The increase in bed bug infestations in the U.S. is a result of increased travel, lack of knowledge about preventing infestations, increased resistance of bed bugs to pesticides, and ineffective pest control practices, explains the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s easy to mistake bed bugs for carpet beetles or similar-looking bugs, so infestations are often not noticed when they first occur. Prevention tips include keeping areas free of clutter, regularly washing sheets and mattress covers in hot water (and don’t forget to wash the laundry bag, too), and vacuuming regularly and safely disposing of the sealed vacuum bag. Not everyone has reactions to bed bug bites, which also may be mistaken for the bites of other pests such as mosquitoes, so timely bed bug extermination depends on identification of bed bug activity. If you notice physical signs of an infestation, contact a bed bug extermination professional as soon as possible to learn about chemical and non-chemical (such as heat) treatment options. An integrated pest management plan may incorporate one or more methods.
The cost of bed bug extermination depends primarily on how widespread the pest infestation is and how many rooms need to be treated. Other factors that can affect bed bug extermination costs are the amount of clutter in the location, additional furniture that needs to be treated, and construction of the home. Pest management professionals often have rates for room treatments, which can vary based on these factors. As an example, a pest management company treating a 10-by-15-foot room with light infestation might charge clients about $250, while the same size room with a heavy infestation and large amounts of clutter might cost the clients $300-$400. Clutter and heavier bed bug populations mean more product and longer labor time for the workers. Rates will vary from company to company, and from region to region, but the national average bed bug extermination cost is $320-$400. Bed bug heat treatments are an alternative way to exterminate these pests. Heat treatments are typically charged per square foot and tend to cost more than chemical or non-chemical spray solutions. Although effective, they are not usually recommended for occupied spaces, as the extreme temperatures can damage televisions, window dressings and other home furnishings.
Bed bug extermination can last forever as long as the treatment killed all the bed bugs (and their eggs) and if new bed bugs are not transported into the location. Factors that can affect the outcome are how severe the infestation is and whether all bed bug sources were properly identified and treated. When working with a pest control professional, the EPA recommends you check and call references; ask if they offer both chemical and non-chemical treatment options, if they recommend both encasements and interceptors, and if they offer two or more service visits and follow-up. Bed bugs are tiny (adults are roughly the size of an apple seed) and can hide anywhere a credit card can slide into. They squeeze into cracks in walls, behind electrical outlet sockets, in bedding, and in other dark places. Learn how to prepare your home for a bed bug treatment for the best outcomes. Michigan State University shares some examples of possible reasons that a bed bug extermination is not 100 percent effective:
- Not all sources (aka hiding places) of the bed bugs were identified during initial inspection.
- Not all sources of bed bugs were treated.
- The insecticides used were not effective or, in the case of heat treatment, there was insufficient contact time.
- Infested items such as bedding or other materials were reintroduced into a cleaned area.
If you are concerned you have a bed bug infestation, look for physical signs of their presence. Bed bugs love to hide in small, dark spaces and typically come out to feed (generally on human blood) after dark — although they will come out in daylight if hungry enough. The Environmental Protection Agency states that indications of an infestation can include seeing shed exoskeletons of bed bugs, rusty spots on your bedding (which are either bug droppings or bloodstains), live bed bugs, bed bug egg casings, a sweet and musty odor (if the infestation is severe), and evidence of bites on your skin.
To spot bed bugs, look in and along mattress seams and bedding, in curtain and furniture folds, inside cracks or crevices in the walls, behind picture frames and mirrors, under loose wallpaper seams, on recently used luggage or backpacks, inside electronics, and inside clothing or cluttered areas such as closets. If you see signs of bed bugs, be careful not to disturb them too much as you don’t want them scattering to other parts of your house.
Bed bugs can travel into your home via luggage, secondhand furniture or clothing, and other items that have been exposed to the little pests. Bed bugs are tiny and flat (about the size of an apple seed and the height of a credit card), so they can easily hide in dark, small places and hitchhike into your home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people don’t even know they’re transporting bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel. The sooner you notice a bed bug infestation in your home, the easier it is to get rid of it. The EPA suggests an integrated pest management plan to get rid of bed bug problems. This means a multi-pronged approach that takes the bug’s life cycle into account, uses chemical treatment where needed, and takes all necessary measures (use of encasements, high heat washing and drying of bedding, etc.) to stop current and future life cycles. Unless you feel confident about controlling a bed bug infestation, it can be wise to hire a pest management professional to prevent the problem from getting bigger.