What will a pest control company do, and how should I get ready?

With bed bugs, there isn't a single, standard way that the exterminator you hire will deal with them. It used to be that everyone used DDT, but that isn't an option anymore. Unlike other pests, bed bugs were nearly gone in the United States until the last decade or so. Because of this, there isn't really a "standard" treatment (such as bait for ants or termites, medicine for fleas, etc.).

Treatment generally involves a lengthy inspection of your home, focusing on the bedroom. The exterminator will want to find all the places that they are hiding, and will use various insecticides - sprays, dusts, and aerosols are the usual methods. Baiting does not work on bedbugs.


Basic Info About Bedbugs

How You Got Bed Bugs

Bed Bug Bites

Signs of Bed Bugs

Mattress Covers    


I've got an exterminator coming - how can I get ready?

The biggest thing you can do to help out is to CLEAN. The exterminator is going to be searching around for them, and they can hide in tiny little cracks. If you've got junk thrown all over the place, it's going to be very hard for them to do their job. Get all the linens off the bed and wash them in hot water - it needs to get over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Take any clothes you've had laying around in your bedroom and do the same thing (it's a good idea to do them in a separate load from the linens). Even if you can't wash something, you may be able to put it in the dryer, which can often kill them off just as well.

Don't move stuff around your house - bed bugs will hide in things other than the bed. So if you take an item from the bedroom, you might just be spreading them, and making the job harder. You can take it outside - if the current temperature is very hot or very cold, leaving infested items outside will sometimes kill them off. This method is very uncertain, though, and I'm not sure I'd risk it - you could end up having the pest control company clear your house, and then just bringing back in a couple that survived. Be aware that cold usually takes about two weeks to do the job. If you are going to move something, bag it up or wrap it before taking it outside. That makes it less likely that the bugs will flee while you're carrying it.

Vacuuming can be helpful, too, because it gets rid of the eggs and some of the bugs. You need to scrape things with the extension repeatedly, rather than just run it over the carpet. Focus on corners and edges. Take the bag immediately outside of the house. If you have a bagless vacuum, I would skip this step. Also make sure to ask the pest control specialist whether you should vacuum after they've left. Sometimes this is counterproductive - they'll put down a dust, and you just vacuum it right back up.

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