How To Get Rid OF Bed Bugs [Simple-Professional Advice]
Bed bugs have cursed mankind since the beginning of time. As evidence, every adult and every child knows the bedtime saying “Don’t let the bed bugs bite!” As someone that has been in pest control for the last 30 years, when I put my children to bed, I tell them “Don’t let the bed bugs bite…because they will!” But growing up, I never really put any thought into bed bugs; I just thought it was something that my parents would say to scare me. Or like what I do now, it is just one of those “Dadisms” that every dad says to their kid.
But the reality is that bed bugs can be serious, incredibly serious. Partially because of their bite, but what is so frustrating is that they can be nearly impossible to get rid of. In fact, bed bugs can be so difficult to eliminate that most pest control companies will not deal with them. But while most pest control companies avoid bed bugs like the plague, others will take as much bed bug work as they can handle. So why is it that most pest control companies avoid bed bugs while others do everything they can for bed bug business yet I am telling you that getting bed bugs is easy? Because it is. I am not a blog writer “researching bed bugs” on the internet and writing an article on what I find. I have been active in the pest control business since 1993. My livelihood depends on my ability to quickly and effectively eliminate bed bugs for the lowest cost possible. And after doing it for years, I have come to the conclusion that you can do it too. Getting rid of bed bugs is simple.
I understand it may sound like hyperbole. But just knowing a few things…most notably what product to use can make getting rid of bed bugs simple. If you are like one of those people that just want to cut to the chase without having to read everything, I will tell you the secret. Crossfire. The secret product that the best pest control companies use is Crossfire. But I urge you to read on…
Crossfire is unique for pest control or even household cleaning products in that it has no signal word. A signal word is something on the label that tells the basic toxicity level. Examples would be “Caution, Warning, Danger. “Caution” is the least toxic, then “warning” then then “danger”. However, Crossfire has none of these. The toxicity level is so low to humans and pets that the EPA requires no signal word for Crossfire. Because of this, you can feel comfortable spraying it wherever necessary (always use according to the label) which includes mattresses.
There you go, you have the secret sauce. But I encourage you not to leave yet. While just about anyone can grab some Crossfire and get to work and all the bed bugs will die, there are still a few things one should know.
Bed Bug Tidbits Of Information
Bed bugs are tiny little insects with flattened bodies that bite, then suck the blood of mammal…especially humans. While they look and act like mites, bed bugs are actually insects which mean they have 6 legs.
These redish little creatures are active and night and hide in any little crack or crevice during the day. Once the sun goes down, bed bugs come out looking for blood. The bite of the bed bug is actually painless but many people have reactions to the saliva of the tiny vampire. Most of the issues arise from the itching that occurs from the irritation of multiple bites, especially common around the ankles.
Aside from bites, a tell tale sign of bed bugs are dark red smear marks on the bed…this is bed bug poop…made out of your blood.
The creepy thing is that it may take some time for people to realize they have bed bugs. It may start off with them finding red bumps on their skin. This may go on for a few days before they really start to pay attention to it. Then they take a closer look and realize there is some white in the side the red bite. Then they put that together with how they have been feeling like something is crawling on them at night when they sleep. It may seem obvious, but often bed bugs are off their host and in their own little bed and fast asleep by the time the host wakes up…so people think it was all in their head.
But after the bites continue, one may look around the edge of their mattress and find hundreds, literally hundreds of bed bugs congregating around the seems. Another tell tale sign of bed bugs are dark red smear marks on the bed…this is bed bug poop…made out of your blood.
Bed bugs will lay about 200 eggs, setting about each night laying a few here and a few there sticking the to structures…like your bed, using their saliva. Gross.
Bed bugs can even go a year without a meal. So just closing the door to the bedroom and ignoring it for a few months will not work.
Believe it or not, bed bugs are not known to carry any disease. Aside from red marks that may itch, they are more or less, harmless. But harmless or not, as I mentioned before, bed bugs are gross and if left alone they will only get worse.
Many people note a sweet or musky smell from bed bugs. Bed bugs use pheremones, especially to communicate danger. When these pheromones are released, the bed bugs run and you may smell it.
