Keep these tips in mind when addressing bed bug infestations.
The resurgence of bed bugs has caused more than the creepy little blood suckers to come out of the woodwork. Some self-proclaimed pest control professionals and marketers are trying to take a bite out of your wallet by peddling products that claim to prevent or remedy bed bug infestations.
In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — one of the federal agencies responsible for managing the bed bug problem — reports an increase in the number of individuals and companies making unrealistic claims about their abilities to control or eradicate the pests.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, urges you to be cautious when shopping for products and services related to bed bug infestations to avoid being sucked dry financially — and possibly making the problem worse.
Bed Bug Basics
Bed bugs are good hitchhikers, riding into homes in and on luggage, furniture, bedding or clothing. Once inside, the pests like to hide in small cracks and crevice — behind your bed's headboard, in the seams and tufts of your mattress and inside the box spring, along baseboard cracks, and behind wallpaper. The presence of bed bugs has little to do with cleanliness, although clutter can provide good hiding places and make them difficult to treat.
Bed bugs do not transmit diseases, but their bites can become red, itchy welts. Bed bugs typically feed on blood every five to 10 days, but can live for a year or more without eating. They also can withstand a wide range of temperatures from nearly freezing to almost 113°F.
The Tell-Tale Signs of Bed Bugs
Adult bed bugs are oval, wingless and have a rusty red color. They have flat bodies, antennae and small eyes. Check out these photos. They are visible to the naked eye, but often hide in cracks and crevices. So when you clean, change bedding or travel, look for other signs that they may present, like:
Treating Bed Bug Infestations
Experts agree: Bed bug infestations are difficult to control, and no one treatment or technique has been found to be effective in all cases. Still, bed bugs can be controlled through a combination of techniques known as integrated pest management (IPM) — an environmentally sensitive approach that includes prevention, monitoring and limited use of chemical pesticides. In fact, some populations of bed bugs have developed resistance to common pesticides, making some sprays ineffective. Alternative treatments include heat and steam. Bedding, clothing and electronic items shouldn't ever be treated with pesticides, but can be treated with heat.
If you try to control bed bugs on your own with pesticides, choose products that are intended for that purpose. The EPA has a bed bug product search tool that can help you choose a product that meets your needs.
Before you use a pesticide, read the label. Never use a pesticide indoors that is intended for outdoor use. Using the wrong pesticide or using it incorrectly can make you, your family and your pets sick. It also can make your home unsafe to live in. Never spray pesticides on top of mattresses, sofas and other upholstered furniture, or in areas where there are children or pets.
What about using bug bombs or foggers? Many bed bugs are resistant to the pesticides used in these products. In addition, these products do not reach cracks and crevices where bed bugs reside. So, while experts agree that bug bombs and foggers can kill bed bugs, they definitely shouldn't be the only control method you use.
Hiring a Professional
If you'd rather hire an expert do the job:
Preventing Bed Bug Infestations
The best way to control bed bugs is to prevent them from entering your home. Here's how:
For More Information
Contact the following agencies and organizations to learn how to control household pests.
Article provided by FTC
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