Identifying Bed Bugs and the Health Risks
As stated above, bed bugs are quite small, only around 0.16 to 0.2 inches long, which makes it very difficult to find the bugs themselves. Most people recognize a bed bug infestation after seeing signs of bites. Other indications of bed bugs include rust colored spots on bedding or other furnishings, the shed skin of growing larvae, and a musty, sweet odor that tends to linger around the area the bugs inhabit.
While bed bugs are not exactly dangerous themselves, scratching the bites may lead to infection. Some people are allergic to bed bugs, in which case they should seek medical attention if they notice a bite. Even if you have no bed bug allergies, the insects are an incredible nuisance that should be dealt with by a professional as soon as they are noticed.
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Types of Bed Bug Treatments
There are multiple ways to eliminate bed bugs, with each method offering its own advantages depending on the level of the infestation and the area the bugs inhabit. Some treatment types include:
- Chemical treatments: Often referred to as pesticide treatments, a chemical bed bug treatment involves a professional applying toxic chemicals in both liquid and powder form. This method is not usually considered to be reliable on its own and is generally used in conjunction with other methods.
- Fumigation: This is also called tenting by many exterminators. For a fumigation treatment, the home is closed off with tarpaulin and filled with a poisonous gas circulated by fans to kill any invading pests. It is highly effective, but requires you to leave your home for several days.
- Heat treatments: In this method of bed bug removal, an exterminator sends hot air into the space the bed bugs occupy to bring the temperature above 120 degrees. Bed bugs have a very low heat tolerance, making it an ideal treatment. However, it does nothing to prevent future infestations, so it often best to use it in combination with chemicals.
- Steam treatments: Involving no chemicals, steam treatments are incredibly potent and eliminate both the adults and the eggs, wiping out the colony completely. Steam treatments also penetrate furniture, ensuring all the insects are killed.
How Much Does Bed Bug Extermination Cost?
It is difficult to provide an exact cost for bed bug extermination, as prices are directly determined by the severity of the infestation and the method of extermination. What follows is a general pricing guide to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay when hiring a bed bug exterminator.
- Because it is often difficult to locate bed bugs, some services utilize dogs to help find them, as dogs are able to detect them easier. Canine inspection has an average cost between $300 and $600.
- Exterminators generally charge by the square foot, by the room, or by the job itself. Costs for bed bug removal average between $4 and $7.50 per square foot, between $250 and $1,000 per room, or about $4,000 to treat an entire house.
- There should also be a follow-up inspection (possibly another treatment, as well) which has an average cost between $50 and $200.
- Structural fumigation treatments for bed bugs have an average cost between $5,000 and $50,000 depending on the size of your home.
- If the bed bug invasion is severe enough, you may need integrated pest management, which is a combination of treatment methods designed to eradicate any existing pests and prevent the return of any more. It has an average cost around $5,000.
Ways to Prevent Bed Bugs
Like most forms of pest control, many people don’t think about what can be done to prevent bed bugs until they already have a problem. Luckily, there are a few steps to be taken that help to prevent bed bug infestations.
Be sure to vacuum often and do your best to reduce clutter, making sure that bed bugs have no way to build up a colony. Keep an eye on your pets and their collars, leashes, toys, etc. to ensure they aren’t bringing any bed bugs in. When traveling, keep your clothing and luggage off of hotel floors and mattresses, and wash your clothes in hot water when you return.