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Delaware Healthy Homes



Inside Healthy Homes - Pests


Bed bugs are increasingly becoming a pest problem throughout Delaware. No home, apartment building or hotel is off-limits to these encroaching pests and housing age, type or resident income are not indicators of where they will and will not turn up. While bed bugs are not known to transmit any diseases, the bites can be irritating and the effort needed to eradicate them once they have infested a home is physically, mentally and financially draining. The Delaware Healthy Homes Program offers the information and advice below to deal with these pests.

How do I know if I have bedbugs?

  • Visual Inspections
    • Inspecting areas where bedbugs frequent can help confirm presence of the pests. Mattresses, bed frames and the cracks and crevices throughout the bedroom should be investigated for bugs, eggs, blood spots and other indications of the presence of bed bugs.
  • Monitors
    • If there is an indication of the presence of bedbugs, such as bites on people in the room, but a visual inspection doesn't reveal their presence monitors can be used to confirm that pests are to blame. Monitors can be simple plastic tray arrangements or complicated electronic and chemical baiting devices, but all work to draw and trap bedbugs as a way to determine they're in the vicinity. Monitors are also sometimes used to demonstrate that a treatment has eradicated the problem or to alert residents to a new problem.

How do I prevent bedbugs in my home?

  • Clutter Removal
    • Clutter removal as an essential part of bed bug elimination. The bed bug's ability to hide is one of the main reasons why it is such a formidable opponent. Reducing the harborage available to bed bugs increases the chance any treatments used will be effective against the insects.
    • When an effort to eradicate an infestation fails, it is almost always due to clutter. If a pest control professional is brought in to treat the property, residents need to adhere to the instructions for clutter removal provided by the pest control company both for preparation before cleaning and maintenance after the treatment.
  • Encasements
    • Covers with sealed seams should be used on all mattresses and box springs as a preventative method in keeping bedbugs out.
    • Covers act to keep established populations trapped in the mattress and prevent new infestations from getting in.
  • Inspection of New Bedding
    • Bedding brought into the home should be inspected for signs of an infestation prior to use.
    • All bedding should be washed and dried prior to use to kill any pests that may be infesting the material.

What if I already have them?

  • Professional Help
    • Bed bug eradication often is beyond the abilities of residents and homeowners. Typical consumer pesticides are often ineffective and the treatment required will often take several forms over several weeks. Contacting a professional pest management company is an important first step.
  • Clutter Removal
    • Clutter removal is an essential part of bed bug elimination. The bed bug's ability to hide is one of the main reasons why it is such a formidable opponent. Reducing the harborage available to bed bugs increases the chance any treatments used will be effective against the insects.
    • When an effort to eradicate an infestation fails, it is almost always due to clutter. If a pest control professional is brought in to treat the property, residents need to adhere to the instructions for clutter removal provided by the pest control company.
  • Disposal of Infested Items
    • In multifamily settings, the risk of spreading the infestation (by bed bugs falling off the furniture during transport and by others scavenging the items) is often greater than the benefit to the control effort.
    • Disposal may be the most sanitary option when a well established infestation exists on a piece of furniture.
    • Disposal may be the most practical option if there is a heavily infested, complex piece of furniture (one that offers lots of harborage to bed bugs) for which encasements are not available.
    • If the budget allows, treating the infested item (at least to significantly reduce the population) before removing it is recommended as a part of reinfestation prevention.
    • Items should be wrapped so that bed bugs don't fall off and migrate to new locations during transport and storage.
    • Make the item unusable by breaking it or cutting open the fabric on all sides. Marking the item with a picture of a bed bug or writing "Bed Bugs" or "Chinches" may also deter passersby from bringing the item back in the building.
  • Isolation in Plastic Containers or Bags
    • Sealing items in plastic bins and bags can keep an infestation from spreading, as long as the tubs and bags can be adequately sealed.
    • Clothing and other items should be stored until they can be laundered.
    • If there is an ongoing infestation, items can be stored in plastic bins or bags to prevent reinfestation during treatment.
  • Metal Furniture
    • Bedbugs cannot adhere to, or travel with, metal furniture as well as they can on cloth or wood. In addition, the smooth surfaces and lack of hiding places makes inspection and treatment easier.
  • Laundry
    • Typical residential washers and dryers can reach temperatures sufficient to kill bed bugs. Washing affected bedding and clothing often can help as part of the overall treatment program.
    • Steam
      • Steam cleaning can be used as a treatment for larger pieces of furniture such as couches, but this treatment should be handled by professionals with the appropriate equipment.
    • Encasements
      • Covers with sealed seams should be used on all mattresses and box springs as a preventative method in keeping bedbugs out.
      • Covers act to keep established populations trapped in the mattress and prevent new infestations from getting in.


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Important Links



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Additional
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Bed Bug Control in
Multi-Family Housing

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US EPA
Bedbug Page

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University of Kentucky
Bed Bug Info

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Bedbugs and Schools
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Delaware Dept. of Ag Bedbug Resources
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Hiring a Pest Control Contractor
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National Center for Healthy Housing


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