Bed Bug Exterminators


Bed bugs are insects that belong to the family of Cimicidaes. There are several different species of these insects found throughout the world.

The cimex lecturlariuss species is generally found in cooler temperature regions of Central Asia, Europe and in the northern United States. On occasion, they can be found in southern temperature areas although another species, the Cimicidae Hemipterus, is more likely to be found in tropical regions with warmer climates.

California is the exception to this and typically deals with the species known as Cimicidae Lectularius, a species that thrives from feeding on humans, but also feeds on birds, rabbits, rats, mice and chickens.

A Common Problem in Homes

In recent years, beg bug infestations have become a common problem. Although they were often previously associated with overcrowding and dilapidated housing environments, this is no longer the case. They have returned and can be found in the cleanest living accommodations including fine hotels and large apartment buildings.

The reasons they have returned is not fully understood, but is believed to be partially due to an increase in travel among people, which includes easy movement of luggage or other items that may have become infested.

Due to changes in regulations, pesticides that previously were used to control these offending insects are no longer being used, which may also be a contributing factor to their resurgence.

They can be very difficult to get rid of, especially if there is a severe infestation. Usually when this is the case, it is more cost- and time-efficient to hire a professional bug exterminator to eliminate the infestation and help prevent a re-infestation.

What Do Bed Bug Exterminators Do?

One of the initial tasks of control is inspections to locate where the pests are hiding and to determine the degree of infestation. The results of a thorough inspection can determine the treatment protocol.

Experienced exterminators know exactly where to look and use a wide array of tools to assist them with this task. Because they can travel throughout a home or building, inspections of adjoining rooms or apartments are also often required.

Integrated Pest Management

Most pest management professionals practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which includes a combination of treatment methods such as steam heat, freezing and pesticides, which are selected and applied carefully according to factors that are present with the infestation.

IPM programs may also include strategies to manage pests such as sealing cracks and crevices where they may hide and modifying windows and doors to prevent pests from entering dwellings. Professional exterminators are trained and licensed in pesticide application to ensure safety of occupants and effectiveness of controlling these pests.

Professional exterminators also educate the residents when the infestation is severe, helping to determine how the infestation occurred and steps that can be taken to avoid a re-infestation after the treatment has been completed.

What Happens During the Inspection

When an exterminator is hired, they will come prepared to do a treatment, bringing pesticides, monitors, professional steam machines and vacuums to use in their treatment. They will perform an inspection of the room suspected of being infested as well as adjoining rooms to identify how extensive the infestation may be. If they find bugs, they will use the safest and least toxic treatment to kill and remove them.

Once the inspection has been completed, the exterminator will perform the initial treatment as well as instruct the occupant on perhaps encasing the mattress or removing excessive clutter from the area. They will also instruct the occupant about proper laundering of bedding.

The exterminator will then return to do a follow-up inspection about two to three weeks later and if more bugs are found, will treat the area again.

Portable Monitors and Interceptors

Some exterminating companies prefer to use monitors for inspection purposes. These devices can be important tools in detection. There are currently two types of monitors being used by professional exterminators, portable monitors that use carmines, carbon dioxide and heat as lures and moat style interceptors.

Portable monitors are new devices that some exterminators are using to lure and trap the bugs in the device where they then die. Because they are new and rather expensive, their use is limited.

Moat-style interceptors are used around the legs of the bed with talcum powder placed on the walls of the moat. This causes the bugs to fall in the trap and remain trapped.

Interceptors are useful after treatments have been completed to confirm the infestation has been eliminated. They also inform the exterminator as to whether the pests are coming from the bed or the floor and can help reassure the occupant that the bugs will not get back onto their bed.

These devices also save time if the occupant suspect there is an infestation, but has not actually seen the bugs. They are especially useful in apartment buildings when property managers suspect bed bug infestations in several apartments as they are very cost efficient when compared to canine inspections or professional inspectors.

How Exterminators Detect Them

Exterminator treatments are based on their findings during a careful inspection as well as the concerns and needs of the occupant. If the infestation is mild, finding live bugs can be difficult.

Exterminators will inspect for any evidence including unhatched eggs, skins, fecal staining around the bed as well as on sheets.

