Although the Internet can be a great resources for finding out about a subject it lacks enough control to be certain that everything you read is technically correct.  In response to the questions we are asked on a regular basis we have put together this Frequently Asked Questions section.

We would recommend you start of with the panicked or confused about bed bugs or the educational section to gain a foundation knowledge.

Information on treatment services, self treatment and products to help detect and eradicate infestations can also be found within the site.  We pride ourselves on the accuracy of the information we provide which is often years ahead of the rest of the industry and media.  

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Frequently Asked Questions about bed bug answered by Bed Bugs Limited

Frequently Asked Questions

Bed Bugs Limited

Eradicating bed bugs from homes and businesses since 2005

Call us on: 020 7720 6468

or send an email

Questions

How can you tell if you have bed bugs?

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are impossible to get rid of, can you actually get rid of them?

The doctors / pharmacist / nurse says the bites look like bed bugs but I can’t find any.  What should I do?

I have found just one bed bug, does that mean the whole house needs treating?

I only see bed bugs in one room, does it mean the whole house needs to be treated?

Can you get rid of bed bugs with using chemicals because I saw on the TV they are all resistant to insecticides?

There is a bed bug kit available online will it work?

You can't see bed bug s, is that true?

If I throw out the bed I will no longer have bed bug s, is that true?

Is it true that you only get bed bugs if you are dirty?

My neighbour has bed bug s, does that mean I will get them as well?

My bites look just like the ones on the Internet does that mean its defiantly bed bugs?

Do bed bugs ever only bite one person and not others in the same bed?

If I leave my things out in the cold it will kill bed bug s, what temperature does it need to be?

If I leave my things out in the sun it will kill bed bug s, what temperature does it need to be?

Bed bugs are resistant to all pesticides, is that true?

Bug bombs for bed bugs like they use in other countries, do they work?

I need my house fumigated for bed bug s, how much does it cost?

The bed bugs have been exterminated but I still itch and get occasional bites, why is this?

There was a website claiming to get rid of bed bugs quickly but there was little detail on it, will it work?

Bed bugs don't like metal beds – what is the best bed type to get?

You can’t bring bed bugs back from holiday because they will not survive the temperatures of the plane’s cargo hold, is that true?

If one insecticide does not work why not mix two together?

The pest controller soaked the property surely nothing could survive?

I have been treated 3 times by another organisation and they say the bed bugs are resistant to all insecticides is this true?

The local general pest controllers seem great value at £60 per visit for the whole house is there a catch?  

I saw an eBook about bed bugs is it worth getting?

I saw a lotion online that stops bed bugs biting you does it work?

Encasing your mattress can prevent bed bug s, is this true?

You can detect bed bugs with dogs, if the dog says I have them will you treat?

You need to wash all of your clothes for a bed bug treatment to be effective

You must thoroughly prepare in order for bed bug treatments to work, is that true?

There are no bed bugs in <insert country>

All the bed bugs come from developing countries, is that true?

I can't have bed bugs because I have not been anywhere, what is biting me?

I have blood spots on my bedding does that mean I have bed bugs?

Can you identify bed bugs from pictures of my bites?

How often does a bed bug bite / feed?

What temperature should I wash my bedding at?

I have heard carpet beetles leave bites similar to bed bugs is this true?

Should I use mattress encasements to reduce the number of bites I’m getting?

I have been told I will need multiple chemical treatments is this safe for my children?

Are heat treatments the best way to treat for bed bugs?

I want to get rid of my infested furniture and been told not to why is this?

Should I have all rooms in my house treated “just in case”?

I was clear of bed bugs but they have come back, how do I get rid of them forever?

I have heard natural oils repel bed bugs which ones work best?

Do foggers or bug bombs work as they seem easy to get hold of?

Which off the shelf insecticide spray works best for bed bugs?

How do I tell the difference between faecal marks and mould spots?

I think I have bed bugs what is the easiest way to find out for sure?

I stayed somewhere that had bed bugs and I am still itching does this mean I have brought them home with me?

How can I prevent bed bugs?

Is there anything you can spray that prevents bed bugs?

Do bed bug luggage sprays work?

How do I get rid of bed bugs?

How much does it cost to get rid of bed bugs?

What do bed bug bites look like?

If I throw out the bed I will no longer have bed bug s

It can't be bed bugs because I get bitten but my partner does not

Bed bugs can be killed by the cold

Does insect repellent work for bed bugs?

Should I use isolation devices or tape on my bed legs?

How long can a bed bug survive without feeding?

How long can bed bug remain dormant?

How do I know the bed bugs are gone

Answers

How can you tell if you have bed bugs?

The only way to confirm that a room or location has bed bugs is to find one of the three key confirming signs, namely:

  • Live samples - nymph or juvenile bed bugs are translucent but the adults are a much darker brown colour. For further information, see our educational gallery.
  • Cast / shed skins - as bed bugs mature they shed their skin, this is done five times before they become adults and can breed. To see images of cast skins please see our educational gallery or for more information on the lifecycle of bed bugs see our About Bed bugs educational section.
  • Faecal traces - every time bed bugs feed they leave tell-tale faecal traces or bed bug “poo” close to where they rest and digest.  These faecal traces can be confirmed using the Bed Bug Blue™ kit which is available in our shop section.  This biological process is one of the ways that our Passive Monitoring technology works and why the bed bugs are “tamed rather than trapped”.  To see images of faecal traces please see our educational gallery

There are also a number of non-confirming signs, such as:

  • Being bitten or having bites - bites often tell you little more than you have an issue but not what that is.  The best current medical advice is that bed bugs cannot be confirmed from a skin reaction alone. For more information, see our bites educational section.
  • Red blood spots on your sheets - left when some people continue to bleed following a bite from an insect.  These however can also be caused by other things such as allergic reactions, other insects and skin conditions.  For further information, please see our blood spot analysis guide contained within the advanced educational section.

Without confirming the cause of your symptoms as bed bugs it is best to keep an open mind as to the cause and to seek assistance from someone who will be able to identify what the problem is.  Although we have some documents within the advanced education section that discuss other possible causes these only reflect a few of the most common causes.

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How did I get bed bugs?

It is not always possible to be certain where you became exposed to bed bug s.  What used to be such a rare pest is now so pervasive that the media is full of stories of bed bugs being found in schools, cinemas, shops, hotels, public transport, offices, hospitals and just about anywhere that people go.  The reality is that its best to focus on clear and simple education of the risks to those who you may have been inadvertently been exposed by so they can also make sure they are clear.

This is obviously easier to do with friends and neighbours than the local cinema or hotel but as someone once said “better spread the word than the bed bug s”.  In the spirit of this we have made available a number of newsletters and communication sheets to help you address the issue without adding to the fear.

We have also made available several videos including how to search a hotel room for bed bugs within our media appearances section.

However, if you are looking for a list of potential sources of bed bug s, here are a few of the most common:

  • Adjoining neighbour - local source - any infestation originating from an adjoining neighbour will only be resolved when the source is eradicated which is why open communication is so essential.
  • Hotel or stay away from home - single sources (unless frequently visited location) - the size of the population is initially limited to only the bed bugs brought into the home and thus if caught quickly these infestations are easier to deal with.
  • Long distance travel - single sources (unless frequently visited location) - unless it’s a regular route the initial population is again limited and easier to resolve.  However, as this list also includes aircraft you should always inspect the seat before you sit down (you may get some odd looks from the other passengers but it is worth it to avoid the issue).
  • Holidays or vacations - single source - again this produces a limited population of bed bugs but is also one that is easy to avoid.  Our appearances section includes a simple guide to inspecting hotel rooms for bed bug activity to help you avoid where possible.  Any hotel room infestation which is significant enough to risk carrying them home is easy to spot in a 5-minute inspection.
  • Working environment - local source - although bed bugs are not as common in workspaces as they are in other locations infestations can occur.  There have been a number of high profile cases where this has happened, whereby a non-bite responder has not been aware that they are bringing unwanted guests in from home.  To assist with educating colleagues, we have provided information sheets in our newsletters and information section.   
  • Commute to work - local source - all forms of public transport can be subject to the introduction of bed bugs in the same way as homes and hotels.  It can often be difficult to avoid sitting down on long journeys but our mapping studies of bed bug cases in London have shown that it is essential to remaining bed bug free.
  • Cinema or social space - single sources (unless frequently visited) - there are numerous media mentions of bed bugs being found in cinemas.  On a few occasions we have been able to track back a family’s bed bug exposure to their frequent cinema habit.  As we advocate that you live your life as “normally” as possible during bed bug infestations we have developed strategies to allow you to still enjoy your social time and yet reduce the risk of this occurring.
  • Items brought into the home - single sources (unless items repeatedly come from an infested location) - we often hear of the spread of bed bugs being blamed on this and although we are willing to acknowledge that it is a possible source it hardly explains why there are so many issues in hotels.  Through understanding the biology of bed bugs you can inspect items before they come into your home to ensure that they are not carrying unwanted extras.
  • Medical facility - single sources (unless frequently visited location) - media articles have again confirmed bed bugs in medical facilities from hospitals to doctors waiting rooms and surgeries.  Medical facilities should ideally have infestation control procedures in place and an efficacious monitoring solution.
  • Restaurant - single sources (unless frequently visited location) - although one of the least common sources of infestation we can confirm that we have been called upon to treat restaurants for bed bug s.  If you suspect this is the case either check the seating area before you sit down or switch to “take away” until you are sure they are clear.
  • Nursery, school or university - local source - again the media has covered numerous incidences of bed bugs having been found within schools and universities.  This is most likely through someone inadvertently bringing a bed bug along with them or picking it up on route to the location.  If it sometimes necessary to isolate items that have been to potentially infested locations when they arrive back in the home until they can be decontaminated.  

