Bed bugs are nature’s reminder that one must always remain vigilant and aware of one’s surroundings. These little creepy-crawlies love to hide in the nooks, crannies, and crevices of old mattresses, sofa cushions, and linens. They can lurk in clothing, such as that which has been packed away in luggage, as they have the ability to survive for months without feeding.
Their natural skill at finding concealment is a big part of why finding the right bed bug products can be a challenge: even wooden furniture which has begun to separate at the joints may hide enough of these unwanted intruders to start a colony. A bed bug which hasn’t recently fed may be thinner than the width of a credit card. They’ve been known to hide in the slots of screws and within electronics.
Their nighttime predation is irksome enough that colonial-era Americans tried forms of bed bug treatment which they knew to be flammable, and in some cases toxic. The treatments themselves often smelled horrible, but were still widely considered preferable to bed bug infestation. Fortunately, modern-day bed bug treatment options are far more effective, while being a great deal less dangerous to the people applying them.
Bed bugs have been a plague on mankind’s shoulders (as well as other body parts) for thousands of years; the oldest written accounts of their existence are more than five hundred years old. They have their origins in the Middle East, in a species of insect which preys on bats.
Bats live in caves, and at that time we often did as well: with their natural climate control, their strategic defensibility, and their shelter from the elements, caves were a natural choice of places to spend the night. A primitive bat-biting bed bug which could also tolerate human blood would have an even more ample food supply, and as the trait was passed down through generations of bugs, migratory humans unwittingly spread them far and wide.
Later, they would stow away on board ships and trading caravans. They made it to the New World with the first European explorers but were recorded by every classical civilization from Egypt to Rome before that. These ancient peoples also had a variety of bed bug treatments, some of which were either too ineffective or too dangerous to consider using today. Others, however, seem to have had some level of effect.
Ancient Remedies Still in Use Today:
Bed bugs came to eastern Europe via the Middle East and were a presence from Greece in the south to what is now Russia and the Nordic countries by the time they made further progress westward. One early folk remedy, common throughout eastern Europe, was the spreading of bean leaves on the floor of an area known to harbor an infestation.
The bean leaves have tiny barbed hooks on their inner surfaces, which trap and imprison the bed bugs, making it difficult for them to move. Upon waking up in the morning, people would find their scattered leaves covered with bed bugs. The entire mess would then be collected and burned, in quantities which could amount to several pounds of bug and leaf altogether.
Trapping bed bugs is one thing, but another historical bed bug treatment has proven to be far more enduring. This is the use of diatomaceous earth, a fossilized substance ground into a fine powder, to actually kill the blood-sucking insects, as well as providing an impassable barrier. It is widely believed that the tradition of sprinkling salt across a doorway to ward off evil influences has its origins in the ability of the diatomaceous earth to deal with pests, particularly bed bugs.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is a soft form of sedimentary rock, which has been ground into a fine powder and used medicinally for thousands of years. While its benefits as a medicine or a food additive are debatable, its use as a form of bed bug treatment seems to have some basis in actual fact. Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled onto the floor, along with a doorway between rooms, around bed posts, and around the legs of other furnishings. It will impede the ability of bed bugs which try to move across it and kill those that are hungry enough to make the effort.
We know that diatomaceous earth (also called D.E. or “diatomite”) was used by several ancient societies as the go-to-bed bug product of the day, but its function is grounded in a principle which modern scientists are now beginning to reexamine. They hope to be able to produce artificial products which emulate D.E.’s natural function.
How does Diatomaceous Earth Work?
Bed bugs are notoriously bad at moving around. They’re built for hiding, and cannot run at high speed for any considerable distance. They’re bad at walking and climbing, and they aren’t built for jumping; they’re also flightless. Stealth and numbers are the only things on the bed bugs’ side.
Diatomaceous earth is composed primarily of fossils—the mineralized remains of ancient, microscopic sea creatures, a mixture of single-celled plants and animals called phytoplankton. To human fingertips, finely ground D.E. feels powdery and mildly abrasive. That abrasiveness is actually caused by the sharp, irregular shape of its individual grains.
To a creature whose entire body is thinner than human skin, D.E. is deadly. It pierces the outer shell of a bed bug, and draws out its moisture, causing its soft digestive organs to shrivel up—in much the same way as sprinkling salt on a slug will affect its entire body. Exposure to finely ground diatomaceous earth will kill a bed bug in fewer than fifteen minutes.
Today’s bed bug products cover a variety of substances and tactics, which are combined to effectively destroy these diminutive parasites in between feeding times. Killing bed bugs is the goal: repelled, they will simply wait out your efforts. Under laboratory conditions, bed bugs have been known to survive for up to a year without eating; it is extremely unlikely that any effort to simply ward them off would remain completely effective for that long a period of time.