Initial Inspection

The initial inspection will include careful examination of bed linens, pillowcases, sheets, seams of mattresses and box springs. They will also examine the headboards and bed frames looking for any evidence of the insects in cracks and crevices as well as other hiding places where they are apt to dwell.

If the exterminator cannot find any live bugs or eggs during their inspection process, they will take further action using a more aggressive and through inspection.

Confirming the Bed Bug Problem is Important

If an occupant has been bitten, the occupant may ask for the area to be treated, even if visual evidence is lacking. This is not recommended since bug bites are similar to other insects. Exterminators must determine the offending insect before applying treatments.

Along with a visual inspection, the exterminator may seek information regarding any previous complaints, any prior treatments and if nearby buildings or residences have had similar problems. Large buildings will often be mapped out, identifying rooms that are infested to help determine how extensive the infestation may be.

Locating an Infestation

The exterminator will use several tools to help carry out the inspection such as a powerful flashlight, an inspection mirror, magnifier, screwdrivers, crescent wrench, pry bar for inspecting hidden critical areas, forceps and vials that contain alcohol to collect specimens.

Once the exterminator confirms the infestation, they will identify where the infested areas are located and how severe the infestation has become. This information will help in determining an appropriate treatment.

Upon completing the treatment, the follow-up visit will include verifying that the infestation has been successfully eliminated.

The Approximate Costs of Bed Bug Exterminators

The cost of exterminators does depend on the size of the affected area and the degree of infestation as well as the exterminating company. Homes that are severely infested can cost up to $5,000 for inspections, cleaning and exterminator fees. Exterminating large apartment buildings can cost as much as $80,000 to eliminate these pests.

Generally, exterminators charge between $250 and $900 per room. Successful elimination usually includes combining thorough cleaning with repeat professional exterminating treatments using pesticides and other types of treatments.

Visual Inspections

When an infestation is suspected, a visual inspection by a professional exterminator is the best way to detect these pests. They are small and can be very difficult to see. Their preferred hiding spots includes box springs and mattresses, picture frames, night tables, cushions and behind light-switch and outlet covers.

Because they are nocturnal and only come out at night to feed, they usually are not visually apparent. Most people who suspect they have a bed bug infestation do so because they awaken with the bites.

Some professional exterminating companies do provide free inspections, whereas others may charge a fee of $50 to $200.

Services With Trained Dogs

There are also some exterminating companies that use dogs who are trained specifically to sniff out adults as well as their eggs. Dogs who are well trained can lead the exterminator directly to where they are hiding so these areas can be effectively treated.

dogs for bed bug detection

Inspections that include the services of trained dogs can cost $300 to $600 for a home.

Comparing Current Bed Bug Treatments With Historical Treatments

These bloodsucking insects have long been despised, with recordings of infestations since history started being recorded. Exterminating treatments were difficult and dangerous, carrying risks not only to the bugs, but also to the people.

With the development of strong residual pesticides in the latter part of the 20th century, these pests stopped being such a threat. However, in recent years, they have come back with a vengeance, causing sleepless nights for people all around the world.

Lessons from the Earliest Exterminators

Many of the exterminating methods that are used today date back to the early European exterminators who discovered that yearly inspections helped significantly in preventing infestations. Without inspections, the bugs would become so numerous, they would not only colonize in beds, but anywhere else they could find. This historical preventative advice from early exterminators has taught that early detection using inspections is important in reducing infestations and reducing the cost of treatments. However, many people today often wait until an infestation has occurred before taking action.

Early exterminators were also well aware of how they traveled and spread, warning people to carefully inspect furniture and beds when buying them for any bug marks that could assure the bugs were present although may not be seen. Women were also warned in not sharing their laundry baskets with others, which could cause infestation in those that had no bugs.

The 19th Century: Extreme Treatments

Early exterminating treatments were extreme, such as filling the cracks of beds with gunpowder and setting it on fire. During the 1800s, beds were made using sassafras wood, which was believed to repel the pests, although as a precautionary measure, the crevices of the beds would be doused with a mixture of sulfur, arsenic and boiling water.

Travelers from this period often moved beds away from the walls and set the legs of the bed in pans that contained oil while others used pyrethrum powder to dust between sheets to prevent the bugs from biting them while sleeping.

