A Bedbug Infestation: How to Cope

Well, I'm sorry to say that one of my readers wrote to me, saying she is freaking out because she just discovered those dreaded bedbugs where else, but in her bed. Since I've written on this topic, she asked for some advice. (I hope no one else will need it, but keep it handy, just in case.)


Thoroughly clean the infested rooms as well as others in the residence. Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs, and use a powerful vacuum to remove bed bugs from cracks and crevices. Dismantling bed frames will expose additional bug hiding sites. Remove drawers from desks and dressers and turn furniture over, if possible, to inspect and clean all hiding spots.

Mattresses and box springs can be permanently encased within special mattress bags. Once they are installed, inspect the bags to ensure they are undamaged; if any holes or tears are found, seal these completely with permanent tape. Any bugs trapped within these sealed bags will eventually die.

To prevent bed bugs from crawling onto a bed, pull the bed frame away from the wall, tuck sheets and blankets so they won't contact the floor, and place the frame legs into dishes or cups of mineral oil.

Caulk and seal all holes where pipes and wires penetrate walls and floor, and fill cracks around baseboards and cove moldings to further reduce harborages.

If you own your residence, we suggest you contact a licensed pest control operator who is knowledgeable and experienced in managing bed bug infestations. Ask the pest control company for references, and ask at least a few of their customers about their experiences before you agree to any contract.

If you are a tenant, contact your property manager or landlord to discuss your respective obligations, and to agree on a plan to manage the infestation. Generally, landlords are legally required to contract with a licensed pest control operator.

Request a written integrated pest management (IPM) plan from the pest control operator. This plan should detail the methods and insecticides to be used by the pest control operator, and describe the efforts expected by the building manager as well as by the tenants.

Because bed bugs and other pests may spread through cracks and holes in the walls, ceilings and floors, it is wise to inspect adjoining apartments on the same floor as well as those directly above and below.

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