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How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs

Have you ever woken up to find your bed swarming with small insects? Did they eventually spread to more parts of the house as time passed?

If so, then it is most likely that you have encountered a nasty infestation of bed bugs. But how long does it take to get rid of bed bugs?

How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs

How Do Bed Bugs Feed?

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that require blood to complete their life cycle. Their feeding process is typically nocturnal; they are most active when you are asleep.

The likelihood of encountering them is higher in areas where people rest, making your mattress a prime feeding ground for an infestation.

These pests pierce your skin with two hollow tubes. One tube injects saliva, which contains anesthetics and anticoagulants.

This ensures that their bites are virtually painless, and your blood flows freely. The other tube is used to withdraw blood, a process that takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

After feeding, bed bugs retreat to their hiding places.

Identifying bed bug bites can be challenging as they resemble bites from other insects. Bites often appear as small, red, itchy welts and are typically found in a line or cluster.

Reactions to bed bug bites can significantly vary from person to person.

Here are some indicators of bed bugs feeding:

  • Profile of Bed Bugs: Small, reddish-brown, and wingless, they can reach the size of an apple seed.
  • Signs of Bites: Itchy welts that are arranged in a straight line or cluster.

bed bug infestation under a floorboard with bed bug eggs

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live?

An average bed bug has a lifespan of about 4 to 6 months. However, under optimal conditions, which include regular access to blood meals and favorable temperatures, they can live for up to a year.

Lifecycle Stages:

  • Eggs: Bed bug eggs are about the size of a pinhead and hatch within 6 to 10 days.
  • Nymphs: They go through five stages before reaching maturity, requiring a blood meal each time they molt. This process typically occurs over a month.
  • Adults: Once mature, they can start reproducing. An adult female lays 1 to 5 eggs per day, leading to rapid infestation growth.

These pests are experts at hiding, often found in the folds of mattresses, furniture, and tiny crevices.

This makes it challenging to spot them, prolonging their presence in your environment. Despite their small size, roughly that of an apple seed, bed bugs can infest an entire home if not managed quickly.

Temperature is a key factor affecting bed bug longevity. Most bed bugs will not survive if the temperature is consistently over 120°F (48.9°C), which is a temperature high enough to eliminate them in all life stages.

This fact is often utilized during heat treatments for infested belongings.

bed bug crawling on the top of a memory foam mattress topper

What’s The Best Bed Bug Treatment For Extermination?

Different methods can be employed, each with their pros and cons.

Professional Exterminator: Hiring a professional exterminator is often a reliable option. These experts utilize a combination of treatments to ensure that all life stages of bed bugs are eliminated.

  • Chemical Treatments: Pesticides are a common approach used by professionals. These are specifically formulated for bed bugs and are applied to key areas such as mattressesfurniturebed frames, and where you may identify bed bugs more frequently. The pesticides, once applied to these areas, particularly along seams, cracks, and crevices, can effectively tackle the infestation.
  • Heat Treatment: This method involves raising the temperature of the affected area to a level that bed bugs cannot survive. All items within the space, including bedding and clothing, must be subjected to high heat, typically via a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes.

For smaller items:

Heat Treatment Duration Effectiveness
Household Dryer High Heat 30 mins Kills bugs and eggs

For personal efforts, a vacuum serves as an essential tool to physically remove bed bugs from various surfaces.

Rigorous cleaning should be followed by disposing of the vacuum bag properly to prevent re-infestation.

Pest Control: Maintaining an ongoing relationship with a pest control service can be beneficial. They can provide routine inspections and treatments, which is helpful as bed bug elimination often requires multiple treatments to be fully effective.

check hotel mattresses for signs of bed bugs before going to sleep

Why Are Bed Bugs So Hard To Get Rid Of?

Bed bugs present a significant challenge when it comes to eradication, largely due to their elusive nature and impressive resilience.

Understanding the difficulties of dealing with these pests can help you comprehend the effort needed for complete removal.