During the mid-1800s, overcrowded poor areas were especially plagued by infestations while wealthy homes who had domestic help found that constant and vigorous housecleaning and bed changing significantly helped prevent infestations. Beds were often broken down, inspected and doused with boiling water or greased using bacon or salt pork.

The 20th Century: Severe Infestations

During the early 1900s began to thrive year-round with the inventions of electric fans, cast-iron radiators and forced air heating. Infestations became so bad that it was estimated that one-third of all dwellings in the major cities had infestations. These pests became numerous; they were often seen traveling from house to house along piping, gutters and walls.

Early formulas to kill them often contained pyrethrum powder, which was dispensed between sheets. Strict disinfestation protocols were also put into place to help prevent people from transporting the bugs from one house to another.

The problem was so severe that England made families go to cleansing stations to disinfect their personal belongings using steam. Larger personal property items such as furniture were placed in vans, which were then fumigated using hydrogen cyanide.

Many property owners in Germany demanded a written report from an exterminator for proof that the residence being vacated was free of any signs of infestation.

The War Years

Wartime also brought troubling times as the bugs were easily spread between soldiers on backpacks, belts and helmets. The infestations became so abundant during World War II that families of soldiers pressured Congress into taking measures to stop infestations.

After hearings were held, barracks begin being fumigated using hydrogen cyanide. It was shortly after this that DDT was found to be safer and more cost-efficient in controlling military infestations.

At this time they were commonly found in businesses, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, restaurants and other public places much like what is occurring again today. Measures were taken to help control the population such as replacing wood bed frames with metal frames and careful and frequent examinations of clothing and beds.

History of Insecticides

Insecticides also have an interesting and long history that include early concoctions of dust, liquids and gases, many being toxic to both people and bugs. Early concoctions were often prepared by druggists, which included mercury and arsenic compounds mixed with alcohol, water or turpentine. They were then applied using a brush or eyedropper where the bugs were found.

Poison was a popular treatment, which was actually Mercury chloride, a very dangerous compound. Pyrethrum was also commonly used as an insecticide, which was often prepared into powders and sprays.

Gasoline, alcohol, turpentine and benzene were widely used to spray onto beds, but their effects were short-lived, working only for a day as they did not kill eggs and often did not directly come into contact with the live bugs. Therefore, this required numerous follow-up treatments.

Because early pesticide treatments contained no residual action, these treatments were often only effective when infestations were in their early stages.

Fumigation Methods

For heavy infestations, fumigants were often used. These included using sulfur, which was burned, producing sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide. This method involved placing the sulfur into a kettle, placing the kettle into a larger container to catch the molten and prevent a fire and setting this in the middle of the room. A cup of alcohol was then added to the burning sulfur.

Following this fumigation method came the hydrocyanic acid fumigation method, which was highly effective although more costly and dangerous. The entire home had to be vacated when using this method and was best performed by professional exterminators.

The Rise of DDT

When DDT was discovered and developed, it was solely used by the armed forces to protect soldiers from mosquitoes, flies and disease-carrying lice. After testing it for its effectiveness at killing bed bugs, it was deemed to be the new potent weapon against these pests.

DDT was very effective due to its lasting ability to kill long after the pesticide had dried on surfaces, which was reported to last for at least six months. DDT also only required one application to effectively destroy all the bugs and hatching eggs and it was inexpensive, making it available to anyone.

This pesticide was so effective that within five years of beginning its use, these pests were nearly eradicated. However, reports began to appear about the bugs becoming resistant to DDT, especially in tropical regions.

Although infestations were no longer troublesome, because of the resistance reports on DDT, the National Pest Control Association began to recommend the use of Malathion as a replacement to DDT. Other alternatives included lindane, diazinon and chlordane. These pesticides also only required one treatment to be effective.

History of Bed Bug Traps

Devices were also commonly used throughout history for trapping the bugs.. Pans filled with kerosene or oil were placed under the legs of beds to prevent the bugs from climbing up into the bed. Devices that provide similar effects are still being marketed today.

The Use of Heat

Another method that has been used for centuries includes the use of heat. Boiling water was sometimes used to scald the pests. The first portable steamer to control bugs was patented in 1873, which consisted of a spout that emitted steam, which was moved over areas where bugs were suspected of hiding. Today, these steamers are more sophisticated and often used by professional exterminators.

