Saturday

Natural Bed Bug Control


Bed BugsThese 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

Reference

EPA. "Top 10 Bedbug Tips." Page updated 1/12/12. (4/6/12.)
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/bed-bugs-faq-fs.html









59 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tips, you recipes can also prevent other indoor insects too, and they are organic herbs. Cheers!

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  2. Timely advice. Thanks for these wonderful ideas!
    Plant Lady

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  3. thanks to you herb gardener, and your remedies, my bed bug problem is under control!

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  4. Hi MesTravails,

    That's wonderful news. It must be nice to get a good night's sleep without being the featured buffet.

    Just to be on the safe side, keep watching for bed bugs on your furniture and walls for the next month or two.

    Thanks for stopping back by to tell me the good news.

    Sara

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  5. Anonymous9:53:00 PM

    If you had asked me about bed bugs i would have told you, they are simply in a little poem your mother says before you go to bed........."sleep tight don't let the Bed Bugs bite!" Well let me tell you a story, this summer on a trip to Europe we had a stop over in Stockholm, Sweden. Nice Hotel, clean (I always inspect the linen before I get in) Spoteless!!! in the middle of the night I was awaken andwent to the wash room , I noticed fresh blood on the bath room floor! So I went back to my bed to see if my mother-in-law was OK (her and I were sharing a bed) To my shock the bed was crawling with bed bugs.I won't bore you with all the details but by noon the next day, large red welts started appearing, by the time I reached Helsinki (I went right too the Dr.) I was covered with at least 60 bites that burned as if my skin was on fire. With each passing hour they grew worse even to the point of forming blisters. The Dr. so shocked at my condition could not even begin to touch me. Prescribed an anti-histamine and hydrocortisone cream........this just made it worse!!!! I showered took all the cream off and went into an infa red sauna twice a day........this was the only thing that gave me releif. It took a month for the scabs to start to subside. I did the Sauna for a week twice a day. I think this saved me from much suffering. I do not recommend what the Dr prescribed. I check constantly in the event they came home with us. I don't wish this experience on anyone. My question is some sites say they carry bad things, can anyone confirm this for me. Thanks for the informative tips and suggestions. My mother-in-law broke out 9 days later but nothing like what happened to me.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:27:00 AM

      The DO carry Bad things but they don't Pass them on to humans. So the Bed Bug may have HIV or whatever but when The Bed Bug Feeds on You he DOesn't Transmit it to you.

      They're only objective is to eat and suck blood up, not spit blood out, so your blood only has contact with their mouth, not the food they ate earlier

      Delete
  6. Hi,

    With bed bug populations growing, there is concern about the likelihood that they are carriers of disease. The short answer is that, no, there have not been problems with bed bugs as infectious carriers, like, say, mosquitoes.

    Take a look at the University of Rhode Island's Fact Sheet about bed bugs: http://www.urimga.org/fact_sheets/Bed%20Bugs.pdf.

    This information mirrors lots of other informational sites on the web, suggesting that there isn't much to worry about.

    A word of caution here: it's only common sense to be doubly careful regardless of what the pundits say.

    Good luck.

    Sara

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  7. Anonymous10:32:00 PM

    For pillows and other bulk items, put them in a freezer (below 0F) for 24 hours, and it helps if you know someone w/ a restaurant walk-in.

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  8. I have tried everything for the bed bug problem! They seemed to disappear for a few months and then came back. We are calling a professional, but as any other difficult pest it can be an ongoing thing. I am going to try your recipes to hang around the beds. Thanks. Herbs rule!

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  9. Anonymous9:10:00 PM

    i need help where can you buy these oils i spent 3000 to try to get rid of these and they go away for 3 weeks then come back what can i do i now have scabs and life long scars

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  10. You can buy essential oils on line, in some craft stores and grocery stores, and at herbal supply shops in your area. If you've had your home professionally treated with pesticides and the bed bugs came back, though, the infestation may be more widespread than the recipes above can handle.