We consider sources of bed bugs we regard them as being either single source of local sources, as defined below.  Working out which of these is affecting your property can really help with resolving an infestation although it often takes an experienced professional to be able to work out which dynamic applies through visual inspection alone.

  • Single source - an exposure to bed bugs that you only come into contact with once.  This can result in a small population of bed bugs being transferred to another location but is usually limited to 1 - 15 bed bugs in the first instance.  So long as this is caught quickly and treated thoroughly it is the easier of the two dynamics to resolve.
  • Local source -  an exposure to bed bugs that you only come into contact with either on a daily or occasional basis.  This can result in an infestation which is continually “topped up” or appears to resolve and then return.  This is by far the more complex dynamic to resolve as you need to identify and avoid the source in order to resolve the infestation.  Only through years or analysis of bed bug infestations and their patterns can a professional quickly identify both this form of infestation and the likely source.  This is one of the reasons why specialists have much higher success rates than general pest controllers.

Understanding how you got bed bugs can often be step one in successfully and efficiently eradicating them from your property, it also goes a long way to ensuring you don’t get exposed again.  This approach to infestation dynamics and their role in bed bug infestations was pioneered by our founder David Cain.

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Bed bugs are impossible to get rid of, can you actually get rid of them?

Bed bugs can be difficult to get rid of but they are not impossible by any stretch of the imagination.  Even with the worst heavy infestations or cases where people have fractionated the infestation throughout their home (through the use of aerosol, fumer, smoke bomb or other inappropriate treatment) we eventually get the problem cleared.  Obviously the speed of eradication is very much dependent upon the level and source of the infestation but that is precisely why this is not a job for the novice.  We have seen too many cases where people have spent years and hundreds of pounds attempting to treat a problem that we would have initially charged just £50 for and that is before you factor in the cost of the items they have disposed of.

It is better to limit any self-treatment to things that can’t make the matter worse such as Diatomaceous Earth (DE) or the treatment by replacement strategy that we make available online.  If you fail to resolve a problem in two treatment cycles, you will find it a lot more cost effective to call in an experienced professional before it gets out of control.  In 2012 we tackled one of our most ambitious commercial projects, a hotel with a 100% infestation of bed bugs which had been under treatment for over four years.  Admittedly it was not the cheapest of jobs once we spent over 300 hours resolving the problem but it was fixed within a matter of weeks.

To date we have not failed to resolve an issue for any client who was compliant with our clear and simple instructions, that’s over 24,000 cases.  Its why we consider our approach to bed bugs to be a team effort, our skills and experience along with your help means we will reach our goal of eradication fastest.

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The doctors / pharmacist / nurse says the bites look like bed bugs but I can’t find any.  What should I do?

Unfortunately, the fact that it’s not possible to confirm the cause of a skin reaction by its appearance is not as widely accepted in the medical practice area as it is in medical research.  The latest clinical review published in the British Medical Journal, Bed Bug Infestations - PDF (which mentions this site) along with the bed bug bites section of this site confirm this.

The reality is that bed bugs can’t be the cause of your reactions if there are none of the confirming signs present, namely:

  • Live samples
  • Cast / shed skins
  • Faecal traces

Images to compare and contract can be seen in our educational gallery but if none of these signs are present you should start to consider alternative causes for your reactions.  Some of these are discussed in the bed bug bites section but also in more detail as part of our advanced educational section.

In some parts of the world it is also possible that you have an infestation of a close relative of bed bugs either bat bugs or bird / martin bugs which without advanced identification skills and an entomological key can essential look identical to common bed bug s.

To ensure that you do not have bed bugs you can use a Passive Monitors which is designed to detect the three confirming signs of bed bug s.

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I have found just one bed bug, does that mean the whole house needs treating?

One of peoples greatest fears about bed bug s, which is sadly compounded by some of the Internet horror stories and fear tactics used by some “professionals”, is that they will overrun your life in a matter of days.  Once you understand the life cycle of bed bugs and how they colonise locations you start to appreciate that this is never going to happen.

It is possible that a single bed bug could be the extent of the problem and that treating the whole home is just not necessary, in the UK it is actually illegal to treat a room for bed bugs if it does not have bed bugs but this fact covered by Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Act 2002, Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 and the Animals Act of 1916. Sadly, some people ignore this guideline legislation in favour of monitory gain which is why visual inspection and confirmation is so essential in eradicating bed bug s.

Along with other international specialists we only advocate treatment when a confirmed infestation is present as this is the correct thing to do for many reasons, the main ones are listed below:

  • Your health and safety (we are yet to be convinced that there is a safer way than not using chemicals in the first place)
  • The on-going efficacy of chemical based products.  Like antibiotics if they are overused tolerance and eventually resistance will form.
  • Cost savings.  There is no point in paying to try and kill something that is not even present.

If you have a light infestation you could always try our treatment by Passive Monitor replacement protocol which is particularly effective in such situations and can help confirm if you have a significant issue with bed bugs or if you just had an unfortunate chance encounter.  

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I only see bed bugs in one room, does it mean the whole house needs to be treated?

One of peoples greatest fears about bed bug s, which is sadly compounded by some of the Internet horror stories and fear tactics used by some “professionals”, is that they will overrun your life in a matter of days.  Once you understand the life cycle of bed bugs and how they colonise locations you start to appreciate that this is never going to happen.

It is possible that a single bed bug could be the extent of the problem and that treating the whole home is just not necessary, in the UK it is actually illegal to treat a room for bed bugs if it does not have bed bugs but this fact covered by Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Act 2002, Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 and the Animals Act of 1916. Sadly, some people ignore this guideline legislation in favour of monitory gain which is why visual inspection and confirmation is so essential in eradicating bed bug s.

Along with other international specialists we only advocate treatment when a confirmed infestation is present as this is the correct thing to do for many reasons, the main ones are listed below:

  • Your health and safety (we are yet to be convinced that there is a safer way than not using chemicals in the first place)
  • The on-going efficacy of chemical based products.  Like antibiotics if they are overused tolerance and eventually resistance will form.
  • Cost savings.  There is no point in paying to try and kill something that is not even present.

We have successfully treated “single rooms only” in tens of thousands of properties without activity being transferred through to other rooms.  We can only conclude that those who insist on treating all the rooms when they do not all shows the signs of bed bugs are not as efficient as they could or should be. 

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Can you get rid of bed bugs with using chemicals because I saw on the TV they are all resistant to insecticides?

I am sure that like most people you are familiar with the phrase “a poor workman blames his tools”, this is particularly true in the case of pest controllers who are over reliant on chemical based methods. It’s much easier to blame failure on the product rather than the quality of job.  Over the last 10+ years we have not encountered an infestation of bed bugs that was actually 100% resistant to insecticides and although we acknowledge that its possible it’s also not really the correct way to approach this issue.

To understand the role of resistance we can draw a lot of analogies from the use of antibiotics in the medical profession.  We all know from problems with antibiotic resistant bacteria that if you over use a product it increases the chance of failure.  This is why most of the over the counter sprays, potions, lotions and powders do not work.  They have simply been overused and bed bugs have become so tolerant to them that you are more likely to harm your own health than to kill them.  Many of these products are in aerosol of fumer / bomb formats which are not able to deliver a lethal dose of product to where bed bugs reside so are effectively twice as useless.  

To avoid these issues, we take two simple steps (again unique in our industry):

  • Where possible, we avoid the use of chemicals through our unique Green treatment solutions.
  • We conduct regular testing of all the insecticide products using field strains of bed bugs to ensure that when we use a chemical based product we know it will work.  Many companies simply go by what the suppliers or distributors recommend which means they tend to buy what the company wants to sell rather than what they should buy for the job at hand.

This message has also been oversold by companies offering whole home heating solutions for bed bugs.  This is not a service that we offer because in most UK homes it simply does not work and in just about every bed bug scenario it is just not needed.  The majority of UK providers also use the wrong type of heating equipment to start with and the numbers of times we have been called into a fix a situation where the bed bugs were actually brought in with someone's heating equipment is also a grave concern to us. 

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There is a bed bug kit available online will it work?

There are many websites offering miracles cures for bed bugs, many of our customers have tried them first and called us in when they only made the matter worse.  This is mainly because such kits are not effective enough at killing bed bugs and do not teach you enough about how to eradicate bed bugs for them to be effective, however I am sure most people would design a product that way if they were looking for sales volume as opposed to a one off purchase.

The key facts to look for with these kits and what to specifically avoid is listed below:

  • Anything based on smoke bombs / fumer or ignition cartridges
  • Anything based on aerosol based products
  • Anything without an associated COSHH or MSDS sheet
  • Anything oil or plant extract based, often listed as organic products.

Finally, there is no point in relying on a suppliers guarantee if their product is only going to make the matter worse.  All they will do is refund you money and will certainly not compensate you for the cost of repairing the damage that has been done.

The only do it yourself methods that we can endorse as safe and effective are:

  • The use of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) products.  For UK users we only recommend spray DE to avoid over application
  • The treatment by Passive Monitor replacement protocol

Please be extremely careful if you do decide to attempt do it yourself treatment, always read the labels and instructions and always use the appropriate personal protective equipment.

