Bedbugs: Facts, Bites, Infestation and Remedies

09 Jun 2017 7:55 AM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)

Bedbugs lurk in cracks and crevices and they've been living on human blood for centuries. Though they aren't known to transmit disease or pose any serious medical risk, the stubborn parasites can leave itchy and unsightly bites. However, bedbugs don't always leave marks. The best way to tell if you have a bedbug infestation is to see the live, apple-seed-size critters for yourself. Unfortunately, once bedbugs take up residence, they can be difficult to exterminate without professional help.

Appearance, lifestyle and habits
Bedbugs are flat, round and reddish brown, around a quarter-inch (7 millimeters) in length. The ones that typically plague humans are the common bedbug Cimex lectularius and the tropical bedbug Cimex hemipterus.


A few decades ago, bedbugs were somewhat of a novelty in developed countries. But since the early 2000s, infestations have become more common in places like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A 2013 study in the journal Nature Scientific Reports suggested that bedbugs have evolved ways to resist insecticides.

The creatures don't have wings and they can't fly or jump. But their narrow body shape and ability to live for months without food make them ready stowaways and squatters. Bedbugs can easily hide in the seams and folds of luggage, bags and clothes. They also take shelter behind wallpaper and inside bedding, box springs and furniture. The ones that feed on people can crawl more than 100 feet (30 meters) in a night, but typically creep to within 8 feet (2.4 m) of the spot its human hosts sleep, according to the CDC.

Bedbugs reproduce by a gruesome strategy appropriately named "traumatic insemination," in which the male stabs the female's abdomen and injects sperm into the wound. During their life cycle, females can lay more than 200 eggs, which hatch and go through five immature "nymph" stages before reaching their adult form, molting after each phase.

Identifying and treating an infestation
You should look for traces of the insects in the folds of your mattresses, box springs and other places where they are likely to hide. You might be able to find their papery skins, which get cast off after molting and look like popcorn kernels but are smaller and thinner. They also leave small, dark-colored spots from the blood-filled droppings they deposit on mattresses and furniture. If you can touch the spot with a water-soaked towel and it runs a rusty, reddish color, you're probably looking at a fresh drop of bedbug feces.

Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Find the Infestation
One of the first steps to completely eliminate all traces of bed bugs is to find all the infested areas. The US Environmental Protection Agency recommends carefully checking the seams of mattresses and other soft furnishings in your home. Examine the spaces between cushions, your mattress and bed frame. Don’t forget to check drawer joints, behind loose wallpaper, and even in electrical appliances. Any space the thickness of a credit card is a potential home for bed bugs.

Use a vacuum cleaner
Using a vacuum cleaner to suck up the bed bugs is a very effective and simple method to eradicate bed bugs. To make sure and get rid of any eggs around the seams of your mattress, use a stiff brush to loosen any eggs from the material. Regarding bed bug control, the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews says that vacuuming can quickly get rid of a large number of bed bugs and their eggs. When using a vacuum cleaner to control bed bug infestations, it’s essential to use a disposable bag. As soon as you have vacuumed the infested area, remove and seal the bag before disposing of it.

Freeze items
Kill bed bugs in smaller items by placing them in a freezer. Although bed bugs can’t withstand freezing temperatures, they can live for up to a year in a cool room without any food sources. To naturally kill the bedbugs you need to place infested items in a freezer that has a temperature below 1°F (-17°C) for at least 2 hours.

Hot steam
Hot steam is a great home remedy to destroy bed bugs and their eggs without damaging the environment. The hot steam method for bed bug eradication can get rid of bed bugs from small crevices and cracks. The steam can also penetrate through the mattress lining and eradicate bug infestations inside the mattress. Scientists have found that bed bugs are quickly killed when exposed to temperatures above 140°F (60°C). If you have a steam cleaner, you can use that to get rid of bed bugs fast without using harmful chemicals.

Hot wash bedding and clothing
You can also get rid of bed bugs from infected clothing and other fabric items by placing them in the washing machine and wash them at a temperature of over 60°C. This is probably one of the easiest natural ways kill off bed bugs from clothing and other items.

Use a hot dryer

After putting infested items of clothing or bed linen through a hot wash, you should dry the items in a dryer set to a hot setting. This will make doubly sure that the bed linen is sterilized from bed bugs. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD recommends the hot wash and hot dryer method to de-infest fabric items like curtains, bedding, shoes, and stuffed toy animals from bed bugs. You could also use a hair dryer together with your vacuum cleaner to drive bugs out of crevices. Set the hair dryer to the hottest setting and direct into the crack. The hot air will kill the bed bugs and also force them out. Any bug not killed by the hair dryer can be sucked up with the vacuum cleaner.

Encase mattresses and pillows
Another natural way to prevent bed bugs from biting during the night and stop them infesting other areas is to encase mattresses and pillows. Encasements for mattresses, spring boxes, and pillows are tightly woven covers that prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping. The encasements should be kept on for at least a year to ensure that all the bed bugs die naturally. The National Pesticide Information Center recommends using encasements to protect beds from bed bug infestations. In addition to encasing bed items, they also recommend placing bed bug traps under bed legs to stop bed bugs crawling up.

Other Remedies to Eradicate Bed Bugs Naturally

Tea tree oil insecticide spray - The insecticidal properties of tea tree oil make it a great natural treatment to get rid of bed bug infestation. You can use the homemade spray to kill off bed bugs in hard to reach places, like cracks, crevices, and furniture joints. A study from 2014 found that a tea tree oil solution is an effective and natural insect repellent and also acts as an insecticide. To make a natural insecticide with tea tree oil, put 20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle filled with water and shake well. Spray liberal amounts of the natural insecticide in all areas where you think bed bugs are living. Use the tea tree oil spray daily until all the signs of bed bugs have disappeared completely. Remember to shake well before each application. Tea tree oil is also a great natural remedy to cure any skin itching caused by bed bugs.

Lavender oil pesticide spray - similar to tea tree oil, lavender essential oil can be used to make an effective natural pesticide spray to kill bed bugs. The insect-repellent properties of lavender oil are toxic for bed bugs but completely safe. One study into the effect of essential oils and their use for insect and bug control found that a combination of lavender oil and peppermint oil effectively kills off insects. Lavender oil also helps to destroy insect eggs and larvae as well as repelling bed bugs. Peppermint oil also has a strong repellent action. Add 10-15 drops lavender essential oil and 10-15 drops peppermint oil to a spray bottle filled with water and spray in areas infested with bed bugs. Use the natural pesticide spray daily until you no longer have any signs of bed bug infestation. Shake well before each application.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) for bed bug control is a natural and safe insecticide to eliminate bed bugs. Diatomaceous earth powder helps to kill off bed bugs by causing them to dehydrate because it destroys their outer protective membrane. Because vacuum cleaners may not remove all bed bugs in deep crevices, diatomaceous earth is an excellent way to control bed bugs and prevent further infestation. A study into the use of diatomaceous earth in bed bug eradication found that it is a safe, non-toxic way to rid bed bugs. Even though diatomaceous earth (DE) is slow acting, the study found that this was an advantage. This is because the bed bugs transfer the powder to other bugsand help to distribute the natural insecticide to their habitats. The study found that within 40 days, 80% of all the bed bugs had been killed. Complete eradication was achieved in 12 days. To naturally eliminate a bed bug infestation with diatomaceous earth, dust the powder around all areas where bed bugs may be hiding. Repeat the process every 3 days for 2 weeks to ensure complete removal of all the bed bugs.

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