Lessons for Today

With the recent return of infestations and knowing their history, prevention and detection requires skilled exterminators as well as public education.

One of the most important aspects of management throughout history has been the exterminator’s thoroughness when using pesticide sprays. Skilled exterminators find every possible hiding place of bugs, which often involves taking beds apart, removing dresser drawers, rolling rugs back and taking pictures down from walls. They may also pry loose moldings and inspect books and floor lamps as well.

Comparing Exterminator Treatments With DIY Treatments

Over-the-Counter Pesticides

When comparing the treatments that exterminators use to do-it-yourself treatments, over-the-counter pesticide products that are labeled to control these pests are not recommended. Most of these products have not been tested for effectiveness.

Professionals use pesticides that have been researched and tested for their effectiveness at controlling bugs and they are trained to safely apply those using thorough applications to control infestations.


Other do-it-yourself methods include vacuuming the bed using a strong suction wand. This method must be done thoroughly to remove the bugs and their eggs.

Areas that must be vacuumed include mattresses, box springs, carpets and baseboards. This may require repeating the vacuuming several times to ensure all bugs have successfully been removed.

Vacuums should have disposable bags so they can be tossed out after vacuuming. If left in the bag or if using a bag-less vacuum, the bugs can escape and possibly spread the infestation to other areas of the residence.

Portable Steamers

Portable steam machines can also be used to kill them, but must be directly applied to the pests to be effective. This method can be difficult when infestations are severe since finding and directing the steam onto the bugs takes time and thoroughness.

Professional exterminators use more advanced steam technology to provide thorough applications, making this method more effective than DIY steam treatments. Clothing and bedding, however, can easily be treated by placing them into a dryer and running it for 10 to 15 minutes.

Ambient Heating Services

There are also licensed and bonded commercial ambient heating services that treat invested rooms. These services heat the room to 140°, which is maintained for a minimum of two hours to kill the bugs and their eggs.

Heat treatments consist of fans and a heating device to heat the area to the required temperature and maintain that temperature for the duration of the treatment time.

Ambient heat treatments are sometimes used when the area is extremely cluttered and cannot be cleared out. They also are a good alternative treatment for residents who do not want the use of pesticides. Heat treatments are chemical-free and can be effective at eliminating the infestation.

Freezing Using Liquid CO2 Snow

Freezing these insects is also an effective method of killing these pests. Some exterminators are now using a new special machine that sprays liquid CO2 snow, freezing the bugs in all stages of their life. The snow is non-toxic and leaves no messy residue.

Using a powerful pressurized CO2 snow, the bugs can be frozen instantly, even in areas that are difficult to reach. Although the snow is -110°F, targeted surface temperatures can reach as low as -20°F, making it a very effective eradication method.

This freezing method is a green system that contains no pesticides, health risks or odors. It can be the ideal solution for killing bugs in areas where pesticides cannot be used.

Mattress Encasements

Mattress encasements can be purchased to seal the mattress, suffocating the bugs. These types of encasements are made specifically for this purpose and are particularly useful in facilities that house many beds. This method has not been completely researched and oftentimes it may be wiser to replace the mattress with a new one.

Self-made Products

Do-it-yourself traps can also be made using petroleum jelly to coat the legs of the bed, making it difficult for the bugs to climb up the legs. Do-it-yourself products are available at certain large retail store.

Other Pesticides

Pesticides that come in dust form can be purchased for about $30 and liquid insecticides cost approximately $100 and are in concentrated form, requiring diluting with water.

These products are not intended to be used directly on bed linens, but only on mattresses and box springs that have been stripped. They can also be used along baseboards and in cracks and crevices where bugs may be hiding.

When using these types of products, read and follow the directions carefully as they can be dangerous to humans and pets if not used correctly.

Determining Whether to Hire an Exterminator or Use Other Methods

Although professional exterminators can be more expensive than DIY treatments, oftentimes it is more practical to hire an exterminator if the infestation is severe.

When determining if a professional exterminator should be hired or if another method may be more practical, there are certain things to consider along with the severity of the infestation.