Finally, if we found a kit that worked we would happily sell it via our shop but the lack of one speaks volumes about the efficiency and efficacy of the kits that are available elsewhere.

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You can't see bed bugs, is that true?

This misunderstanding is a lot more common than you would think, due mainly to the fact that people without experience of bed bugs often get them confused with dust mites which require powerful magnification to be seen.  Because every home has them and they are the first creature people associate with beds the misunderstanding perpetuates.  The reality is that dust mites are not even insects and are incapable of biting people.  The skin reaction actually comes from a localised allergic reaction to their droppings deposited after they have fed on our shed skin cells.  

Bed bugs are visible to the human eye at all life stages although the eggs and first stage nymphs are on the edge of what most people can easily detect without the use of a magnifying lens.  To understand more about the lifecycle of bed bugs and how they develop along with the other confirming signs of bed bug activity please see the about bed bugs pages in the educational section of this site.

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If I throw out the bed I will no longer have bed bugs, is that true?

A lot of people assume that if you dispose of the bed you will no longer have bed bugs.  Unfortunately, however it is one of the incorrect things that people do as in disposing of the bed they often inadvertently spread bed bugs through the rest of the property.  The correct order is to get rid of the bed bugs and then when it’s gone replace the bed only if you feel it is necessary.

One of the greatest shames we have witnessed over the years is the millions of pounds that have been wasted by people disposing of things due to bed bug infestations.  Since 2007 we have operated a dedicated decontamination facility in London where we can work on anything that has been exposed to bed bug s.  It is significantly cheaper to decontaminate than to replace and your life does not have to feel devastated by bed bug s.

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Is it true that you only get bed bugs if you are dirty?

This is the most common myths and misunderstanding about bed bugs.  When you understand that bed bugs are great hitchhikers and don’t really have any way of selecting where they will be taken to you appreciate that this can’t be the case.

Over the years we have treated many homes which are spotlessly clean, in fact we treat more homes that are considered clean than those you could classify as unkempt or dirty.  Yes, it is true that homes with clutter can be harder to treat and that a good cleaning regime can help in the early detection of bed bugs but it has no bearing on the likelihood that you home will get exposed in the first place. It is why we have always stressed in media appearances that bed bugs have nothing to do with the hygiene of your home.

This social stigma traces back to the 1940’s when products to tackle bed bugs first came onto the market, it was thought that the fastest way to resolve the problem was to associate it with cleanliness so that everyone who had an issue was encouraged to seek treatment.  Unfortunately, they did not anticipate that years later bed bugs would make sure a return to society where that stance would actually impede communication of the issue.  

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My neighbour has bed bug s, does that mean I will get them as well?

In most cases no, an adjoining neighbour with bed bugs will not result in then invading your home.  However, if they treat their infestation incorrectly the chances of their unwanted guests becoming your increases dramatically.  The worst things that they can do to encourage this are:

  • Using aerosol based products - both total release and spray can based solutions
  • Using foggers and smoke bombs - these are not effective in treating bed bug s
  • Attempting a self-heat treatment - thought the appropriate equipment to monitor and heat this approach does not work
  • Vacating rooms - bed bugs will still be able to detect you as a close source of food and may come through to investigate

If you suspect your neighbour has bed bugs is best to try and discuss the matter in a way that you can use your advanced knowledge to help them avoid making mistakes that will affect you.  To facilitate this, we have made available a number of communication sheets in our newsletters and information section.

If one of your neighbours does have a bed bug issue, we would recommend that you install Passive Monitors so that should you get a bed bug arrive in your own home you can detect it quickly and resolve the infestation long before a disruptive room treatment is needed.

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My bites look just like the ones on the Internet does that mean its defiantly bed bugs?

Unfortunately, the fact that it’s not possible to confirm the cause of a skin reaction by its appearance is not as widely accepted in the medical practice area as it is in medical research.  The latest clinical review published in the British Medical Journal, Bed Bug Infestations - PDF (which mentions this site) along with the bed bug bites section of this site confirm this.

The reality is that bed bugs can’t be the cause of your reactions if there are none of the confirming signs present, namely:

  • Live samples
  • Cast / shed skins
  • Faecal traces

Images to compare and contract can be seen in our educational gallery but if none of these signs are present you should start to consider alternative causes for your reactions.  Some of these are discussed in the bed bug bites section but also in more detail as part of our advanced educational section.

In some parts of the world it is also possible that you have an infestation of a close relative of bed bugs either bat bugs or bird / martin bugs which without advanced identification skills and an entomological key can essential look identical to common bed bugs.

To ensure that you do not have bed bugs you can use a Passive Monitors which is designed to detect the three confirming signs of bed bug s.

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Do bed bugs ever only bite one person and not others in the same bed?

It is not normal bed bug behaviour to focus only on one of the occupants in the bed or home although it has been observed in some situations where there has been a secondary medical issue such as sickle cell or thalassemia.  It is more likely that one person is a bite responder while the other is not.  With over 60% of people not initially responding to bed bug bites this is statistically more likely to occur than for it to not occur as mentioned in the bed bug bites section of this website.  This can create a situation where there is tension between occupants of the bed and yet technically both are being bitten, only one is actually responding.   

This is yet another example of why focusing on bites alone is not the correct way to view or diagnose a bed bug issue and that you need to focus on the confirming signs, namely:

  • Live samples
  • Cast / shed skins
  • Faecal traces

Images to compare and contract can be seen in our educational gallery but if none of these signs are present you should start to consider alternative causes for your reactions.  Some of these are discussed in the bed bug bites section but also in more detail as part of our advanced educational section.

In some parts of the world it is also possible that you have an infestation of a close relative of bed bugs either bat bugs or bird / martin bugs which without advanced identification skills and an entomological key can essential look identical to common bed bug s.

To ensure that you do not have bed bugs you can use a Passive Monitors which is designed to detect the three confirming signs of bed bug s.

Back to top of the list of questions

If I leave my things out in the cold it will kill bed bug s, what temperature does it need to be?

Although bed bugs can be killed by cold temperatures they need to be controlled and monitored cold temperatures.  As snow is a great insulator a bag buried in the snow never gets to the critical death temperatures of bed bugs and they will survive the process.  It does not matter what the wind chill factor is the snow acts as an insulator preventing the items getting cold enough for this approach to be effective.

Secondly any thermal work must always be done under conditions where the temperatures are closely monitored and recorded.  The reality is that the cost of effective temperature loggers and recorders means that in order for this to be effective the investment is greater than either getting the items decontaminated professionally or the purchase of a commercial decontamination unit such as PackTite™.

This advice is not just UK specific, we have doe the calculations for the polar regions, Canada and US and it simply does not work.

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If I leave my things out in the sun it will kill bed bugs, what temperature does it need to be?

Although temperatures above 50 °C or 121 °F can be used to kill bed bugs the heating needs to be done by a convective process rather than a conductive such as you get from the sun.  Even though the surface temperature of an item placed inside a black bag and positioned in direct sun may get close to the temperatures needed to kill bed bugs that heat does not penetrate and thus bed bugs away from that surface are not killed.

This law of physics applies regardless of where you are in the world from a city to a dessert.  To be able to kill bed bugs with the power of the sun you either need to covert its power into electricity to power the heaters or be a lot closer to the surface of the sun than it is possible to be on Earth.  This also applies to bags placed inside a vehicle or green house, the core temperature of the items will never reach the critical death temperatures for bed bug s.

This was confirmed in a scientific paper by Dr Stephen Doggett in 2006 entitled “Encasing Mattresses in Black Plastic Will Not Provide Thermal Control

of Bed Bugs, Cimex spp. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae)” the PDF of which can be viewed here. (PDF version)

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Bed bugs are resistant to all pesticides, is that true?

I am sure that like most people you are familiar with the phrase “a poor workman blames his tools”, this is particularly true in the case of pest controllers who are over reliant on chemical based methods. It’s much easier to blame failure on the product rather than the quality of job.  Over the last 10+ years we have not encountered an infestation of bed bugs that was actually 100% resistant to insecticides and although we acknowledge that its possible it’s also not really the correct way to approach this issue.

To understand the role of resistance we can draw a lot of analogies from the use of antibiotics in the medical profession.  We all know from problems with antibiotic resistant bacteria that if you over use a product it increases the chance of failure.  This is why most of the over the counter sprays, potions, lotions and powders do not work.  They have simply been overused and bed bugs have become so tolerant to them that you are more likely to harm your own health than to kill them.  Many of these products are in aerosol of fumer / bomb formats which are not able to deliver a lethal dose of product to where bed bugs reside so are effectively twice as useless.  

To avoid these issues, we take two simple steps (again unique in our industry):

  • Where possible, we avoid the use of chemicals through our unique Green treatment solutions.
  • We conduct regular testing of all the insecticide products using field strains of bed bugs to ensure that when we use a chemical based product we know it will work.  Many companies simply go by what the suppliers or distributors recommend which means they tend to buy what the company wants to sell rather than what they should buy for the job at hand.

This message has also been oversold by companies offering whole home heating solutions for bed bug s.  This is not a service that we offer because in most UK homes it simply does not work and in just about every bed bug scenario it is just not needed.  The majority of UK providers also use the wrong type of heating equipment to start with and the numbers of times we have been called into a fix a situation where the bed bugs were actually brought in with someone's heating equipment is also a grave concern to us.