Monitoring devices are simple, cup-like objects created in a particular shape. Like the eastern Europeans’ bean leaves, they allow bed bugs to climb up their outside edge, whereupon they become stuck in an interior space. These objects are built to be placed under the legs of furniture, and are designed for two purposes: first, they help to reduce bites, by making it extremely difficult for the clumsy bugs to climb up to where a sleeping individual is resting. Second, they are a foolproof means of confirming a bedbug infestation, as well as gauging the relative intensity.
Come morning, a bed bug monitoring device can be sprayed with a bed bug spray, then cleaned out, before being replaced. The use of bed bug monitoring devices is not a stand-alone treatment and is somewhat labor-intensive. They aren’t a long-term solution and are best employed while other treatments are taking effect.
Bed Bug Sprays:
Sprays are a common means by which homeowners deal with insect pests of every kind. There are sprays which have been developed to target bed bugs specifically, as well as sprays which include them in a targeted list of harmful household pests. While most of these are effective to varying degrees, bed bugs are notoriously resilient to over-the-counter pesticides, and even a handful of surviving bed bugs can regrow a population within a surprisingly short time frame. Bed bugs are also extremely resilient: in order for a spray to be effective, it is often necessary to apply it directly to the bugs themselves.
In order to assure maximum effect, and to make certain that a bed bug infestation doesn’t simply regrow from its remaining individuals, a spray should be more than 90% effective at killing nymphs (young bed bugs) within the first two weeks of regular application. Regular application is necessary: most modern household insecticides won’t kill bed bug eggs, and the survivors of an initial spray may simply find new places to hide before venturing forth again.
More often than not, two to five separate periods of treatment will be necessary, if you are relying on sprays, depending upon the size of an infestation. This is because bed bugs are known to feed in “shifts” over long periods of time. An individual bed bug can survive without feeding for months, even outside of laboratory conditions: thus, the entirety of a given population is never exposed to danger at the same time.
There are a variety of natural bed bug treatments available which take advantage of organic, all-natural components, in keeping with recent trends toward sustainability and green living. Some of these products are sprays, which incorporate natural plant-based ingredients—primarily essential oils.
Essential oils have been widely touted by advocates of alternative medicine for their healthy, curative properties while remaining highly controversial otherwise. Most scientific studies suggest that essential oils don’t actually do anything to improve human health, apart from reducing stress and promoting relaxation in individuals who enjoy their scents. These same scents are a part of what makes them so effective against bed bugs, with some of the most effective sprays available being based on essential oils: substances which evolved, not to cure disease in human beings, but to protect plants from harmful pests.
Sprays which include cinnamon oil or clove oil are widely touted as being among the best bets for confronting a bed bug infestation. Lemongrass, peppermint, and lavender are also widely used in organic bed bug products. Each of these oils has varying effects: some are directly toxic to the bugs, while others are among the few effective repellants available, capable of driving bed bugs away entirely. Because these sprays are pleasantly scented and non-toxic, they can be used throughout a home where an infestation exists, reducing the probability that the bugs will simply move to another part of the house.
Please note that, like their traditional pesticide counterparts, these sprays may still require a long period of time to take effect, and may need several applications. Their lethal qualities are still likely to require direct application to the bugs themselves, and will at the very least require routine sprays of the specific locations where they are hiding.
Bed Bug Bully represents another form of organic bed bug treatment, one that is presently unique on today’s market. Unlike a bed bug spray, Bed Bug Bully incorporates the effective bug-shriveling power of diatomaceous earth, in a formula which also combines some of the most effective essential oils and other, all-natural ingredients.
Bed Bug Bully’s unique advantage lies in its ability to make an area of your home impassable to bed bugs. It doesn’t rely on direct application; bed bugs will be affected by coming into contact with the substance itself. The additional ingredients included in the Bed Bug Bully formula make it actively repulsive to the insects, whereas pure D.E. is a passive barrier—keeping bed bugs out of a particular area, but not forcing them to vacate the premises.
Bed Bug Bully is most effective when used in doorways, and around the legs of furniture.
Modern Pest Management Chemical Pesticides:
Being totally honest, it is always advisable to go with professional pest management when confronting a bed bug infestation. A pest control professional knows the habits and preferences of bed bugs and is able to identify likely hiding spots, including locations that most homeowners wouldn’t consider. Their pesticides are some of the most effective substances in existence, versus an increasingly resilient bed bug population.
However, the price of hiring professionals is often prohibitive for many people. The cost of several recurring treatments can easily rise into the thousands of dollars—and multiple treatments are usually necessary. The unfortunate fact is that no matter what type of pesticide is used, direct contact with the bugs themselves is typically required.
Additionally, the substances used by pest control professionals are rarely organic; they’re often highly toxic, requiring that the residents of a home have someplace to go while their residence is being treated. Subsequently, individuals with allergies or respiratory problems may have difficulty returning home for a period of time, and there may be issues with the health of pets and young children as a result of the toxic substances used. Try Bed Bug Bully and we think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.