Doing Your Own Research

Doing some research on how to eliminate these bugs can give you a good idea about if you will be able to safely and effectively treat the infestation yourself. If you are unsure as to what the identity of the bug is, you can take it to your local agricultural extension office.

You can also find information about managing these bugs online at UC Pest Notes. This information should help in determining if you can manage the infestation yourself or if it would be safer and more effective to hire an exterminator.

Health Risks Associated With Bites

You should also be aware that some people might be at risk of developing a severe reaction to the bites. Although these pests are not considered to be disease-carriers, individuals have been known to have allergic reactions, which include hives, asthma and severe allergy attacks requiring immediate medical treatment.

Individuals who are highly sensitive to bug bites or have numerous allergies may find that hiring a professional will be a safer choice. Exterminators can provide more effective treatments, reducing the time it can take to eliminate the bugs.

When these bugs feed on humans, they generally spend about 10 minutes. Although most people do not know this is occurring, they will awaken with itchy red skin due to the saliva of the bug being injected into the skin. Scratching the bites can also result in infections. Some people experience swelling at the site where they were bitten and these pests have stink glands, which leave behind foul smelling odors.

Because managing an infestation is difficult, the harm these pests can have on individuals should be considered carefully when deciding on whether to hire an exterminator or trying to manage the infestation yourself.

Availability of Pesticides for Home Use

Another thing to consider is the pesticide products that are available if you choose to do-it-yourself. When an infestation is serious, insecticides are usually required to eliminate the bugs.

Most over-the-counter insecticides contain active ingredients that are not registered federally for the use of eliminating bugs. On the other hand, exterminators use registered products that have been proven to be more effective at eliminating serious infestations.

Additionally, repeat treatments are usually required and for those who may not have the time or the skills to carry out the treatments, they may want to consider hiring a professional exterminator.

Undertaking an Inspection of Your Home

Performing self-inspections to detect infestations can also be difficult for someone who is not trained to know where these bugs are likely to hide. Because they are nocturnal, finding all their hiding spots can be challenging although most of the bugs will be found in or around the bed.

Inspections should include the mattress, box spring, headboards and bed frame. Sheets should also be searched for blood spots, black fecal matter and egg cases. Using a flashlight can help with this process as well as a magnifying glass for finding the eggs. If the area is heavily infested, there may also be a foul smelling odor.

Other areas to inspect include furniture, baseboards, carpets, hanging pictures and if wallpaper is installed, inspecting behind areas that have become loose.

For homeowners who do choose to exterminate an infestation themselves, they should have perseverance and patience as this can be a persistent problem.

Some professional bed bug exterminators use dogs to find infestations. These trained dogs are 97% effective in searching and finding infestations. Exterminators also use double-cupped monitors, which are installed on the bed’s legs to trap the bugs.

The Treatment Must Be Thorough to Be Successful

Individuals who prefer not to hire a professional exterminator should also realize that using only an insecticide will not be effective. These products must be used along with cleaning beds, removing bedding, clearing sites that harbor the bugs, daily vacuuming, weekly linen changes and performing regular inspections to ensure the treatment was successful.

Know Your Insecticides

Professional exterminators use commercial pesticides and applicators that are more effective for applying the pesticide. They also are trained in detection and isolation of infestations.

Professional insecticides come in dusts and liquids, which can be applied to bed frames, cracks and crevices, along baseboards and other areas bugs are found. However, they are not used on bedding or mattresses due to possible risks to humans.

Insecticides may contain pyrethrum or synthetic phyrethroid to quickly kill off some of the bug population although they will not provide long-term control.

Products that are more recent contain chlorfenapyr, also known as Phantom, combined with the growth regulator Gentrol to cause sterilization in adult bugs. These products do take several days to work, but are effective.

Dust insecticides work by sticking to the bug’s cuticles causing their protective wax coating to wear away and kill the bug. The bugs are also poisoned during grooming. Dust insecticides may contain boric acid, fumed silica, diatomaceous earth or phyrethroid formulations and can be effective for long-term control when placed in dry areas that are undisturbed.

Consider an IPM Professional

Hiring a professional exterminator who practices IPM methods can provide the safest and most up-to-date technology to effectively treat infestations. When toxic chemicals are part of a treatment plan, it is usually safer for occupants to have them applied by a trained professional.