In summary bed bugs are very tolerant to some forms and formulations of insecticide but certain not all forms, otherwise we would not be as effective at resolving infestations. 

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Bug bombs for bed bugs like they use in other countries, do they work?

Since 1999 information on the ineffectiveness of bug bombs has been available online in a scientific paper, including one called “Limitations of home insect foggers (“bug bombs”) by Dr Michael Potter - Entomologist at University of Kentucky (PDF version).  Sadly, this fact has been shared with the manufacturers of these products along with a lot more information and yet they continue to sell them.

The net effect of using such products is often to disperse the original infestation throughout the home making eradication a lot harder and more intensive.  We feel that this is a fraud against the consumer and crime against the environment, particularly since people often seek such solutions as they feel they can’t afford to treat the problem professionally.

In some cases, we have seen a cases so light that we would have most likely resolved then in under 30 minutes have been turned into spreading issues that have started to affect neighbours and ended up costing 20 times what it would have taken to fix it the first time.  We have even encountered people claiming to be “professional” pest controllers selling 12 bug bombs for as much as £750 while charging only £30 in labour to ignite them.  This cheap labour high parts “scam” is common in some parts of the pest industry and should always be avoided, especially since a trade price for 12 foggers is closer to £12. We can only advise those caught out with such “scams” contact your local trading standards teams and consumer affairs media programs.

This advice is also applying to aerosol based “total release” products which are equally ineffective for bed bugs and come with the added risk that overuse can result in ignition to the pilot lights of gas appliances and with light switches.

“We really do want to keep you safe and make sure that mistakes are avoided where possible.”

David Cain founder Bed Bugs Limited     

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I need my house fumigated for bed bugs, how much does it cost?

Lots of people incorrectly use the term fumigation.  It is in fact a very specific term used to describe a pest control treatment performed with a gas based insecticide.  For health and safety this process can only be conducted in a controlled space such as a home placed under a protective cover or items under a plastic sheet.  In a similar way that not all vacuum cleaners are a product of a well-known company beginning with H and yet we often refer to the process as “doing the hovering”.  In the UK fumigation is not commonly offered as a service as we do not have a huge issue with termites or other structural pests.  There is also the simple fact that gas based products cannot be used safely in situations where there are adjoined neighbours without their homes also being “tented” and monitored for safety.  The use of gas based fumigants in the UK is heavily regulated and outside of small scale use for moles is generally restricted to ships and shipping containers.

Although this may seem a little pedantic it is part of our commitment to clear and accurate communication.

The correct way of dealing with bed bugs is through a treatment than could either be based on the use of a liquid insecticide or through Green methods in domestic settings or through the use of thermal or Green technologies in commercial settings.  

We always encourage people to use the term treatment rather than fumigation so that people do not get confused between the two separate processes.

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The bed bugs have been exterminated but I still itch and get occasional bites, why is this?

There is something quite unusual about bed bug bites and their sometimes longer term effects on people’s skin that means it’s not uncommon with some people to feel a reaction, most commonly described as an “itch” long after an infestation has been resolved.  We have even documented on very rare occasions that people have developed enhances sensitivity either temporary or longer term following exposure to bed bug s.

The only advise we can offer with regards this is to consult a medical professional for the physical symptoms and to get into the discipline of post treatment Passive Monitoring to help reduce any anxiety or worry that they will return.  Aside from medical treatment avoiding hot baths, hot showers, areas of low environmental air quality and dry environments will help.  Keeping moisturised with an unscented moisturising lotion can help as it reduces the size of any breaks in the skin surface.

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There was a website claiming to get rid of bed bugs quickly but there was little detail on it, will it work?

Like all industries it’s not that difficult to pay a small sum of money to a web designer to come up with a website that initially looks impressive, in our case all web development is done internally by our own team, mainly due to the fact that we want to be able to keep it up to date and content is added several times each week.

Sadly, a lot of these websites appear impressive until you start to read the detail and look into the matter.  The most common indications that the company you are dealing with may not provide you with the levels of service that you expect are:

  • No contact address or a contact address that is clearly a residential property - it’s impossible to track someone down if you need to with an address
  • Only a mobile phone number listed - we often get calls from people upset because the mobile they used to call for service is no longer obtainable.  In these days of easy pay as you go phone it’s not that hard for rogues to drop one phone in the bin and start again
  • The website says it’s a bed bug specialist and yet the receipt gives the name of a general pest control firm - this covers just about everyone in the UK who claims to be a bed bug specialist, if they can’t be honest with you about their business what makes you confident that they will be honest with you in other ways
  • Images that are either used without the owner’s permission or that are not even bed bugs - sadly the expansion of the Internet has also been met with a reduction in the respect of other people’s intellectual property and copyright.  There are a few rogues out there using both the images and text of websites like us to claim legitimacy.  Do you really want someone with no morals working on your problem and in your home?

Sadly, the only loser’s in this situation is the home or business owners who are often left with an infestation more dispersed and harder to treat than it would have been had the cowboys not gotten involved in the first place.

In summary, yes if it looks too simple and too good to be true it most likely is, what may seem like a great saving of a few pounds can add weeks if not months to your torment by bed bugs and end up costing you significantly when you need to pay for the damage to be corrected.

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Bed bugs don't like metal beds – what is the best bed type to get?

The belief that bed bugs don’t like metal beds is one of the most pervasive myths on the Internet, the reality is that they really don’t care what type of bed that you have and will just as readily set up home in a room with a metal bed as just about any other style or type of bed.  In fact, there is significant field data to suggest that metal beds can actually be harder to treat if bed bugs get inside the tubing and frame where they are harder to treat or are encouraged to disperse in other areas where they are harder to treat.

To assist people in understanding how they can optimise their environment to minimise the potential impact of bed bugs we have prepared a guide entitled “2011 Optimising furniture to reduce the impact of an infestation of bed bug s” which can be found in the advanced educational section of our site.  The reality is that it’s actually better to get a wooden bed and to spend 30 - 60 minutes optimising it as you assemble to ensure that bed bugs are not allowed to take hold in your property.  With our commercial clients optimisation and minimising the potential impact of future infestations is part of the services we provide.

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You can’t bring bed bugs back from holiday because they will not survive the temperatures of the plane’s cargo hold, is that true?

Sadly, this is yet another myth, the cargo holds of planes are often used to transport delicate cargo and as much are kept above the deep freezing temperatures needed to eradicate bed bug s.  There is also the risk that you did not get exposed to bed bugs only via your luggage, a quick Internet search will reveal many cases of bed bugs being found in the cabins of aircraft, necessitating the need to check the seat before you sit down to avoid an unwanted and unpleasant surprise during your travels.  A simple two-minute inspection can really help you to avoid contact with bed bugs in the first place and thus negate the risk of you taking them home.

To protect your luggage during your journey we recommend that you use a protective wrap such as “cling film”, “saran wrap” or pallet wrap to create a physical barrier preventing bed bugs from getting to your luggage.  If you have been exposed to bed bugs while away from home and want to make sure you do not bring the problem home with you then luggage decontamination systems such as the PackTite™ are available in some countries or make arrangements for the luggage to be processed at our dedicated decontamination facility in London.

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If one insecticide does not work why not mix two together?

Although this may initially appear logical the consequences of mixing multiple insecticides are not known, this is mainly because they are not tested for health and safety in combination with other products.  In the same way that mixing cleaning products can produce unpleasant and dangerous by products the effects of mixing insecticides are not tested.

It is also against the law under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Act and Control of Pesticides Regulation.

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The pest controller soaked the property surely nothing could survive?

It is a common misconception that if a small quantity of insecticide works well a lot will work much better.  For many years we have been able to get the best results in the world for bed bug eradication using conservative quantities of insecticide, in fact we use about one sixth or one eight of what others firms use.  In essence this is because we use these products correctly and not in what we would term a “spray and prey” fashion.  

The application of insecticides is done in a targeted fashion and only when needed this way we can ensure:

  • There is no repellency which occurs with over application
  • The bed bugs are not as likely to become tolerate of the treatment
  • There is a significantly lower risk of an adverse health affect

Issues with the over application of insecticide should be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency.  Most insecticides are marine pollutants and can cause significant damage to the local ecosystem if they get into the water course.

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I have been treated 3 times by another organisation and they say the bed bugs are resistant to all insecticides is this true?

I am sure that like most people you are familiar with the phrase “a poor workman blames his tools”, this is particularly true in the case of pest controllers who are over reliant on chemical based methods. It’s much easier to blame failure on the product rather than the quality of job.  Over the last 10+ years we have not encountered an infestation of bed bugs that was actually 100% resistant to insecticides and although we acknowledge that its possible it’s also not really the correct way to approach this issue.  At the same time, we have treated numerous homes and properties that have been treated 3,4,5,6,7 and sometimes more times without getting eradication and yet we were able to resolve the issue in a relatively short time.  Obviously if someone messes up a job we have to allow time for things to settle again but we are regularly told “I wish I had spoken to you from the start”.

To understand the role of resistance we can draw a lot of analogies from the use of antibiotics in the medical profession and in particular how widespread MRSA and Cdif antibiotic resistant infections are and how the over use a product it increases the chance of failure.  This is why most of the over the counter sprays, potions, lotions and powders do not work.  They have simply been overused and bed bugs have become so tolerant to them that you are more likely to harm your own health than to kill them.  Many of these products are in aerosol of fumer / bomb formats which are not able to deliver a lethal dose of product to where bed bugs reside so are effectively twice as useless.  

