“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.” This little rhyme has graced children’s bedtimes for almost the past 150 years. Unfortunately, this cute anecdote does not paint a true picture of what these little vermin can do to you in your sleep. For those who have the unlucky fate of finding out that mini vampires have snuck into their beds, how do you make bed bugs come out of hiding so that you can exterminate them?
The answer is heat! Grab your hairdryer, steamer, or heat lamp and watch these pests quickly retreat from their hiding spots. Simply wave the heating device over potentially impacted areas. It should only take a few minutes to draw them out. Remember that the best way to tackle any infestation is to use any and every technique available to cover all of your bases! Therefore, also set up traps to catch the bed bugs as they try to scurry away from the hot temperatures. These can easily be created with common household materials. Find out how by reading further!
- What Are Bed Bugs?
- Where Do Bed Bugs Live?
- Top Tips To Make Bed Bugs Come Out Of Hiding
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts — How To Make Bed Bugs Come Out Of Hiding
What Are Bed Bugs?
Officially named Cimex lectularius Linnaeus. These tiny, brown, oval-shaped nocturnal insects have two key qualities — they reproduce rapidly and they feed on you at night. Bed bugs cannot fly or jump so they tend to make their way into your home by hitching a ride on something like a suitcase, clothing or used bedding and furniture. Nevertheless, when dealing with an infestation, it is extremely important to determine what type of bug has set up camp.
Bed Bugs Vs. Ticks
With flea and tick season upon us, it can be easy to misconstrue which creatures have invaded your home. While similar to a tick with their round appearance and their thirst for blood, bed bugs are much larger. Furthermore, they don’t stick around after they get done feeding. Instead, they retreat back into your mattress, or whatever furniture they have made into their home.
Another key difference is that they do NOT transmit diseases as ticks do. However, these critters do share a similar bite. In fact, most individuals do not recognize that they are even being bitten because both insects inject an anesthetic into their host’s skin, effectively numbing the area.
Bed Bugs Vs. Fleas
In contrast, a flea’s bite is felt almost immediately! These pests have a narrow body and can jump over a foot in distance! However, without close examination, it is very hard to discern between a flea and a bed bug. Their bites are quite similar in appearance with the marks being in clusters or along a line.
Both types of welts are many times compared to mosquito bites, but bed bug bites usually have a more purple hue. The only distinguishable difference is the area in which they latch on. Fleas focus on your lower extremities, whereas bed bugs come out of hiding and target your upper half — the arms, neck, and face.
Finally, fleas tend to prefer our feline and canine counterparts over humans. Therefore, if you are a pet owner, it is likely that your furry friends brought you this unwanted house guest, that is not a bed bug in hiding.
Where Do Bed Bugs Live?
Bed bugs are experts at remaining concealed. Their small size and ability to spread out their feedings give them a distinct advantage. While furniture and mattresses are their go-to spots, other hiding spaces include bed frames, furniture crevices, electrical outlets, carpeting, underneath wall fixtures, and any other place as thin as a credit card.
These pests can be quite a headache to eradicate, but if you have an infestation, it is important to act quickly. They can live for up to six months and are capable of laying up to 500 eggs in their lifetime.
Top Tips To Make Bed Bugs Come Out Of Hiding
First and foremost, it is important to remember what your unwanted visitors like the most — warmth, CO2, and darkness. Therefore, these are the best tools you have to coax them out of hiding. However, as mentioned above, they can go quite a long time without a meal so you may need to get creative with how you motivate them to emerge from their mini hibernation.
Turn Up The Temperature!
Furniture and Framework
Bed bugs are attracted to body heat. However, when direct heat is applied to them, they will run like the dickens! Grab your hairdryer or steamer and turn it on the highest heat setting. Slowly run it along any surfaces that you suspect are infested to bring the bed bugs out of hiding. This is best done with a flashlight in hand as they are quite tiny and can be hard to see, especially in the dark. A heat lamp is another great alternative and it applies continuous heat to impacted areas.
The important thing to remember is that the temperature needs to reach at least 113 degrees to kill the bed bugs and even higher for their eggs. Moreover, the heat needs to be applied for an extended period of time. The hotter the temperature is, the shorter the duration to their demise. Hairdryers can get up to 140 degrees so this can be an effective method of removal.
Of course, you likely do not have the time to sit and slowly wave a hairdryer over every inch of your home for the time it takes to kill these pests. Thankfully, just a few minutes of contact will draw them out. As they come out of hiding, take a paper towel and quickly kill them on contact.