    Treating your mattress and linens will discourage bed bugs from biting for a while. I wish I could be more help.

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  11. Anonymous10:41:00 AM

    This was very timely as my husband who travels frequently came home with bites on his legs. They couldn't determine if it was actually bedbugs, though. I am going to make the sachets and spray for him to take with him on future trips. Thank you for the information and recipes!

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  12. Bed bugs are big pests right now, and seems like everyone is affected in one way or another.

    Good luck, and be sure to segregate your husbands clothing and treat his luggage too.

    Sara

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  13. Anonymous6:02:00 PM

    thanks so much for the recipes -- heading to italy next week -- plan to use both recipes -- i always use a homemade seasame/essential oil (geranium, rosemary, ylang ylang) as a whole body moisturizer recommended for dry skin -- planning to mix up the recipe as written to spray linens and also a batch with oil for my skin -- according to my essential oil encyclopedia clove oil is the only potential irritant so I will leave that out of the mix (or test some in dilution on my skin first) -- I'll let you know how I make out... herbal blessings... dhyana

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  14. Dhyana,

    I'd love to hear how it goes. Have a safe trip.

    Sara

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  15. Anonymous1:44:00 AM

    Came to this site because I love my bedroom to smell tranquil and had used only Eucalyptus oil (yes, diluted with water, in a fine mist spray-bottle) - and Miracle of all miracles, noticed that not only did it freshen up the air, but the darned bed bugs that were there when I moved into my Apt. bldg, in NJ btw, had somehow disappeared!
    Wanted to know if this had worked and Googled "Eucalyptus Oil, rid bed bugs...et voila!

    Keeping my fingers crossed - will try your awesome oil mixture tip very soon! Thanks!!

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous5:04:00 PM

      Pine Sol also works extremely well. Dilute w/water in a spray bottle and spray along the walls and flooring. Remove your drawers for a day or more and spray in the Fran and obvious places. And especially where you find dark blood stains.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous5:05:00 PM

      Correction: spray in the frame of the dressers.

      Delete
  16. Anonymous12:49:00 PM

    Well we found bugs in the bed about a week ago. I thought I had flea bits from the dog until I saw the bedbugs - squashed one, bloody mess! I don't like the idea of chemicals so I wondered if there were any natural ways to get rid of the bugs. I am so pleased to have found this page. I only had lavender in the cupboard which I used in my bath before bed. But I diluted it in a sprayer and sprayed everywhere (after hoovering thoroughly etc). And sprayed myself! After five minutes I stopped feeling like I was being crawled on. I have been sleeping well and itch-less ever since. Still find the odd very small bug, and I know it's going to be an ongoing war with these critters, but the relief from the bites is priceless. Huge, huge thanks for spending the time creating this website.

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  17. What a nice comment! Thank you.

    While you're looking around for bed bugs, be sure to check under tables and behind curtains. Sometimes going over these areas with your hair dryer on the hottest setting can help -- don't forget the baseboards and the carpeting around the bed too.

    When you wash your bedding, use the hottest water you can get, and throw some lavender essential oil in the last rinse.

    While the wash is going, take the time to run your hair dryer over the mattress (seams too). This'll help dispatch dust mites in the bargain.

    Good luck,

    Sara

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  18. Anonymous6:38:00 PM

    Last year we brought the little nasties home from a weekend in Dallas at a 4star hotel! My husband had bites all over, but in the pattern typical of bedbugs. For some reason they didn't bite me as much. I made a bunch of the sprays and sprayed twice a day. Thank you, they are gone. We have dogs, so I know what flea bites are and we went to the doctor thinking I had brought scabies home from work (I work in a hospital) and the doc ruled that out. The herbs are safer than pesticides and smell better and are way cheaper.
    Thanks

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  19. I'm so glad the recipe helped. Using herbs and essential oils is usually safer than even the integraded methods many pest control companies employ.

    It's important to work quickly, though -- as soon as you realize you have an infestation. Once bedbugs start breeding in your carpeting and behind your walls, even heavy duty insecticides have trouble getting rid of the little @#$%!

