Natural Bed Bug Control
These herbal treatments for bed bugs can help you control your pest problem. I have a healthy respect for insects and all manner of creepy crawlies, but I have to draw the line at any bug that considers me a walking banquet. This includes mosquitoes, fleas, and bed bugs. Bed bugs are creating problems across the U.S these days. Areas where there are large numbers of sleeping people, like hotels, apartments, and dorm rooms are particularly affected.
Herbal Treatment for Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are hard to eradicate once they're established, and when you travel, you don't always know if you'll be staying in an infested location. Apparently the problem is so widespread that even hotels you'd think are immune to pest infestations are experiencing embarrassing bed bug activity.
Here are a few bed bug facts and tips. I don't like pesticides, especially around my family and pets, so these approaches are herbal or just common sense. They'll help you identify and treat a minor incursion in your home without using costly and potentially hazardous chemicals.
How to Identify Bed Bugs
Bed bugs can be hard to spot. They're small, brown and flat, and they come out to bite when you're sleeping. If you think you may have a problem, look in the seams in your mattress, on the headboard (don't forget to check the back) and along the bed frame. If you've been bitten by one, it will look like a small, red welt.
If you can't find an actual bug, they leave signs of their presence you can check for too. Bed bug droppings look like small brown spots, and their eggs and larvae look like white spots. They can appear on bedding, headboards, mattresses, walls, floors, and just about anywhere else, with the possible exception of the ceiling.
Detecting Bed Bugs
You don't necessarily need expensive exterminators to detect bedbugs in your home. If you haven't found any telltale signs but still think you have bed bugs, a DIY setup using dry ice will get the job done for under $20.00. You can find a tutorial at Wired.com: Bed Bug Detector.
Get Rid of Bed Bugs
If you want to try an herbal solution in your home, or are staying in a location where bed bugs might be present, there is a spray you can make that will discourage them. It will keep bed bugs away from both you and your bedding. I recommend using essential oils because they are very concentrated. Essential oils are created through distillation, like spirits, and even when they're diluted, they have a strong scent.
Herbal Bed Bug Spray Insecticide
This spray will act as a good deterrent. In higher concentrations, it might stain clothing and bedding, and could even cause headaches and nausea, so don't increase the essential oil concentrations unless you plan on being out of the room overnight and have stripped the bed. Oh, and the term essential oil is a misnomer. The liquid isn't oil based so don't worry about greasy residue.
Bed Bug Spray Recipe
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)
Place in a fine mist spray bottle, and shake well before using.
I want to include some cautions here. Never work with essential oils unless you are wearing gloves. Undiluted essential oils can be dangerous if absorbed through the skin. Another possible problem is that essential oils, even diluted, can have an adverse effect on some cats, so keep kitty away.
Other Options for Controlling Bed Bugs
If you want to avoid bringing bed bugs home with you when you travel, try keeping sachets of herbs in your suitcase. The smell will keep them out of your belongings and help you avoid an infestation in your home. Tuck two sachets into your suitcase, one on either side. It's a good idea to place a couple in the pockets of your hanging garments, or in any folded clothing you plan on placing in hotel room drawers. Oh, and when you get home, be sure to keep your luggage in the garage or put it in the bathtub for a few days. Bedbugs can't crawl out of the tub, and if you've brought any of the pests home, you'll be able to detect them against the enamel when you turn on the light (hopefully), and dispose of any you see.
The sachet recipes I have below should each fill seven to ten small muslin bags. I've included a link to muslin bags available Online, but you can probably find them at your local craft store or make them yourself.
Bed Bug Herb Sachet 1
1 Cup dried Eucalyptus leaves
½ Cup dried rosemary
½ Cup dried lavender buds
10 Large cloves
Bed Bug Herb Sachet 2
1 Cup loose-leaf black walnut tea
½ Cup dried eucalyptus leaves
½ Cup dried lavender buds
¼ Cup dried thyme
2 Bay leaves
Bed Bug Control Tips and Tricks
Bed bugs don't like heat, so you can stick your linen or clothes in the drier for twenty to twenty five minutes to kill the critters. You can do the same thing with your drapes. Another way to heat-treat your linens (drapes and other textiles and small items like overnight bags or handbags) is to place them outside in the sun in a black plastic bag. According to the EPA, the bag will have to hit a sustained 110 degrees F for three hours for this trick to work.
You can also treat your mattress by steam cleaning it with a small hand held steamer to kill any bed bugs, eggs or larvae that might be present. It will kill dust mites too. Throwing some lavender essential oil into the steamer water wouldn't hurt either. The scent will even help you get to sleep at night. Heck, after dealing with these little @!#%, you'll probably need a good night's sleep.
Bed bugs are tough. They are very invasive and can go long periods without eating. They are small and can hide almost anywhere. They find new feeding grounds by hiding in or on objects people bring into their homes regularly, like luggage, handbags, coats, or cardboard boxes. An herbal DIY solution might work if you have a few bugs, but if you have an established bed bug community in your home, there are professional eradication methods that use natural pesticides, like pyrethrin, you might want to try.
For more bed bug facts, visit my article: Control Bed Bugs Naturally
EPA. "Top 10 Bedbug Tips." Page updated 1/12/12. (4/6/12.)