The following blog post was written for Bug Off Pest Control Center by Sandy “Ladybug” Honess, OwnerLadybug Pest Management, Inc.

Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.  What is considered a playful nursery rhyme to most of us has become a nightmare for many others.

In less than a year of Ladybug Pest Management’s start-up we have investigated at least four large infestations of bed bugs in single-family homes in Sussex County, Delaware and Wicomico County, Maryland.  All four homeowners were on fixed incomes and/or unemployed and could not afford the cost for bed bug treatment.

Luckily, we were successful in helping one elderly lady resolve her bed bug infestation through an outside source of funding.  Unfortunately, no other funding was available for the other homeowners.

Ladybug Pest Management and our canine scent bed bug beagle, “Daisey” have been very busy with bed bug calls.  Daisey, is able to sniff out hard-to-find bed bugs before one or two bugs become a larger infestation.  We have serviced many other residential and commercial bed bug cases, however, this article is intended to shed light on what we believe is becoming a growing and out-of-control situation for many of our seniors and families living on fixed and/or lower incomes.  We also want to share some low-cost prevention/treatment measures and information for those who cannot afford traditional bed bug treatment services.

The four bed bug cases cited above were the result of initially one or two bed bugs brought in by relatives and/or friends coming to live and/or visit with the homeowners.  Within a year, in all cases, the introduction of one or two bed bugs had grown into hundreds if not thousands of bed bugs resulting in large-scale infestations.  An introduction of bed bugs is defined as one or two adult bed bugs brought in by way of someone’s luggage, used furniture, bags and/or on the person’s clothing.  An infestation is defined as the presence of all stages of the life cycle of bed bugs (i.e., eggs, nymphs and adult bed bugs).

If it has been determined that bed bugs are present in your home, or the home of someone you know,  and you cannot afford the services of a professional pest management company, there are steps you can take to, at the very least, control, and at best, eradicate them.  You will need to be vigilant, patient and thorough.

The following are non-chemical procedures and tools to help prevent, monitor, detect, control, and eradicate them.

  •       Clutter Removal:  We all love our “stuff”.  But too much “stuff” provides harborage places for bed bugs.  Clothes need to be bagged and washed/dried and then sealed in containers or clean bags until bed bugs have been eradicated.  Items underneath the bed need to be cleared out.
  •       Bed Bug Detection:  It is important to detect a bed bug infestation before it becomes a much larger problem and difficult to control.  ClimbUps are dish-shaped devices placed under bed frame legs/wheels and can assess bugs coming from either the bed or the outside perimeter of the room.
  •       VacuumingVacuuming does not control bed bugs, however, with large infestations, not only are there live bed bugs, but also bed bug debris (dead bed bugs, molted exoskeletons/casings and hatched egg shells.  Vacuuming makes it much easier to determine what is alive from what is dead.  Always make sure vacuum bags are double-bagged and disposed of outside.
  •       Steam:   Bed bugs and their eggs die from extreme temperatures (114 – 115 degrees F).  Placing clothes in a hot dryer will kill bed bugs and their eggs.  A steamer can also be used to kill both adult bed bugs and their eggs.  The steamer head needs to be large enough so as not to blow bed bugs and the eggs across the room.
  •     Diatomaceous Earth:    Diatomaceous Earth (“DE”) is the fossilized remains of microscopic shells created by one-celled plants called diatoms.  The particles abrade the bed bugs’ bodies and physically “scratch them to death!” Because DE kills them mechanically, they cannot become resistant to it like they do with so many of the chemicals today. Once you put it down it stays there and keeps working. You may sweep it up once in a while as you get rid of the dead bed bugs, but Diatomaceous Earth effectiveness for bed bugs has no expiration date.  You can use a powder puffer to spread it around.
  •       Mattress Encasements:   Many hotels have encased all of their mattresses and box springs with “Bed Bug Proof” encasements.   If you have an issue with bed bugs, it would be prudent to encase your mattress and box spring.  Make sure they are certified “bed bug proof” before purchasing.  Any bed bugs that may be in the mattress or box spring will not be able to penetrate the encasement and will die.  Also, once the mattress and box spring are encased, bed bugs will be easier to visually detect.  If you can afford only one encasement at a time, place that encasement on the box spring first.

Ladybug Pest Management of Delmar, DE is offering free educational workshops to local community establishments (nursing homes, apartment communities, hotel housekeeping & staff, college resident life (dormitories), staffing and students, etc…)

It is our belief that all stakeholders (consumers, tenants, guests, landlords, property managers, owners, students, etc.) need to be as well informed as possible about the growing problem with bed bugs.

Ladybug recommends visiting the National Pest Management Association’s website and the it’s page All Things Bed Bugs for more details and resources. As well, please visit the State of Delawares website for their resource page.

Sandy “Ladybug” Honess, Owner – Ladybug Pest Management, Inc. ladybugpm@comcast.net (302) 846-2295 (443) 359-1196

Thank you Sandy and the team at Ladybug Pest Management, Inc. If you are interested in writing a guest blog for Bug Off Pest Control Centers blog, The Center, please send a draft to us at terri@howtogosocial.com

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