To avoid these issues, we take two simple steps (again unique in our industry):

  • Where possible, we avoid the use of chemicals through our unique Green treatment solutions.
  • We conduct regular testing of all the insecticide products using field strains of bed bugs to ensure that when we use a chemical based product we know it will work.  Many companies simply go by what the suppliers or distributors recommend which means they tend to buy what the company wants to sell rather than what they should buy for the job at hand.

It also helps that in the worst and most dispersed cases we have the fall back of our decontamination facility in Battersea, where in the most extreme of cases we have processed the entire contents of people’s homes.  Although we do not often need to call upon this level of service it has certainly helped on a number of occasions and has avoided the unnecessary destruction of possessions.   

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The local general pest controllers seem great value at £60 per visit for the whole house is there a catch?  

Well aside from the fact that your whole home may not need to be treated what initially appears to be a bargain often turns out too good to be true.  This type of flat rate services does not encourage people to do the highest quality of work.  Our technicians are paid to eradicate infestations and not just treat and charge each time they visit.  For service charged on a per room basis all revisits in normal treatment hours are including in the service.  Therefore, if your home needed to be treated twice you would actually be paying less for a higher quality of service by using us.

Often such companies do not employ fully trained and qualified staff to carry out treatments.  You would hardly allow someone without the appropriate qualifications to operate on you or seek medical advice from them and yet people often allow such people into their homes with chemicals.  All our staff are trained as apprentices and developed over a two to three-month period before they are independently trained and qualified.  Learning in the field from our most experienced staff through participation in real bed bug infestations using a unique evidence lead approach developed through our advanced understanding of this one pest.

Over the years we have been called upon to pick up the pieces when such rogues have failed to deliver the promised results and as such we have heard some real horror stories.  It is only fair to make you aware of some of these risks, which have in the past included reports of technicians transporting open buckets of insecticide to one secret camera exercise where we worked with the BBC to show a pest controller spilling a significant quantity of insecticide onto the bed and trying to disguise the fact they had done it.

This is again one of the many reasons why we are very selective about what schemes and affiliations we support as frankly some of the “membership badges” are held in very poor regard as they refuse to tackle the issue of members whose standards have slipped.  In 2011 we were called upon to held one lady who’s home had been so heavily treated with insecticide that the only reason she was not aware of how bad her living conditions were was that she was blind.  The shame of the matter was that she never actually had bed bugs a once the residues of the chemicals had been removed her symptoms disappeared immediately.         

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I saw an e-book about bed bugs is it worth getting?

For many years (2005 to 2009) we used to buy each new e-book that appeared on the Internet, cross referencing the information and analysing the solution that was being put forward.  Unfortunately, that is time we are never likely to “get back” and be able to put it to productive use.

The vast majority of e-books on bed bugs that do not come from reputable publishing sources are nothing more than a rehash of the information that is already accessible over the Internet.  Some are accounts of how people tackled their own bed bug problem but as helpful as that may initially seem unless your circumstances are identical to theirs their “road map” may not take you to where you want to go.

Shamefully we have also found our own website text and images used in the construction of some of these e-books along with many of the images that below to the other specialists around the world who we already work with.  In fact, we used to for a laugh ask other specialists to see how many mistakes they could find per chapter, offering prizes for the highest scorers but it’s a game you soon tire of as much of the text appears to come from a common inaccurate source.

In recent years we have actually come to the conclusion that some of them were only put out there for a few dollars a copy to help people pay for the problem to be fixed by a professional having themselves purchased a Book and also found its contents lacking.  If you want to understand bed bugs we have provided as much information as you could wish for in our educational section including various videosgalleries and information sheets and the best part is they are 100% accurate and 100% free to access.

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I saw a lotion online that stops bed bugs biting you does it work?

Although this craze does not seem to have hit the UK much as it has in the US there is nothing that we can find that stops bed bugs biting when they are hungry.  Most of these lotions are simply moisturisers with added vitamin B12 which although possibly good for your skin but is of no benefit in a bed bug infestation.

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Encasing your mattress can prevent bed bugs, is this true?

As bed bugs have no idea if your mattress is encased when you encounter then and they decide to come home with your mattress encasement cannot possible serve as a preventative tool.  It is true that they can prevent a mattress from becoming stained or marked but the same could be true of a more cost effective encasement designed for dust mites.

At the start of the US bed bug boom companies were encouraged to believe that it was “all about the encasement” and unless you were using one of the endorsed and recommended brands you were not doing quality work.  Given the fact that these products in the UK can cost over £75 per bed we quickly put our foot down to prevent this happening over here.  To date we have not needed to use a single mattress encasement in providing our services and have literally saved people hundreds of thousands of pounds as a result.

This is part of our commitment to always put quality before profits and thankfully leading academics are now starting to agree with us that encasement is not a solution and may in fact cause bed bugs to seek refuge further away from the bed where they are harder to treat.

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You can detect bed bugs with dogs, if the dog says I have them will you treat?

Although a correctly trained dog can scent detect bed bugs a treatment can only be authorised by finding confirming signs:

  • Live samples
  • Cast skins
  • Faecal traces

Only through finding confirming signs of an infestation should treatment be conducted to assist you in doing this a fact sheet is available on BedBug Beware.com . There is also a gallery of confirming signs of bed bugs in our educational section.

Although we were the first company in Europe to have trained a bed bug scent detection team we quickly found that as a tool is being not as efficient for our clients as the solutions we already had in place.  This is not to say that they do not have a role to play in bed bug detection, we have learned that the variables in domestic and commercial settings mean that we don’t feel it is the most appropriate tool for rapid and efficient detection.

In subsequent years we have been amazed that the UK K9 teams have been unwilling to work together to establish a common code of conduct and set of standards for service such as we see being developed by the Bed Bug Foundation.  As such there is no UK standard or certification for service accuracy and although there are several US accreditation schemes (some better and more independent than others) the UK lacks a quality assurance.  

Where possible dogs should be trained to be play rewarded rather than food rewarded to avoid false positive detections and training must be conducted several times a week throughout the dogs working life.  For this reason, dogs that have spent time in quarantine entering the country are considered to have lost their training, another reason why the US accreditation standards are not valid in the UK.

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You need to wash all of your clothes for a bed bug treatment to be effective

Experience has taught us that this is not always the case and in about 8 / 10 cases the washing of all items in the infested rooms serves no additional benefit in eradicating bed bug s.  This concept was initially started by those who believed that bed bugs could be solved with a “protocol” based approach rather than the slightly more complex approach of adapting the treatment to the individual circumstances, it also helped that some of the companies who embarked on this path had exclusive arrangements with the suppliers of specialist laundry products.

As the upheaval and cost involved in washing and processing all your clothes can be significant we feel it should only be done when it will truly add value to the treatment program we have outlined.  Even then it is often cheaper and always faster to utilise our “off site Decon facility” where we can process the contents of several wardrobes overnight including delicate which could not survive a hot wash or a hot tumble dry.

Before an assessment occurs we ask all clients to leave items as they normally would be in your home so we can make the decision as to if items need to be processed based on our scientific and evidence based approach to bed bug s.

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You must thoroughly prepare in order for bed bug treatments to work, is that true?

This is simply not true and can in fact make an infestation worse.  This concept was initially started by those who believed that bed bugs could be solved with a “protocol” based approach rather than the slightly more complex approach of adapting the treatment to the individual circumstances.  We have seen far too many cases where someone has been told to move things, bag things all before they have confirmed its actually bed bugs to agree with this approach.

We have also seen many cases where an infestation that could have easily be contained by isolating recently introduced infested items have been made much worse because someone has said that the room needed to be cleared and as a result infested items have been moved into room that were previously clear.

Before we assess a case we ask all clients to leave items as they normally would be in your home, this avoid making the issue worse, enables us to best advise you on the way to logically and systematically deal with an infestation so that it does not spread.

At the end of the day we would rather treat your home in the same way that you do, with respect as the individual living space that it is.

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There are no bed bugs in <insert country>

We have lost track of a countries that people claim have never had a problem with bed bugs and yet the historic literature confirms this is not the case.  In the 1960’s a group of entomologists went on a mission to collect and catalogue all the bed bug and closely related species in the world and found that apart from a few inhospitable locations such as the polar caps and areas covered with permafrost bed bugs or close relatives have been reported in almost every location that man inhabits.

One of the reasons why this myth continues is that the word for bed bug in many languages does not translate as being connected with beds.  There is also the influence of the overwhelming social stigma that bed bugs are associated with poor hygiene which is clearly not the case as they are an exposure pest.  

Part of resolving bed bugs as a global issue will always be the accepting of this fact and finding ways for different countries and cultures to work together towards the common goal of eradicating bed bugs from modern society.

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All the bed bugs come from developing countries, is that true?

Given the incidences of bed bugs in five star hotels including some of the most luxurious and famous in the world this clearly can’t be true.  Sadly, some aspects of human nature find it easier to seek something to blame than to seek a more holistic solution.

While we strive to combat bed bugs on a global basis this blame culture approach is not helpful and as such we call upon everyone who reads this to make it a priority to correct this myth.

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I can't have bed bugs because I have not been anywhere, what is biting me?

