Have you seen the reports of bedbugs invading high-end department stores, hotels, and theaters this past year? Does the thought of sleeping in a bed with hundreds of tiny parasitic creatures give you nightmares? If so, it may be time to take preemptive action to reduce the odds that your home will provide the next great dining experience for these minute blood suckers. If you are chosen as their main course, it is difficult, but not impossible, to get them to move on without using commercial strength pesticides. However, the following ideas are eco-friendly and should be tried first:
Discouraging an Infestation
Making new habits may decrease your chances of becoming a bedbug victim. The following are practical green methods of discouraging bedbugs from settling into your home:
• Put every piece of clothing or any linens brought into the home into the dryer for thirty minutes because bedbugs and their eggs can be killed with sustained heat.
• Wash and dry reusable shopping bags regularly.
• Vacuum carpets and mattresses thoroughly, especially after overnight visitors who may have unwittingly carried bedbugs into your home.
• Keep beds positioned away from the walls and place sticky pest strips around all four legs.
• Do periodic checks by inspecting the seams of upholstered furnishings, curtain hems, and mattress corners. Check out bedbug photos online so you know what signs to look out for.
• Buy a zippered mattress bag for every set of bedding in the house to protect them from becoming a bedbug habitat in the future.
Dealing with a Bed Bug Invasion
Once bedbugs have decided that the residents of your household are a tasty meal, it takes some serious action to convince them to depart. While herbal sprays, such as neem or peppermint, may send them into hiding and prevent them from biting quite as often, these only kill these voracious critters if applied directly to their outer surface. Since bedbugs are some of the best hiders in the insect world, getting a shot at every member of the horde is next to impossible. The following green methods of extermination might work much better:
• Mist mattresses and carpets with a solution of rubbing alcohol and water. The alcohol content should be at least 70% to be effective, and this may need to be done several times for successful results, and it is important to remember that alcohol is flammable.
• Use a steamer on mattresses, bedding, household linens, curtains, carpeting, and upholstered couches and chairs.
• Sprinkle a powdery, non-toxic substance called diatomaceous earth on household surfaces. When bed bugs are exposed to diatomaceous earth, they dry up and die.
Ridding a home of bed bugs using natural methods is hard work and not for the faint of heart. Persistent effort, however, will mean that your family does not have to be exposed to toxins that might later cause health problems, so it is worth the effort to try these eco-friendly measures before calling a pest control specialist.
This is a guest post from Karen Barnes, who tries to find a green solution for every problem. She believes people should use eco-friendly methods to fight bedbugs without resorting to using pesticides in their homes.
Bedbug image via mindfuldocumentation on flickr