Bed bugs are one of the most prevalent pests found in homes. According to a recent report by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), nearly 100 percent of pest professionals treated homes for bed bugs in the past year. And according to the NPMA report, the prevalence of bed bugs is increasing.
The report indicates that bed bugs are often confused with other pests, as 84 percent of pest control professionals were initially contacted about a different type of pest before identifying them as bed bugs. The majority of people, 71 percent, originally believed they were infested with fleas, while another 28 percent thought they had cockroaches.
Bed bug infestations peak in the summer. More than half of pest control professionals in the study said they receive the most bed bug complaints during this season and cited increased travel during this time of the year as a possible cause.
Pest control professionals most commonly encounter bed bugs in permanent and temporary dwellings like single-family homes, apartments/condominiums, hotels/motels, and nursing homes. However, bed bugs can be found in a variety of other places like schools and day care centers, office buildings, college dorms, hospitals, and on public transportation.
Bites are the most commonly reported sign of a bed bug infestation. However, while some people immediately develop a reaction to bites on their skin, it may take two to three days for symptoms to appear on others. And for some people, signs of bed bugs might be undetectable for a longer period of time, resulting in a more wide-spread infestation.
Bed bugs are typically found in couches and bed frames, but they can also be found in unexpected places like stuffed animals, wheelchairs, airplanes, school buses, purses, and bedside lamps. While these insects have not been found to transmit diseases, bed bug infestations can negatively impact both a person’s physical and mental health. Bed bug bites can cause allergic reactions and those facing a bed bug infestation often experience anxiety.
There are a variety of bug sprays that can be used to eradicate bed bugs. However, all insecticides are not created equal. For example, while powerful in the process of eliminating fleas, a flea spray will not be as effective against bed bugs.
Boric acid is a common insecticide. It comes in dust, spray, bait, paste, gel, or liquid form and is an effective bug killer when ingested.
Desiccants are one of the most popular kinds of bed bug killers. Desiccant is defined as: They work by destroying a bed bug’s waxy, protective outer coating. Once this coating is destroyed, the bed bugs die. Unlike other kind of bug spray, different strains of bed bugs can’t become resistant to desiccants because they produce a physical reaction. Additionally, desiccants have a long-lasting effect.
Among the desiccants useful in bed bug control is diatomaceous earth (DE), a safe and reliable alternative to chemical insecticide. Once a bed bug walks through DE, the substance dries out its shell, causing it to dehydrate.
Diatomaceous Earth is derived from the fossilized remains of silicon dioxide-based water creatures called diatoms. It is an organic, all-natural insecticide that can kill bed bugs and stop them from spreading to additional locations throughout the home.
Diatomaceous earth is only one part of the process of ridding a home of bed bugs. In order to ensure the bed bug infestation is properly eradicated, you must steam clean all linens and furniture, wash all fabrics, and vacuum your entire home before applying diatomaceous earth. After the powder is applied, wait as long as possible before removing it to ensure effectiveness.
For step by step instructions on eliminating bed bugs with Diatomaceous Earth click here.
In 2017, researchers in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science at New Mexico State University released a report looking at the effectiveness of diatomaceous earth in bed bug treatment. The report detailed several laboratory studies of DE-based bed bug treatment conducted over the past decade.
According to the studies, bed bugs took longer to make first contact with areas treated with the DE than pyrethroid, pyrethrins or silica gel-based products. However, several of the studies reported that DE was highly effective against the pests.
A study published in 2009 found that diatomaceous earth was more effective against bed bugs when mixed with a dispersal agent (bed bug alarm pheromone components), which enhances the insects’ movement. Other studies indicated that high doses of diatomaceous earth killed 100 percent of adult bed bugs after nine and ten days of continuous exposure. Overall, the studies confirm that DE is most effective when bed bugs are exposed to the substance for a long period of time.
In addition to scientific research, there is ample anecdotal evidence about the effectiveness of DE in bed bug control. On the Rich Soil website, contemporary permaculture theorist Paul Wheaton discusses his own experience using DE to kill a variety of insects.
“The important thing to us is that if an insect with an exoskeleton gets diatomaceous earth on them, they die. At the same time, we can rub it all over our skin, rub it in our hair, eat it .... whatever ... and we are unharmed,” Wheaton writes. “Diatomaceous earth kills all bugs. It has been reported to be the most effective solution when fighting pests like fleas, ants and bed bugs.”
Wheaton goes on to say that, “Diatomaceous earth is super cheap, non-toxic, and generally more effective than anything the pesticide companies have to offer.”
A Better Alternative
As the decades pass, more insects are becoming resistant to the traditional methods of pest control used in the past. At the same time, people around the world are becoming more conscious about the substances they use in their households. Diatomaceous earth provides a powerful alternative to those looking to safely and effectively address a bed bug infestation in their homes. When used as part of a full pest control system, DE can ensure bed bugs are completely eliminated.
Have you ever tried using diatomaceous earth to eradicate bed bugs in your home? Send us an email or message sharing your story. And for more information on other ways you can use DE, join our Facebook group.