As just about everyone knows, bed bugs do not enter homes on their own from the natural environment; instead, bed bugs enter homes by hitchhiking on people’s clothing and many other items, mostly fabrics. Some of the most common ways in which bed bugs enter homes include students or children returning home from infested college dormitories or summer camps, inviting houseguests into a home who have bed bugs on their clothing, and by bringing infested second hand furniture or clothing into a home. It is also not uncommon for bed bugs to enter adjacent apartment units, which puts apartment dwellers at a relatively high risk for bed bug infestations.

Since bed bugs do not dwell outdoors, they are rarely brought indoors by dogs and cats, and bed bugs prefer feeding on the blood of humans much more so than domestic pets. Bed bugs can only be eradicated from homes by working with a professional who practices integrated pest management, but in rare cases, homeowners forego pest management in favor of minimizing bed bug bites within their home. This is not recommended, as living in a bed bug infested home will allow bed bugs to spread to new areas on the clothing or personal items of the home’s occupants. If a homeowner is not able to have their home treated for bed bugs immediately, there are several methods in which the homeowner can minimize bites until help arrives.

Total release foggers and aerosol sprays that treat bed bug infestations are widely available in retail stores, but studies have demonstrated these products to be ineffective. One study found that 9 percent of people who have experienced a bed bug infestation have applied gasoline to their mattress, while 20 percent applied some other type of flammable liquid. These methods may kill some bed bugs, but they will not eradicate an infestation, and due to these ill-advised treatments, a number of homes have caught fire. While awaiting bed bug treatment, homeowners should try their best to avoid using furniture or mattresses that are infested with the pests. Vacuuming infested carpet, mattresses, and furniture will help to keep many bed bugs at bay for a short period of time. Infested bedding and clothing can also be put into the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes in order to kill all bed bug pests present on the fabric items.

Have you ever used high heat to kill bed bugs?