With endless opportunities for bed bugs to easily travel between apartments, across cities and even around the world, it’s no wonder that these well-travelled, little bugs sparks fear in many. Discovering bed bugs brings a wave and range of emotions in people. Recently, I witnessed this emotion firsthand when a friend of mine (I’ll call him “Dave”) expressed concerns that his apartment had possibly been exposed to bed bugs. Having a friend with a pest control background, Dave immediately contacted me for advice. I explained to Dave the actions he should avoid taking as well as the inspection options he would need to consider in the coming days.
Bed Bug Infestation Don’ts
- Do not start sleeping in different parts of the house or move items room to room. Once people identify that their bed is infested, they will often begin sleeping in a different bedroom or on the couch. If you move to a different area of the home to sleep, the bed bugs will find you. Changing where you sleep is likely to promote the movement of bugs throughout the structure and make it more difficult to eliminate the infestation.
- Do not temporarily move out of your residence. Even if you move out of your home, you risk bringing bed bugs with you and infesting a new area. Upon returning home they will be waiting to greet you. Remember, bed bugs can survive many months, and in some cases up to a year or more, without feeding. Although it sounds like a grim choice, it is best to continue sleeping in the infested area until the bed bugs are eliminated.
- Do not remove items from your residence. For many people, the immediate reaction to a bed bug infestation is to throw the infested items away. This is unnecessary and could possibly make the problem worse.
- As items are carried through the home to be discarded, bed bugs can fall off of the item and be spread throughout the home to uninfested areas.
- You are eliminating the harborages for these bed bugs and disturbing them, which may cause the bed bugs to find other places to live and spread the problem.
- Discarded items are often picked up by other people, spreading the problem to new areas.
- Do not use outdoor pesticides or DIY fumigation inside your home. Bed bugs are sneaky and adaptable creatures, which is why some homeowners may resort to drastic measures to remove them. Do not use outdoor pesticides in your home or try DIY fumigation techniques. The improper use of pesticides may cause severe harm to people and pets and may do more damage than good. Most commercially available pesticides are simply repellents and may only spread the bed bugs to remote areas and make the problem much more difficult to solve. Because of this, it will be hard for you to be thorough when treating the bugs.
***A Bed Bug Infestation Tip***
If you discover you have bed bugs, it is important to keep living as normal until treatment takes place. Cassadie Luedke, Batzner Bed Bug Service Specialist, says, “It is similar to when you get a cold. Yes, you can spread it around and give it to other people you come in contact with, but you have to keep living your life. And, just like cold prevention, you can also take steps to prevent spreading bed bugs. Before you plan to leave the house, put anything you are taking with you in the dryer (assuming it is dryer safe) for at least 30 minutes. When the dryer cycle is complete, get dressed and immediately leave the house.”
Visual Bed Bug Inspection
One of the very first things someone can do to confirm they have bed bugs is to complete a visual inspection on their own. There are several places where bed bugs hide and evidence they leave behind that you can look for.
- Thoroughly inspect the entire room with a flashlight, including behind the headboard, under lights, and inside dressers, drawers, sofas and chairs.
- Pull back the sheets and inspect the headboard, mattress seams and box springs, particularly at the corners, for stains, spots or shed bed bug skins.
- Look for small, white translucent eggs, cast skins and inky-dark fecal stains on the mattress.
- Look for little dots of blood or black specs that look like mold or ground pepper.
- Look for the bugs themselves, they are about the size of an apple seed and you might find them in corners or the seams of bedding.
- In seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains
- In drawer joints
- Under loose wall paper and wall hangings
- In electrical outlets and appliances
- At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet
If you are unsure or don’t feel confident conducting a visual inspection yourself, a professional can assist with a visual inspection.
Canine Bed Bug Inspection
Using canines to perform a search for bed bugs is efficient when several areas or rooms require inspection because it is less time consuming than humans searching. Using their incredible sense of smell, canines are able to detect and find live bed bugs within minutes of searching. Despite their name, bed bugs don't limit themselves to bedding. These pests conceal themselves in the depths of furniture, in upholstery, behind wallpaper and baseboards, inside walls, and behind outlets, light switches, and cable and phone jacks. Their ability to hide makes detecting them quite a challenge. That's why so many people are turning to dogs for help.
Benefits of Bed Bug Sniffing Canines
- The keen sense of smell in dogs makes them experts on bed bug detection with a very high percentage of accuracy. They can detect live bed bug scents through mattresses, inside walls and furniture. While bed bugs may lurk in nooks and crannies that are out of sight of humans, they cannot hide from a dog's sensitive nose. Thanks to their keen affinity for scent, dogs can literally sniff out the presence of both bed bugs and their eggs.
- In addition to accuracy, bed bug canines are extremely fast and efficient. Bed bug canines can easily find the areas where bed bugs reside, and detect them quicker than their human counterparts. Faster detection can speed up the treatment process and allow you to get back to business as usual. Large hotels and other facilities can be covered in a fraction of the time it takes to complete a visual inspection, giving owners peace of mind that the facility is free of bed bugs.
One of Batzner’s Canine Handlers and canines, Simon, arrived at Dave’s house the day after he called me. Dave was in complete awe that a dog could detect the tiny and often unseen bed bugs just by sniffing – and to do it so thoroughly nonetheless! After sniffing their way through the entire apartment, Simon’s inspection came out negative for bed bugs. Through my friend’s brief bed bug scare, I got a close look at how it feels to have the looming possibility of bed bugs, and Dave got a first-hand look into how a professional goes about handling a bed bug situation. It was gratifying to give Dave relief from his bed bug stress.
Important Note About Bed Bug Treatment
When bed bugs are confirmed, call a bed bug control professional. Bed bugs are NOT a do-it-yourself pest problem. The strongest defense against a bed bug infestation is with the help of a professional pest control company. Pest specialists are trained to identify the signs of a bed bugs and how to exterminate them quickly and safely. They can also recommend bed bug prevention techniques so you can avoid them in the future.