You know the saying before bed: Don’t let the bed bugs bite. But according to recent statistics from pest control companies, bed bug infestations have increased by 21 percent in the past 10 years–a worrying statistic.
“Bed bugs are seen as a growing problem within all types of dwellings, including private homes, dormitories, cruise ships, army barracks, and shelters,” says Christian Nordqvist, a contributor to Medical News Today. “Most bed bugs feed on their hosts while they are asleep. The host supplies them with blood in a painless way, never knowing it is happening.”
Unfortunately, as easy as it is to get a bed bug infestation–bed bugs typically enter homes by hitchhiking onto clothes or luggage–it’s nearly impossible to get rid of, due to their ability to survive even under the most extreme of circumstances. While it only takes 5 minutes for them to feed on humans, many bed bugs can survive months without eating–some can even lay dormant in homes for up to a year.
Their ability to hide anywhere, such as under beds, in closets, or in small wall crevices, makes dealing with them a nightmarish ordeal.
“Even vacant and seemingly clean homes may have bed bugs in them–they can survive for many months without any food,” says Nordqvist. “They can also move from apartment to apartment through hollows in walls and holes and tubes that wires and pipes go through.”
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally
At the first sign of a bed bug infestation, most people make the immediate choice–these pests need to be removed immediately. Getting rid of them is often a difficult and expensive, choice, however, due to the ability for bed bugs to hide for up to a year in places exterminators can’t always reach.
To make matters worse, most exterminators rely on chemical treatments to eradicate these creatures–while effective, they’re also dangerous to humans.
“Since they can hide in so many places, they are not easy to eradicate,” says Nordqvist. “If you live in an apartment or a house that adjoins another one, it may be necessary to inspect adjoining dwellings too. Bed bugs can easily disperse throughout a building.”
Luckily, if you don’t have the time–or money–to spare, experts are now saying there are natural solutions for keeping bed bugs on the down low. For a cost-effective way to minimize bed bug infestations, consider these tips:
1. Declutter your home. Bed bugs prefer to hide in small, dark spaces, such as under your bed, in storage boxes, or even behind picture frames. To minimize bed bug infestation, your first solution should be to eliminate any areas these critters can live–within reason. The solution: To keep your home bug-free, consider storing storage boxes in your garage, taking down picture frames, and removing any unnecessary furniture. It may seem like a hassle, but it really works.
2. Cover your bed. Bed bugs love to hide in beds because it allows them easy access to your skin, but protecting your bed with covers can deter them from turning you into their bloody smorgasbord. What you can do: Special plastic covers specially designed to keep bed bugs out can do the trick in a snap, if you don’t want to get rid of your mattress. Tucking in bed linens securely into the mattress also discourages bed bugs from making your bed their home turf, though it won’t eradicate them for good.
3. Use a natural pesticide. If you’re not big on man-made chemicals, then a natural pesticide such as diatomaceous earth may provide the punch you need to get rid of these critters for good. Made from fossilized water plants, just a sprinkle of this pesticide on the bed bugs’ breeding grounds dehydrates and kills them instantly, providing a natural solution for neutralizing these colonies without having to call an exterminator. Best places to sprinkle: Bed bugs love small, dark areas, so it’s best to sprinkle this into wall crevices, bed frames, and any other small areas where bugs can crawl.
Remember: There’s always a natural solution to everything, including bed bugs. Just make sure you’re killing them the right way (bed bugs are extremely good at surviving even the deadliest of treatments).