How to Kill Bed Bugs

What to expect from a bed bug exterminator

By Caryn Solly

After inspecting the space for bed bugs and positively identifying the pest, PMPs will use a residual chemical insecticide to treat bed bugs. This is a liquid or dust spray that will be put down on surfaces suspected to be crawled by bed bugs. The insecticide will probably be a pyrethroid, which can be highly lethal to bed bugs and also have a flushing effect. You should ask to be sure, but these are generally not harmful to pets or children.

To be most effective, the exterminator will be relying on the cooperation of the occupant, and issue instructions that will include laundering clothes and discarding infested furniture. Getting rid of bed bugs is a team effort between the PMP and the occupant.

There is debate among PMPs whether or not to spray mattresses and box springs with insecticides. It can be effective in ridding the mattress of bed bugs, but many exterminators worry about pesticide-related litigation, and refrain from the practice.

According to a 2007 survey by Pest Management Professional magazine and the University of Kentucky, most PMPs are concerned that bed bugs may become resistant to the products that are currently available to treat them. University of Kentucky studies show this may indeed be true, supporting those worries by exterminators. The industry is also looking to develop better ways to detect and monitor bedbug activity.

Many PMPs will also use an insect growth regulator (IGR), but few studies have been conducted to determine their effects on bed bug infestations. Other techniques your exterminator may use include vacuuming and steaming. If the bed bug problem is in a multi-unit residence, the PMP should also inspect nearby units.

You should schedule a follow-up inspection or treatment. A home with average clutter can take three or four treatments, or even more, to be rid of a bed bug problem. Follow-ups can come 10-21 days after the initial or previous treatment.

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