We talked to multiple entomologists and exterminators to get a complete picture on bed bug infestations. What can be done to prevent your house from getting infested, and DIY and professional ways to get rid of them. Here are some of the questions we asked, and the answers we got from these experts. At the end of this resource, you can find the names and websites of the people we talked to in the reference section.
How do you get bed bugs?
A bed bug infestation can turn a house upside down. Lack of sleep, irritation from bites, and even just knowing you have creepy crawlies in your bed can be enough to drive someone mad. We wanted to find out exactly how bed bugs make it into homes, even new homes, with no prior infestation.
What the experts told us may surprise you. According to Michael, “Unlike cockroaches and flies that feed on filth, there is often no relationship between bed bugs and cleanliness. Since the bugs feed solely on blood, pristine dwellings can be as vulnerable to infestation as are places of squalor.”
While it may seem that bed bugs show up out of thin air, they are usually brought into homes on luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. Philip said the same thing, “Bed bugs travel from one infested home to another by hitch-hiking on personal belongings such as suitcases, backpacks, etc… and occasionally on your clothes.”
They can easily crawl into your luggage while you’re in a hotel, and hitchhike back to your house where they will multiply and become a pest.
Another common cause is buying or picking up used furniture, clothing or even wheelchairs! All those thrifty people out there who frequent used clothing and furniture stores may want to rethink their decision. Andrew agreed with this, and suggested care when buying used furniture, “People may bring bed bugs into their homes in luggage or on clothes after visiting an infested dwelling or hotel… You may also inadvertently bring bed bugs into your home on infested bedding or furniture.”
It may surprise you that bed bugs may also be found in clean homes, as there is no connection between an infestation and cleanliness. And once they’ve made it into your house, they can crawl from room to room on their own.
How can you tell if your home is infested with bed bugs?
The most common way to know if you have bed bugs is by unexplained bites on your body. According to Philip, “The most common way that people figure out they have bed bugs in their house is through unexplained bites. Bed bugs feed on blood and commonly bite people while they sleep at night. If you wake up with unexplained bites that commonly show-up on the arms, shoulders, neck and face it may be a sign that you have bed bugs. That being said, 30% or more of the population doesn’t react to bed bugs which means you’d have to find evidence of the bugs themselves to identify the problem. The bugs commonly infest the box spring or underside of the couch but are very small in size. Bed bug monitors (also known as interception devices) such as SenSci Volcano, BlackOut Bed Bug Detector, Climbup insect interceptor, and others can help with identifying bed bugs in your home.”
Andrew confirmed this theory, “The presence of raised wheals, blisters, rashes, or any other dermal symptom associated with arthropod bites should never be used for diagnosis, since several household pests are known to bite humans, and since reactions vary widely between individuals. You can confirm a bed bug infestation only by detecting the pests themselves or their signs, which include fecal spots, blood spots, egg cases, and shed skins (exuviae).”
Here are ways you can easily spot signs of a bed bug infestation, according to the experts.
Bed bugs leave behind rusty or reddish stains on mattresses or bed sheets. These are a result of bed bugs being crushed at night. You may also see dark spots about the size of a pinhead, which are bed bug excrement.
Eggshells may also be found on the bed, which are about 1mm in size, and pale yellow skins that the nymphs shed as they get larger. And of course, you may spot some live bed bugs too.
Look for these around the bed, around the seams on the mattress, in cracks on the bed frame and headboard. A heavily infested room will have bed bugs in the seams of couches and chairs, on the curtains, in drawer joints, in appliances, under loose wallpaper and even under screws.
How fast do bed bugs multiply?
You’ll be surprised at how fast one bed bug in your home can turn into an infestation. The experts say that a bed bug goes from an egg to a mature adult in just 45 days, and lay upwards of 200 eggs in their lifetime. Philip summarized this perfectly for us, “Bed bugs hatch from an egg and go through 5 immature life stages before molting into an adult. In an average situation it takes bed bugs 45 days to go from egg to adult.”
As mentioned, during its lifetime, a bed bug goes through many life stages; eggs, 1st stage nymph, 2nd stage nymph, 3rd stage nymph, 4th stage nymph, 5th stage nymph and adult. The only thing a bed bug needs to go from stage to stage is a meal.
While they breed faster in summers, according to experts most females lay between 1 and 3 eggs per day, and 200-500 eggs in her lifetime (which may be up to one year). Andrew confirmed this as well, “Female bed bugs lay 200 to 500 tiny (1/20 inch) white eggs during their lifetimes, usually two to five eggs per day, on rough surfaces such as wood or paper near their hosts’ sleeping places, resting places, or both.”
