Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Battle of the Bed Bugs, Drove me Buggy

Battle of the Bed Bugs

I no longer have bed bug issues, as far as having them in my home. But the memory of the battle lingers on. (And believe me that issue will drive ya buggy !) Prevention is better than cure in all things. With prayer, my hope is that this "article" helps you to not go through the issues that my family already has.

Not too long ago, bed bugs which were talked about quite often in the media, has seem to have faded. Yet the majority of society is unaware of how easily it is to come in contact with them or how very difficult it is to rid their homes of them. Speaking from first hand experience, it is merely impossible without major combat.

DO NOT believe that “bombing” your home, as  you would  do when you have a flea infestation, will solve the issue. My husband and I wastefully invested in that idea. Cans that say Bed Bug foggers don't tell you that the bugs retreat into wall cracks, base boards and any other hiding places at the beginning of “bomb” fumigation. In the foggy battle the pesky little bed bugs crawl into televisions, radios, picture frames, toys, clothes, dresser drawers and many other unexpected places.

Let the fight begin.....

We stripped carpets. As I was removing carpet tack boards, my son's wooden bunk bed frame was still in the room. Because it was in my way, I got tools and began disassembling it to get it out of my way. We thought we had this room conquered after much spraying and pre-bombing. As I turned the bolts with the wrench the boards separated and then appeared hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bed bugs that were in hiding. They crawled from their bug vacation home. One of many secret dwellings, I am sure. I opened my son's bed room window, and without the use of any tool, I began to rip that bunk bed apart, with my bare hands, and threw the now useless boards out of the window and into the front yard. I explained to my husband that these WILL BE burned !!!

This was only the beginning of the fight. The next step was educating myself more. I opened my lap top computer and researched many areas. I would win this war of the bugs.


What are the signs that you have bed bugs? My first indications were the blood stained sheets. My sons bedsheets looked as though he and his cousins had spent the night rolling and crushing
chocolate chip crumbs. Little smeared marks covered his pillow and sheets. I changed them before he went to bed and the marks were on the sheets the next morning. When I looked on the computer, that was all the evidence I needed. We had bed bugs.  I began to read diligently and thoroughly.

Everything had to be washed and dried in hot water. Everything. Any cloth item.  Did I mention everything ?

So into this war we went. We took the mattress to the dumpster immediately, along with his favorite pillow. Curtains came down in every room. We checked for bed bugs in the other rooms. My bed had a few signs also. I became bug-a phobic and began to become wildly and over emotionally overwhelmed. And very thankfully was able to move into my deceased mother in laws mobile home. I could not live in the place that was invaded by the skin eating blood sucking pests.

 After every visit to my home I would return to the trailer, strip my clothes on the front porch. Immediately they would be tied in a trash bag and I would hose my body off and run quickly into a hot shower. After cleaning myself I then took the cautionary step in washing the possibly infested clothes into a hot water filled washing machine. I refused to have another place be filled with the devouring bugs.

That is another sign of bed bugs. The computer confirmed the rash on my son's skin. Although bed bug bite reactions vary from person to person, I knew from the pictures that he was bitten by these vampire creatures. I had previously taken him to two health care providers for his rash. Both were unaware of what he had, claiming that he had a reaction to something he had probably eaten because the rash appeared to be coming from inside of his body. I am not upset with the misdiagnoses. After all this has just become what seems like an epidemic across the states. As more and more cases appear, they will become more and more educated. I certainly have.




What about beds and furniture? How could I tell signs that bed bugs are/were there ? First, inspect is the bed. Check the sheets and blankets for any dead bugs, dormant bugs, or small, black spots and streaks.  (To me, it looks like smeared chocolate streaks)Take pillows out of their cases and check along their seams. Remove the bedding and check the mattress for the same signs of spots, streaks or bugs. Check along seams, cording and under any buttons. They are especially fond of the cording around the edge of a mattress, where it folds over at the corners. If there is a label on the top of the mattress, check carefully around it and under any loose areas. If possible, lift the mattress and check the box springs and bed frame. Pay close attention to crevices, cracks and seams. They may be more likely on the underside of mattresses and box springs than on top. The bottom of box springs is their ideal habitat. Check along the dust cover. They congregate around the staples that hold the gauze dust cover to the frame. If the box springs have plastic or cardboard corner protectors, they will often rest under or around them. If possible, remove these to allow inspection, although it may be difficult or impossible to reattach them as they were originally installed. If the dust cover is loose, or torn, or if it can be removed by the owner, check inside the box springs for signs of insects. It is extremely difficult to thoroughly check every nook and cranny inside box springs, so if bugs are found on the outside it may be best to replace the box springs or cover it with a zippered case sold for dust mite and bug control. There are also bed bug covers for pillows.  Even though wooden bed frames are more likely to have insects than the more common metal variety, bugs can harbor in  the seams and overlapping sections of metal frames and should also be inspected. Be sure to look behind the headboard and behind any pictures or loose wallpaper near the bed.

Become educated. Learn about these pestilences before you actually need too. I wish I had.

Learn simple but very helpful prevention methods. Wash used clothing in hot water and dry throroughly in a hot dryer. Never wear new clothing without putting them in the dryer for at least 30 minutes on the highest heat settings. Heat kills bed bugs. Do not store your new shoes in the shoe boxes they come in. Cardboard is an easy hiding place. Shipping vans and tractor trailers are known to transport bedbugs. Many retail stores and companies have closed down due to infestations. You may have purchased items from those places before their doors were shut. Brand new store bought items are not exempt for a bug transport into your home. Throw away plastic storage bags such as grocery and department store bags.

