Small but dangerous: how to get rid of bed bugs in the house

If you think you will never have bed bugs in your home, we can assure you that this is a moot point. No one is 100% safe from uninvited guests. Getting rid of them is not easy, but it is possible.

The bed bug (Cimex lectularius), or house bug, is most commonly found in the home. This species has adapted well to human habitation, regardless of its sanitary condition. Bed bugs can live in conditions of sterile cleanliness or in dirty cluttered rooms – they don’t care as long as there is a source of nutrition, blood. The occurrence of other species in the home is extremely rare.


On average, a bedbug does not seem to live long, 12-14 months. But this is one individual. And they form colonies very quickly: in such a short life span, a female may lay 250-500 eggs, which in 30-40 days become imago, i.e. adults capable of reproduction. It is not difficult to imagine what the house will look like in a few months if no drastic measures are taken to fight them. The diet of bed bugs consists exclusively of blood, preferring human blood. If they cannot obtain it, they attack warm-blooded animals, such as pets, mice, rats and birds. They lead nightlife, and during the daytime hide in nooks and crannies, usually not far from their beds.

What are the dangers of bed bugs

Insect allergy. Depending on individual susceptibility, the reaction can vary in severity from skin rash and runny nose to bronchospasm and anaphylactic shock. Moreover, direct contact with insect is not required, touching dropped after molting shells or excrement (even crushed to dust) or inhalation of their smallest particles is enough.

Various diseases. Many pathogens of the most severe diseases – typhus and plague, hepatitis B and leprosy, syphilis and tuberculosis, tularemia and brucellosis, smallpox and anthrax – have been found in the body and waste products of bed bugs. Not a single case of infection through a bedbug bite has been documented, but there is no reason to be optimistic. The air in our homes seems clear and clean, but in every 1 m³, invisible to the naked eye, hover 200-300 mg of tiny particles of dust, including infected products of bed bugs. When breathing all this “goodness” gets into the body – and whether the immune system can cope with such a formidable adversary, no one knows.

No less dangerous is getting such dust on open wounds (even micro-scratches are an open gateway for infection). There is no evidence that bed bugs carry the immunodeficiency virus. However, no one has taken the liberty of asserting otherwise, so the question remains open.

Problems of psychological nature. If a person does not get a good night’s sleep, he becomes irritable, absent-minded, aggressive. After a week or two, sleepless nights lead to stress, and that is not the worst thing. Many are unable to control the panic attacks that arise from the mere thought that there are insects in the room. And if you add to this fear of being bitten and infection, insectophobia is on the doorstep. It is worth noting that acquiring a phobia is much easier and faster than getting rid of it.

Mosquito bites sore and scar on child legs sitting on bed

How bed bugs get into the house

  • Unfortunately, no one is safe from uninvited guests. To help you understand how easily bed bugs can get into your home, here are a few examples.
  • Hotels, trains, airplanes, saunas, cafes, cinemas – any of these places you may encounter starving bed bugs that have fallen off the clothes of their former owners.
  • Furniture, books, home appliances, and clothes bought off-hand.
  • From a nearby apartment, especially if the landlord has gone on vacation or decided to get rid of insects in a radical way – with powerful insecticides.
  • From a dry-cleaner or laundry, if there are clean and dirty things lying next to each other (there have been precedents).
  • With pets: occasionally bed bugs “move” on cats and dogs.

Where bed bugs hide

They usually don’t go far from where they feed, so look for them near sleeping places – beds, sofas. Favorite places are mattress folds and seams, especially on the underside. Bed bugs respect upholstered furniture very much: there are many nooks where they feel safe. They often gather in groups under wall- and floor carpets, under wallpaper, behind baseboards, in remote dark corners of nightstands and drawers. In general, anything near the bed can become their shelter, including books, appliances, and even electrical outlets

Stages of a competent treatment of the room

The task is time-consuming, but none of the points below should be neglected, otherwise all the efforts may be in vain. The more thorough your actions, the less chance the insects have of sitting in a secluded corner.
1. First of all exclude the possibility of bed bugs escaping outside the room: treat the perimeter with one of the barrier means of protection (spray, chalk, gel). The insect will die on contact with the active ingredient of the drug.
2. Wash the bedding at the highest possible temperature. If you have several sets, put the rest in a sturdy plastic bag, send there blankets, bedspreads, plaids, tablecloths, curtains, mats, soft toys – everything that can be washed. What you can’t – take to the dry cleaner.

