What to expect after bed bug treatment

There are steps to take after a pest management professional has treated your home for bed bugs.

When working with a pest management professional (PMP) to eradicate bed bugs, it is important to cooperate and follow all steps that are specified by the PMP. According to research, individuals who work cooperatively with their PMP’s can make the eradication process much shorter. The Michigan State University Extension article, Preparing Your Home for Bed Bug Treatment, outlines the steps that should be taken.

If the PMP’s treatment included pesticides, they will tell you how long to wait before re-entering the home. Once inside, air the rooms for an hour. Linens and clothing that were left in the treated rooms should be washed and dried. Wash in hot water and dry on the hot setting for at least 30 minutes. The PMP will tell you when the room can be vacuumed.

Bed bug management is a time consuming and difficult task. After physical repairs, cleaning and treatment have been conducted it is important to monitor for surviving bed bugs. If the PMP used conventional treatment, there may be some surviving eggs that will hatch. This doesn’t mean that the treatment was ineffective. As these eggs hatch it will be necessary to continue monitoring and to have follow-up treatments. A conventional chemical treatment program will usually require at least one follow-up treatment two weeks later.

You may continue to sleep in your bed after treatment. Encasements should be put on mattresses and box springs. Any surviving bed bugs in the mattress or box spring will not be able to escape the encasement or bite. Encasements also prevent bed bugs living in other parts of the room from establishing themselves in the mattress or box spring.

After treatment the PMP will inspect to determine whether the treatment has been effective. If a significant reduction in bed bugs is not observed, it may be necessary to consider a combination of methods or an alternative to the treatment that had been used. You will have to follow any steps outlined by the PMP prior to the follow-up service to prepare the room(s) or home. Monitors such as sticky traps or bed bug interceptors may be helpful in the weeks following treatment.

There are several reasons why a treatment may not be effective:

  • All sources of the bed bugs were not identified during the inspection phase.
  • All sources of bed bugs were not treated.
  • Ineffective insecticides were used or there was insufficient contact time if heat was used.
  • Re-introduction of infested items. If any of your belongings were removed prior to treatment and then brought back afterward, bed bugs could be re-introduced. In order to avoid this, do not move items out of the home or area to be treated without first consulting with your PMP.

For information on how to prevent or treat bed bug infestations, visit the Michigan Department of Community Health website, www.michigan.gov/bedbugs.

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