As bed bugs have reappeared in society over the last decade they have cropped up in all manner of locations including:

  • Schools
  • Offices
  • Libraries
  • Public transport
  • Court houses
  • Shops
  • Cinemas
  • Restaurants
  • Aircraft
  • Ships
  • Vehicles

This means that it is possible to be exposed to bed bugs without actually sleeping away from home.

It can be hard to live your life avoiding all possible sources of bed bugs which is why we advocate the use of avoidance steps where possible such as checking beds before you sleep in them and routine monitoring of your sleeping area at home.  Through this approach you avoid contact where possible and gain the full benefit of early detection where an exposure does occur.  Our section on Passive Monitors for bed bug detection explains this in more detail and how it can help limit the impact that bed bugs can have on your life.

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I have blood spots on my bedding does that mean I have bed bugs?

Blood spots on your sheets are not 100% confirming of bed bugs as they can be caused by many other things, including; dust mite allergies, reactions to carpet beetle larva, allergies, cuts and scratches or spots.

To help you better understand and confirm if a mark on your linen is consistent with bed bugs we have made a blood spot analysis PDF available in our advanced educational resources section.  If the blood spot is red in colour it does not confirm bed bug s, darker black / brown spots may be bed bug faecal material but should be confirmed with the Bed Bug Blue™ faecal trace detection kit.

However as with many aspects of bed bugs experience and getting your “eye in” on the finer details means that you should not assume that any blood spots on your sheets are bed bugs unless you also search and find the confirming signs, namely:

  • Live samples
  • Cast skins
  • Faecal traces

To learn more about confirming the signs of bed bugs we suggest that you also read the about bed bug s section, the bed bug  gallery and the Passive Monitor sections of this site.

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Can you identify if I have bed bugs from pictures of my bites?

Unfortunately, the fact that it’s not possible to confirm the cause of a skin reaction by its appearance is not as widely accepted in the medical practice area as it is in medical research.  The latest clinical review published in the British Medical Journal, Bed Bug Infestations - PDF (which mentions this site) along with the bed bug bites section of this site confirm this.  Any medical professional or pest controller who claims otherwise is most likely not aware of the latest scientific opinion and is therefore not best equipped to assist you with your problem.

The reality is that bed bugs can’t be the cause of your reactions if there are none of the confirming signs present, namely:

  • Live samples
  • Cast / shed skins
  • Faecal traces

Images to compare and contract can be seen in our educational gallery but if none of these signs are present you should start to consider alternative causes for your reactions.  Some of these are discussed in the bed bug bites section but also in more detail as part of our advanced educational section.

In some parts of the world it is also possible that you have an infestation of a close relative of bed bugs either bat bugs or bird / martin bugs which without advanced identification skills and an entomological key can essential look identical to common bed bug s.

To ensure that you do not have bed bugs you can use a Passive Monitors which is designed to detect the three confirming signs of bed bug s.

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How often does a bed bug bite / feed?

There is no fixed pattern to how often do bed bugs feed other than to say they will feed if they are hungry and less frequently if they have a regular source of food in the room.  The general consensus is every 3 - 5 days but this is a difficult area to study as understandably so few people are willing to sleep with bed bug s.  It is certainly true that the frequency of feeding is shorter with juvenile or nymph bed bugs as they need the extra energy to fuel their development.  Once they have fed they shed their skin to enable them to progress towards adulthood but it may take several meals or as few as a single meal to enable them to cast off their exoskeleton.

Some people get a skin reaction which is best classified as one bite - one mark while others appear to exhibit rows often incorrectly referred to as “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner” but this pattern is far from being a confirming feature of bed bug activity.

As bed bugs are most vulnerable when they are out feeding the process tends to be quite short with each feed only taking a few to 15 minutes to complete.  They will often then remain at rest until they are hungry again to avoid being detected.  Although it is true that bed bugs can survive for long periods of time between meals they seldom refuse an opportunity to feed and do not enter a “dormant” type state if a room remains occupied.

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What temperature should I wash my bedding at?

Like most organism’s bed bugs do not survive heating to 60 °C or 140 °F which means a “Hot” wash in most machines will suffice so long as it is not over loaded.  The other option is a tumble dry for at least 60 minutes when the items are already dry.  For delicate or dry clean only the only suitable options are decontamination devices such as the PackTite™ or via as decontamination service such as our Off Site Decon facility.

Dry cleaning is not a reliable option and freezing items is only possible if you use probes to ensure that the target temperatures are reached, the cost of which are usually greater than the cost of the items.

However, you should avoid over washing your linen during a bed bug problem and it is best to stick to white sheets to better show the signs of ant activity.

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I have heard carpet beetles leave bites similar to bed bugs is this true?

We have documented many cases of skin reaction caused by the hairs of the larval stage of carpet beetles, enough that we have written a specific section of our site to cover this information.  If you can find no confirming signs of bed bugs it may be worth reading this information to see if your problem is actually caused by carpet beetles rather than bed bug s.

There have been too many cases of being treated for bed bugs when in fact the problem was not due to them for this information not to be made widely available.

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Should I use mattress encasements to reduce the number of bites I’m getting?

A lot of pest controllers advocate the use of specialist mattress encasements as part of their treatments, we have however found that they really do add no value when a quality job is done in the first place and can actually disperse an infestation.

We would rather provide a better quality of service and save you the expense of these products than do a lower quality job and rely upon them as a service tool.  Bed designs in the UK also make they difficult to get to work efficiently as the base or box spring encasements cannot be fitted to a bed that has wheels.

If you feel that you must encase your mattress, please use a cost effective dust mite grade one which only cost about 15% of the price of those with specialist bed bug credentials and yet they both serve the same purpose.  

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I have been told I will need multiple chemical treatments is this safe for my children?

There are established regulations and guidelines for the use of insecticides in the UK and if these are followed there is minimal risk to the health and safety of people in the home following treatment.  However, experience has taught us that not every follows the rules and guidelines which can result in homes which are not suitable for human habitation and could pose a significant health risk.

However, since the introduction of our green treatment services it has been the company’s policy only to use chemicals in areas that will be occupied by children with authorisation from our senior staff.  This has meant that chemical based treatments are the exception in such circumstances rather than the normal procedure.  This is not to say that we feel that insecticides pose a significant risk to children, but more that we can be certain that they carry no risk when they are not used. We also feel that this is the most environmentally sensitive way of working and one of the reasons why we don’t consider ourselves to be pest controllers but are “bed bug eradication specialists”.

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Are heat treatments the best way to treat for bed bugs?

Heat can certainly be an effective tool in the fight against bed bugs but it is far from the best or only solution as some people claim.  The issue we have found with heat is mainly due to the realisation that people get bed bugs through exposure.  For example, if you get bed bugs from someone in your office then the day after you get your home or possessions heat treated you could equally pick up bed bugs again.

Given the substantial cost in both financial and carbon foot print terms that these systems have we have decided that it would not resolve the majority of urban infestations that we treat.  Despite numerous offers to gift us systems in exchange for endorsements we do not feel it offers a suitable solution.

If you are seeking a thermal treatment solution, we would like to stress the need to take the following advice:

  • Only use convective heating systems - conductive heating produces different behavioural patterns in bed bug s.
  • Make sure the provider uses suitable post treatment monitoring to ensure the issue is resolved.
  • Use the PackTite™ Thermal spot technology to make sure that all areas in the property reach the target temperatures.  

We feel that thermal based systems should be restricted to controlled chambers such as the PackTite™ Closet and Original products as well as the Insect Inferno Trailer.

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I want to get rid of my infested furniture and been told not to why is this?

Unless done correctly taking the appropriate precautions moving furniture from infested rooms can actually cause the problem to spread and become harder to treat which in most cases is what people want to avoid doing.  We have written a specific guide as part of our Bed bug Beware.com project for public awareness.

In the vast majority of cases that we see disposal of furniture dopes not increase the speed at which the problem is resolved but it always adds unnecessary costs to the process of getting your life back to normal.

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Should I have all rooms in my house treated “just in case”?

A room either has bed bugs or it does not, if there are no confirming signs upon inspection the correct way to proceed I to place a Passive Monitor in that room and for it to checked weekly.  Treating a room that has no problem is not only unethical it is also against the law in the UK under the following Act of Parliament:

  • Animals Act 1916
  • Control of Pesticide Act 1986
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002

While some companies will offer such services we will not.  This mainly to avoid the unnecessary and over use of insecticides which would lead to resistance issues but is also for the greater good of the wider environment.  We often only consider the situation in our own homes at times of crisis, we like to think we help you to consider the wider picture beyond friends, family and neighbours.

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I was clear of bed bugs but they have come back, how do I get rid of them forever?

One of the classic mistakes that most people (self-treatment as well as professionals) make when treating bed bugs is failing to understand and identify how the property became exposed in the first place.  Without understanding this and thus how to avoid them in the future it may not be too long before they come home with you again.  Through field observation and scientific modelling, we have been able to help our clients not only work out the most likely source of bed bugs but our thorough treatment documentation explains how you can take simple steps to ensure that this does not keep happening.

Without inspection of the location such advice becomes mere guess work as its often the subtlest of detail which helps us to understand which is why we can’t really offer specific advice without inspecting the property we are discussing.

This way you can get your home back to normal as quickly as possible.  It is not unheard of for us to get a postcard or an email from someone on holiday to say “thanks for the great advice, it’s not nice to start a holiday finding bed bugs but its soon forgotten when you know they will not be coming home this time”.  

