How to use get in the fight against bedbugs

Preparing for Treatment Against Bed Bugs

Whether you are hiring a pest management professional or trying to eliminate the bugs yourself, properly preparing your home is an essential first step. Taking these steps before starting out will help speed the process and reduce control costs.

Reduce Clutter–a Great Hiding Place for Bed Bugs

  • When reducing clutter take care that you don’t spread the bed bugs:
    • Don’t move items from the infested area to a non-infested area.
    • Place trash or other infested items directly into plastic trash bags. When full, immediately carry the bags to an outside bin.
  • Get rid of excess magazines and newspapers.
  • Keep clothing off the floor.
  • Eliminate all cardboard boxes (the bugs can hide in the cardboard). Replace with plastic boxes, if you need the storage.
  • Get rid of clothing and other items you no longer use (but make sure they are free of bed bugs first so you don’t spread them).

Make Your Bed an Island

  • Move the bed at least 6 inches away from the wall.
  • Ensure all bed bugs, larvae, and eggs are removed from the bed, frame and headboard.
  • Place bed-bug-proof covers (often called encasements) or liners on your mattress and boxspring (available in home stores or online).
    • Take care that these covers have zippers that close completely and that they are sturdy enough to last for a year.
    • Any bed bugs trapped inside will eventually starve to death, and other bed bugs won’t be able to hide in the bed or box spring.
  • Make sure all bedding is tucked under mattress and does not touch the floor.
  • Place bed bug interceptors under each leg of the bed (available in home stores or online).
    • Interceptors will trap any bed bugs that try to climb the leg of the bed. In the beginning, you will inspect them daily.
    • Plan to use the interceptors for at least a year – they will be important to your post-control monitoring efforts.
  • Remove anything under the bed.
    • Store in the same room to avoid spreading the infestation.
    • Inspect and clean or discard as appropriate.

Clean All Items Within a Bed-Bug-Infested Living Area

  • Heat treat clothing, bedding, and other items that can withstand a hot dryer (household dryer at high heat for 30 minutes), which will kill bed bugs and eggs.
    • Washing alone might not do the job.
    • Store clean items in a sealed plastic bag to ensure they remain bug free
  • Physically inspect and clean furniture, baseboards, behind outlet and switch covers, etc. to remove visible bed bugs or eggs.
  • Use sealed plastic bags to transport any items that are being moved from one area to another (e.g., clothing or other items to be heated in the dryer).
  • Remove and clean drapes and the drapery hardware.
  • Look for bed bugs, eggs, and other bed bug evidence (e.g., shed skins, hatched eggs) on furniture and remove–this will also help in evaluating treatment success.
  • Vacuum thoroughly, then remove and dispose of the vacuum bag:
    • Seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag.
    • Place in trash outside.

Eliminate Bed Bug Habitats

  • See “reduce clutter.”
  • Caulk cracks or crevices around baseboards.
  • Repair any wallboard damage, ensure wallpaper is not loose.
  • Check electrical outlets and wall switches for evidence of bed bugs.
    • Clean if needed.
    • Tape or caulk the rims to prevent bed bugs from getting behind the plates.

Additional Information

  • Preparing Your House for Bedbug Treatments — North Carolina State University Exit
  • Preparing Your Home for Bed Bug Treatment — Michigan State University Exit

Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

www.epa.gov

Finding and Using Bed Bug Pestic >

  • Use EPA’s Bed Bug Product Search tool to help you find a pesticide product
  • Consult a pest management professional to inspect your residence and, if needed, apply approved pesticides to treat any infestation.
  • The Cooperative Extension Service office in your area can assist with choosing appropriate pesticides for your area and situation.
  • Read When Treatments Don’t Work before reapplying or trying a different product.
  • Sometimes people want to try things to control bed bugs that are not legal. See Stay Legal and Safe in Treating for Bed Bugs for more information.

EPA has registered more than 300 products for use against bed bugs. Most of these can be used by consumers, but a few are registered for use only by specially trained professionals. EPA evaluates data on the safety and the effectiveness of the products before approving them.

These 300 registered products fall into seven chemical classes of pesticides that are currently registered and widely used for bed bug control:

There is also an additional chemical class registered for a very narrow use pattern. Dichlorvos (also known as DDVP, an organophosphate) is registered as a pest strip for treatment of small enclosures.

Each chemical class kills bed bugs using a different mode of action. It can be helpful to use pesticides that differ in their mode of action because it can reduce the likelihood that the bugs will develop resistance. The following paragraphs discuss in more details each of the more commonly used chemical classes for bed bugs.

Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids: Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are the most common compounds used to control bed bugs and other indoor pests. Pyrethrins are botanical insecticides derived from chrysanthemum flowers. Pyrethroids are synthetic chemical insecticides that act like pyrethrins. Both compounds are lethal to bed bugs and can flush bed bugs out of their hiding places and kill them. However, where resistant bed bug strains exist, these treatments may cause them to move to a new hiding place or temporarily flush them out of existing locations.

Some bed bug populations have become resistant to pyrethrins and pyrethroids. Sometimes using a combination product (either multiple pyrethroid or pyrethrin active ingredients, or one that combines different chemical classes into the same product) can improve bed bug control. It can also be helpful to switch to an entirely different chemical class to control resistant bed bug populations.

Some pyrethroid pesticides come in the form of a total release fogger. See Should I Use a Fogger? for information about fogger use and safety.

Desiccants: Desiccants work by destroying the waxy, protective outer coating on a bed bug. Once this coating is destroyed, the bed bugs will slowly dehydrate and die. Desiccants are a valuable tool in bed bug control. Because desiccants work through a physical mode of action, the bed bugs cannot become resistant to desiccants as they can to pesticides with other modes of action. In addition, they have a long-lasting effect and don’t disturb normal bed bug activities.

Examples of desiccants include:

When using desiccants to control bed bugs it is critical to use those that are registered by EPA and labeled for bed bug control. Desiccants that are intended for other uses, such as food-grade or for use in swimming pools, pose an increased inhalation risk to people. Use of desiccants is limited to cracks and crevices use only to reduce inhalation risk.

Biochemicals: Cold pressed neem oil is the only biochemical pesticide registered for use against bed bugs. Cold pressed neem oil is pressed directly from seeds of the Neem tree, a tropical evergreen tree found in Southeast Asia and Africa. The oil contains various compounds that have insecticidal and medicinal properties. It is also used in making products including shampoos, toothpaste, soaps, and cosmetics. Performance trials conducted at the approved label rates show both products control bed bug adults, nymphs, and eggs.

Pyrroles: Chlorfenapyr is the only pyrrole pesticide currently registered for use against bed bugs. The compound is a pro-insecticide, i.e. the biological activity depends on its activation to form another chemical. The new chemical disrupts certain functions in the bed bug’s cells, causing its death.

Neonicotinoids: Neonicotinoids are synthetic forms of nicotine and act on the nicotinic receptors of the nervous system by causing nerves to fire continually until they fail. Because neonicotinoids use this different mode of action, bed bugs that are resistant to other pesticides will remain susceptible to the neonicotinoid.

Insect growth regulators: Insect growth regulators are chemicals that mimic juvenile growth hormones in insects. They work by either altering the production of chitin (the compound insects use to make their hard external “shell” or exoskeleton) or by altering an insect’s development into adulthood. Some growth regulators force the insect to develop too rapidly, while others stop development.

Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

www.epa.gov

Should I Use a Fogger?

While we can’t tell you whether or not to use a fogger, we can explain some things about foggers and how to use them safely to help you decide.

We register all pesticides to ensure they are safe to use, presuming you follow the label directions. This includes foggers (the full name is “total release foggers,” to distinguish them from pesticide application equipment that is designed to emit a fog-like pesticide spray, but is under the control of the user).

When and How to Use a Fogger

To use a total release fogger, you place the canister in an appropriate location, activate it, and leave the room (perhaps even leave the building if directed by the label).

Total release foggers are approved for use against a variety of indoor pests, including bed bugs. Not all foggers are labeled for use against bed bugs, so you need to read the label before purchasing a fogger to ensure you are getting one that lists bed bugs on the label.

Effectiveness of Foggers

Questions have been raised about the effectiveness of total release foggers against bed bugs. Bed bugs often hide, especially during the day. Foggers should not be used as the sole source of bed bug control. The pesticides used in total release foggers must contact the pest to kill it. If the material does not reach the cracks and crevices where bed bugs are hiding, they will not be killed.

Fogger Safety Tips and Videos

If you are considering using a fogger:

  • Read the label before purchasing it to be sure to buy a product registered for use against bed bugs.
  • Read the label before using the product, to ensure you use it correctly.
    • Only use the number of foggers required for your space. More is not better and too much could cause an explosion.
    • Turn off pilot lights and unplug appliances to reduce the potential for an explosion.
    • Leave the room or the building as directed by the label and don’t return until the amount of time listed on the label has passed.
  • View our v >

    Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

    www.epa.gov

    Do-it-yourself Bed Bug Control

    Can you treat and eliminate the bed bugs on your own? Bed bugs are challenging pests to get rid of, since they hide so well and reproduce so quickly. In addition, the egg stage is resistant to many forms of treatment, so a single attempt may not be sufficient to complete the job.