    Sara

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  20. Anonymous12:01:00 PM

    I also use this spray around my dog beds and it helps with the fleas and makes the dogs smell nice
    Laurie

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  21. Laurie,

    What a great idea! I'll have to try it.

    Sara

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  22. Anonymous10:47:00 AM

    which essential oils are harmful to cats? And for how long? (just while it's being sprayed, or afterwards as well?)

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  23. This is a tough one to call. Cats are sensitive to smell, and there have been pet fatalities reported by people using aromatherapy oils -- which are concentrated. I don't think there has been much research into the topic.

    I'm no expert on cat physiology, but when I experiment with essential oils, I keep my cats (I have two) out of the room, open the windows and vent the stale air with a floor fan. I boarded the cats for a few days when I sprayed for bed bugs (and kept them out of the room for a week or so), but I can't say if that was overprotective or not.

    When I steam the mattresses, I usually add a little lavender essential oil to the water, and that hasn't been a problem. Maybe others can comment on how they handled the pet situation.

    Sara

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    Replies
    1. I just recently found this site and use the spray almost everyday and the cats in my house don't seem to mind the smell at all.

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    2. I have done some research further with regards to the dogs and have found that rosemary is not good for dogs. The other herbs in the spray seem to be okay though.

      Delete
    3. Hello. Very useful information. Thanks for sharing. I am moving soon and used your recipe to produce a spray that I will apply in the moving container to see if there is any bb action before placing my belongings into it. I also plan to steam clean the unit and lay heavy layer of plastic wrap on the bottom. Never can be too careful or have enough peace of mind when preventing a contamination. Though most people think I'm way overboard.

      Re: the cats of the previous comment, I found this website (http://www.experience-essential-oils.com/essential-oils-for-cats.html) that talks about topical applications on cats. I have a cat and although I don't intend to use oils for topical application, I try to avoid anything that could be a potential problem for my furry friend (topical or inhalation). I will stick with rosemary oil and lavender oil to start (sans eucalyptus oil) to make your bed bug spray. Also, be wary of some commercial organic bed bug sprays if you have cats. One I found had benzoic acid, which can also be a problem for cats.

      Delete
  24. As so many others have said, this is right on time for me. My church has had issues with bed bugs for several months now, and being active in the church this has been a problem with me. I recently found a bed bug in some clothes I was about to wash(hubby's church shirt & work shirts). I immediately had my home exterminated(within 3hrs)I have all the oils but the rosemary. I will began my spraying journey because I'm out of church and I hate that! Thanks so much

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  25. Anonymous10:55:00 AM

    Will try the lavender. Thank you. This is the best info I've seen on the web concerning bed bugs. I think it's important to note that hotels and apartment managers that have bed bug infestations will continue in business even though they've tried to erradicate the bed bugs and have failed. Where I live, the manager lied to me and said the inspector said it wasn't bed bugs. I know it is bed bugs. They are afraid if they tell me it's bed bugs that the health dept. will be called in and may shut down their business.The manager where I live does use pesticides but pretends it's not for bed bugs but for some unidentifiable type of bug, or that it's fleas. They won't use the nontoxic types of pesticides, and I am afraid of regular pesticides, so I have to find a healthier alternative like lavender. Problem is, right now, I don't have the money to buy the lavender and am suffering with these bed bugs. Couldn't sleep at all last night.

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  26. Anonymous11:03:00 AM

    Thanks so much for this info on bed bugs. I will try the lavendar and other methods. It's important to note that hotel managers, apartment managers have a serious problem on their hands, financially, and ethically, and stay in business knowing that doing so is causing serious problems to those who come to stay there and knowing that the bed bugs will travel. Where I live, the management only uses regular pesticides and won't use the nontoxic alternative kind, and plus they deny that the problem is bed bugs and say it's some unidentifiable bug. I think they're afraid the health dept. might come out and shut them down.