Think you have been in a home that is infested, or maybe a hotel? Remove shoes and clothing before entering your home upon return. Bed bugs crawl quickly and can take a free ride on shoes or in cuffs or seams of clothing.

If staying a hotel bring only necessary items into the room. Those items would be best stored in zip lock bags. If you have not taken this precaution, be sure to wash your clothing items in hot water upon your return home. Spray your luggage with bed bug spray and store in plastic bags which are able to be sealed airtight. (We took necessary steps to store our luggage in the heat of a closed vehicle. Unfortunately not everyone has the ability to do that, as we do.) Prevention is the best medicine. If possible leave luggage in your vehicle and bring clothing and necessary articles in and out of the hotel in sealable bags or totes. Be sure to vacuum out your car after traveling. We vacuumed every crease and seam of every seat, floor and the trunk. What may hide will find you again when you return to your vehicle.

Unlike head lice, storing items in sealed bags for 48 days, will NOT kill beg bugs. It takes one year without a host to kill these pesky irritants.

We even took our electronics, videos, pictures, books, etc from our home and stored them, sealed in duct taped closed up plastic bags or totes, in the heat and dead cold winter before we placed them back into their places. What we could throw away, good or bad, we did. We threw away many items, realizing that keeping it's memory is better than keeping being bit by bugs that make hiding a sport. These bugs hide in everything.

We steamed. That little steamer went to work. We, the steamer and humans, both sweat through the chore. Walls seeped with steam. I don't think there was an inch that wasn't heated. Heat kills. Nothing else seemed to. I watched the pestilence scurry and but I caught them, boiling their blood sucking bodies. I was determined to kill. I wiped the little dead pests from my home and threw away the evidence. In some cases reported, the only way to defeat the bed bugs is to completely tent you home and heat it to 120 for atleast 4 hours.  I wonder if that would have been an easier step for us to have taken.

Bed Bug Traps

I learned through the Internet how to make home made bed bug traps. It was a good way to see if we had been successful in this exhausting task. To make bed bug traps, you need a shallow pan, such as a kitty litter pan, scrap cloth such as an old towel, baby powder, glue gun, dry ice and a lunch box thermos, Make strips, length wise, in the towels long enough for the material to reach the top rim of the kitty litter pan and about ½ inch over lapping the surface that it will sit on. In long strips glue the toweling all around the box. This will give the bugs something(ladder) to crawl up and into the box. Put a coating of baby powder on the inside walls of the kitty litter box. Carefully place dry ice in the thermos and place opened thermos inside the center of the litter box. The carbon dioxide that the dry ice puts off is what attracts the bed bugs. It is also what attracts the bed bugs to humans. Use these traps over night. In the morning you will see traces of bed bugs in the baby powder and dead bugs in the litter box. This is one way that can show you that you have bed bugs. There are other on line suggestions to try. But this one certainly helped us.

 It answered our question.We had our proof that bed bugs still existed in our home. Oh my what are we to do now? A friend told of us Diatomaceous Earth (Diatomite). We bought a large container and went to work.

Diatomaceous Earth powder was put in every crease and corner of picture frames. I put the powder in every electrical outlet, baseboards, cabinets, piano, drawer, window pane... you name it the powder was there.


Pest control

Diatomite is used as an insecticide, due to its abrasive and physico-sorptive properties.The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. Arthropods die as a result of the water pressure deficiency, based on Fick's law of diffusion. This also works against gastropods and is commonly employed in gardening to defeat slugs. However, since slugs inhabit humid environments, efficacy is very low. It is sometimes mixed with an attractant or other additives to increase its effectiveness. Medical-grade diatomite is sometimes used to de-worm both animals and humans, with questionable efficacy. It is commonly used in lieu of boric acid, and can be used to help control and possibly eliminate bed bug, house dust mite, cockroach and flea infestations.This material has wide application for insect control in grain storage.

Please wear protective clothing and face masks, the paper kind filters the fine dust, when working with the powder. Read precautions on label. I didn't do this as often as I should and ended up with some pretty nasty sinus infections. We also used the food grade dust so that it would not do any harm if accidentally ingested.

After all this work and not living in our home for a year, we beat the battle of the bugs. The smell of bleach overwhelmed us while cleaning the stains or the remains from our house. We vacuumed every inch we could.  It took lots of effort but it was worth it to have our home back. We conquered the battle of bed bugs !!!! I am still cleaning dust from crevices. And believe me I am taking many many precautions on prevention. Some may so I take too many . I have become and educated bug-a-phobic and proud of it.

 I  do not want any of you to go through the same things as I have. It's taken me couple of years to finish writing this. I apologize to those who this may have helped by now. Really, it could help us all. I no longer have bed bug issues as far as having them in my home. But the memory of the battle lingers on. Prevention is better than cure in all things. Now, if I can erase the fear...for everyone.

Praying a hedge of protection around our home and yours, doing the work necessary it takes and I am..trusting in His word.

Psalm 91 NIV 3-11

3 Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.


  1. Wow, Mary. I had no idea you had endured this battle! I learned a great deal from this post! I pray we never have this problem but if we do, I'll know who to call. Praising God with you that you are free from pestilence!

  2. Sally, it was quite an "adventure" ! One I hope no one will have to take. Pass the education on for me. God Bless . be covered by Him. Love ya Sally.

  3. I was scratching the whole time I was reading your Blog Mary!!!! So scary how close we come to bringing these critters in our homes... Every time we go to the movies, we sit in those cozy theater seats and I wonder if there is head lice or bed bugs hopping in on my head!

    So glad that you and your family conquered those nasty bugs, so you ready to go see a movie :o)
    Love ya Mary!