Bed bugs are small, oval-shaped insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Unfortunately for us, this includes humans! This article covers the signs of an infestation and how to get rid of bed bugs – including both DIY and professional methods.
Bed bugs, despite their minute size, are incredibly intelligent creatures. They use their size to their advantage and squeeze into the tiniest crevices possible in locations they know humans will spend a lot of time. Their usual hiding spots include bed frames, headboards, bedding and soft furnishings, and mattresses – which is how they earned themselves the name ‘bed bugs’.
If you think you have a bed bug infestation in your home, then you’re in the right place. Our expert guide will offer advice on identifying signs of their presence, as well as outlining the steps you can take to help prevent, manage, and remove a bed bug infestation.
While there are DIY alternatives that you can try, the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe from the threat of bed bugs is to use a pest control professional. Integrum offers chemical and heat treatment methods for bed bugs in London, guaranteed to remove bugs at all life stages.
Identifying Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
As with all pests, the first thing you need to do is identify their presence in your home. This can be a challenging task with bed bugs due to their size; adult bed bugs will grow up to 6mm long, making it even more difficult to identify bed bugs in their early stages of life. In addition, nymphs, essentially baby bed bugs, are mainly undetectable to the human eye, so it’s unlikely you will see them.
Instead, you can look out for these common signs:
- Bites – As previously mentioned, bed bugs survive by feeding off the blood of warm-blooded animals. So while you’re tucked up in bed at night, you may be a prime target for dinner! Look out for red, itchy bites on exposed areas, including your arms, neck and face. Some people may suffer an allergic reaction from bed bug bites – for medical advice, visit the NHS website.
- Blood – Another common sign of bed bugs are small spots of blood on your bedding. This could either be your blood from where you’ve been bitten or from the bed bugs if you’ve accidentally squashed them in your sleep.
- Faeces – Unfortunately, wherever they go, bed bugs will leave behind a trail of poo. Because of the size of the creatures, it can be hard to see, but look out for small brown spots on your bedding.
For further information on identifying the presence of bed bugs in your home, visit our detailed article on bed bug signs. Also, be aware that the most common signs of fleas are often confused with those of bedbugs.
Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?
If you’ve noticed signs of bed bugs in your home, you may be thinking, ‘how has this happened to me?’. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that bed bugs only inhabit dirty homes, making people feel ashamed if they notice them in their properties. However, there is no truth behind this!
You can find bed bugs in any environment where humans tend to mingle or gather in groups. Hotels are one of the most common places to come into contact with bed bugs as there are hundreds of people coming and going all the time. All it takes is one person to bring them into a room unknowingly on their luggage or clothing, and the room will soon be infested. If you’re a frequent traveller, you’re at a higher risk of bringing bed bugs home; to avoid this be sure to check the bed you’re staying in; no matter how clean the room is, a quick check could save you a lot of time, stress and money in the long run! We also recommend washing your clothing on a hot wash when you return and hoovering out your suitcases – just in case.
Bed bugs are natural survivors. They can even live up to a year without food, which means they can lay dormant for a very long time, simply waiting for a food source. Another common way they can enter your home is via second-hand furniture. We all love a bargain, but next time you bag yourself a sofa, it’s worth giving it a good look over before bringing it indoors. If in doubt, you could give it a once over with the hoover, or if you’re being extremely cautious, ask a pest control expert to give it a look.
Overall, it’s important to remember that a bed bug infestation can happen to anyone and that there is no shame in it. For example, you could get on a bus, and the seat you sit in could have a bed bug in it that will transfer onto your clothes and be carried back to your home. It doesn’t matter where they came from; the most important thing is getting rid of them as quickly as possible.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are difficult creatures to get rid of completely. They have evolved to resist most over-the-counter pesticides, making it difficult to get rid of them yourself. When dealing with a bed bug infestation, it’s vital to remove the insects at all stages of life, or they will return.
We’ve put together a few DIY methods you can use at home for getting rid of bed bugs:
- Washing – It won’t rid your entire home of bed bugs, but washing all of your clothing, bedding, curtains, shoes, everything you can, on a very high wash (60°C or above) will kill them off. You will need to be methodical in your approach and keep clean items far from infected ones – otherwise, your efforts will be futile.
- Hoovering – Again, hoovering isn’t guaranteed to rid your home of bed bugs completely and indefinitely, but it can certainly help in getting rid of them in the short term. Hoover all the areas bed bugs are likely to be, such as carpets, mattresses, bedding, curtains and any other soft furnishings you have around. Be as thorough as you can, and be sure to dispose of what you hoover up immediately.
- Bed Bug Bedding – Some retailers offer ‘anti-bed bug’ mattress protectors and bedding designed to work by trapping them in the mattress until they die. They may help keep you safe from bed bug bites, but the efficacy of these products is debatable. As previously mentioned, bed bugs can survive for almost a year without a meal which means you’d have to leave these covers on for up to a year to kill them off. They may be helpful if you suspect an infestation and are waiting for confirmation, or even in between treatments from a pest controller as a way to prevent further bites. Still, overall we don’t recommend these products.
- Freeze Clothing – As well as washing your clothes at high temperatures, you can also place the same items in a freezer. This can be useful for killing eggs left behind after washing. Temperatures below -15°C are challenging for most creatures to survive in, especially eggs. This technique can be employed alongside other methods to help ensure bed bugs have been eradicated at all life stages.
Although these methods may help in the short term, they will never completely rid your property of bed bugs. Speaking from our many years of experience, we at Integrum know just how hard it can be to deal with bed bug infestations. The only guaranteed way to keep you and your family safe is to use either heat or chemical treatments, and for this, you will require a trained technician and pest controller.
Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs
Heat treatments are the most effective way to get rid of bed bugs in your home if it’s carried out correctly by a professional. But, unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as putting the heating on and hoping for the best! To effectively kill off the bed bugs, specialist equipment is required. Just like us, bed bugs have enzymes that will denature and no longer function at high temperatures. This occurs at temperatures of around 50°C, where all the proteins and DNA in a cell will no longer work, resulting in the organism dying.
Heat treatments are the most effective method for getting rid of bed bugs as it kills all stages of life, including eggs, larvae, and pupa. Ensure that you use the services of an expert; otherwise, it could cost you a lot of money without even getting rid of the infestation. Domestic heaters will not heat a room to the temperatures required to kill bed bugs, so, unfortunately, it isn’t a DIY option. At Integrum, we have years of experience in heat treating properties, as well as the necessary specialist equipment to rid your home of bed bugs for good.
Chemical Treatment for Bed Bugs
Chemical treatments, sometimes referred to as bed bug fumigation, are also an effective way to get rid of bed bugs, as long as they’re completed by a professional. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, bed bugs have become immune to most insecticides available to the public, and so you need the more potent chemicals available to licensed professionals. Compared to heat treatments, chemical treatments can sometimes require more than one visit to rid the property of bed bugs entirely. This is because it’s a much more concentrated method that must be applied directly to all areas affected, rather than an entire room.
The most certified way to clear all traces of bed bugs from your home is to use a combination of the two: both chemical and heat treatments. However, as experienced professionals, we know that each case is different and what works in one home may not be suitable for another. Our friendly team will happily discuss your infestation with you and work out the best plan of action, so why not call today for a free quote with no obligation needed on 0204 566 5522 or email us at [email protected].