STATEN ISLAND, NY — If you’re itchy, have tiny red bite marks, and smell weird odors — you probably have bed bugs.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are many tips to keep bed bugs out of your home.
Here are 10 tips to prevent or control bed bugs, according to the agency.
1. Make sure you really do have bed bugs
You can compare your insect to the images on the EPA website. You want to make sure the bugs aren’t fleas, ticks, or other insects that would require other control or prevention measures.
Adult bed bugs are generally:
- About the size of an apple core (5-7mm or 3/16 – 1/4 inch long);
- Long and brown, with a flat, oval body (unless recently fed);
- Balloon-like, reddish brown and more elongated (when recently fed);
- A “real beetle” (features of real beetles include a three-segmented beak; antennae, which are made up of four parts; wings not used for flight; and short, golden-colored hair); and
- Stinking, with a “musty-sweet” odor produced by glands on the underside of the body.
Young bed bugs (also called nymphs) are generally:
- Smaller, translucent or whitish-yellow color; and
- Unless recently fed, it can be almost invisible to the naked eye due to its color and size.
2. Don’t panic
Getting rid of bed bugs can be difficult, but it’s not impossible, says the EPA. So don’t throw away all your belongings; Most of them can be treated and saved.
Throwing things away is also expensive, can spread bed bugs, and cause more stress.
3. Think through treatment options
Don’t just grab the spray can to get rid of bed bugs. Try other options first, says the EPA.
Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques can reduce bed bug numbers and limit your exposure to pesticides. If pesticides are needed, always follow label directions or hire a professional, the agency said.
4. Reduce the number of hiding spots
The next step is to clean up the clutter, because a messy home offers more hiding places for bed bugs. It makes them harder to locate and treat.
“If bed bugs are in your mattress, use special bed bug covers [encasements] on your mattress and box spring makes it harder for bed bugs to get to you while you sleep,” the EPA explains. “Leave the encasements on for a year. Be sure to purchase a product that has been bed bug tested and is strong enough to last year round without cracking.”
5. Wash and dry your sheets, blankets, bedspreads, and clothes regularly
The EPA says this reduces the number of bed bugs. The pests and their eggs can also hide in laundry bins and baskets, so remember to clean them out when you do laundry.
6. Do-it-yourself freezing may not be reliable
While freezing can kill the pests, temperatures must remain very low for long periods of time. Therefore, home freezers may not be cold enough to kill bed bugs. Putting things outside in freezing temperatures could kill bed bugs, but there are many factors that can affect the success of this method, the EPA notes.
7. Kill bed bugs with heat
If you try this method, be very careful. Increasing the internal temperature with the thermostat or space heaters is not enough – therefore, successful heat treatment of bed bugs requires special equipment and very high temperatures.
Black plastic bags in the sun can kill bed bugs in luggage or small items if the contents get hot enough. To kill bed bugs with heat, the room or container must be hotter than 113 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure sustained heat reaches the bed bugs no matter where they hide
8. Don’t give your bed bugs to others
Bed bugs are good hitchhikers, traveling from one place to another. So if you throw away a mattress or furniture infested with the pest, cut it open or destroy it in some way so no one picks it up and gets bed bugs.
9. Vacuum bed bugs
Thorough vacuuming can get rid of some of your bed bugs. Try to thoroughly vacuum carpets, floors, upholstery, bed frames, under beds, around bed legs, and any cracks and crevices in the room.
You should change the bag after each use to keep the pests from escaping, and discard the used bags in an outside trash can.
10. Turn to the professionals
The EPA says that hiring an experienced, responsible pest control professional can increase your chances of success in eliminating bed bugs.
If you hire an expert, make sure they are from a reputable company and require that the IPM approach be used.
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