Frequently Asked Questions
Every week, the Bed Bug Adviser answers a new question. Check out the FAQ below to see if we’ve already answered yours – or submit it on the bottom of the page.
We’d like to thank one of our Expert Advisers Dr. Susan Jones and the Ohio State University for their significant contributions to our FAQ.
There are many different home remedies for bed bugs, but we strongly recommend that you do not try to treat this problem yourself. Here’s a few…
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is the most commonly advised product. However, unless you get food grade DE you risk severe damage to your lungs, akin to that of asbestos.
Another commonly suggested home remedy for bed bugs: rubbing alcohol, which is not only ineffective but also very flammable and risks setting your furniture/house/apartment/car on fire.
Sprays are only effective if you can actually find the bugs, which is the hard part. Bed bugs are so good at hiding that sprays which kill on contact will only be able to get rid of, at most, 10% of an infestation. Not only that but many sprays – including rubbing alcohol – are actually really dangerous to humans.
Traps don’t present a danger, but they aren’t very effective. As traps get dirty over time with dust, pet hair, human hair, or whatever else may be in your bedroom, the bugs become able to overcome the traps. You’d have to clean them every day to make them even somewhat effective. And even then, there’s no guarantee of safety. Bed bugs can still transfer to your sleeping area by hitching a ride on your clothes, your pet, a pillow that fell off the side of the bed, or the comforter that touches the ground at night.
This is a popular DIY solution – but very flawed. If you can manage to get rubbing alcohol or sprays directly onto a bed bug, you will kill it; in fact, you can kill bed bugs by putting all sorts of things, including hand soap, on them. The issue isn’t killing the bugs, it’s finding them in the first place – just the fumes won’t kill them. Rarely, if ever, will you be able to kill every single bug using this method.
It’s easy to think that bed bugs are nocturnal. After all, they do tend to move more at night – and we all know the horror stories about waking up with those 3 telltale bites in a row. But bed bugs aren’t truly nocturnal – they’re just averse to movement. They know their best chance is to avoid human attempts to kill them, so they stop moving when they hear movement.
In fact, bed bugs have no preference for day or night and don’t care much about light one way or the other.
The only exception to the “movement” rule? Large infestations. Those will move simply because some of the bed bugs need to find a new place to hang out – and there’s so many of them, they’ve stopped being scared of your human presence. (This is bad. Call a pest control professional!)
Not always. In fact, only about 4% – 25% of people bitten by bedbugs will have a reaction to the bug’s bite; for the other 75%, they won’t see the bugs at all.
Look for other signs to correctly ID bedbugs. Start with our identification guide, right here.
There is no “best treatment” when it comes to bed bugs. There’s pros and cons to all 3 types of treatment.
Fumigation is the most likely to deal with your bed bug problem once and for all, but it is by far the most expensive and the most disruptive – you will have to leave your house for 3 days to a week.
Chemical treatments are the cheapest, but they take 6-8 weeks and 3-4 applications to be sure you’ve gotten rid of the bugs, which is 6-8 more weeks of living with bed bugs.
Heat treatment works best in smaller spaces, like a one or two bedroom apartment. It’s fast, but it’s more expensive than chemical treatment, and requires a highly trained technician with constant monitoring in order to ensure all areas of the apartment get hot enough.
For more, check out our treatment article.
Bed bugs can live between 12 to 18 months without a meal because of their ability to do something like hibernating.
However; if a bed bug has regular access to meals their life span is around 10 months.
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