How To Kill Bedbugs, What Works & What Don’t.

About a month ago I started getting bitten but not by mosquitos (not quite as itchy) and was confused as to where the bites were coming from.  I thought maybe I had gotten fleas from my neighbors having pets (which has never happened btw) but I couldn’t find a one of them so I just kind of wondered about it for awhile.  Then one of my neighbors in my apartment complex (all the apartments are joined together) asked me if I had bedbugs.  I responded that I had been getting bitten by something but didn’t know what it was.  They told me that apparently the whole building had bedbugs (thanks for letting me know).  So I googled and did my homework and found out that they basically are little blood-sucking parasites that are very hard to get rid of, and that apparently I had been doing something right because a typical infestation was a lot worse than what I had (maybe a bite here or there like you might get mosquito bites from being outdoors) compared to this horror show:

My apartment had a prior bug problem due to one of my neighbors and we’d put down boric acid in the cracks and crevices, so maybe it was keeping them at bay.  But I kept getting bit.

So I looked online, found out that even exterminators often can’t kill them and that using pesticides on them for decades has produced super-bedbugs resistant to pesticides (according to fundamentalists insects can’t possibly evolve so god must’ve miraculously made them resistant to man-made pesticides just to fuck with us).

Anyway, so I find out that many of the best ways to kill them are actually atmospheric, not chemical.  So what to do?  Websites in general recommend a) opening a window and using a fan to circulate the air which removes the buildup of CO2 that builds up as you sleep which is what draws them out, making it hard for them to find you, b) putting a little dry ice in a metal dog dish (assuming you don’t have a dog) and putting cloth around it so they can climb into it, dry ice is literally just frozen CO2 so as it melts it will mimic a sleeping person, draw in the bedbugs, but they can’t deal with vertical slippery surfaces so they will climb in but not be able to get out, and viola, bedbug trap.  I didn’t try this but it sounds awesome, lol.  Then they suggest putting special little “cups” around the legs of your bed and filling them with mineral oil, or putting vaseline around the legs of your bed because both stop them from getting at you while you sleep.  One site also suggested glass “shoes” for your bed since they can’t climb the smooth surface.  Of course washing and drying your linens and steaming your mattress is also recommended because they hide in there and extreme temperatures kill them and any eggs (which can be microscopic, yay). 

So what worked for me?  Well, none of the above, lol.  I just have a mattress on the floor so the bed-moat idea was out, steaming from what I’ve read doesn’t get them all and the humidity can cause it’s own problems (mold and such).  But I had a secret weapon.  The giver of life herself, my mom : )

As many of you know I care for a disabled parent, and she due to back problems, sleeps on an air mattress because it’s the only thing that makes her back not hurt as much, and after a strategy session with her I realized she wasn’t getting bit up nearly as much as me, and all of her bites were around her feet, likely while she was at her computer late at night.  So I put 2 and 2 together and realized that the slippery sides of the mattress were stopping the bugs from getting to her at night, unless she accidentally had a blanket edge off the side.  So I told her to be vigilant about the blanket thing and watching for them periodically while sitting up at night and wadda ya know, she stopped getting fresh bites.

I just last night got an air mattress, put freshly cleaned and dried linens on it and was careful not to have any hang over the sides and had my first bed-bug free night in weeks.

It’s worth mentioning that I also put an air-circulator fan in the room to circulate the air (and thus CO2) because otherwise apparently they are drawn to the buildup above your bed and then drop from the fucking ceiling to get to you.  Curse you evolution!

But yeah, hope this helps someone, best to try everything, but if you can’t keep them away from you while you sleep there’s no point.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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19 Responses to How To Kill Bedbugs, What Works & What Don’t.

  1. I had bedbugs a few years ago.  It was quite a mess.  I didn’t hear about most of the tips you mention here… what I ended up doing was buying a bedbug exterminator kit and using most of the tools in there.  I powdered my entire bedframe and wrapped two-sided tape around all the bedlegs — that keeps them from crawling up.  I also had a spray canister of pyrethrum that I employed liberally.The first night after I had used the puffer to powder down the entire bedrame, I job I tended to very thoroughly, the little bastards were very displeased.  They started coming all out of the bedframe and running all over the place, whereupon I would blast them with the pyrethrum.I was lucky inasmuch as I have an elevated bed and am the only food source in the house, so I just had to make sure to keep myself as isolated as possible and starve them out.  I got rid of my infestation in “only” two months or so.  I had a friend in Boston, married with three children, who took nearly three years to get rid of hers.  They’re incredibly persistent.

  2. Saridactyl says:

    In the U.S. we stopped using a certain pesticide chemical that kills bed bugs because it’s hazardous to our health. Get that, and it will kill them. Lol.

  3. agnophilo says:

    @TheSchizoidMan – It’s literally like a little war in your own home.  And yeah apparently they can hybernate without food for a year or more, so I apparently have to sleep on an air mattress for a long long time.  And yeah, I can imagine what a pain in the ass it would be to have kids who won’t or can’t be vigilant about them.  I’ve got it really easy compared to a lot of people and it was already beginning to fray my nerves.