Folk ways to combat bed bugs

Unfortunately, they are more often aimed at repelling insects than at destroying them. Some methods are based on the intolerance of bed bugs to low temperatures (from -17 … -20°C) and high temperatures (from +50°C). In winter you can turn off the heating – adults and larvae will not survive more than a day. It is impossible to say with certainty that frost will destroy eggs as well: there is no reliable information about this. High temperatures are another matter: at +50°C insects die instantly at any stage of development.

Fish oil, laundry soap, prolonged heating. Dacha owners share their methods of use, which proved to be justified in real life, in the comments to the question How to get rid of bed bugs in the dacha?

Turpentine. Bed bugs have poor eyesight but a very good sense of smell. They react extremely negatively to pungent smells. Therefore, many try to scare the insects with turpentine. They use it in its pure form, or with various additives, if they believe that the basic smell is not enough. For example, turpentine is mixed with camphor, kerosene, naphthalene, carbolic – the quantity and composition of the ingredients remain at the discretion of the host. The mixture is processed in places where bed bugs can live and left for a day or two. This method has several significant drawbacks. Firstly, it can not be applied to upholstered furniture and walls: stains will remain. Secondly, even after repeated wet mopping, the smell of turpentine will not disappear! And if you are allergic to any of the mixture components, it is just dangerous for your health!

Vinegar and decoctions of herbs. Extremely labor-intensive method. Does not destroy parasites, but only scares them away. You will need 2-3 treatments per day, the total period of expulsion will be 4 days. Even assuming that the adults are gone, keep in mind: their eggs will remain. Larvae emerge quickly, 3-4 days after laying, and they are good at surviving: under unfavorable living conditions they are able to go into a state close to anabiosis. How long they can stay in it, there is no reliable data. Also with decoctions also need to be careful: they can cause allergies, and leave stains.

For those who still choose this method of opposing bed bugs, here is a sample recipe. Pour fresh or dried material (2 tbsp.) Dalmatian chamomile, wormwood, marsh rosemary or tansy, pour 0.5 l of boiling water, put on a water bath for 15 minutes. Strain, dilute with clean water (1:20). Working composition is ready. To treat with vinegar, take essence or 9% table vinegar.

Unfortunately, modern bed bugs are much more resistant than those that were 20-30 years ago. Therefore, folk remedies with them often do not cope. What is left? Heavy artillery – chemistry. Of course, it is important to choose a remedy that will kill the enemy, and do as little damage to yourself as possible.

Close up cimex lectularius on corrugated recycle paper

Modern insecticides

You can invite the appropriate services, and they will carry out disinfestation. But the bill for the services is unlikely to please you. And not all companies give a guarantee for the work done.

You can invite the following services to disinfect your home
You can invite the corresponding services to disinfect your home

It is much easier and more economical to perform the treatment yourself. The main thing is to choose a reliable, effective product. For example, the spray “Clean House” with chamomile extract quickly and effectively destroy not only bed bugs, but also fleas, flies, cockroaches and ants in residential and non-residential premises. It smells quite pleasant, is very easy to use (good sprayer) and economical.

This treatment does not take long. Simply spray in places where bed bugs can hide: bed frames, furniture (including the inside and the part closest to the wall), heating radiators and windowsills, baseboards and any other places you have mentioned above. Close the room for 15-20 minutes, after that – ventilate for a long time.

If bed bugs appeared in your house, do not hesitate and start an active battle against them. And what remedy to take to help, it is up to you to decide.

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