Bedbugs are one of the most annoying pests that can invade your home. The first apartment I rented on my own had a bedbug infestation. Getting rid of them felt hopeless. I was often frustrated that they kept coming back despite my treatment efforts. So how do you know if your treatments have been successful?
The best natural method to remove bedbugs is to use diatomaceous earth powder. Other methods include chemical aerosols and traps. Use traps to determine if bedbugs are gone. If 2 months go by with no bites and no bedbugs getting caught in the traps, it’s safe to assume your bedbug infestation is gone. That’s not all you can do to get rid of bedbugs, though.
Bedbugs can be tricky to get rid of, but there are multiple options to treat your infestation. With any luck, you’ll soon see the following signs.
Signs That Bedbugs Treatment Has Been Successful
So you’ve contacted a professional. You’ve spread bedbug powder, applied bug spray, and stopped seeing new blood spots on your pillows. You might think that the bedbugs are gone for good – but how can you be sure?
A good rule of thumb is to continue treatments at least every two weeks for up to two months. This ensures that bedbugs of all ages are exposed to the treatment. You can only be sure that your bedbugs are gone if you see no sign of them after 6-8 weeks.
Still, look for the following signs during that time.
You Stop Seeing Bites
Bedbugs often leave multiple bites in a line on your skin. Not everyone shows visible reactions to bites, so it can be difficult to tell. If a member of your family has previously seen bites but stops seeing them after 6-8 weeks, the bedbugs might be gone.
You Find No Bedbugs in Traps
Use interceptor traps where your bed touches the floor. This is where bed bugs will climb to get onto your bed. Make sure that your bed isn’t touching the wall. If you stop seeing bedbugs in these traps, they could be gone.
You See No Bedbug Activity on Bedbug Monitoring Devices
Some companies make special monitors that can detect bedbug activity. So if these monitors detect no activity for more than two weeks, your treatment might be successful.
You See No Visual Bedbug Signs
Bedbugs are visible to the naked eye. They also leave behind evidence if they’ve been active. If you stop seeing the following signs, it’s a good indication your infestation might be over.
- Blood spots on your sheets or pillows
- Bedbug ‘shells’ on your floor or around your bed
- Visible bugs in the crevices of your mattress
- Dark spots on your walls or floors
If you can’t find any signs, activity, or bites after 6-8 weeks following treatment, it’s safe to assume that your bedbugs are gone.
Where to Check for Bedbugs?
Bedbugs don’t just live in your bed. Unfortunately, these wily bugs can be hiding just about anywhere around your bed, in your carpets, and more. Here are some of the most common areas you should check for bedbugs.
Mattress and Box Springs
You’re most likely to find bed bugs in the crevices of your mattress or the surface of your box springs. You’ll at least be able to see evidence of them here.
Bedbugs will nest in and behind anything. Check your nightstands, particularly if they have drawers or dark spaces.
Bedbugs love to nest behind pictures and on the backs of picture frames. If you have these near your bed, make sure to treat them as well.
In Your Headboard
Your headboard might be the bedbugs’ favorite hangout, so make sure to clean and treat it thoroughly.
Baseboards provide the dark, untouched area that bedbugs love. Peel them back and treat underneath.
In and Under Your Carpet
Vacuum often and use carpet treatments specifically for bedbugs. Make sure to treat the entire room where the infestation is present.
Bedbugs nest easily in wooden furniture. Any furniture in the immediate area is in danger of infestation.
Voids in Your Walls
The areas between and behind your walls are likely where the infestation began. If you can access this space, spread plenty of powder and continue treatments.
Anywhere that is Dark and Hidden
Bed bugs are remarkably resilient and can survive nearly anywhere. Any dark areas or hidden crevices make good homes for them, so make sure to be thorough.
Adult bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, but their eggs are translucent. Make sure to vacuum or steam areas where eggs might be to kill them.
How Do You Know if You Have Bedbugs?
How do you even know if you have bedbugs? It might not always be clear that bedbugs are the problem you’re facing. What are the physical signs that you have a bedbug infestation?
First, you may be able to physically see the bugs. Mature bed bugs are a light brown color, usually with a black spot on their backs. Their torso will be a flat bulb shape with an accordion-like look to it. They are often fast and you may not always see them.
Pay attention to any bites you can’t explain. Bedbugs leave their bites in a straight line across your skin. These tiny bites are difficult to diagnose, but the line structure gives them away. Note that not everyone in your family may react to bedbug bites. This doesn’t mean they aren’t getting bitten.