  4. agnophilo says:

    @Saridactyl – Heh : PAnd yeah, bed bugs don’t pass on any diseases (other than insomnia if you will), so it’s safer to go the non-DDT route.

  5. It’s so aweful with bugs, any bug, especially ticks. I hate them. I know animal lovers will hate me and write nasty comments to me now. It has happened before . But I say: Fuck them and fuck all spiders too.  KILL ‘EM ALL!!!!

  6. That wont get rid of them though will it? I read that they can live a year or two between feeding. The idea of bed bugs give me the shivers. They are really becoming a very very common problem. I am happy we haven’t had the problem yet though with my aunts and dad taking turns taking care of grandma on the weekends and with 2 out of the 4 being truck drivers I often wonder how long it will be until we have to deal with a bed bug issue

  7. agnophilo says:

    @love4meislove4U – I don’t think animal lovers = insect lovers.  But yeah, waking up every night with bugs crawling on or near you and eating you gets a little unsettling after about 5 seconds.  So glad there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  And yeah at least they’re not tics.@Kristenmomof3 – They can hibernate that long but I guess I’ll be vigilant for a few months after they go away, then let my hair down a bit and go back to being vigilant instantly if I see another bite/bug.

  8. FalconBridge says:

    That is so scary creepy!  I hope I never ever get those because then I’d probably have to move again because it’d freak me out too much.  I have enough worries with spiders!  Though it’s a rule not to open the window near our bed because I’m terrified of things coming in through the window (old storm windows).  We use Home Defense twice a year.  I do sleep with a fan on.  I don’t understand though, do they live in carpets or something?  When you use the term bed bugs I’m thinking they’re in the mattress but you’ve said they can climb up the legs of the frame? 

  9. agnophilo says:

    @FalconBridge – They live in cracks and crevices and love fabrics.  I don’t think they live in the carpets but my apartment is almost entirely hardwood, so I don’t know.  But they feed only on warm-blooded animals (ie people), so starving them out is the way to go.

  10. I hear cedar oil will do the trick. Hear cedar side advertised all the time on the Radio.They would love me. I break out in huge quarter to silver dollar sized welts when mosquitos get me.

  11. leaflesstree says:

    Ick. I vaguely recall there being an outbreak of bedbugs in NYC recently, but I have thankfully been spared that experience. I’m sure I’d be very attractive to them since mosquitoes usually devour me in the summer (I’m told I have sweet blood or something?). I have had bugs on occasionally, and spiders (which I let live, since they eat other bugs) but nothing serious, for which I’m grateful. If I got bedbugs I’d probably call and yell at my landlord and then move back in with my parents until they either got me another apartment, let me out of my lease early, or cleared the bugs out. Ick again!  

  12. agnophilo says:

    @tendollar4ways – That sucks.  It’s an allergic reaction, some lucky fuckers are actually not allergic to mosquito bites and get no bumps at all.  They still get malaria though : P@leaflesstree – Yeah spiders are a sign of some other bugs.  And when people think they’ve got spider bites it’s almost always something else nibbling on them.  Though once when I was a kid (in an old, hot dusty house with no air conditioning where we opened the windows in the summer and didn’t have screens) I got a series of big hot bumps on my side and later found a huge spider in my room.  Creeped me the fuck out.  Thing would’ve made a small thud if you threw it at the wall.I don’t mind the little ones but the big ones I hate.

  13. leaflesstree says:

    @agnophilo – Thankfully the spiders I’ve seen are really tiny. If they were huge ones I’d have killed them. 😛

  14. agnophilo says:

    @leaflesstree – I’d have dismembered them and left them there as a warning to the others, lol.

  15. sabbygurl says:

    the vaseline on the bed legs thing works.  The “special cups” have powder in it- 1, to dry them out, and 2, it gets on their crawly feet making it slippery for them.  It’s worth mentioning that they can climb walls, so, don’t have your bed leaning against it if you know/think you have a bed bug problem.  When my apartment had bedbugs, i only got bit twice, but that evening, i caught the sucker and squished it Unfortunately for me, i can’t sleep on air mattresses. i start getting bad back problems. for me, vacuuming once a week helped keep the infestation low. 

  16. haha glad its not a problem for yu anymore, actually i got mine exterminated…it took 3 long months to complete the process but it seems we are bed bug free now…hopefully.

  17. agnophilo says:

    @sabbygurl – You got rid of them though?@viEtbOionCraCk – I haven’t gotten a bite in 3 days since I did the air mattress thing, no exterminator.  Was getting bitten multiple times a night (just that I could see on my hands, chest, feel on my neck etc), so it’s a complete turnaround.  Soooo nice.

  18. Wow, thank you for the insight. Would have been nice knowing this in the Army, in AIT we got bedbugs bad. But now that I’m home it won’t be a bad idea to clean my sheets and so on.

  19. agnophilo says:

    @Cookstergirl88 – In the army they should spring for an exterminator.  But yeah, treat it as a biohazard so as not to transfer them.  They seem damn near impossible to eradicate.

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