Mattress bugs: Easy methods to stop, detect and do away with them

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Mattress bugs: Easy methods to stop, detect and do away with them

Summer is moving time in Montreal. It’s also the time of year when the most undesirable housemates – bed bugs – are at their peak.

Don Prashker is the owner of Thermapro Solutions, a Montreal-based company specializing in combating bed bugs.

He shared a few tips to keep in mind this summer, whether you’re trying to avoid bed bugs or already have them in your home.

LEAVE BRUSHED FURNITURE ON THE BOARD BEACH

According to Prashker, the easiest way to deal with bed bugs is to stop them from entering your home in the first place.

The insects are particularly common in apartment buildings, as they can easily migrate from one unit to the next — but they can also hitchhike from far-flung places.

A common mode of transportation is used furniture, which can be a big gamble when it comes to bugs, especially when that furniture is curbside pickup.

A day of moving in Montreal means mountains of furniture and other discarded items lining the streets. (Touria Izri/CTV News)

“There’s a lot of furniture left out on curbs and corners,” he said. “People literally collect that and bring it into their own homes, and that’s a great way to get bed bugs.”

THE TRUTH IS IN THE POOP

But what about the furniture you already own – how can you tell if there’s a problem?

“Bed bugs always leave their business cards, and that’s their poop,” says Prashker.

“These are little black dots, like someone took a toothbrush, dipped it in ink and kind of sprayed it on the mattress.”

(file image)

These speckles often appear at the seams of the mattress or even on bed sheets.

If you’re moving to a new location, look for these telltale stains around baseboards and electrical outlets, as their presence could indicate an infestation that has been around for some time.

Sometimes insects migrate to these areas after the furniture has been sprayed with over-the-counter treatments, Prashker explains.

LEAVE THE DIY METHODS

Speaking of which, Prashker says do-it-yourself treatments should be avoided whenever possible.

He says the trick to getting rid of bed bugs is to lure them, not repel them, which is why he recommends professional heat treatments over traditional chemicals.

“Please use caution when using over-the-counter products,” he said. “They tend to be repellents and you don’t want to repel bed bugs. That just shifts the problem from one unit to the next.”

Instead, he recommends hiring professionals who can pump heat into rooms and “literally cook” their contents, killing the bugs.

“Bed bugs are instinctively attracted to heat, so they come for heat treatment,” he explains. “We just keep turning the heat up everywhere until it’s universal, and the bed bugs have nowhere to go.”

When moving to a new location, renters should be on the lookout for signs of past treatments, he says.

“If you see any pesticides or residue or traps, those are good signs to ask the landlord what was going on.”

REACT FAST

Act as soon as you see the signs, advises Prashker.

“The sooner you get a grip on a bed bug problem, the easier it is to solve,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to kill five of them than to kill 5,000 of them.”

What if you don’t address it immediately?

“Within three months you will have an infestation. Within six months you will have more eggs than bugs.”

DESTROY THE STIGMA

The best way to prevent bed bugs from spreading, Prashker says, is to combat the shame that comes with them.

“There’s a lot of psychological stigma to this problem,” although bed bugs don’t necessarily indicate poor hygiene or a dirty home.

He says the reluctance to openly discuss the issue is hampering the implementation of protocols that could slow the spread.

For example, if a child has lice, the school administration sends a letter to the parents to let them know – but the same measures do not exist for bed bugs.

“So kids come to school if they have bed bugs in the home, and three other kids are now bringing them home too.”

–With files from Touria Izri from CTV