Exterminators also have access to pesticides that are more effective as well as sophisticated technology that consumers cannot obtain. These factors should all be carefully considered before deciding on how to safely and effectively rid the infestation.

Hiring a Canine Inspection Team

Canines that are specifically trained in sniffing out the scent of these bloodsucking insects are considered one of the most effective ways of detecting these pests.

Under certain circumstances, visual inspections can be very difficult in determining if an infestation has occurred and how severe it may be. When this occurs, canines can offer a valuable service. They also are very useful when large buildings require comprehensive inspections such as schools, theaters and large office buildings.

When hiring a canine inspection team, they should be certified. This certification demonstrates and confirms the canine’s competency in the ability to locate bugs and their eggs. The handler of the canine should be educated in the biology, identification, behavior and proper inspection methods.

This inspection team should also hold a current third party, independent certificate that is in accordance with the Minimum Standards for Canine Bed Bug Detection Team certification guidelines.

How Long Treatments Take to Rid Infestations

Because these bugs multiply rapidly, with females laying up to 300 eggs at one time, infestations can occur quickly. This can cause the elimination of an infestation to be a long, drawn-out process for residents who choose to treat the infestation themselves.

The process does require vigilance in finding the bugs and treating all the areas. This can involve vacuuming and steam cleaning mattresses and carpets repeatedly as well as sealing all cracks and crevices where bugs may be hiding.

Hiring a Professional Ensures Effective Treatment

If choosing to hire a professional exterminator, they can provide an effective treatment that can be completed within a few hours. Trained professionals are keen on where these bugs hide and also use professional strength pesticides as well as advanced technology to destroy the pests immediately.

They also will know if the mattress should be treated or discarded, depending on the level of infestation and the condition of the mattress. Mattresses that have tears in them are often untreatable and will need to be replaced.

A Follow-up Inspection is Crucial

Trained professionals will also do a follow-up visit to re-inspect the area and repeat the treatment if necessary. Adjoining rooms will also need to be inspected and treated if bugs are found. When this is the case, it often is better to hire a professional exterminator who can take the proper actions to quickly and effectively treat the rooms.

These bugs can also live up to a year or more without feeding while remaining in their hiding places. Without a professional inspection and treatment, the resident may find that their treatments were ineffective after a few months, having to perform the treatments again.

Preventing the Recurrence of Bed Bug Infestations

They usually find their way into people’s homes by way of clothes that are placed in luggage after staying at a hotel or a dwelling that is infested.

To prevent reoccurring infestations, when traveling, inspect mattresses and linens in hotel rooms and inspect luggage when leaving. Once home, all clothes that were packed should be washed immediately.

Another way they enter homes is when people buy second-hand furniture. When doing so, these items should be inspected carefully before bringing into the home.

Replacing Infested Mattresses

When replacing a mattress that has become infested, the mattress should be taken to a dump immediately and not left near the home. If a re-infestation is suspected, actions should be taken at once to prevent a serious infestation.

When infestations are small, they are much easier to control and keeping the room free of clutter can make less hiding places for these bugs. Cracks, crevices and potential areas where they can hide should be sealed.

Mattress Encasements

Experts all agree that using a mattress encasement can be effective at preventing a recurrence of infestations. Encasements that are made with tightly woven material and contain zippers with locks are considered the most effective as these types have no openings allowing insects to enter or leave the mattress.

Depending on the size of the bed, encasements can range in price from $70 up to $150. Encasements that are made of vinyl should be avoided as they can crack or tear.

Dryable Items

Bedding, clothing and anything else that will fit in a dryer should be washed and dried using the highest setting for about 15 to 20 minutes. This will effectively kill any bugs that may still be alive. When transporting these items to the laundry room, be sure to place them into a plastic bag, which should be discarded immediately.

Non-Dryable Items

Items that cannot be placed into a dryer can be packed in plastic bags or bins, but should remain there for up to a year to ensure bugs are dead.

Expensive items or heirlooms may need to be professionally fumigated, which may require the items be taken out of the home and returned after being decontaminated. This service generally costs about $1,000.

Tips and Precautions for Hiring an Exterminator

1. When choosing to hire an exterminator, it is best to find a company that is well established and has at least five years of experience in dealing specifically with pests.

