Don't let the Bed Bugs Bite

Spying a beBed Bug on mattressautiful mattress abandoned by the roadside near her home, Nadia did not take it as a warning. It looked clean and relatively new, so she took it for her apartment. She lugged it up the steps, into her home in the Montreal Plateau, dragging it towards her bedroom. Then she happened to glance down and notice the felt marker writing, scrawled on the back-side of the mattress: BEDBUGS!

With bed bugs on the rise in many major cities, the bedbug has become the new bogey monster, haunting the media, and appearing in unexpected places like the cinema, the airport, and even the workplace. But is the scare really justified? Bringing the subject up to my grandfather, who had dealt with bedbugs prior to DDT, he chuckled and agreed they were a pest; it took 3 months cleaning to be free of the nuisance. Yet many recent cases, employing modern pesticides have offered less results. `The exterminator has sprayed five times already, and we`re still getting bitten. It`s been five months now. I`m really sick of this!“, said Dominic, a Montreal tenant, echoing the complaint of many apartment dwellers. When it comes to de-bugging, it is important to be well informed, and to engage a knowledgeable company, one that does at least two visits, and will take measures to prevent re-infestation from neighbouring living spaces. While bed bugs do present cause for concern, we should be able to travel, go to the movies, stay at hotels, hostels, and friends` homes without constantly worrying about catching the bug. It is possible to decrease the risk by taking some precautions.

bed bug infested mattress • Make sure not to pick up any bed bug infested materials, such as furniture or electronics. Inspect items carefully before bringing them into your home. It is not advisable to pick up used mattresses.
• Keep in mind that bedbugs can be found in many places of transience, such as hotels, hospitals, residences, airports, and movie theatres.
• Keep luggage away from walls and furniture when staying somewhere that may be infested. Luggage may also be protected by placing in a garbage bag, tied shut.
• When returning from travels, do not bring backpacks and suitcases directly into the house. Bag items before taking them in. Any materials that can be machine washed or dried, wash them hot, and/or place them in the drier. Depending on the material, some bags and suitcases can be cleaned with a steam cleaner.

Infestations can begin with a single Bed bug detection dogsbed bug, so it is important to be thorough when dealing with this problem. Detection dogs, dogs trained to sniff out the offending critters, are able to pick up on bed bugs when even experts have trouble detecting low levels of infestation. If you think you have bedbugs at home, there is no need to use conventional pesticides. From our experience, many pesticides can aggravate a problem by causing the bedbugs to disperse, spreading throughout a building. A steam cleaner can be an invaluable tool in the fight against bedbugs, as it can be used to treat the mattress, bedframe, and other materials in the room. Bedbugs are very sensitive to heat and at just 46⁰C will die in less than 10 minutes! From our experience, steam treatment and heat treatments are the best approach, as they target even the eggs of the bed bugs, which most pesticides cannot do. Unavoidably, a bed bug infestation means time for some serious cleanup. Clutter will need to be removed and often much clothing and bedding needs to be washed hot, and dried to get rid of bed bugs. Below are some tips for dealing with a bed bug infestation:

• Treat cracks and crevasses in room with diatomaceous earth. This can be found at the hardware store under the names Insectigone, or Insect Stop.
• Use a steam cleaner on your bedframe, especially to clean joints and screw-holes. Your mattress and furniture, if appropriate, may be cleaned with the steam cleaner. Note that dry steamers are often recommended.
• Use a zippered mattress cover for your mattress and box-spring
• Apply petroleum jelly around legs of bed. Place bowls, or trays under each leg of bed and fill with diatomaceous earth. See our next blog post for more tips!

When Nadia realized she had brought bed bugs to her apartment, she immediately threw out the infested mattress, washed her clothes and took a shower before cleaning the hallway she had dragged the mattress through. Luckily she saved herself from an infestation, and a visit with our bedbug detection dogs confirmed that no bedbugs were present. While bedbugs are a major problem, they can be overcome without using conventional pesticides, through thorough cleaning and use of ecological products. Though there is much debate as to the best ways of dealing with bedbugs, one thing bedbug experts can agree on is that it is much easier to prevent an infestation than it is to get rid of the critters once they are established.


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* Note: Names of those interviewed have been changed, as they did not wish to be identified



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