I have been helping people identify and get rid of bed bugs since 2008, and in that time people all over the world have shared images of the bugs that bit them, their bites, infestations, and how they won the battle. Most important of all are the comments explaining mistakes that made the infestation worse and what to avoid!
I’m all about doing it yourself and saving thousands of dollars, but please, read my tips BEFORE you jump into pest control.
Oh, and if you think hiring a professional exterminator will be easier than doing it yourself, think again – the pest control company will make you do most of the prep work anyway – take a good look at that contract before you sign.
What They Look Like and WHY ME?
A close-up of what a bed bug looks like after the first blood feeding and only the size of an apple seed. Transparent except for the blood and hard to see!
These disgusting bugs have mouthparts designed to pierce your skin and suck blood without you feeling a thing! Feeding takes about 10 to 15 minutes for adults and less for the baby bed bugs. Depending on the conditions, nymphs can survive for months without feeding while adults can live up a year without a drop of your blood.
The eggs are white and about 1mm long. The nymphs look like adults but are smaller and transparent or may be red in color after feeding. Complete development from egg to adult takes from four weeks to several months depending on the temperature and amount of food available.
On average, females begins to lay eggs four days after mating and produce 260 eggs throughout their lifespan; eggs take 7 to 10 days to hatch. On average, bed bugs lay five eggs per week with populations reaching into the thousands in only 30 days!
They DO NOT have wings but that doesn’t slow them down, they move at 4 feet per minute and usually are within 20 feet of their victim, however, motivated bed bugs may travel up to 60 feet! When hunting for blood, they lock onto the carbon dioxide you exhale and head towards an exposed part of your body.
NOTE: Although these bugs are wingless, it doesn’t mean they can’t fly :) – Believe it or not, some bed bugs can enter your home by riding on bats!
Example of a Mattress Infestation
They are very hard to spot but the black mold-like spots on a mattress give them away. Below is a mattress containing bed bugs missed during an inspection! (click to enlarge)
The visitor who submitted this image (her name is V) left comments complaining of bites and couldn’t find any sign of bugs, but we worked with her, and through patience and determination, she was able to discover the infestation and successfully treat the area.
So how do you know if you have an infestation? It’s easy, read my page on how to check for bed bugs and learn where these little bloodsuckers are hiding!
How To Kill Them
My page on how to get rid of bed bugs will walk you through the extermination process step-by-step, but in general, you’ll do a lot of cleaning and then apply the natural pesticides to areas bugs might hide.
Of all the successful stories left by visitors, one tip stands out:
You must take the time to do it right!
Hire an Exterminator or DIY?
If you can’t make the time and don’t have the patience to treat properly, then paying for a professional exterminator is far better than doing it yourself and making matters worse! There is no quick fix – unless you are one of those lucky visitors that happened to find and kill the bug before it could multiply.
There are thousands of comments on this site, and many complain of excessive costs for professional extermination, some as much as $5,000 for large infestations. The average fee reported by visitors for heat treatment is around $1,800 per visit, and often there are no guarantees.
We’ve also had complaints of pest control companies taking cash without successful treatment; when the customer complained, the exterminator blamed the customer for bringing bugs back into the home.
If you hire a professional, make sure they are certified, and if an exterminator tells you the infestation can be removed with just one visit, then look elsewhere!
Preventative Tips for Travelers
A few ways to prevent bed bugs from getting into your home after you’ve used our checklist above include:
- Use luggage that seals completely and make sure to keep it closed when not in use
- Store as many of your clothes there as possible
- Hang clothing in the closet farthest from the bed
- Place luggage on the folding rack found in most hotels (or bathtub)
- Place luggage in the dry cleaning bag found in the hotel
- When you get home, immediately wash all your cloths on 140F minimum high heat (fabric permitting)
- Don’t bring home a mattress that has been used by unknown sources.
✓ Most important of all, check for bed bugs before you do anything!
Bed Bug Bites, Treatment and a LOT of Pictures
When people wake up with bites, the biggest complaint is that they never felt a thing; unlike the baby “attacked” at the top of this page, there is usually a pattern after feeding. The mother of that baby searched the crib and discovered the frame infested with bed bugs. Read my section covering bed bugs bites and learn how to put this problem to bed once and for all :)
Monica is just one the many examples I have showing the bite pattern made by these bugs! Some people only receive a few bites while others are bitten hundreds of times, a traumatic event that can leave physical and emotional scarring.