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I have heard natural oils repel bed bugs which ones work best?

A lot of people are seeking solutions which repel bed bug s, after all it only seems logical to try and repel something that tries to bite you in the same way people do with mosquitoes.  However, the logic soon fades when you realise that if repelled bed bugs will tend to move further from the original site of infestation and are thus less easily resolved.  They will still seek a path to food when they are hungry but that path may now include walking across the ceilings and dropping down when they detect food.

If we do find anything that is safe and efficacious to use, we will of course update this section of the website and make it available in our shop.  

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Do foggers or bug bombs work as they seem easy to get hold of?

Since 1999 information on the ineffectiveness of bug bombs has been available online in a scientific paper, including one called “Limitations of home insect foggers (“bug bombs”) by Dr Michael Potter - Entomologist at University of Kentucky (PDF version).  Sadly, this fact has been shared with the manufacturers of these products along with a lot more information and yet they continue to sell them.

The net effect of using such products is often to disperse the original infestation throughout the home making eradication a lot harder and more intensive.  We feel that this is a fraud against the consumer and crime against the environment, particularly since people often seek such solutions as they feel they can’t afford to treat the problem professionally.

In some cases, we have seen a cases so light that we would have most likely resolved then in under 30 minutes have been turned into spreading issues that have started to affect neighbours and ended up costing 20 times what it would have taken to fix it the first time.  We have even encountered people claiming to be “professional” pest controllers selling 12 bug bombs for as much as £750 while charging only £30 in labour to ignite them.  This cheap labour high parts “scam” is common in some parts of the pest industry and should always be avoided, especially since a trade price for 12 foggers is closer to £12. We can only advise those caught out with such “scams” contact your local trading standards teams and consumer affairs media programs.

This advice is also applying to aerosol based “total release” products which are equally ineffective for bed bugs and come with the added risk that overuse can result in ignition to the pilot lights of gas appliances and with light switches.

“We really do want to keep you safe and make sure that mistakes are avoided where possible.”

David Cain founder Bed Bugs Limited

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Which off the shelf insecticide spray works best for bed bugs?

We do not recommend any self-treatment insecticide products other than Diatomaceous Earth (DE) which is available in our shop this is because we have tested and failed all of the products that are available in retail stores and found there to be problems with them.  Most are simple plant extracts that bed bugs are resistance to while others actually make the problem harder when you are trying to solve an issue.

In many cases the manufacturers and suppliers have been informed of this issue but their testing data is based only on their ability to work as a contact killer which frankly other things like soap water or alcohol are more effect and less potentially damaging.

In the US many of these products which are referred to as 25B exempt have been referred to the FTC for consideration as some of the claims are beyond implausible, in the EU we do not have this class of products and companies tend to try and hide behind a dubious academic endorsement.  We have also noticed that once bad feedback starts on these products the suppliers simply change the bottle design and claim the contents are “all new and improved”.

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How do I tell the difference between faecal marks and mould spots?

Distinguishing visually between bed bug faecal traces and non-related signs such as mould can be difficult without the advantage of looking at them every day.  We therefore recommend the Bed Bug Blue™ faecal trace confirmation kit to be 100% sure that a mark is bed bug related.

It is not uncommon for the wood used in the construction of bed bugs to be slightly damp when they are made which can result in some “black spotting” from mould.  Close inspection with a 30 X or 60 X magnifying lens will however show a soft and featured edge to mould spots which does not occur with faecal traces.

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I think I have bed bugs what is the easiest way to find out for sure?

The easiest way to confirm if you have bed bugs is to use a Passive Monitor, these simple low profile devices work with bed bug’s biology and behaviour to induce them to leave tell-tale signs on the detection surfaces.  If they are present they will relocate into the device and in doing so will leave you the confirming evidence.  Once installed they could show the signs of an infestation within 12 - 72 hours but we encourage people to wait at least seven days for a good indication that they are clear and 14 days for an assurance that they are clear.

Outside of this visual inspection by a trained and experienced technician is the next fastest way to confirm if you have bed bugs as they will be able to inspect the area for the confirming signs, namely:

  • Live samples
  • Cast skins
  • Faecal traces

Although you could do this inspection yourself with the aid of the images in the gallery section of this site untrained an inexperienced inspections have a lower than acceptable accuracy.

You can also use dogs to detect bed bugs but in domestic settings the variability and range of distracters means that this is not an approach we can support, particularly in light of the lack of UK standards for such services.

In terms of cost for confirmation the Passive Monitors route offers the best confirmation at the lowest costs.

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I stayed somewhere that had bed bugs and I am still itching does this mean I have brought them home with me?

Although bringing bed bugs home from an infested location such as a hotel is possible it is by no means a certainty and very much depends upon the extent of the infestation in the room.  The heavier the infestation you are exposed to the greater the risk that you will bring something home, which is why checking in advance of sleeping in the room is the best way to avoid bed bug s.

However, if you have been exposed itching does not equate to bed bugs.  As most people report feeling itchy just thinking about bed bugs it could be a sign than your anxiety and worry is manifesting itself as itching.

If you feel you have been exposed it is best to isolate your luggage and have it decontaminated using a system like the PackTite™ or via a facility like our Off site Decon in London.  If you can’t gain access to such a facility sealing the luggage in cling film or plastic wrap will isolate them enough so long as the seal is complete.

We would also advise you to look at our treatment by Passive Monitor replacement protocol which can help resolve a light and recent exposure to bed bugs in as little as 14 days without the use of chemicals.

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How can I prevent bed bugs?

As bed bugs are an exposure pest that you only get through contact the only thing you can do to prevent them is to avoid contact in the first place.  This has become increasingly difficult to do as more and more places have bed bug issues, many of which you would not initially associate with bed bugs such as cinemas, public transport, doctor’s surgeries and others places that are hard to avoid. As such the best prevention is summarised by the two step process below:

Avoid where possible - inspection before you sleep away from home such as outlined in our public education videos

Early detect when you can’t avoid - though regular inspection of your Passive Monitor

To ensure that you do not get bed bugs introduced via a neighbour or adjoining property we would advocate that you educate them about bed bugs using tools such as the newsletters and information sheets that we provide on this site and by encouraging them to also gain the advantage of early detection through Passive Monitoring, it will certainly reduce the risk of them having a large enough problem for it to travel through to your home.

It is only through getting ahead of infestations of bed bugs will we be able to start reducing the problem for everyone in society.

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Is there anything you can spray that prevents bed bugs?

Despite some wild claims the only thing you can do to prevent bed bugs is avoid coming into contact with them in the first place.  Although we understand why people want something to spray to prevent them the reality is that spraying without bed bugs being present can actually make the matter worse in the following ways:

  • It exposes you and your family to unnecessary chemicals
  • It encourages the development of insecticide resistance
  • Any chemical may not be as effective as first applied when bed bugs get into the property making the treatment useless
  • It creates a false sense of security

The best thing that you can do to prevent bed bugs is to avoid them when you travel by checking for signs when you move into a room.  This simple check only takes a few minutes and can save you months of anguish dealing with bed bug s.

In the absence of avoidance, the next best thing that you can do is use a Passive Monitor for early detection.

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Do bed bug luggage sprays work?

There is no scientific data to support the fact that luggage sprays work any better than a contact killer like alcohol which is the main reason why we neither recommend nor sell them.  They have been heavily promoted in the pest management industry and the perfect “add on” to service and yet we would rather keep our professional dignity by not making a few extra pennies at our client’s expense.

Often these products are made from oils and plant extracts and are sold with claims of repellency.  It does not take a bed bug specialist to understand that one of the last things you want to do with bed bugs is repel them around your home.

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How do I get rid of bed bugs?

There is no single and straight forward answer to this question as it very much depends upon the extent of the infestation that you have.  The longer the problem has been in the property the less likely you will be able to deal with the issue yourself as experience plays the biggest part being able to quickly and efficiently resolve infestations.  The extent of the problem will also dictate what treatment option best suits your situation, in the case of our green treatment it can resolve lightest to medium infestations in a matter of hours while for more established cases we use a chemical based approach along with our world renowned treatment process manuals.

If you have a light or recently introduced infestation the only self-treatment process, we can recommend is the process of treatment by Passive Monitor replacement which is a simple and cost effective 14 day non chemical process.  We do not recommend the use of any over the counter insecticide products and particularly those in an aerosol deliver as they can in fact make the matter worse and much harder for a professional to resolve the infestation if they are called in later.

The fastest resolution will always come from an experienced professional using the latest techniques and tools, however we can’t stress enough that not all companies that claim to be bed bug specialists are in fact exactly what they claim to be, in recent years we have had a lot of clients report issues connected with the following types of company:

  • Companies with a specific bed bug name who actually only trade under this name and are in fact general pest controllers - you should always ask for the full company name when booking a service.
  • Companies with only a mobile phone number on their website for contact - mobiles are easy to dispose of and replace which a lot of companies do to avoid dissatisfied customers.
  • Companies who quote a low hourly rate but charge for chemicals and consumables - that 12 box of foggers you could have bought online for £10 no longer seems such a good idea when you have been charged £750 for them and only £30 for labour.
  • Companies who claim to be specialists and yet sell lots of “add on” products which do not work - like electronic bed bug detectors or monitoring systems which we have reviewed and failed.

You should always check a company’s credentials and reputation with third party independent organisations when possible.  In the case of bed bugs this should only be with the Bed Bug Foundation as the industry trade associations do not have a good track record for dealing with members who do not deliver acceptable levels of work.

