A Comprehensive Guide to Bed Bug Prevention, Detection, and Treatment

bed in bedroom bed bug treatment guide

Let’s face it. Bed bugs are a nuisance!

Bed bug infestations emerge from nowhere. And no matter how much you clean your home, they’ll get inside, moving from infested nearby properties, traveling in used furniture and luggage, or attaching to clothing or other soft items. Without an experienced bed bug extermination company to help, you’ll be overwhelmed in no time.

Many homeowners and landlords wonder, “How do bed bugs get in?” and “How can I get rid of them?” That’s what we’ll discuss here.

Coping With the Stress of a Bed Bug Infestation

With a bed bug infestation, your stress is the first thing to get under control. Bed bugs just want to take your blood, lay eggs, and create new generations. So, they’re typically a minor concern and are seldom significant health risks, though their bites can cause itchiness, redness, and swelling.

But many don’t know that the adverse effects of a bed bug infestation aren’t necessarily physical. Stress and mental anguish from bed bugs are often dismissed or downplayed, so we also must consider the emotional and psychological effects that bed bugs have on their victims.

For example, being surrounded by these parasites can trigger anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, and hypervigilance. Bed bugs also bring side effects like constant worry and feelings of shame (likely from the myth that bed bugs often frequent dirty homes).

Bed Bug Myths Debunked

When people experience something new, different, and unpleasant, they get scared and develop theories based on unfounded beliefs. The following are examples of myths followed by facts.

  • Bed bugs can fly.

Since bed bugs lack wings, they can’t fly.

  • Bed bugs reproduce quickly.

Each adult female produces roughly one egg daily, compared to the common housefly, which produces 500 eggs over three to four days.

  • Bed bugs bite only at night.

Bed bugs are generally nocturnal, but like humans, they’ll eat if they’re hungry. So even in the daytime, bed bugs will come after you. And, unfortunately, keeping a light on won’t stop them from biting.

  • Bed bugs live exclusively in mattresses.

Bed bugs actually move throughout the home, so you’ll find them on surfaces like chairs, ceilings, and molding.

  • Bed bugs prefer dirty or unsanitary conditions.

Bed bugs do not have a preference between filthy and pristine living conditions. They simply prefer any area they can eat, reproduce, and thrive.

  • Bed bugs travel on our bodies.

Bed bugs don’t cling to human hair or skin like certain other insects. They are likely to hang out on items that don’t directly contact our bodies, such as backpacks, luggage, and shoes.

  • We should bring back DDT.

DDT won’t work. When it was banned in 1972, most bed bugs were already resistant to the chemical, and today’s bed bug populations are even resistant to newer pesticides.

  • You can kill bed bugs by spraying.

With the degree of pesticide resistance in bed bugs, chemical treatments are no longer the ideal solution. Fumigation and heat treatments are more effective solutions.

Signs of a Bed Bug Presence in Your Home

If you suspect bed bugs in your home, you may recognize these warning signs:

  1. Musty odors – this odor worsens as bed bug pheromones mix with the smell of dead bed bugs, their shells, and their excrement.
  2. Bed bug bites – small, red, itchy bumps typically found on arms, hands, and legs.
  3. Marks on fabric – Unexplained red or rust-colored blood appearing as small splotches or smears on bed sheets, clothing, and pillows.
  4. Fecal marks – tiny, brown/black spots the size of a pen tip clustered near refuge areas, sheets, and clothing.
  5. Bed bug eggs – a millimeter long, oval, and pearly white – loosely attached to various household surfaces.
  6. Bed bug shells – yellow/brown, translucent exoskeletons shed by young bed bugs in various sizes during their molting cycle. These are sure signs of a bed bug infestation.
  7. Live bed bugs – tiny, flat, reddish-brown insects the size of flaxseed – they generally gather in tight cracks and crevices and can be mistaken for other small insects.

If you see any of these signs, call a bed bug exterminator immediately!

Bed Bug Prevention Tips

The saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is never more apt than for bed bugs, wherever they’re found. The EPA suggests several precautions to help prevent bed bugs from infesting your home. These include:

  • Vacuuming frequently
  • Reducing clutter
  • Practicing vigilance when using shared laundry facilities
  • Inspecting second-hand furniture before bringing it home.

Can Mattress Covers Prevent Bed Bugs?

Mattress covers prevent bed bugs from getting inside mattresses (or box springs) and hold them inside to avoid bites. A plain, light-colored mattress cover makes it easier to spot bed bugs. Mattress covers also extend the mattress’s lifespan and protect against allergens. You might also consider a mattress cover that has been pretreated with a pesticide.