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  27. Anonymous9:59:00 AM

    I really don't know where to find these items in a store I'll have to search online. I will try lavender scented cleaning supplies and lotions in the mean time. l let you know how it goes.

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  28. Anonymous7:18:00 AM

    Does anyone know of some essential oils that could help eridicate an infestation of carpet beetles/wooly bear...want a natural rather than chemical product as have children & pets to consider! Thank you in advance.
    Dawn xx

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  29. Actually I read the bed bugs are carrying MRSA and/or VRE may have the potential to act as vectors for transmission. Further studies are needed to characterize the association between S. aureus and bedbugs.
    http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/17/6/10-1978_article.htm

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  30. Violetwrites,

    This is valuable new information. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Bed Bug Herb Sachet 1

    1 Cup dried Eucalyptus leaves
    ½ Cup dried rosemary
    ½ Cup dried lavender buds
    10 Large cloves


    what cloves are you refering to in this recipe . thanks

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  32. Sheree,

    That would be the spice often used in baked ham: Syzygium aromaticum. It's a small, dried, brown flower bud.

    Sara

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  33. Anonymous1:36:00 PM

    I don't have a bedbug infestation but some neighboring apartments do, so I'm hoping to fend the bugs off before they ever get in. I've made the rosemary/eucalyptus/lavender essential oil spray for which you gave the recipe. Exactly where (in corners, around bed, on the bedding itself, on furniture) do you suggest spraying it, and how often, as a deterrent? Thanks.

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  34. As a deterrent, I'd spray it around the baseboards and around (not in) electrical outlets. I'd refresh it frequently enough that the smell would always be detectable in treated rooms.

    I would probably also sprinkle lavender buds on carpeting along baseboards after vacuuming. They release aroma when stepped on and are safe for carpeting. You can purchase buds by the pound online.

    You might also explore using diatoms in areas where bed bugs are most likely to enter your home. They act like little buggy razor blades, so they may be useful if you feel comfortable using them -- and are willing to employ safety measures (respirator when applying them).

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  35. Anonymous2:09:00 PM

    Thank you so much. I appreciate your suggestions and thank you for the recipes. The spray smells great and so do the lavender buds.

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  36. Thank yo so much for the bed bug repellent spray recipe. I made some last night. My question is: when do I need to refresh it? I am afraid my nose will become so accustomed to the scents, I won't know when it will have dissipated. Perhaps once a month?

    I have sprayed around the air ducts and front door of my apartment, as I believe we became infested from a neighboring apartment.

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  37. JanetWrites,

    More frequently than that. Spray the baseboards and the area around the bed once a week or so. If you share common walls with the infested apartment,you might also want to try removing the covers on common wall switches and outlets and sprinkling diatoms (a powder) around. They're like minute razor blades to bed bugs.

    Be careful to read the directions on the label carefully. You may have to wear a respirator mask for this.

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    Replies
    1. We've been using diatomaceous earth and I'm stepping up the herbal spray. I think they work well in tandem. I may be imagining things, but it seems like the repellent is making them come out of hiding, and then the diatoms do their razor blade thing. We think we're over the whole invasion, but still waiting to see if the fat lady has another song to sing.

      Delete
  38. my ex- roommate swore that ground dried garlic upsets the bugs as well. I'm guessing at this point then that nearly any strong scent will dissuade them.

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  39. Is it possible to only have a 'mild' infestation? Myself and my youngest daughter have been suffering from the bites for a month or so, before I realized what the problem was. My husband and oldest daughter have no botes and have never had any bites. I had originally thought it was fleas and was treating for them, I guess this explains why they weren't going away.
    Anyway, I have actually found only about 5 actual bugs. I have treated my daughter's room and treated the living room, as they are the only 2 rooms affected. I tore everything out of the baby's room and wash it, and have sprayed it with the spray, as well we are getting rid of our sofa, as that is where I normally sleep and that is where I get my bites from. Is it possible that the rest of my home is not affected? I have been sleeping in my oldest daughter's bed for the last week while she's been on vacation with her dad and I've not had a single bite.
    I am thrilled to have found this spray recipe and I pray it does the trick, I hate the little friggers!