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How much does it cost to get rid of bed bugs?

The cost of treating bed bugs can vary greatly depending upon the methods being used and the extent of the problem.  For domestic work in standard London postcodes (N, NW, E, EC, SE, SW, WC) we charge a fixed assessment fee for inspection of up to six rooms in normal working hours.  If we are treating the property we do not charge the assessment fee and for green treatment the cost is based on an hourly charge for treatment time, with chemical based treatment we charge on a per room basis but that covers revisits if required.

Other postcodes within the M25 incur a call out fee to cover the cost of travel and all work outside of the M25 if charged on an hourly rate basis.

Parking and congestion fees are passed on at cost although we are more than happy to use a parking permit if you can provide one.  Visits out of normal hours can be arranged but do incur additional call out fees.

When calculating the cost of treatment, you need to also factor in additional expenses.  It is not unusual for a company to appear cheap until you factor in additional costs such as:

  • Replacement of furniture - £100’s to £1,000’s of pounds
  • Replacement of bedding - £100+
  • Cost of removing infested items - £50+
  • Washing all your laundry - £100’s of pounds
  • Mattress encasements - £100’s if multiple beds
  • Redecoration costs - £50+
  • Cost of replacing flooring - £100’s

In most circumstances these costs can be avoided if you work with people with advanced understanding of bed bugs and who are truly specialists in their field.  Often these expenses can be avoided through the use of our off site Decon facility, in the case of clothes we can process between 8 - 10 washing machine loads in a single run from £75+ VAT and can include items that would normally be dry clean only.

We have also heard of a rather unscrupulous tactic where companies will only honour their guarantee by making monthly inspection visits which they charge for.  From our understanding of the definition of guarantee that is not what they should be going and we would advise anyone caught by this sort of “scam” to contact trading standards.    

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What do bed bug bites look like?

Unfortunately, the fact is that it’s not possible to confirm the cause of a skin reaction by its appearance is not as widely accepted in the medical practice area as it is in medical research.  The latest clinical review published in the British Medical Journal, Bed Bug Infestations - PDF (which mentions this site) along with the bed bug bites section of this site confirm this.

The reality is that bed bugs can’t be the cause of your reactions if there are none of the confirming signs present, namely:

  • Live samples
  • Cast / shed skins
  • Faecal traces

Images to compare and contract can be seen in our educational gallery but if none of these signs are present you should start to consider alternative causes for your reactions.  Some of these are discussed in the bed bug bites section but also in more detail as part of our advanced educational section.

In some parts of the world it is also possible that you have an infestation of a close relative of bed bugs either bat bugs or bird / martin bugs which without advanced identification skills and an entomological key can essential look identical to common bed bug s.

To ensure that you do not have bed bugs you can use a Passive Monitors which is designed to detect the three confirming signs of bed bug s.

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If I throw out the bed I will no longer have bed bugs

A lot of people assume that if you dispose of the bed you will no longer have bed bug s.  Unfortunately, however it is one of the incorrect things that people do as in disposing of the bed they often inadvertently spread bed bugs through the rest of the property.  The correct order is to get rid of the bed bugs and then when it’s gone replace the bed only if you feel it is necessary.

One of the greatest shames we have witnessed over the years is the millions of pounds that have been wasted by people disposing of things due to bed bug infestations.  Since 2007 we have operated a dedicated decontamination facility in London where we can work on anything that has been exposed to bed bug s.  It is significantly cheaper to decontaminate than to replace and your life does not have to feel devastated by bed bug s.

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It can't be bed bugs because I get bitten but my partner does not

It is not normal bed bug behaviour to focus only on one of the occupants in the bed or home although it has been observed in some situations where there has been a secondary medical issue such as sickle cell or thalassemia.  It is more likely that one person is a bite responder while the other is not.  With over 60% of people not initially responding to bed bug bites this is statistically more likely to occur than for it to not occur as mentioned in the bed bug bites section of this website.  This can create a situation where there is tension between occupants of the bed and yet technically both are being bitten, only one is actually responding.   

This is yet another example of why focusing on bites alone is not the correct way to view or diagnose a bed bug issue and that you need to focus on the confirming signs, namely:

  • Live samples
  • Cast / shed skins
  • Faecal traces

Images to compare and contract can be seen in our educational gallery but if none of these signs are present you should start to consider alternative causes for your reactions.  Some of these are discussed in the bed bug bites section but also in more detail as part of our advanced educational section.

In some parts of the world it is also possible that you have an infestation of a close relative of bed bugs either bat bugs or bird / martin bugs which without advanced identification skills and an entomological key can essential look identical to common bed bug s.

To ensure that you do not have bed bugs you can use a Passive Monitors which is designed to detect the three confirming signs of bed bug s.

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Bed bugs can be killed by the cold

Although bed bugs can be killed by cold temperatures they need to be controlled and monitored cold temperatures.  As snow is a great insulator a bag buried in the snow never gets to the critical death temperatures of bed bugs and they will survive the process.  It does not matter what the wind chill factor is the snow acts as an insulator preventing the items getting cold enough for this approach to be effective.

Secondly any thermal work must always be done under conditions where the temperatures are closely monitored and recorded.  The reality is that the cost of effective temperature loggers and recorders means that in order for this to be effective the investment is greater than either getting the items decontaminated professionally or the purchase of a commercial decontamination unit such as PackTite™.

This advice is not just UK specific, we have doe the calculations for the polar regions, Canada and US and it simply does not work.

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Does insect repellent work for bed bugs?

Bed bugs do not seek food in the same way that flying biting pests such as mosquitoes and gnats do, they are in fact stimulated first by CO2 and then when they get closer to potential food switch to infra-red or “heat seeking” sensors.  As such the traditional remedies and repellents do not work as they are unable to block the signals that bed bugs use to find you.

Although a few companies make claims and others attempt to rely upon essential oils they may only spread the bed bugs to locations where they are harder to treat and may take longer to resolve.

We can assure you that if we knew of a product that worked we would make it available via out online shop.

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Should I use isolation devices or tape on my bed legs?

Although it may appear like a sensible idea to isolate the bed with tape of devices our field studies have shown that it is in fact the wrong way to deal with bed bug s, in short it changes their normal behavioural patterns and can cause them to seek harbourages further away from their “normal” locations.

Sadly, some academics and industry “professionals” have taken the “add on” sale approach to bed bugs and as such their work has become more about what they can sell rather than what they do to resolve your problem.  We are the school of thought that the fastest way to resolve a problem is to “treated it as naturally and normally as possible” so you cannot add anything that makes the matter worse.

Bed bugs are in fact very adaptable and will find ways to survive in environments where people try to hide behind an obstacle course.  Often the feeling of despair when these defences fail causes as much damage to your psychological state as first finding bed bugs which is why we try to keep people off that particular roller coaster ride.

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How long can a bed bug survive without feeding?

As obligate hematophagous (creatures that must feed on blood) bed bugs can’t survive indefinitely without a source of food.  The adults however are highly adapted to survive for long periods of time between meals and could survive as long as 12 - 18 months under optimal conditions.  In contrast the nymphal or young bed bugs can rarely survive more than a few weeks.

This means that it’s not practical to attempt to “starve” bed bugs in a normally occupied location as once someone occupies again within 12 - 18 months the size of the infestation will start to increase again.  This is also true for any items you have bagged up, they should either be processed such as via out off site Decon facility or left sealed until 18 months has passed.

We also feel it is important to mention that in the absence of a human in the location bed bugs will if required for survival seek blood meals from other creatures such as mice and rats.  On a few occasions this has resulted in an issue that has spread with the mice down terraced rows and created a complex infestation to resolve.  If other rooms in the property remain occupied, then any bed bugs will detect them and eventually work their way through to those rooms.

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How long can bed bug remain dormant?

There are a lot of common misconceptions with regards bed bugs and dormancy.  If a room is occupied then bed bugs will not enter a dormant state, they will continue to feed as and when they need to.  If you experience a break or interval between bouts of activity, then it may either not be bed bugs or you need to consider how they may be being brought into your home.

The exception to this are cases which involve bat or bird bugs which will only ingress into homes when the primary host is not around.  As such they may appear to have a seasonal or occasional activity pattern.  One of the biggest differences between bed bugs and bat / bird bugs is that only bed bugs leave tell-tale faecal traces around your sleeping area.  If you are concerned about the possibilities of a sample being bat or bird related ask an experienced bed bug specialist or entomologist to confirm it by examination under a 30 X magnification loop.

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How do I know the bed bugs are gone?

The only way to be certain that an infestation of bed bugs is resolved is to keep checking for the classic confirming signs of activity, namely:

  • Live samples
  • Cast skins
  • Faecal traces

Images to compare and contract can be seen in our educational gallery but if none of these signs are present you should start to consider alternative causes for your reactions.  Some of these are discussed in the bed bug bites section but also in more detail as part of our advanced educational section.

The easiest way to be certain you are living bed bug free again is to use a Passive Monitor which is specifically designed to work with the bed bugs natural behaviour to show the confirming signs quickly.  Although we have reports of them showing signs within 12 - 72 hours of bed bugs being introduced to an area we recommend a 14-day observation period if they are used post treatment before you declare the “all clear”.

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Tel: 020 7720 6468

Email: info@Bed-Bugs.co.uk

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Author: David Cain © Bed Bugs Limited 2016