So under favorable conditions, the egg-to-egg lifecycle can take as little as four to five weeks, and you could have a full blow infestation in just a few months.
How do you get rid of bed bugs?
Experts suggest an integrated approach to pest management when dealing with bed bug infestations. This means you will need to use a combination of techniques that work together to get rid of the problem. It may be smart to consult with a professional, as there are many tools they will have access to that every home does not.
Philip details all the things you should do, “Treating for bed bugs involves many different tools such as pesticides (both liquid and dust), vacuums, steamers, bed encasements and interception devices applied in fashions that best address bed bugs infesting the home. While pesticides make up an important part of a bed bug treatment protocol, due to resistance to pesticides incorporating non-chemical tools into your treatment protocol is important. Two of the most important tools may be bed encasements and interception devices. Bed encasements enclose the box spring and mattress and lock bed bugs in and keep bed bugs out which dramatically simplifies treating beds. Interception devices are placed under and around the bed legs and capture bed bugs as they move around a home.”
All the experts we talked to suggest a number of ways you can start tackling this issue on your own, beginning with clearing clutter from your home. You may then put bedding and clothing in the dryer at high temperature for 30 minutes to kill all the bed bugs. Buy some mattress and box spring encasements to trap bed bugs, and place interception devices under the bed’s legs to trap bugs as they move around the house.
Dini insists home owners stop looking for a magic formula, as an integrated approach is the only thing that works, “While most people would like to have a pest management professional come to their home and spray a magic potion that eliminates bed bugs forever, no such potion exists. Bed bugs are highly resistant to a number of insecticides, and their eggs are impervious to most insecticide formulations. Complicating the situation further is the human host. Many people live in highly cluttered environments providing bed bugs with many places to hide. Boxes, books, stuffed animals, and electronic equipment cannot be treated with insecticides so there are many safe locations where bed bugs find refuge. This is why we cannot rely on insecticides alone to cure bed bug problems.”
If you hire a professional, they will heat infested rooms and articles to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes to kill the adults and eggs. This is much more effective than any DIY method. According to Andrew, “Confirmed bed bug infestations should be managed by trained professionals. Managing a bed bug infestation is a difficult task that requires removing or treating all infested material and follow-up monitoring to ensure the infestation has been eliminated. Management will require employing several nonchemical methods such as vacuuming, drying bedding at a high temperature, using steam or heat treatment, and sealing up hiding places.”
Similarly, freezing can also be used to get rid of bed bugs, but you will need to keep the articles at below zero degrees Fahrenheit for 4 days to kill the bugs. This is not always possible in home freezers.
Do you need to throw away mattresses and bed linens in order to get rid of a bed bug infestation?
All the experts agreed that in 95% of cases, mattresses and linens need not be discarded. Andrew says that heat is an effective treatment, “For suspected infestations in clothing or bedding, a home laundry drier at the hottest setting can be effectively used to deliver the necessary heat. At least 10 to 15 minutes exposure will be needed. Before using this method, consider whether heat will damage the fabric.”
You can almost always put your linen through a hot drying cycle for at least 30 minutes to kill off any bed bugs that may be on them, there is no need to throw them away. Dini agrees with this, “It is completely unnecessary to throw away bed linen given that you have access to an electric dryer. The heat from the dryer kills all bed bugs and their eggs. We don’t even recommend washing the linens but just using the dryer if simply killing bed bugs is the goal. That is because the time and expense is just greater if you wash first.”
The only time experts recommended throwing something away is if it is falling apart, or so heavily infested that it may be cheaper to replace it instead. Philip confirms this, “In 95% or more of bed bug infestations it should not be necessary to dispose of furniture. There are many tools that can be used to address bed bugs infesting furniture and the only two situations where disposal may be advised is if the furniture is old and falling apart or it is so heavily infested it will be cheaper to replace the furniture (and speed up service). Bedding can be placed in a hot dry cycle which will kill all eggs and bugs on it.”
How do you stop bed bugs from coming into your home?
Considering how hard it is to get rid of bed bugs, experts agree that it is best to avoid letting them into your home in the first place. While this may prove to be nearly impossible, it is a great way to reduce the chances of an infestation in your home.
“There is no way to truly prevent bed bugs. The best way to prevent introducing them to your home is to become familiar with what bed bugs look like so you can identify an infested piece of furniture before it makes it into your home. Beyond that, conducting periodic inspections to identify infestations early on will make any infestation much easier to treat. You can also install bed encasements and interception devices (monitors) in your home to help identify a bed bug infestation as early as possible,” said Philip, urging home owners to be prepared to tackle the bed bug issue before it gets out of hand.
