Bed Bug Pest Control Management
Bed Bug Pest Control Management
DIY - DO IT YOURSELF
EPA has developed a Bed Bug Product Search tool to help you find a product that meets your needs.
You can search for a product by its:
* Name * Company * EPA-registration number * Where you can use the pesticide * Pesticide type
When Treatments Don't Work
If the goal is to eliminate bed bugs, the job has to be done correctly. Bed bugs are so small that they can live in a crack the width of a credit card, increasing the control challenge. Using pesticides as part of a control strategy must be done properly for the treatment to work. When a pesticide treatment does not completely control the bed bugs, there may be many reasons for this failure, including:
- Not finding all the bed bugs; Inadequately preparing area (failure to remove clutter, seal cracks and crevices, etc.)
- Overlooking treatment of any of the known resting areas (bed bugs may rest or hide in hampers, bed frames, even furniture)
- Failing to treat adjacent areas where bed bugs may have migrated (adjacent rooms or nearby apartments in multi-dwelling housing)
- Disregarding recommended label rates (applying pesticides at too low a rate may not kill bugs and may speed up development of resistance to that chemical)
- Not following up on treatment in an appropriate timeframe (many pesticides will not kill eggs, so treatment must be repeated after the eggs hatch or the infestation will not be controlled)
- Not allowing enough time for a pesticide to work (some pesticides, such as desiccators or growth regulators, may be very effective but take some time to kill the population)
- Bed bugs' becoming resistant to a specific type of pesticide (as insects, such as bed bugs, are exposed to a pesticide over time, the most susceptible ones are killed first, and only the less susceptible ones are left to breed, so that relative effectiveness of the pesticide rapidly diminishes).
Resistance is only one of many possible causes of a treatment failure. Because of the potential for resistance, it is always important for homeowners and others trying to control bed bug infestations to use pesticides appropriately and according to the label.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. This information, in combination with available pest control methods like pesticides, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
IPM methods for bed bugs include:
- Inspecting infested areas, plus surrounding living spaces
- Checking for bed bugs on luggage and clothes when returning home from a trip
- Looking for bed bugs or signs of infestation on secondhand items before bringing the items home
- Correctly identifying the pest
- Keeping records – including dates when and locations where pests are found
- Cleaning all items within a bed bug infested living area
- Reducing clutter where bed bugs can hide
- Eliminating bed bug habitats
- Physically removing bed bugs through cleaning
- Using pesticides carefully according to the label directions
- Following up inspections and possible treatments
- Raising awareness through education on prevention of bed bugs
- Wash and dry bedding and clothing at high temperatures to kill bed bugs.
- Heat infested articles and/or areas through to at least 113 ºF (45 ºC) for 1 hour. The higher the temperature, the shorter the time needed to kill bed bugs at all life stages.
- Cold treatments (below 0 ºF (-19 ºC) for at least 4 days) can eliminate some infestations. Again, the cooler the temperature, the less time needed to kill bed bugs.
- Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements to trap bed bugs and help detect infestations.
Pesticides are one component of a comprehensive strategy for controlling bed bugs. Currently, there are over 300 products registered by EPA for use against bed bugs – the vast majority of which can be used by consumers. Several classes of chemicals are utilized in these products -- each class share a similar mode of action, or way in which the chemical affects the biological functions of a bed bug.
If you find that a particular chemical treatment seems to be ineffective, please read When Treatments Don't Work before reapplying or trying a different product. You may want to consult a pest management professional to inspect your residence and, if needed, apply approved pesticides to treat any infestation. For assistance with choosing a pesticide registered for consumer use, you may also check with the Cooperative Extension Service office in your area.
Preventing Bed Bug Infestations
Bed bugs are very successful hitchhikers, moving from an infested site to furniture, bedding, baggage, boxes, and clothing. Although they typically feed on blood every five to ten days, bed bugs can be quite resilient; they are capable of surviving over a year without feeding.
A few simple precautions can help prevent bed bug infestation in your home:
- Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation, as described above before bringing them home.
- Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs which eliminates many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement makes bed bugs easier to see. Be sure to purchase a high quality encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasements regularly for holes.
- Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
- When traveling:
- In hotel rooms, use luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor.
- Check the mattress and headboard before sleeping.
- Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully.
Top Ten Bed Bugs Tips
- Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas or ticks or other insects
- Don't panic
Eliminating bed bugs is difficult, but it is not impossible. Don't throw out all of your belongings; most of them can be treated and saved. Throwing out belongings is costly, may spread the infestation, and could be unnecessarily stressful.
- Think through your treatment options -- Don't immediately reach for the spray can
Be comprehensive in your approach. Integrated pest management techniques may reduce bed bug populations and limit pesticide exposure to you and your family. If pesticide treatment is needed, it is best to bring in a professional. There is help available to learn about integrated treatment options.
- Reduce the number of hiding places -- Clean up the clutter
A cluttered home provides more places for bed bugs to hide and makes locating and treating for them more difficult. If bed bugs are in your mattress, using a mattress/box spring encasements makes it more difficult them to get to you while you sleep. To be effective they must be left in place for a year. Be sure to buy a product that has been tested for bed bugs and is strong enough to last for the full year without tearing.
- Frequently wash and heat-dry your bed linens
Wash bed spreads, and clothing that touches the floor to reduce bed bug populations. Bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry containers/hampers so clean them when you do the laundry.
- Do-it-yourself freezing is not usually reliable for bed bug control
While freezing can effectively kill bed bugs, temperatures must remain extremely low for an extended period of time. Home freezers typically are not cold enough to kill bed bugs. Freezing temperatures outside may be used to kill bed bugs, but can take several days (at 0oF) to almost a week (at 20oF).
- High temperatures can kill bed bugs
Raising the indoor temperature with the thermostat or space heaters won't do the job, though. Space heaters must always be used with care, as they have the potential to cause fires and serious burns. Specialized equipment and very high temperatures are required to successfully heat treat a structure. Black plastic bags in the sun might work to kill bed bugs in luggage or small items, provided the contents become hot enough (approximately 110oF for at least 3 hours).
- Don't pass your bed bugs on to others
Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. If you throw out a piece of furniture that is harboring bed bugs, take steps to destroy the item so that no one else adopts it (along with the bugs!).
- Reduce populations to reduce bites
Thorough vacuuming reduces populations. Carefully vacuum rugs, floors, under beds, around bed legs, bed frames, and all cracks and crevices around the room. Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. Change the bag after each use so the bed bugs can't escape. Place the used bag in a tightly sealed plastic bag and in an outside garbage bin.
- Turn to the professionals, if needed
Hiring an experienced, responsible pest control professional can increase the likelihood and the speed of success in eliminating bed bugs from your home. If you hire an expert, ensure it is company with a reputable history and ask them to use an IPM approach. (53 pp, 42mb, About PDF) Contact your State pesticide Agency for guidance about hiring professional pest control companies.
Bed Bug Pest Control Management