Wildlyorganicwomen's Blog

Stop the Bed Bugs from Biting

Posted on: August 10, 2010

I received a disturbing post from a facebook friend inquiring about bedbugs.  Her client has a serious bed bug infestation and despite spending thousands of dollars on pest control she still has bed bugs though not without a price, her dog died and she is on a respirator.  First rule – don’t count on pest control.

Studies show that modern day bed bugs may be resistant to indoor pest treatments especially those containing pyrethrum, the most commonly used (bugs win again). Bed bugs can also go extended periods of time without food. Because you may never get rid of them entirely it may be necessary to continue the following treatments indefinitely.

Bed bugs are about the size of a flax seed and a red welt on your skin in the morning when you awaken may be the telltale sign that you have these pesky visitors. Beds aren’t their only hiding places, they are sneaky little critters that can be found in clothing, furniture, bureaus, night stands and chairs, purses, boxes, tucked behind picture frames, switch plates and outlets, inside clocks, televisions and smoke detectors, under wallpaper, just about anywhere.  Their larvae is white and about the size of 2 grains of salt so don’t just look for the bugs.

Food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) can be one solution (food grade only) but it’s a challenge getting it in every cook and cranny and it can be messy.  DE is a fine dust so for optimal protection wear a dust mask and gloves when applying diatomaceous earth.  Do not clean up DE with a vacuum but use a wet rag to wipe it up.  Because of this applying DE on a carpet is not recommended.  If you apply it on a mattress using a mattress cover or 2 sheets will ensure you do not inhale the DE dust while you sleep.   DE can be purchased at some pet stores, feed stores and Amazon.com.  Be sure to read the labels to ensure it’s food grade DE.

You may see advertisements for items to control these pests containing nanotechnology – please pass on anything using nanotechology (precautionary principle) as it is a controversial solution that may have negative health consequences.

Essential oils are another solution as they are versatile and have other health benefits.  We will explore some of the essential oil solutions such as sachets and sprays which are also great to take when you are traveling or to toss in your purse.

If you have a serious infestation a combination of solutions will work best.

First – how do you know if you have bed bugs?  Check to see of there small brown spots on bedding, headboards, mattresses, walls or flooring one sign bed bugs may be moving in.  Unfortunately the bites which resemble red welts are an obvious sign.

If you suspect you have bed bugs or want to avoid them all together here are some steps to take -

  • Don’t make your bed.  Turn down the sheets and let it air out.  Bed bugs like warm, moist places.   Don’t give it to them.
  • Declutter outside and spread food grade diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of the house, declutter inside and move the bed and any other furniture away from the wall.  The more clutter the more hiding places.
  • Bed bugs don’t like it hot so put linens, drapes, clothing even pillows in the drier for 30 minutes to kill them. If it’s hot outside an even better approach is to hang your linens and other cloth items on a clothes line in the hot sun. Washable items should be washed in hot water first including any throw rugs. Bedding should always be washed in hot water with 10 – 15 drops of eucalyptus oil or 4-5 capfuls of Thieves Household Cleaner.
  • Scrub all furniture with a stiff brush to get rid of the larvae. Use a bucket of hot water with either 10-15 drops of eucalyptus oil or 3-4 capfuls of Thieves Household Cleaner. Dismantle the bed, turn over the furniture and when finished place the bed legs in bowls or jars filled with water to stop them from spending another night with you.
  • Buy a dust mite resistant mattress and pillow covers (not plastic as your skin needs to breathe). Certified organic cotton covers would be the healthiest choice. This may also be the perfect time to buy a new pillow but wait to buy a new mattress until the infestation is under control and then either an organic wool or organic natural latex mattress would be a great choice as both are dust mite resistant. http://www.allergystore.com/mattressencasings.htm is a resource for the covers.
  • A few tips when traveling – check the mattresses immediately by looking under the tags, between the mattress and box spring, along the seams, and behind the headboard.  Look for brown spots that resemble droppings.  If you find evidence of bedbugs make ask to be moved to another room.  NOTE:  hotels do exterminate for bugs so if you are concerned about pesticides call the hotel before making reservation.
  • Returning home from a vacation means washing all clothes in hot water and checking the suitcases even if you used sachets.  Being safe and not sorry is key.

SACHET, SPRAY and DIFFUSE
Do one or all 3 depending on the severity of the infestation

  • SACHET – Put 1-2 sachets in your vacuum cleaner bag if using essential oils or sprinkle the herb listed below inside the bag.  Vacuum the area, including the mattress and box springs on all sides. Vacuum any carpeting and other furniture paying special attention to all creases, crevices and corners. Put sachets between the mattress and box spring, in drawers, behind the headboard, under furniture cushions. When you travel put sachets in your suitcases and garment bags.  Bring extra sachets for the hotel mattress along with the spritzer.  Sachets will have to be replenished with the essential oils often to be effective.
  • Bed Bug Herb Sachet
    1 Cup dried Eucalyptus leaves
    ½ Cup dried rosemary
    ½ Cup dried lavender buds
    10 Large cloves
    Put in tea bag sized unbleached, muslim bags. Here is a great resource http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/tea_tool/bags.html for the muslim bags or you can make your own.  They are also available in craft stores.