Experts suggest vigilance when buying new or used furniture and even bedding. Examine these items carefully before bringing them into your home. Used clothing should be first dried at a high heat cycle to kill all bed bugs and eggs upon bringing it into your home. Amelia suggests you take action right away if you think you have been in contact with bed bugs, “If you think you have come into contact with bed bugs, immediately dry your clothing on the hottest setting the fabric can withstand, or store them in a sealed plastic bag until you are able to do so. Shoes, bags and other objects can also be put in the dryer for 30 min; at medium-high temperature or the highest temperature the material can tolerate, to kill bed bugs.”
When traveling, it is recommended that you keep your suitcases elevated off the floor on a stand or table. If you discover bed bugs in your hotel room (which you should always examine before you settle in), ask the hotel to change your room as the infestations may not be hotel-wide. Once you’ve returned home, place all your clothing in the dryer.
Here are the experts who have contributed to this resource, along with websites and Twitter handles where provided.
|Michael F. Potter||https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/person/michael-potter|
|Dr. Dini M. Miller||http://www.ento.vt.edu/people/tenure/miller-dini/|
Imagine yourself on a hot night this summer, curled up on your bed of satin sheets, reading the latest steamy novel, a box of decadent chocolate truffles by your side. Just perfect. Somehow flannel sheets just don’t work in that scenario.
Beyond their reputation for passion, sensuality and opulence, satin sheets also have a practical side. They work well all year round, but they are especially nice in the warmth of summer. Satin is the ultimate cool material, perfect for hot, sticky nights.
Here is a look at why satin sheets are the best choice for keeping you cool in the warmer months, and expert tips for making your entire bedroom comfortable on the hottest nights.
Why Is Satin Good for Summer?
Using the right sheets can make getting sleep on summer nights much easier. Silk satin sheets are breathable, cool and smooth even during hot weather. Here is a look at how satin sheets can assure you of a good night’s rest.
Breath-ability. According to the Huffington Post, natural fibers have the best breath-ability, helping to wick away moisture. Silk has what is called hygroscopic fibers, which are able to absorb 33% of their weight in moisture and still feel dry. And even damp silk dries quickly in the air. This is important because, according to sleep studies, the average person can sweat up to a pint of moisture in a single summer night.
Silk satin is the most luxurious of the natural fibers and it also helps to regulate your body’s temperature. When you feel cool during the night, you sleep better.
Lightweight. Silk is one of the lightest of all fabrics. It gently drapes evenly over your body, much like a tent. It allows enough circulation to keep you cool. Heavy sheets, duvets and blankets do just the opposite. They sit heavily on your body, hitting certain pressure points. The result is a hot night, lots of perspiring and little sleep.
Lots of colors. White and light colors work best for your sheets during the summer. They reflect back the light that pours in through your bedroom windows. This is better than dark colors, which absorb the light, heating up the sheets. Since satin sheets come in a wide range of colors, both light and dark, you can choose the appropriate hue for each season, as well as for your décor.
Cool feel. The glossy look of satin sheets is matched by their cool feel on your body, even in hot weather. Satin made with silk is thermo-regulating, meaning it keeps your body at a comfortable temperature naturally. If night sweats are a problem at any time of the year, silk is the fabric to sleep in.
To make it even nicer during the hottest days, pull back the top sheet, turning on the air conditioner and let it run for awhile before bedtime. This actually makes your bed feel chilled when you hit the sack.
Anti-allergenic. Scientists are entirely sure why, but few people are allergic to silk. And satin sheets made with silk don’t use allergy-causing chemicals in the manufacturing process, which increases the risk of unhealthy reactions. In addition, the fabric has natural properties that fight off fungus, dust mites and mold, all serious allergens.
Anti-tangle. When you use satin sheets in summer, your hair is less likely to tangle. And in fact, this is true of the sheets as a whole, which seldom tangle around your body. Tangling is what you want to avoid. When sheets do wrap around your body, they trap heat, which leads to sweating.
What Are Other Ways to Keep Cool on Summer Nights?
Satin sheets are the perfect first step for a summer’s worth of comfortable sleeping. To keep your entire bedroom cool, air conditioners are the easiest solution.
But they aren’t always available. If that’s the case in your bedroom, don’t despair! To make your bedroom cooler, here are tips from hot weather experts that work even without air conditioning.
