If you have recently sprayed for bed bugs or had an exterminator visit your home, you may be wondering if the treatment was successful. There are several factors that play a role in the success of each treatment.
Dealing with a Large or Small Bed Bug Infestation
The larger the infestation the harder it is to eradicate. When a bed bug colony increases in size it will begin to spread to other locations within the home. This makes a large infestation much harder to control and requires a more widespread treatment.
Infestation Size Matters
All infested areas must be addressed during treatment or the bed bugs will quickly repopulate. If you are treating the infestation yourself, it is important to remember the infestation might span far beyond the bedroom and it may be necessary to perform multiple treatments to get a handle on the burgeoning population.
Multi-Family Homes and the Movement of Bed Bugs
In large cities, multi-unit homes and apartment complexes are common. Bed bug treatment can be increasingly difficult in connected residences. Even if your home has been thoroughly treated and the entire colony destroyed, more bed bugs can move in through cracks, crevices, and doors from the surrounding residence. It is imperative that you install a door sweep and caulk all areas so that the bugs cannot travel between units.
Bed Bug Signs to Watch for Post-Treatment
The simplest way to determine if your treatment was a success is to watch for the following signs:
- Bites: Small red bumps or rashes.
- Fecal Matter: Red flecks on your pillowcases, bed sheets, bedclothes, baseboards, or walls that the insects leave behind after feeding
- Shed Exoskeletons: Tiny shells along mattress seams, baseboards, or wherever the insects may be hiding during the day
- Live Bugs: Small, oval, brownish red insects approximately the size of an apple seed.
If you see none of these signs for three weeks following treatment, chances are high that the pests have been eradicated, however it is not quite time to celebrate yet as eggs can take up to two weeks to hatch. Because of this, many pest control companies suggest that you spray again after two weeks to kill any new hatchlings.
And remember - bed bugs are true survivors. They are pros at hiding, have evolved to withstand many pesticides and can effectively hibernate without feeding for long stretches of time.
Install Bed Bug Monitors/Interceptors
Following treatment, you should install bed bug monitors under each leg of your bed to screen for surviving bugs. The interceptors are inexpensive and effectively trap the bugs as they try to enter or leave the bed. Check the traps every day for evidence, if your treatment was effective there should be no bugs.
Monitoring Vacant Rooms
Bed bugs are unlikely to climb onto a bed if there is no one in it to feed on. However, you can install monitors that have their own attractant to lure the bugs with an appealing scent. This will let you know if you have an infestation in an unoccupied room of the house. Guest rooms can be home to a hibernating or dormant colony of bed bugs.
When to Celebrate Success
It’s usually safe to celebrate true success if you haven’t seen any bed bugs or experienced any bites for six to eight weeks after treatment. It can feel like a waiting game to determine if your treatment was successful and unfortunately, it’s impossible to know overnight. Following these steps will help determine if your infestation is truly gone and to take quick action to prevent re-infestation if not.
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