One of the most telltale signs of bedbugs is ‘blood’ spots. These small spots of blood can appear on your pillows, pillowcases, sheets, and bedding. While they are red and look like blood, they are bedbug waste.
Even if you can’t see any of these signs, be aware of bedbug odor. Bedbugs have scent glands that produce a musty smell. If your home begins to smell like mildew for no reason, it may be bedbugs.
Other physical signs of bed bugs may include shedding shells appearing on your carpet or sheets. There may be dark spots on your walls, in the crevices of your mattress, or on your box springs. You also may be able to see the bed bugs between your mattress and box springs.
One or more of these signs usually means you’re dealing with an infestation.
Effective Bedbug Treatments
What treatments can you use to get rid of bed bugs? There are many options, and the best approach is to use multiple products or approaches. Since bedbugs are notoriously hard to get rid of, it’s best to take every action you can.
Remember that you can always call a professional pest control service. While no treatment will get rid of 100% of your bedbugs immediately, professionals know better than most. Their tips and guidelines can help.
If you are removing bed bugs on your own, here are some effective treatments.
Like any insect, bedbugs can be susceptible to targeted aerosol sprays. Be careful using them around pets and children. Keep infected areas closed off for as long as possible after application to avoid breathing the insecticide in.
Sprays like this one from Ortho Home Defense can be used to spot-treat heavily infected areas, but it won’t be effective at stopping the infestation on its own.
Diatomaceous Earth Powder
Spread diatomaceous earth powder wherever the bugs might be stepping. Powders like insect killer from Harris take care of more than just bedbugs. They’ll eat the powder and die as a result if walking over it doesn’t kill them first.
Diatomaceous earth is all-natural, but the dust that lingers after spreading may be toxic to humans and pets. Make sure to avoid spreading it while kids and pets are in the immediate area.
Bedbugs are very susceptible to high levels of heat. If you can steam your walls, baseboards, mattress, and box springs, you may be able to kill adults and eggs.
Try a small, at-home steamer steam cleaner from Bissell if you want to try this method. Obviously, the hotter the steam gets the better the outcome.
Diligent Washing and Vacuuming
Vacuuming your carpets regularly can be the first line of defense against bedbugs. Make sure to wash any bedding, blankets, or other soft objects (even stuffed animals) near and on your bed. While the dryer will kill most bedbugs, you can also use a laundry additive to help.
This additive by EcoClear helps remove bedbug debris from your laundry, including eggs and waste. You can use it alongside your normal detergent to speed up your preventative measures.
Growth Inhitibor Sprays
A growth regulator is a toxic chemical spray that stops bedbugs from reaching maturity. This means that females won’t be able to lay eggs, reducing the size of your infestation. These are heavy chemicals that are difficult to work with safely, so be careful with them.
A mix like growth control spray can be used as a last resort to restricting infestations.
A bedbug-proof mattress cover won’t get rid of the bedbugs, but it will make it harder for them to thrive. A mattress cover like PlushDeluxe encasement will keep bedbugs from your mattress. Bedbugs can’t leave the encasement, so they starve.
It’s best to use a cover like this after you’ve completed bedbug treatment to reduce reinfestation.
Interceptor Traps and Monitors
Interceptor traps and monitors often come in a single product, which makes them an effective tool. These traps usually go under your bed frame and emit an attractant to lure bedbugs to them.
Once they are inside, bedbugs are trapped and eventually die. The best way to see if your bedbug problem is gone is to use these. When there are no more bugs in the trap each day, you are on your way to eliminating your infestation.
Lifecycle of a Bedbug
To best treat your bedbug infestation, you have to know about the lifecycle of a bedbug. Sometimes, your efforts can kill off the mature bugs but leave behind eggs. This scenario can quickly lead to reinfestation.
A mature female bedbug can lay between 3 and 5 eggs per day. A single female can lead to an infestation if you don’t take care of it properly. They lay eggs where it’s dark and warm, but they are unfortunately clear in color. This means they’re hard to find.
Eggs hatch in about 7 to 10 days. The ‘nymph’ goes through several stages, including a white or translucent stage, before they reach adulthood. This process takes about 7 weeks. This is why it’s important to keep treating infested areas for up to 8 weeks.
The total natural lifespan of a bedbug is between six months and a year. Most of the time, bugs will feed more often than once a week. Sometimes, they can hibernate for up to a year between feedings, so it’s important to be thorough in your treatments.
To make sure that bedbugs are gone, keep treating the area for 6-8 weeks. When traps are no longer catching bedbugs and there are no new bites, there’s a good chance that your bedbugs are gone. Make sure to stay diligent and keep checking to avoid reinfestation.