While we have billions of love bugs here in Florida, bed bugs have not inherited the love trait. When bed bugs mate, the male will inject the female in the abdomen with a hypodermic penis in order to fill her with semen. Yes, I said “hypodermic penis”. It is a scientific term. Yes, there is no official spot for this to happen, just somewhere on the abdomen.
Unfortunately, the males are not always spot on and will occasion, inject an unsuspecting male in the abdomen.
While CO2 is the drug of choice for bed bugs, scientist have found that bed bugs are highly attracted to human scent, even if it is just clothes that have been worn for a short time. Humans inhaling is the number one attractant but your sweet human smell is what really gets their love.
Over the decades, this issue with chemically killing bed bugs has not necessarily been how to kill them but rather, how to keep killing them. Scientists come up with products that kill bed bugs, that is not an issue. But what happens is over time, the bed bugs become resistant to the products. This is common with German roaches as well.
Imagine you have 1000 bed bugs and you sprayed it with ABC Bed Bug Spray and it killed 975 of the bed bugs but for some reason, 25 of those bed bugs were strong enough to survive the treatment. Now those 25 bed bugs breed and they now spawn HUNDREDS of baby bed bugs that have inherited the trait that caused the parents to be resistant to ABC Bed Bug Spray. Then those babies now have babies and you are back to square one having bed bugs that laugh at you when you spray them.
Crossfire has amazing results. However, just like it’s predecessors, it can change at any time if super bed bugs begin to spawn.
4 Types Of Bed Bug Treatments
Heat treatments are a common treatment for bed bugs. Heat treatments can be quite effective for killing bed bugs and bed bug eggs. With heat treatments, pest control companies bring in large equipment that will generate heat and blow it throughout the area.
- High kill rate
- No chemicals
- No residual
- No “transfer effect”
- Can melt things in your home
- Home has to be cleared of living things like people, pets and fish
- Bed bugs can actually evade the heat, seeking shelter deep in cracks or in insulated walls
- Can only be done by pest control professionals
Cold treatment is effected in isolated areas where direct contact can be made with bed bugs and bed bug eggs.
- Effectively kills bed bugs and eggs on contact
- No chemicals
- No residual
- No “transfer effect”
- Can only be done by pest control companies
Mechanicall control is anything that physically makes it difficult for bed bugs to live their lives. These include bed bug proof mattress covers , trays that go under the feet of the bed
Mechanical methods should work as a part of an overall preventionn or treatment plan. It is always good to have a bed bug proof mattress cover and trays for the feet of the bed.
Glue or sticky boards that will catch wandering bugs and act as a great monitor in case bed bugs show up but they will not be effective for eliminating bed bugs. If you keep them out for monitoring, just keep them ways from kids and pets that may get stuck to them. If they do get stuck, apply vegetable oil. The oil will break down the glue and little Billy will be free.
- No chemicals
- Easy to do
- Helps for prevention or reduction of current infestations
- Will not eliminate bed bugs
“Chemical” is a very broad category so I will limit it to what is currently the best product in bed bug elimination, Crossfire. With Crossfire, everywhere where bed bugs live can be treated. As always, follow the label. But Crossfire can literally be applied to the bed on which you sleep. In pest control, we are taught to not use the work “safe” for liability reasons. However, this is one of the very, very few pest control products that can be called “safe”.
- Inexpensive to do yourself
- Easy to do yourself
- Kills all stages of bed bugs
- Has a long-lasting residual
- Safe to use
- 100% effective, even if you missed areas
- No need to leave the home
- No odor
- Should not stain
- Will not harm pets
Why Are Bed Bug Treatments So Expensive?
A typical bed bug job can easily be $1500 or more. Many are in excess of $2500! In fact, our bed bug job pricing at my company starts at $950 MINIMUM. But there are legitimate reasons for prices like this. It does not mean that anyone is getting ripped off with bed bug pricing.
Those prices sound insane for dealing with something that may only be living on your mattress. Why not just throw out the mattress and get a new one? Sadly, we have customers that have done that prior to calling us. This issue is that bed bugs do not only live on your mattress. They live in cracks on the bed, they live in cracks in the floor and they will even crawl up to the ceiling and congregate in groups. So when you throw out the mattress, they will just reinfest the new mattress the next night. That can be a very expensive “home remedy” that does not work.