    Treating bed bugs is complex. Your likelihood of success depends on many factors, including:

    • Extent of the infestation.
    • Site-specific challenges.
      • Clutter.
      • Neighbors with infestations.
      • Ability of all of the residents to participate.

    Achieving complete control can take weeks to months, depending on the nature and extent of the infestation, and everyone will need to cooperate and do their part.

    Before starting, you should lay out all of the steps on a calendar. The following steps will help you begin:

    Keep the Infestation from Spreading

    • Anything removed from the room should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and treated.
      • Items that cannot be treated should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and left for an extended period of time to ensure any active bugs are dead (research shows variation in the length of time needed, but it can be as long as a year).
    • Empty the vacuum after each use.
      • Seal the bag and throw it out in an outdoor trash container.
    • Don’t discard furniture if you can eliminate the bed bugs from it.
    • If furniture cannot be salvaged, discard it responsibly. Destroy it so someone else won’t be tempted to bring it into their home. For example:
      • Rip covers and remove stuffing from furniture items.
      • Use spray paint to mark furniture with “Bed Bugs.”
    • Take steps to have infested items picked up as soon as possible by the trash collection agency.

    Prepare for Treatment

    Jumping straight into control is tempting, but won’t work. Preparing for treatment is essential to getting successful control. It will also help by making it easier for you to monitor for bed bugs that haven’t been completely eliminated. This preparation should be conducted whether you are doing the treatment yourself or hiring a professional.

    Kill the Bed Bugs

    • Make sure the methods you select are safe, effective and legal. See What’s Legal, What’s Not for more information.
    • Consider non-chemical methods of killing bed bugs. Some will be more useful than others.
      • Heat treatment using a clothes dryer on high heat, black plastic bags in the sun or a hot, closed car (pest management professionals have other methods that are not suitable for non-trained individuals to use).
      • Cold treatment can be successful in the home environment if the freezer is set to 0 o F. You must leave the items in the freezer at that temperature for four days. Always use a thermometer to check the temperature, since home freezers are not always set to 0 o .
      • Steam cleaners (wet or dry) can penetrate into cracks and fabrics to treat carpets, baseboards, bed frames, and other furniture. Steam temperature must be at least 130 o F, but should not have a forceful airflow (use diffuser) or it may cause bed bugs to scatter.
      • Reducing the numbers of bugs with these and other non-chemical methods is helpful, but is unlikely to entirely eliminate the infestation.
    • If needed, use pestic >Top of Page

      Evaluate and Prevent

      • Continue to inspect for presence of bed bugs, at least every 7 days, in case any eggs remained.
        • Interceptors (placed under the legs of furniture to catch bed bugs and keep them from climbing the legs; commercial and do-it-yourself versions available), traps or other methods of monitoring can be used.
      • Continue to implement preventive measures.

      For additional information, please see:

      Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

      www.epa.gov

      In this Article

      In this Article

      In this Article

      Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.

      Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime.

      Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year.

      Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.

      Where Bed Bugs Hide

      Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.

      Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.

      Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.

      When Bedbugs Bite

      Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.

      Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.

      People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.

      Signs of Infestation

      If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:

      • Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
      • Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
      • Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
      • An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands

      If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.

      Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.

      If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.

      Bedbug Treatments

      Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:

      • Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
      • Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
      • Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
      • Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
      • Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
      • Get rid of clutter around the bed.

      If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.

      Bedbug Extermination

      While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.

      Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.

      University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: “Bed Bugs.”

      Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: “Bed Bugs.”

      The New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene: “Stop Bed Bugs Safely.”

      University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Lancaster County: “Managing Bed Bugs.”

      www.webmd.com

      In this Article

      In this Article

      In this Article

      Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.

      Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime.

      Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year.

      Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.

      Where Bed Bugs Hide

      Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.

      Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.

      Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.

      When Bedbugs Bite

      Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.

      Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.

      People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.

      Signs of Infestation

      If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:

      • Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
      • Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
      • Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
      • An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands

      If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.

      Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.

      If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.

      Bedbug Treatments

      Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:

      • Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
      • Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
      • Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
      • Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
      • Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
      • Get rid of clutter around the bed.

      If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.

      Bedbug Extermination

      While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.

      Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.

      University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: “Bed Bugs.”

      Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: “Bed Bugs.”

      The New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene: “Stop Bed Bugs Safely.”

      University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Lancaster County: “Managing Bed Bugs.”

      www.webmd.com

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