What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are a flat insect about the size of an apple seed that feed on us, and more specifically, our blood. They’re usually a reddish-brown color and have been described as having a sweet, musty odor. While they are known for hiding in your sheets and blankets, they can be found almost anywhere in your house. Their small size lets them set up shop even in places like electrical outlets.
When Should I Worry about Bed Bugs?
June through October are bed bugs’ peak months typically due to the amount of traveling people do during this time. The warm weather and high humidity encourage them to feed and breed and find a nice place to settle down. With that noted, bed bugs are not really season specific, meaning that we at Humboldt Termite & Pest Control answer calls to combat bed bugs year round.
However, as a fun piece of trivia, bed bugs "peak feeding" time is from 1am-5am in the morning. Don't let that keep you up.
How Do I Know if They’re in my Home?
Bed bugs are absolutely disgusting pests and most certainly are not welcome in our homes. Below are some tips to help you spot them within your home.
- Black or Red Stains. These can be anywhere from under your mattress, in your sheets, or even between the cushions of your couch. Despite the name, bed bugs like to hang out anywhere you’re hanging out. So be on the lookout for these stains. Red stains will be slightly larger since they are the crushed remains of bed bugs while black stains are their excrement.
- Bites*. If you start noticing small, red bumps on your skin when you wake up, there’s a chance they’re from bed bugs. They look like most insect bites, but if it is a continuously happening in the early morning hours (think midnight to five am), there’s a good chance you got bed bugs. The bite marks are an allergic reaction, and it's quite often that people will get bitten by the bed bugs without actually showing marks.
- You Find the Bug Itself. If you find bed bugs or their eggs, then you know you got them. While bed bugs are easier to spot than their eggs, you'll be able to see the eggs with a close examination. Bedbug eggs are white and about 1mm long (or less than the size of pin’s head).
Another method for helping to determine if you may have bed bugs in your home is to make use of bed bug traps. These are relatively simple devices that are not effective for wiping out a full-blown infestation but can be incredibly useful for helping to determine if you do indeed have them present in your home.
*Bites: While our technicians at Humboldt Termite & Pest Control are experts in the field of pest control and are professionally trained to combat pests, we must admit that we are not experts at "bite" identification. If you have bite marks and are seeking to find out what it may be, we'd recommend talking to your doctor.
Some Potential At Home (DIY) Treatments
The simple reality of bed bugs is that they are extremely small, hard to detect, and have a nasty habit of spreading throughout a home with surprising speed. Because of the nature of bed bugs, we really cannot recommend any DIY treatment solutions.
Here's a quick breakdown of some DIY solutions that people often ask us about for how to tackle bed bugs:
- Ultrasonic Devices = Myth. The idea here is that ultrasonic devices that emit high-frequency noises will make an area uncomfortable for bed bugs. These devices have no effect whatsoever on bed bugs.
- Baking Soda = Myth. People say that by sprinkling a little baking soda around various areas that bed bugs may frequent, you can kill them by dehydrating them. This is a myth and should not be used as a method of killing bed bugs as the baking soda will break down when it comes into contact with liquid from the pest.
- Tea Tree Oil = Myth. While it may smell great, applying a sprayed solution of tea tree oil on common bed bug hot spots is not an effective solution as it only has a chance to suffocate the bugs that it hits directly. This does not solve the problem fully and leaves the window open for them to return.
If you're looking to potentially tackle bed bugs through a DIY solution, we highly recommend contacting a pest control professional first. There are many myths and urban legends surrounding do-it-yourself treatment solutions that can often cause significantly greater trouble as it temporarily slows down the pest issue rather than hitting it hard up front. This can be a larger headache for the occupants in the home during the pest infestation and even result in larger bills for professional service when the time comes.
Is There Anything I Can Do that Will Actually Work?
Hot and cold. These are the bane of a bed bugs existence. If you suspect that you have bed bugs you can try put contaminated bedding in a black bag, tied shut, and put it through the dryer on a high heat (above 140ᵒF). Or you put it in the freezer for four days. Make sure your freezer is set to 0ᵒF otherwise it might not work as bed bugs have an amazing resilience. Cold treatments are more likely to work than hot ones, but this also only works if the infestation is limited to your bedding.
One other bed bug killing technique is of course to wash your bedding so long as you do so on a high temperature. While it can be an effective method for removing the pest from your bedding, it is not a holistic solution if the bed bugs have spread to other areas of your home. Often people will attempt this process only to find the bed bugs come back once the clean bedding is back on the bed.
Diatomaceous earth is another method that can actually work. However, it's fairly common for us to receive calls from individuals who have literally coated every surface in their home with diatomaceous earth and still have the pest. A lot of this simply stems from the fact that when trying to treat bed bugs with this solution you have to make sure to effectively cover all hot spots which can be nearly impossible unless trained to find these locations. So yes, it can be effective but not necessarily the best solution.
Last, but most certainly not least, vacuum. Vacuuming is one of the most simple and effective means for bed bugs as long as the entire home, top to bottom, is hit with the vacuum. However, it's still worth noting that vacuuming can result in mixed results. It can be difficult to know if absolutely every corner of a home or sofa has indeed been thoroughly cleaned. Please remember: if you do vacuum to combat bed bugs, you must empty the contents of your vacuum in an OUTSIDE trash can! Otherwise you're simply allowing the pests access to your home again. Pest inspectors have custom-made vacuums specifically designed to combat pests that might be removed from your home, but then find a safe haven within you vacuum.
When Should I Call a Pest Inspector?
Immediately. While there are treatment options to do on your own, they are only effective under certain circumstances. And when it comes to bed bugs, complete and thorough treatment is required to effectively remove them simply because infestations can quickly grow out of control. What starts as an unpleasant souvenir from vacation can very quickly turn into 13,000 headaches within a few months.
They may not transmit disease, but bed bugs are considered a public health risk by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Environmental Protections Agency (EPA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Please call a pest inspector right away if you suspect bed bugs and don't wait to attempt DIY removal first as this can cause a relatively minor issue to escalate quickly.
While hiring a professional is not exactly cheap, it can be incredibly cost effective over the long-run and a professional technician (specifically from our team at Humboldt Termite & Pest) will be able to provide a significantly faster eradication of the pest. Just something to keep in mind when you're weighing the pros and cons of your decision.
How can we help?
At Humboldt Pest, we will provide you with a variety of solutions to effectively treat and remove any and all bed bugs that may be bothering you with minimal interruption into your life. Our team of professionals has access to specialized tools and equipment designed for the quick and efficient eradication and treatment of bed bugs.
- Step 1: Identification – We will help find the bed bugs and all of their breeding locations while providing you solutions & treatment options guaranteed to be effective.
- Step 2: Treatment – Our professional technicians will come to your home and safely treat a bed bug infestation. Our eradication methods make use of products and systems that ensure that your family will be protected.
- Step 3: Ongoing Prevention – We are proud to provide services designed to prevent bed bugs from coming back into your property and keep your commercial business thriving. Contact us today to learn more.
Remember! We offer a warranty on all of our services. If the pests come back, so do we. No extra charge. We are confident that the service we provide will keep bed bugs away. So rest easy. We're on the job.