Life Cycle and Reproduction: Bed bug infestations are difficult to eliminate because these pests reproduce quickly. A single female can lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime, and these eggs are often scattered across your living space, hidden in the fibers of your mattress or tucked away in furniture. This scattering makes it hard to ensure all eggs are destroyed during treatment.

Hiding Places:
Your home provides numerous ideal hiding places for bed bugs. They tend to congregate in tight, secluded spaces, such as:

  • Crevices in your bed frame
  • Cracks in the headboard
  • Behind baseboards
  • Inside furniture like your couch

An inspection must thoroughly cover all potential hiding spots to be effective.

Resilience: Bed bugs can survive several months without feeding, allowing them to outlast many attempts to starve them. They can also resist many common pesticides, making chemical treatments less effective over time.

Detection: Discovering an infestation early is tough since bed bugs are small and adept at remaining undetected. By the time you notice the signs, such as bites or spots on your bedding, the infestation may have already grown extensive.

close up of a menacing bed bug crawling on the floorboards

How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

The duration to eliminate bed bugs from your premises largely depends on the severity of the infestation and the methods used. Initially, a thorough inspection is crucial to confirm their presence.

Bed bugs often hide in mattresses, bed frames, and other hiding places nearby.

When you confirm an infestation, it is essential you choose an appropriate treatment plan. Options range from DIY efforts to professional pest control services. Home interventions may include:

  • Vacuuming: Regularly vacuum potential hiding spots.
  • Washing infested items: Launder using hot water to kill bed bugs on fabrics.
  • Mattress covers: Encase mattresses and pillows to trap and starve bed bugs.

However, for significant infestations, it’s advisable to contact an exterminator. Experts can use a variety of methods, including:

  • Chemical treatments: Professionals may apply pesticides specifically designed to kill bed bugs.
  • Heat treatments: Exposing bed bugs to high temperatures can effectively eliminate them.

Typically, the process can take anywhere from days to weeks. Multiple treatments are often necessary, as it’s challenging to get rid of all bed bugs in one go. 

Pest control experts may need to make 2-4 visits, and you’ll need to be vigilant between sessions.

Beware of potential spread to other areas or even to places like hotels when traveling. Consistently check your surroundings and maintain efforts to prevent re-infestation. 

looking for bed bugs along the seams of your mattress and mattress topper

How Do You Know When Bed Bugs Are Gone?

Detecting the end of a bed bug infestation requires vigilance. Inspection is key, so regularly examine areas where bed bugs are most likely to hide.

Search for signs around mattress seams, furniture, and even electrical outlets or beneath wallpaper.

Keep an eye out for the following indicators that the bed bugs may have been eradicated:

  • No new bites: Bed bug bites are typically red, itchy spots that can develop into a rash. An absence of fresh bites over a several-week period can be a good sign.
  • Absence of live bugs: Regularly check for live bugs, particularly in the bedroom area.
  • No visible eggs or eggshells: Bed bug eggs are tiny and white. Finding none suggests no new generation is emerging.
  • Lack of excrement: Small, black spots usually indicate bed bug excrement.

Your search for these signs should be meticulous and repeated over time because bed bugs are masters at hiding and may not surface for some time. Here’s a simple checklist for your inspections:

What to Check Sign to Look For
Mattress and Bed Rusty spots, live bugs
Furniture Tiny white eggs
Secluded Areas Black excrement spots
Bites Red, itchy marks

Bed bug crawling across flooring looking for a human host for feeding

Summary

Bed bugs are incredibly difficult to get rid of due to their rapid life cycles, hiding places, and resilience.

Once you confirm their presence in your home, it is best to contact an exterminator for treatment advice.

Chemical treatments and heat treatments can eliminate bed bug infestations; however, multiple sessions may be necessary depending on the severity of the infestation.

Monitor your environment between treatments and check for signs that they have gone away, such as no new bites or visible eggs or eggshells.