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  40. You could have caught the problem early, but it's impossible to know for sure until you stop noticing bites.

    Good luck.

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  41. I started get bites a week ago, today I found a bed bug in between my bed and Bed frame on my side of the bed. It's it possible to have just one? I sprayed running alcohol on everything, vacuumed. Before this I took clear tape looking for eggs and found none. I had a small spot of droppings. As is I barely have anything in my room. No night tables, and the dressed is on the other side of the room. Literally nothing is a few feet from my bed....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ursula,

      Yes, you could still have more. Bed bugs are small and can hide in draperies, behind electrical switch plates, inside lampshades, in book bindings, behind headboards, under carpeting . . . . You get the idea. If you live in an apartment building or condo, the infestation may be in another location. The bug you found could have migrated from there.

      Delete
  42. I spread diatomous earth everywhere, I didn't get a single bite. It's in every crack, nook, and cranny. Hopefully after a prolonged use we will kill off the bugs. We can't afford an exterminator and I'm due in May. Don't want these critters getting ideas about biting my newborn.

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  43. Ursula,

    Diatomaceous earth can be effective in controlling a number of different insects. Use some caution, though. Although research is ongoing, it's believed that exposure (inhalation) over long periods may lead to respiratory problems. For more information, perform an internet search on "diatomaceous earth toxicity" and read the caution labels on the product you're using carefully.

    Good luck.

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  44. My husband works with dangerous chemicals so we always have goggles.and respirators in my house. Kids spent the day with grandma while we went D.E. Crazy. But, thank you. I've been looking into D.E. For sometime now and after reading what it can do to insects we figured eye, nose, and hand protection would be best.

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  45. That's very helpful, thanks so much!! We have bed bugs and it's just a horrible experience, we are going to have them exterminated with chemicals but then we are definitely going to use them to prevent them to come back!!

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  46. Purchased a "Lemon Eucalyptus" spray (can say brand by request) Keeps them from biting for 6-8 hours at least while the other treatments I am working on finally work - Though not 100% sure all active ingredients - primary = Lemon Eucalyptus - very strong smell however - it does work - sold in most major stores - Note it is for mosquitoes , however Bed bugs use same type of sensors as they do from what I read :)

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  47. If Using D.E. Make sure to use Food Grade, or Feed Grade - best would probably include "Fossil Shells" This is the type of stuff they feed livestock - but be warned - powder is very fine - areas applied probably should be covered with light tape. And use eye and mouth / nose protectors when applying - it is not dangerous - but too much causes dust on the lungs. keep pets outdoors while applying - Do not get "Filter Grade" that is a bleached version used for pool and such

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  48. I live in texas, we have had bedbug problems for a little over a year now my mother is convinced that all we need to do is bedbug bomb the house and it will be better. The first time gave us a few months of relief. The second only a few weeks. I don't think it helps at all. I can't convince her to hire a professional exterminator because she will just say we can't afford it and I'm a little tired of all our solutions not working. I would like to try the herbal thing but I was also wondering, since being in texas where the temperature can easily reach 107 without heat index, is it possible to simply turn off the ac on a really hot day and take like a day trip somewhere while our house bakes and theoretically get hot enough to kill them?

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  49. Hi Sebastian,

    Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting help from a professional, they do say that a sustained temperature of 118°F for 1 hour will kill bedbugs. The EPA
    recommends 110°F for 3 hours.

    If you think the interior of your home will reach those temperatures if it's 107 outdoors, your idea might work. Good luck.

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  50. I found several bedbug bites on my arms and legs about a week ago. I haven't found any actual bugs, traces of them or eggs so far, but I am sure this is nothing but bedbugs. I have been applying herbal spray which is made of tea tree oil, citronella oil, clove bud oil, and peppermint oil all over my room for 3 days everyday, And I don't seem to get any more bites so far. I will also try with your recipe since I am ready toㄱ keep spraying everyday for 2-3 months to root those buggers out.

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