Bed bugs: Do-it-yourself control options – Insects in the City

Bed bug, Cimex lectularis

Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pest problems to eradicate quickly. By far, the best solution for bed bugs is to hire a pest control company with experience successfully controlling bed bugs. Unfortunately, this can be expensive and beyond the means of many people. If you feel you cannot afford to hire a professional, and want to attempt do-it-yourself bed bug control, there are some things you can do. With diligence and patience and some hard work you have a fighting chance of getting rid of bed bugs in your home.

If you live in an apartment or condominium, its best to alert the property manager. A coordinated bed bug control effort using a pest control company is generally needed in such situations. Bed bugs readily move from apartment to apartment, with many people unaware that they have a problem. If one apartment is infested, adjoining units (left side, right side, above and below) should be assumed to be infested unless shown otherwise through inspection or monitoring. Simply asking tenants whether they have bed bugs is not enough. In one recent study only half of apartment residents whose homes were determined to have bed, bugs knew (or admitted) they had a bed bug problem.

Pesticides alone are not the answer to bed bugs. Most of the commonly used pesticides today, including professional products and consumer products advertised for control of bed bugs, are at best moderately effective at controlling these pests. Pesticides must be used with care for safety and with attention to proper application to work well. Aerosol bug bombs or fumigators are also mostly ineffective in eliminating bed bugs. Aerosol insecticides mainly kill insects that are exposed, and out of their hiding places, not those hidden behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices of the bed, under carpet edging and in walls.

A bed that has been treated, encased and isolated from the rest of the room with Climbup Interceptor cups is a safe place to sleep.

Bed bugs are flattened for hiding in cracks and crevices. This bed bug was hiding along the welting on the edge of a mattress.

A last warning

Pesticides should always be used with caution, and especially when used indoors. Never use a pesticide for bed bugs that does not bear clear directions stating that it can be used indoors. Never spray yourself, children or pets with a pesticide. And follow the label safety directions carefully. Pesticide labels contain directionsfor use that are not merely suggestions. Failure to follow directions exactly is illegal and can result in poor control and possible harm to yourself and family. For more information, see the EPA Consumer Alert on pesticides and bed bugs.

For more information about bed bugs, including their biology and how to recognize them, see other factsheets on the Citybugs bed bug page. The State of Michigan has also recently published a very detailed guide to Do-it-yourself bed bug control.Also, if you decide you need professional help, check out our advice onHow to Select a Bed Bug Control Professional, ENTO-033

Michael Merchant, Ph.D., Professor and Extension Urban Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Dallas.

Please note that I am unable respond to all questions posed in the comment section of this fact sheet. Before commenting, check to see whether your question is already addressed here, or in a link provided in this article.

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Bed bugs: Do-it-yourself control options – Insects in the City

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