What can I do to manage a bed bug problem?

Refer to the management scheme (flow chart) listed in our bed bug documents section for guidance.

Before considering treatment, collect specimens and confirm their identity. You can use our Specimen Evaluation Form to submit a bed bug specimen to IdentifyUS for examination and we will respond with our analyses of what we (you) found. 

Managing bed bugs often requires a multi-faceted approach that generally includes cleaning, room modifications, and insecticidal treatments to the residence.

Search for signs of bed bugs - Carefully inspect bed frames, mattresses, and other furniture for signs of bed bugs and their eggs. Although dead bed bugs' cast bug skins and blood spots may indicate an infestation that occurred previously, they do not confirm that an infestation is still active. Search for live (crawling) bugs and ensure they are bed bugs before considering treating. To confirm the identity of the specimens, you may elect to use the identification and evaluation services of IdentifyUS.

Reduce clutter - This will limit hiding places for bed bugs, and reduces the number of surfaces that may need to be treated. Do not dispose of items that have monetary, practical or sentimental value. These can be treated. Do not dispose of mattresses, box springs, bed frames or other furniture. These, too, can be treated or managed (more on this below).

Thoroughly clean the infested rooms as well as others in the residence. Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs, and use a powerful vacuum to remove bed bugs from cracks and crevices. Dismantling bed frames will expose additional bug hiding sites. Remove drawers from desks and dressers and turn furniture over, if possible, to inspect and clean all hiding spots.

Mattresses and box springs can be permanently encased within special mattress bags. Once they are installed, inspect the bags to ensure they are undamaged; if any holes or tears are found, seal these completely with permanent tape. Any bugs trapped within these sealed bags will eventually die. Such encasements are less expensive than new mattresses and will make it unnecessary to treat the mattress with pesticide. Encasing mattresses, however, will not likely eliminate an infestation; some bed bugs are likely to lurk elsewhere in the residence.

To prevent bed bugs from crawling onto a bed, pull the bed frame away from the wall, tuck in bed linens so they won’t contact the floor, and create a barrier to prevent bed bugs from accessing or climbing upon the bed legs. The legs can be wrapped with adhesive tape (sticky side out), or they may be placed in dishes.

To reduce opportunities for bed bugs (and other pests) to access your apartment or room, consider caulking and sealing holes where pipes and wires penetrate walls and floor, and filling cracks around baseboards and cove moldings to further reduce harborages. Check with your landlord and /or electricians before opening any electrical switch/outlet covers.

If you own your residence, we suggest you contact a licensed pest control operator who is knowledgeable and experienced in managing bed bug infestations. Ask the pest control company for references, and ask at least a few of their customers about their experiences before you agree to any contract.

If you are a tenant, contact your property manager or landlord to discuss your respective obligations, and to agree on a plan to manage the infestation. Generally, landlords are legally required to contract with a licensed pest control operator. Check with your department of health for specific regulations that pertain to your municipality or state.

Insist upon a written integrated pest management (IPM) plan from the pest control operator. This plan should: detail the methods and insecticides to be used by the pest control operator; describe the efforts expected by you, the building manager and tenants; include copies of the labels and MSDS (material safety data sheets) for each product to be used; indicate how quickly and effectively the problem will be abated; and describe what kind of warranty, if any, that the pest control operator provides. IdentifyUS can help you with this process and will provide expert oversight on a contract basis in order to provide you with an independent and objective voice in the matter.

Because bed bugs and other pests may spread through cracks and holes in the walls, ceilings and floors, it is wise to inspect adjoining apartments on the same floor as well as those directly above and below. Those found infested should be managed, accordingly.

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