Another thing to note is that you should always use lower heat settings on items that could incur damage from the extreme temperatures and localized application.
Bedding and Clothes
This part of the process is quite easy to handle. If you find that your mattress, box spring, or bed frame have been housing bed bugs, throw the bedding in a long, HOT wash cycle and let the washer do its job. Next, throw the items in the dryer and let them run for a few cycles. Washers get up to 130 degrees and dryers can max out at 135 degrees! On a long enough cycle (30 minutes or more), you are pretty much guaranteed to kill anything that has set up camp!
Create The Illusion Of Human Presence
Every person naturally produces carbon dioxide every time they exhale. This is another characteristic that attracts bed bugs to humans. Therefore, creating areas within your home that have the same qualities is key to making bed bugs come out of hiding. This can easily be done by setting up CO2 traps around the house.
Make DIY Bed Bug Traps
In order to effectively draw these pests out AND catch them, you will first need to purchase bed bug interceptor basins. Next, you will need to combine ⅛ of a cup of yeast with ⅝ a cup of sugar. Finally, add 1.5 liters of water. This mixture is a simple way to create carbon dioxide.
Place the mixture in disposable cups and then position those in the interceptor basins. Lastly, if you want to ensure that the bed bugs can’t get out of these bowls once they get in, spread vaseline throughout the interior portion of the basin. This essentially glues them to the surface.
It is important to note that this mixture will only emit CO2 for up to eight hours. Moreover, your presence in the room will supersede these traps. Therefore, set up multiple stations and leave the area alone so that the bed bugs will come out of hiding. Replace the yeast mixture each day to see optimal results.
Force The Bed Bugs Out Of Hiding
Sometimes we all need a little push. For the bed bugs that have already gotten their fill, grab a thin, stiff item like a butter knife or credit card and sweep the item along potentially infested areas. Tiny spaces are a bed bug’s best friend so aim for baseboards, loose wallpaper, wall fixtures, furniture joints, and any other small, dark spaces.
When you manage to locate some of these creepy-crawly creatures, have a paper towel ready to kill them and a container to properly dispose of them in. Remember that heat is your friend! Thus, once you manage to trap the bed bugs, place them in a sealed container outside in the sun. This will ensure their demise if your bug-squashing efforts don’t do the trick!
Frequently Asked Questions
What substances kill bed bugs?
Unfortunately, unlike fleas, bed bugs are a bit harder to kill. Salt and baking soda will not do the trick. However, lemon juice, rubbing alcohol and Diatomaceous Earth are some extremely effective natural remedies that you can use to help solve your bed bug infestation. In fact, if you spray rubbing alcohol directly onto bed bugs, they are said to die on contact. Moreover, these tend to be safer alternatives for those with kids and pets compared to toxic chemical treatments.
Can I use essential oils to make bed bugs come out of hiding?
Yes! Some essential oils will deter the bed bugs from setting up shop. Tea Tree, lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint oils are all known insect repellents that will keep bed bugs at bay. Better yet, blood orange oil and neem oil will help to eradicate them!
One caveat — if you are a pet owner, some of these remedies can be toxic to our furry friends. This is especially true of peppermint oil which should be avoided with both pets and young children. Always confirm safety information before using any substance in your home and if possible, remove both pets and children during times of treatment. This can ensure their safety and that you can properly clean once the infestation is resolved.
Do other household items work as bed bug repellants?
Yes! Ground pepper, cinnamon, and rubbing alcohol are all scents that bed bugs detest!
If I have a mattress cover, will that prevent the bed bugs from getting in?
If you have a mattress cover with a zipper, it is likely that the pests will not get in. However, at their early stages, bed bugs can be smaller than a pinhead so they are capable of getting into small spaces.
Final Thoughts — How To Make Bed Bugs Come Out Of Hiding
When dealing with a bed bug infestation, it is extremely important to act quickly. These methods are fantastic if you catch the problem early. Unfortunately though, if the pests have time to set up camp, pesticides or professional pest control services may be necessary to fully eliminate the problem.
The best way to prevent bed bugs from entering your home is to have used furniture and bedding properly cleaned, prior to bringing it in your home. When coming back from any sort of trip, leave your luggage outside in the sunshine for a few days. Also, make your bed a more difficult place to reach. Remove bed skirts and other items that hang close to the ground.
Heidi is a wife, mother, Newfie owner, writer and Meteorologist. She was born and raised in Texas and has worked in the broadcast industry for going on a decade.