By the way, it is always recommended to have a “bed bug proof” mattress cover but this will not stop an already existing bed bug infestation.
Bed bug treatments are expensive for a few reasons. First, bed bugs can be tough to deal with and they normally are tough to deal with but that is because the average person does not know or have the correct tools. But as I mentioned earlier, if you have the right product, anyone can get rid of bed bugs for good.
Most pest control companies give the idea that bed bugs are something that can only be dealt with by professionals with tons of experience, very expensive equipment and products that are only available to licensed pest control companies…but to quote the moderately famous Chuck Testa…NOPE.
I even thought this forever until one day I was having a talk with my distributor about bed bugs that one one of my pest control customers had. I did not want to lose them as a customer because I could not get rid of their bed bugs. He asked “Have you ever tried Crossfire? I had never heard of it.
I said “Don’t you need to do heat treatments? I have always heard chemical treatments do not work.”
He said, not anymore. Use Crossfire, it will last a year. So I bought some and it changed the way we did business immediately.
Sad but true, one of the reasons that bed bug treatments are so expensive is that companies have invested in very expensive heating equipment to get rid of bed bugs with no residual effect. There is not anything wrong with this, the heating equipment normally works but when similar results with a residual effect work, it can make the expensive investment unnecessary.
But from a business perspective, it does not make any sense to let the equipment sit around and not work for you; so they continue to keep it working and making money from the company. On top of that, it typically requires two technicians to move and operate the heat machines and as you can guess, paying two technicians is twice as expensive as paying one!
Alternatively, some companies use equipment that will freeze bed bugs. While this is fun, again, the machinery is very expensive. And there is no residual effect, so if you miss any, you will have flourishing bed bugs again.
Expensive Chemical Products
But what about companies like mine that will still charge a minimum of $950 for bed bugs? Why are we so expensive and yet I am telling you that you can easily do it for a fraction of that? There are a few factors to consider. First, the product is expensive compared to other common products used by pest control companies. So yes, I am recommending an expensive product to you but if you are willing to do the work (which is easy) you can spend about $40 on product and about $25 on a pump sprayer and you can get rid of your bed bugs for under $70 compared to $1000 more.
But it is not just about the cost of the product. One of the most expensive parts about having a pest control business is just paying a technician to drive to a job. This is one of the most unproductive, costly activities of a business. The technician is getting paid their hourly wage, you are paying insurance for them to drive, there is wear a tear of the truck and on top of that, you have to pay for the gas to get there. Then throw in other things like advertising costs and other unaccounted for expenses, it costs a lot to drive to a job.
The thing with Crossfire is, while it starts to work immediately, it is not designed to kill on contact. This is how the “transfer effect works”. As one bed bug touches Crossfire, it then goes around touching all the other bed bugs and they pass it from bug to bug until they all die…this can take time. But what happens at some point is that while some bugs may still exist, the infestation is on a decline that they cannot turn back from. So while their still may be bedbugs, it is essentially a dead infestation. It just needs a little more time. Or, a few months may go by and someone finds one or two bugs. This is most likely a reinfestation and because of the residual of Crossfire, the bugs will soon die.
But because bed bugs have such a psychological effect on people, as soon as they see one bug they call to have retreated…which is very expensive, even when unnecessary.
While we do our best to explain to people that effects will be immediate, there may be some stragglers that will eventually die. There are people that are impatient and demand another service. Even if this is not a full-blown treatment, it goes back to, it is very expensive for a technician to drive out to a job…especially when it is not necessary.
This is also a common issue for cockroaches and ants. People expect immediate results and when all their bugs are not dead without a few hours, many people think the obvious thing is to spray more and more insecticide on the problem.
There is a general rule; what kills fast does not kill thoroughly. And what kills thoroughly does not kill fast.
For example, if you spray bed bugs with something like Raid, it will practically kill bed bugs on contact. But it has no residual, so the bug it hits dies but leaves countless other bugs to frolic and play. This is true for roaches, ants, wasps and more. And with no residual, as eggs previously begin to hatch days to months later, there will be nothing stopping them from a re-infestation.