2. Because one treatment may not be sufficient in killing all the bugs, the exterminating company should include follow-up treatments, which should be quoted in the price.

3. Exterminating companies should be licensed, registered and certified in the state you reside. California pest control companies must have a California State Structural Pest Control Board issued license to operate in the state. To verify an exterminating company’s license, check online or call 800-737-8188.

4. When searching for an exterminator, speak to friends and family members about exterminators they may have used, which can often be helpful in finding a good exterminator who treats bed bug problems.

5. Before hiring an exterminator, call and discuss what methods they use and if toxic pesticides will be used. Discuss what the effects of the pesticides have on pets, the elderly, infants or individuals who are hypersensitive to chemicals. Find out how and where the pesticides will be applied.

Good exterminators generally use Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This type of management program uses several methods of treatments, which could include less toxic pesticides, offering a safer, yet thorough approach.

If the exterminating company only plans on using one form of treatment to eliminate the bugs, they most likely will be unsuccessful. Single-treatment approaches can be evidence that the company is not very experienced.

Also, avoid exterminating companies that want to spray chemicals around the outside perimeter of the dwelling, as this method is costly and ineffective.

6. Discuss inspections with them and if they charge a fee for this service. Many companies waive inspection fees if hired to exterminate the pests. Inspections should include a written diagnosis of the pest and the problem as well as an explanation as to where the pests are located and how the exterminating company will manage treatment.

Inspection reports should include what pesticides will be used, if needed, how often treatments will be applied and an estimated cost of providing the treatment plan. Information regarding the safety and protection of children and pests should also be included in the inspection report.

7. Discuss any legal requirements that may require certain precautions after treatment. Most exterminating companies will provide a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet that explains any chemicals being used as well as their hazards and precautions that are necessary.

8. Discuss their experience with exterminating these specific pests and see if they can provide references demonstrating their experience with this specific pest.

9. Before signing a contract with an exterminating company, review the contract to make sure the name of the company is on it, the treatment plan has been listed, a certain number of treatments are included, if there is a guarantee, although most exterminating companies will not guarantee complete elimination.

Also, check with the company about their liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance and any possible exclusion related to canceling the contract. Will you be penalized if you cancel the contract?

The contract should also include the preparations that the resident will be responsible for as well as preparations they will provide.

10. Once an exterminating company has been hired, stay in close contact with them until the infestation treatment has been accomplished. Check to make sure the company is performing the pest management treatments as agreed upon in the contract and be sure to do your part in any preparation work that may be required. This is important in helping ensure that treatments are successful.

Occupant’s Responsibilities in Treatment Preparations

Extermination often requires both the professionals as well as the occupants to work together for successful elimination. When hiring an exterminator, residents should cooperate with the exterminator in regards to their instructions in preparations and allow access to infested rooms and adjoining rooms.

Depending on the exterminating company, some do require the owner or occupant to prep the infested room by removing all the bedding from the bed, emptying nightstands and dressers, clearing out closets, washing clothing and bedding, removing clutter and vacuuming. When this is the case, the exterminator should provide careful instructions on how to avoid spreading them to other locations.

Preparation instructions should be provided to the resident before the first scheduled treatment. Some exterminators do prefer to handle the preparation work themselves to prevent relocating the bugs before treatment.

The exterminator may also require the homeowner or resident to correct structural problems that may be contributing to the infestation. This could include removing wallpaper or re-gluing peeling wallpaper, fixing loose moldings and sealing cracks and crevices.

Exterminator’s Safety Concerns for Occupants

Because bed bug exterminators often use insecticides as part of their treatment, keeping occupants safe is an important part of their job. Good exterminators will speak with occupants about any health risks they may have that could be a concern from the use of pesticides.

If the occupant does have health risks, the exterminator will recommend that they speak with their physician before any treatments are applied. Treatments will then be applied in accordance with what is advised by the physician.

To ensure the safety of residents, the exterminator will also advise the occupants as to when they can reenter a treated room as well as special precautions they should take and the exact locations of where treatments were applied.

In addition to keeping residents safe, they also are concerned with pets’ safety. Exterminators will instruct occupants on when pets can reenter the treated room based on the pesticide’s labeling directions.


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