Bed Bug Essential Oil Sachet
1 cup baking soda
10 drops rosemary essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops essential oil of clove
Mix well and put in tea bag sized muslim bags.

  • SPRITZ – spritz everywhere you suspect bed bugs to be hiding.

Bed Bug Spritzer #1
1 Cup Water
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops essential oil of clove (optional)

Bed Bug Spritzer #2
1 cup water
10 drops Palo Santo essential oil
6 drops of Eucalyptus Blue essential oil
5 drops of Cedarwood essentail oil

Put either recipe in a Spritzer bottle. Do not use more than the recommended drops of essential oils as therapeutic grade essential oils are extremely potent.  Keep in a dark place between uses.  Spritz the carpet, any furniture nearby, hampers, pillows and if suitcases for frequent travelers.  It may be necessary to get rid of carpeting because it will be the most difficult place to remove the larvae.

Kitties don’t react well to some essential oils so make sure kitty is in another room particularly the citrus oils.  Some people are also allergic to some essential oils do not use EOs that you may be allergic to.

  • DIFFUSE – for especially stubborn cases use a cold air diffuser with 15 drops of either the cedarwood, eucalyptus or palo santo oils.  Diffuse for 8 hours or more in a closed room.  It may be necessary to place the diffuser in strategic places where the oils will reach the most infested spots.
  • Be persistent and repeat as often as necessary. Remember even toxic pest control has to be repeated monthly and still has not been successful in eradicating these pests.  Instead we are creating bugs who are resistant to some of the traditionally used pest control causing the companies to use stronger methods.

BITES –  therapeutic grade lavender oil can be used to heal bed bug bites. A massage oil with a few drops of lavender oil massaged on your body before bedtime may stop the biting all together (at the very least lavender is a great way to relax and get a good nights sleep).

Using only therapeutic grade essential oils is critical.  Diffusers and therapeutic grade essential oils can be purchased at  https://www.youngliving.org/healthnaturally.  Email me at valerie@naturallyhealthyhomes if you have product questions.

Make Your Own Bed Bug Detector – Wan-Tien Tsai of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., put 2.5 pounds of dry ice in a 1/3-gallon Coleman jug with a flip-up spout. The spout was left slightly open, so the carbon dioxide could leak out.  Stand the jug in a plastic cat food dish with a piece of paper taped on the outside of the dish as a ramp up to the rim. The bowl’s steep, slippery inside, with an added dusting of talcum powder, kept bugs from crawling out again.

Bed bugs are attracted to plumes of concentrated carbon dioxide a clue that a human dinner is breathing nearby. This may be a great end of the summer project for your junior scientist.

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7 Responses to "Stop the Bed Bugs from Biting"

Thanks for the best tips on bed bugs. Seems like bed bugs aren’t the problem I thought. Still, good information to keep them away.

Thanks,
Hera

Bedbugs are more of a problem in some parts of the country NY and LA being 2 places they have become a real issue. Also people don’t like to talk about them. Hopefully you and I will never have to deal with them

Bedbugs are one of the most difficult insects to control as they have evolved they have grown resistant to teh weaker insecticide which have been forced upon us for our own health reasons. This obvioulsy has an effect on pest control as well and hence the increase in Bedbugs

I see you are a pest control company Tony. Hopefully your company uses pesticide free methods.

pest control is very necessary specially if you have an old house that is vulnerable to pest attacks*”~

Just additional information, we rented a industrial heater and heated the house to over 45 degrees celcius (113 degrees farenheight) we got it to 52 celcius (125 farenheight) left the heater on for about 24 hours. The bugs died, this method is a good way to kill most of them in a cluttered area, but its best to make sure the house is completely heated and anything combustible at high heat is removed from the home. The family stayed in a hotel for the night, and me and my boyfriend watched the house and checked the temperatures in all areas periodically. This went so smoothly. It is good to take caution, but this would have to be the cheapest and most effective way to kill them. Our infestation was bad. We just rented a diesel industrial heater, which can usually heat up a house to approx. 200 feranheight. In total it cost us about $400 CAD. $70 per day for the heater, and cost of fuel. The heater stays outside at the ducts are inserted through a window. We saw an immediate difference once the house reached 46 degrees celcius. We started seeing dead bugs everywhere. I recommend this to everyone with this problem. After heating, steam and treat furniture as you normally would. I find this would be one of the best solutions for a over-infested house.

Thanks Christine great info. I have heard pros and cons on this method so it’s nice to see it can work. I love any method that does not require pesticides.

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  • wildlyorganicwomen: Wow, Tina you have had some amazing results. Canker sores are not uncommon when detoxing but sounds like you made it through!! Great job!
  • Tina: Have been oil pulling a few weeks after seeing it on your site. Had to make do w/ toasted sesame oil, but it REALLY helps my asthma. Forgot where I
  • wildlyorganicwomen: I see you are a pest control company Tony. Hopefully your company uses pesticide free methods.

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