A product that has a transfer effect will kill so but thoroughly. The bugs will walk through something like Crossfire but not die. Then they go hang out with their friends and relatives. They will hug, kiss and hive-five each other…each time spreading the Crossfire. Then after they have had a chance to spread it all around, they begin to die.
And since there is a strong residual, if any new bugs show up or egg hatch, they will then come into contact with the Crossfire and die. But patience is the key, not spraying and respraying…and respraying.
But as a pest control business owner, if you give someone a guarantee, you need to stand behind it. And there are many times that all a job needs a little bit more time but it makes more sense to make the customer happy and just come back out.
The pest control industry continues to lead people to think something is complicated most often and obviously leads people to think something is complicated. While there are many cases that are best left to professionals, it is my opinion the answer is not “It’s complicated, you need to hire us.” but rather, “Get Crossfire and a pump sprayer and do it yourself!”. Follow the label. Put 13 oz. in a gallon pump sprayer and spray everywhere you see bed bugs. If you see more after 30 days, only spray the general area where they were spotted.” That seems pretty simple and you just saved yourself more than $900. Did I say always follow the label?
If I Own A Pest Control Business, Why Am I Telling You This?
Valid question. I also deal extensively with “nuisance wildlife”. I love animals and vowed to never make money off of exploiting wildlife. Meaning, if there is a real issue with wildlife, I will charge a fee to resolve the issue for the homeowner. However, if something is only perceived as an issue but is only something that the potential customer does not understand, I educate them and do my best to talk them out of hiring me. An example would be someone concerned that they saw an opossum walk through their yard. This is no cause for concern and educating the person on the gentle nature of opossums, the fact that they do not carry rabies and that they are everywhere will normally avoid having to have the opossum trapped and removed.
I also do “rescues” at no charge. This would be something like a dog in a storm drain or a dog living in the wild in a burned out house.
Many wildlife issues are best left to professionals, especially in cases where injury to animals or humans are possible. But I also believe that if something is fairly simple, there is no reason I should not share how it is done. There are many people that may have animal or pest issues that cannot afford a professional. This causes extra expenses in trying out everything that every amateur on the internet “Swear by”, such as mothballs, ammonia, boric acid, peppermint and so on. And after spending so much money on these things, they may end up doing something that makes the situation worse.
You can see when I mean here where I show homeowners how to properly handle raccoons in attics and squirrels in attics.
Features and Benefits Of Crossfire
- Kills all bed bug life stages by contact and prevents bed bug egg hatch
- Kills pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs
- Multi-mode action and control
- Quick knockdown and kill
- Residual control begins working within minutes of exposure
- Patented technology
- Approved for direct application onto mattresses
- No signal word
- For use in residential, institutional and commercial facilities
And yes, Crossfire can be applied directly to mattresses!
How to Use Crossfire
If you are details person and want all the info, here is the label and the MSDS.
But if you are just a “I don’t care! I’m ready to get going now!!!” kind of person, here is what you need to know.
- Fill a pump sprayer with ONE GALLON OF WATER
- Mix in 13 oz of Crossfire
- Shake well
- This will treat up to 1000 square feet
Q & A
Q. Do bed bugs feed on dogs or cats?
- No. While it is thought that bed bugs may have originally come from bats living in caves, bed bugs have no other hosts other than humans. However, I would not put it past bed bugs to occassional and accidentally hitch a ride on pet from room to room.
Q. Can I spray my pets?
- No, do not spay your pets.
Q. Can I use my sprayer that I used or regular pest control or weed control
- Since you are most likely spraying your bed, I recommend using a new sprayer and only using it for Crossfire. But if you must use an old sprayer, rinse it thoroughly multiple times.
Q. Do we have to leave the house?
- No. Crossfire is safe to use with you in the house. But let wet areas dry before coming into contact with them.
Q. Will it harm my plants?
- It is not recommended that you spray your plants.
Q. Should I only spray the room where they were I sleep?
- No. Spray as much of the house possible being sure to avoid food preparation areas.