kerosene, and gasoline might seem like a good idea for getting rid of bed bugs yourself, but they are all dangerous. Garden pesticides are toxic to humans and pets, while alcohol, kerosene, and gasoline are highly combustible. Some people try boric acid, but it’s a waste of time and money because it must be eaten to be effective, and bed bugs eat only blood.

Hire a professional

While most people think that getting rid of bed bugs is just about the treatment, one of the most important aspects of any bed bug strategy is to pinpoint exactly where the bugs are so that the treatment methods utilized can be the most effective possible. It doesn’t help to just treat the bed and bedding when, in actuality, the insects may largely be in the baseboards, floorboards, and closet. A bed bug dog inspection company uses man’s best friend and the incredible canine sense of smell to provide a very accurate assessment of the bed bug infestation. If you feel like you are losing the battle and your strategy just does not seem to be working, professional help is always available to help get rid of bed bugs.


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