It is very hard to determine what bit a person from looking at the bite, but by viewing my pictures of bed bug bites and matching the pattern, it may give you a good start!
* If there is not a pattern to your bites, then visit my section on mite bites.
Treatment and Common Mistakes – The following list can make an infestation worse, so please avoid them whenever possible:
- Moving infected furniture to another room – this is almost a guaranteed to spread the infestation to another room. Until you know for sure that the room you’re moving into AND the furniture is free of infestation, don’t move it!
- Setting off a bed bug bomb in an infested room or apartment – You’ll most likely drive the bugs into the the apartment next to you or the adjacent room. They are also responsible for numerous injuries and some deaths from improper use!
- Using a mattress encasement that is not made for bed bugs – Manufacturer would like you to believe you need a mattress cover made just for bed bugs, but the truth is, one designed for dust mites will work just fine, it just has to seal. If you use a cover that doesn’t seal, the bugs will find the opening and escape!
- Applying Diatomaceouse Earth (DE) to aggressively – a very light sprinkling is all that’s need, pouring it throughout your house can create a hazardous environment for those breathing it in. Follow our instructions, and do it right!
How Bed Bugs can Ruin a Life!
An embarrassed mother going by the name “Restless” was kind enough to share her story detailing the struggles of fighting bed bugs:
I Never knew anything about bedbugs until now. They have ruined my life. I can’t have friends or family over, and I can’t sleep anymore. I live in a building that consists of 16 units. I discovered the problem a couple of weeks ago.
I woke up itching bad and saw five bugs in my bed. I looked the bug up online and found out what it was. I started crying and didn’t know what to do. I went to the hardware and bought bedbug sprays and also set off bedbug bombs.
My daughter came to me crying because her face was swollen from a bite. I flipped over her box spring and tore the fabric off the bottom, and there I found the problem. Bedbugs nesting and sleeping. I threw up from the sight of it.
I continued to do the same for all the beds in the house, found the same thing. Then it was onto the couches. The bugs lie dormant in the wood of the couches. I immediately discarded everything in my apartment. Did my research and found out that I had to contact my landlord. He sent an inspector out the very next day. The inspector told me to bag up everything in plastic bags real tight and throw out old books and paper that I didn’t need and said I needed three treatments and would be back on Monday.
While standing in the neighborhood store, I overheard neighbors saying that all of the landlord’s other buildings were infested with bedbugs as well. Why didn’t he treat all of the units just in case to avoid the spread of bedbugs? I think that the maintenance workers were transporting the bugs, seeing how the people with the bugs live in different buildings, and have never stepped a foot inside any of the other units. My landlord was careless not to inform all of his tenants about the infestations.
I have nothing now. Everything I own has gone to the garbage. I only had the furniture for a year and a half and spent thousands. I’m not working and can’t afford to replace anything. I feel helpless with no-one to trust. I’m going crazy. I’m so sick of living out of plastic bags. I don’t know what to do anymore. The third treatment completed two days ago, and this morning I found a bedbug on my sheet.
It’s been awhile since then, and I’ve learned there is no short cut! My advice to those reading this is, do not use sprays! They act as repellents and can cause bugs to travel to other areas not being treated. If you want to get rid of them, then you need to use DE and follow the instructions on this website. It will take time, but in the end, it’s the only DIY method that worked for me.
Bed bugs do mental damage as well as physical. Living with an infestation for too long may cause a person to believe they are being bitten even after successful treatment.
Want to read more stories like this? A LOT of people have shared their experience with bed bug bites!
Need Help Identifying Your Bug?
I can help! Did you catch a bug and need to find out if it’s a bed bug or what bit you? I’m happy to help, just use this form to upload your pictures, and I’ll do my best.
You can help too! Can you identify the bug bite left by a visitor, know of pest control method not mentioned, or have a story to share? If so, please leave a comment. Bed Bugs can be frightening, but you are NOT alone.
I have all the resources you’ll need to get through this, so enjoy the site!