- Invest in a hot water bottle. In summer, fill it three-quarters full with cold water. Then stick it in the freezer for a few hours. You will have the perfect ice pack, made for the bed, to keep you cool all night long.
- If you have ceiling fans, make the most of it. Be sure to adjust the controls so the blades move counter-clockwise. This helps to pull heated air up, out of your bed area. Otherwise, it simply moves the hot air around your bed and the rest of the room.
- Use ice. Buy ice from the grocery store. Or fill old milk cartons with water and freeze. Use these for a D-I-Y air conditioner by putting a big pan of ice in front of your box fan. The breeze will gather the cooling from the ice and spread it around the room. And the breeze it makes will pick up cold moisture from the melting water, adding a cool mist to your bedroom.
- Use cross breezes. If you have more than one fan, set them up blowing in different directions. This will create cross breezes that add to the chill in the room.
- Wear the right PJs. Summer isn’t the time for thick, tight pajamas. Choose loose, soft cotton, just a shirt and shorts, or your underwear.
- Keep your feet bare. There are numerous pulse points in your feet, so they are very sensitive to temperature. Don’t wear socks to bed.
- Use rice and buckwheat pillows. Make the most of your satin pillowcase by using it on pillows filled with these grains. They don’t absorb heat like cotton or down.
- Turn off all lights and electronics. Light bulbs add heat to a room. Electronics can keep you active and moving around in the bed. This increases your activity level and the chances for sweating. Just try to go to sleep.
Enjoy summer with satin sheets, the perfect solution for comfortable sleep on hot nights. They are an excellent investment in relaxed, deep sleep and your overall health.
When it comes to typical bedroom trimmings, nothing is more criticized than a bed skirt. Created with a variety of different fabrics and materials, bed skirts wrap around the bottom of the bed, hiding both the box spring and the bed frame from view. Although these accessories have the potential to really enhance the look and feel of a bedroom, they can often be difficult to put on and take off. In order to install a bed skirt for the first time, it’s necessary to take off the entire mattress and align the bed skirt just-so on top of the box spring so that the fabric hangs at equal length on all four sides. Then the process must be repeated when the skirt is taken off for washing. Not only is taking the entire mattress off the bed cumbersome and awkward, but aligning the bed skirt to hang in an attractive way is, more often than not, a tedious process. Some people even prefer to ditch a box spring bed entirely, opting for a wooden frame bed, so that they don’t even have to think about using a bed skirt.
But one company, Ashton, has thought up an innovative solution to this problem: They’ve created a unique bed skirt alternative that is far easier to remove and install than ever before. Instead of producing these trimmings from one big piece of fabric designed to be sandwiched between the mattress and the box spring, Ashton produces skinny panels of fabric that can be velcroed around the bottom of the bed. The result is a product that saves both your time and needless frustration. When you need to wash and iron an Ashton bed skirt, there’s no need to lift up the entire mattress to remove it. Just peel off the four velcroed tabs and place the panels in the washing machine: it takes two minutes. By removing the long sheet between the mattress and the box spring from their product, a piece called ‘the deck’ by designers, the Ashton company has found a very practical and simple solution for the the bed skirt conundrum. This product, known as the Ashton detachable skirt ensemble, is available in a variety of colors, from black and white, to muted grays and beiges and greens. It’s also possible to choose from a variety of drop lengths, so no matter if your bed is tall or short, you can take advantage of Ashton’s solution.
What is a bedskirt exactly, and what’s the point of one?
Why install a bed skirt in the first place? These accessories has always had a practical as well as aesthetic function. Bed skirts, also known as dust ruffles, were historically used to keep cold drafts out from underneath the bed back in the days where heating wasn’t always available in a home. These days, bed skirts are mainly used for keeping dust from accumulating under the bed (hence the secondary name ‘dust ruffles’,) as well as for beautifying design purposes. Bed skirts hide the under frame of the bed, including the metal legs, frame, and the box spring, giving a bed a more attractive appearance. Mixing and matching the color of the bed skirt with the color of the bedspread can also be used to enhance a look in the bedroom, coordinating a design as you see fit. Bed skirts are also available in two traditional styles: gathered and tailored. A gathered bed skirt is created with ruffled fabric that is sewn to create stylish folds and pleats. A tailored bed skirt is more simple, with straight and proper fabric, and no visible frills. Choosing a bed skirt depends on your taste, and on the effect you want to create in your bedroom. But whatever style you choose, when it comes to installing the bed skirt, the practical velcro bed skirts options created by Ashton can make things a lot easier for both your time and patience level.