Bed Bugs in Multi-Unit Dwellings

A major problem with multi-unit property infestations is bed bugs in wall voids. This occurs when a single unit is treated, but surrounding ones are overlooked. Sometimes, the infestation source is a neighboring unit.

Many property managers want to avoid alerting other tenants about infestations, so they withhold the information. Wishing to forego bed bug treatment costs, owners might choose in-house maintenance staff over professional bed bug control. Unfortunately, those workers may not know how bed bugs spread and how to eradicate them.

The Lifecycle of Bed Bugs

A bed bug’s life span usually lasts four to six months. However, some live up to a year without food and under cool conditions.

A bed bug’s life starts as a white, grain-sized egg. Adult females lay one to five eggs daily and up to 500 over their lifetime. Eggs are deposited in tight cracks or crevices, hatch within two weeks, and then immature bed bugs start feeding.

Young bed bugs (nymphs) undergo five molts before maturity. And though nymphs look like adults, they are smaller and not yet sexually mature. They are also yellow-white, whereas older nymphs and adults are reddish-brown.

Nymphs require blood meals to complete a molting stage. Then they molt and become adults within five weeks. Upon reaching maturity, adults often feed weekly.

Travel Tips to Avoid Bed Bugs

While Traveling

One of the most likely places to find bed bugs is in a hotel or similar lodging. Unfortunately, you don’t know who stayed there last, how much cleaning occurred before you arrived, and whether a recent bed bug treatment was completed.

So, check for these signs:

  1. A sweet or musty odor
  2. Bed bugs in the bed, blankets, sheets, pillows, and mattress pad 
  3. A mattress and box spring which has:
    • Blackish specks, which might be bed bug excrement
    • Blood specks anywhere, especially near seams
    • Discarded bed bug shells
  4. Bed bugs or their eggs in upholstered furniture 

If you find evidence of bed bugs, request another room ASAP! Make sure it’s far from the one you’re in.

At Home After Traveling

If you see signs of bed bugs or suspect you might have brought bed bugs home, promptly:

  • Wash your travel clothing in a washing machine. If that isn’t possible, place it in a hot dryer or seal it in a plastic garbage bag, securing it and leaving it closed in extreme cold or heat for a few months.
  • Dry your clothes at the hottest feasible clothes dryer setting.
  • Use a hand steamer to clean your luggage and kill remaining bed bugs and eggs.

The Benefits of Bed Bug Heat Treatments

Among the best new bed bug control technologies are systems that superheat infested rooms to eradicate bed bugs. Propane-generated heat or electric heaters effectively raise the room temperature to 135° F, which is just at the threshold of being a fire hazard.

Temperatures in cracks, crevices, and other hard-to-reach places are monitored remotely by sensors throughout the room. Once most bed bugs are gone, the circulation of heat continues for several hours to kill lingering insects and their eggs.

High heat is non-toxic and convenient. That’s why Gregory’s Pest Control prefers heat treatments over other bed bug control measures.

The Dangers of DIY Bed Bug Treatments: Leave It to the Professionals

Hiring professional bed bug exterminators is the best way to deal with a bed bug infestation. Unfortunately, no DIY bed bug treatment will effectively eliminate active infestations.

When implemented correctly, small DIY measures can help reduce the risk of future damage to your home. However, amateurs should not attempt heat treatment or any toxic bed bug treatment without help from a trained bed bug exterminator.

Use Only the Experts for Bed Bug Control!

You don’t just want to treat bed bugs; you need a dedicated bed bug company, like Gregory’s Pest Control, to do the work. As your bed bug treatment professionals in the Coral Springs area, we’ll inspect your home and offer a customized treatment plan with all the information you’ll need.

If you have bed bugs in your home or business, call us at (954) 326-8287.

Paul Gregory employee photo

Paul Gregory

Owner/President of Gregory’s Pest Control

I’m a 2nd generation pest control owner who started working for my father in 1999. I was raised in South Florida and feel blessed to call it home for my entire adult life. As a long-term Florida resident, I recognize the challenges of controlling the many different pests that thrive in our subtropical climate. In particular, I understand how difficult it can be to prevent pests from invading our homes and businesses. By helping families solve their pest problems so they can live safer, more comfortable lives, I feel I am also meeting my family’s commitment to help our community. When I’m not out fighting pests, you can find me on the golf course or out on a soccer field where I have been fortunate enough to coach soccer to kids of all ages for the past 20 years.