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Toolbox Tip: Bed Bugs

by Josh Vincent — last modified Aug 23, 2010 06:19 PM
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Non-chemical ways to prevent and treat bed bug infestations

Bed bugs are an emerging problem here in the Northwest, and one that we are hearing about more and more often here at NCAP. While they are not known to transmit or spread diseases, their itchy bites can be a severe nuisance for both people and pets. They can also really ruin a good night’s sleep!

Bed Bug

As with most pest issues, the best way to deal with a bed bug infestation is to prevent it. You can help to avoid bringing these critters into your home by following a few simple steps:

  • Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for signs of bed bug infestation. Clear signs include: actual bedbugs (dead or alive), small, dark stains on linens or around mattress seams, and larvae or skin casings.

  • Reduce clutter in your home.

  • In hotel rooms, use luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor.

  • Check hotel room mattresses and headboards before going to bed.

  • After travelling, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully.

Check the resources here and here for more information about preventing bed bugs from hitch hiking home with you.

If you’ve got a minor infestation in your home, here are some non-chemical control measures. Remember bed bugs are hard to control.  The faster you react the better:

  • Remove clutter from your home, especially your bedroom.

  • Use mattress covers designed to contain bedbugs.

  • Seal cracks and crevices.

  • Vacuum rugs, upholstered furniture and under beds thoroughly and frequently. Take the vacuum bag outside immediately and dispose in a sealed trash bag.

  • Wash and dry clothes and bed sheets at high temperatures (heat can kill bedbugs).

  • Store clean clothes in sealable plastic bags.

  • Monitor for bedbugs so they can be treated before a major infestation occurs.

  • Make a carbon dioxide trap.

  • Consider the use of non-chemical pesticides made with diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is comprised of amorphous silica, a mineral desiccant that kills insects through dehydration. While it can lead to respiratory problems if inhaled, it generally poses little risk in comparison to chemical pesticides.

Center for Disease Control