Killing bed bugs yourself can be a daunting task. They can hide under base boards, the back of dresser drawers, behind light switches … just about anywhere. The adult bed bug is about the size of an apple seed and flat, until they feed that is. While bed bugs are not a heath danger (do not carry or transmit diseases), they are enough to keep you awake at night just thinking about them. A single bed bug bite can easily be mistaken for a mosquito bite and written off as such giving them time to multiply. Once you find one you can be assured that there are hundreds if not thousands more.
In the long run, a full blown infestation might require a professional exterminator. After all, how many is to many? Before you decide to take action, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Bed bugs can live a year without feeding on a hosts blood (usually you). An adult female can lay 200 – 500 eggs in her lifetime. It generally takes an egg 50 days to mature. So whether you're a do-it-yourselfer or hire a pro, it will take several treatments and constant observation. With that said … If the problem has not gotten to far out of control there are several ways to win the fight against bedbugs. The first 3 listed here are required no matter what you do next
1 * Wash everything in site in the hottest water you can find. Begbugs start dying off at around 114 degrees F. Then use a dryer on its hottest setting. Not out on the line to air dry. Temperature is key. In hot, dry climates (Phoenix for example) it is just as effective to out your bedding and cloths in a black garbage bag and set it out in the sun for an afternoon.
2 * Vacuum. Vacuum every corner, crook and cranny. Vacuum the drapes, the box springs, the furniture, etc. Vacuum like your life depended on it. Bed bugs are not dirty critters. They do not care about crumbs or old food like cockroaches. But they need vacuumed up and then take the whole vacuum cleaner outside to change bags … Vacuum again.
3 * Steam Clean. Now that you have their attention, combine # 1 and # 2. Put hot, HOT water in the steam cleaner and go over the room again.
4 * Just as effective as heat is, cold works also. Problem is that it needs to stay below freezing for 2 weeks to work.
5 * Biological warfare. Prior to WWII beg bugs were all but eliminated. Around that time the government outlawed DDTs. Sense then there numbers have been rising and forced tamer chemicals and traps. There are numerous chemicals on the market but nearly all of them are not intended to touch the skin. These are best meant for non-traffic areas, box springs, drapes, etc.
6 * Mattress Bags. Depending on the level of bedbug infestation, your best bet may be to discard the mattress all together. For milder cases, the chemicals from # 5 can be sprinkled on and injected into the mattress before you seal it in a waterproof mattress bag. They start at about $ 60 and go up depending on the size needed.
7 * Diatomaceous Earth. This is the alternative to harsh chemicals. It is an all natural powder ground up from little tiny fossils of single-celled algae. They even put it in dog food as a preservative. On a microscopic level it has jagged edges that cut and kill the bedbugs as they crawl across it. Basically it is just dirt.
8 * Traps and Tape. This is more for monitoring but flypaper, roach traps and the like will allow you to keep tabs on how effective your efforts have been so far. And then from any shipping supply store you can pickup double sided sticky tape to wrap around the sides of the mattress. Yet another way to trap and monitor bed bug traffic.
9 * Thyme and tree leaf oil. These are a repellent more then anything else. It does not kill them. They get a whiff of it and head the other way. But remember that bed bugs can live a year without feeding so they are still reproducing.
10 * Neem. Neem oil and neem extract. If you find that you have been attacked by bed bugs, this will sooth the itching and moisturize the skin. Matter of fact it is good for the skin whether you have bed bugs or not. Bonus is that it keeps the bedbugs off of you while sleeping.
There we have 7 ways to kill bed bugs and a few ways to monitor your progress in controlling bed bugs. The more you combine the above recommendations the better luck you will have before the need for an exterminator. Just a work of warning though … if you do break down and need to hire an exterminator, they will ask you to clean up anyway before they even show up. Get rid of clutter. 'Ziplock' bag all cloths, bedding, sheets, and so on. Vacuum and basically do everything mentioned above in 1 though 3.
In closing, know that before you begin, it will take weeks and months of constant cleaning, washing, monitoring, vacuuming over and over again to successfully kill the bed bugs throughout there whole life cycle. And hopefully you can catch it before it spreads through out the house. All it takes is a couple of stowaways in the laundry, luggage, sleeping bags or any fabric that you tote around.