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Control Strategies For Bed Bugs

  • Physical Removal

  • Exclusion

  • Physical Killing Techniques

  • Pesticide Applications

  • Follow-up



Adult bed bugs are small, brownish insects, just under a 1/4” long and are relatively flat. They are nearly as wide as they are long, and oval in shape. Immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are much smaller and lighter in color. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent and are no bigger than a pinhead (1 mm). After feeding on a blood meal the immature bed bugs may appear bright red in color. Bed bugs lack wings and therefore they do not fly, but they are capable of moving swiftly on both horizontal and vertical surfaces. The eggs are very small (approximately 1mm), whitish, and very difficult to see on most surfaces without magnification (individual eggs are about the size of a dust speck).

Physical Removal

Bed bugs can be vacuumed from exposed hiding spots such as box spring edges, mattress creases, furniture seams and carpet edges, but their eggs are stuck tightly to surfaces and are usually hard to remove. Using a crevice tool, or vacuum wand, to scrape the surface can help dislodge some of the eggs. A high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered vacuum, which removes >99% of all particles >0.3 micron diameter, will ensure that many allergens associated with bed bugs and their debris are also removed. Vacuuming, especially during inspections, will immediately remove a significant portion of the pest population and will usually kill some of the bugs. Bed bugs may also be removed from exposed resting sites by pressing down on them with the sticky side of a commercially available tape, hand-picking them, or brushing them into a container of rubbing alcohol or soapy water.


Bed bugs have weak, flexible, piercing-sucking mouthparts, and weak, simple feet (tarsi), and claws. They are incapable of chewing or clawing through even a very thin coating of sealant or an unbroken layer of paper or cloth. Sealing almost any material, to completely cover a harborage opening, can halt bed bug movement. Once sealed inside, living bugs are effectively removed from the pest population and will die in place. Sealing most of the hiding spots can also restrict the bugs’ movements, temporarily reducing the intensity of their feeding.

Mattress headboards and frames can be painted with several coats seal off these hiding spots. Any cracks or crevices on walls or along baseboards should be painted or caulked with an appropriate sealant. This can prevent bed bugs from getting inside wall voids, where they can migrate to other locations in the building. Storing clothes and other items in plastic bags or tightly sealed containers can greatly reduce potential hiding spots.

Physical Killing Techniques (Heat)

Since the early 1900s, bed bugs have been controlled by heating infested rooms or whole buildings to temperatures of at least 45 °C; the thermal death point for these pests. For heat treatment to be effective, it is critical that high temperature and low relative humidity be attained for a minimum length of time. Heat treatment works best with a combination of temperatures in the 49-52 °C (120-125 °F) range at 20-30% relative humidity for 20-30 minutes. Heat treatment has an immediate and substantial effect, but does not provide long lasting control. Bed bugs can re-occupy any treated site as soon as temperatures return to normal. While there have been reports of physical distortion of structures and interior contents, whole room and building heat treatments are generally considered safe, and provide the added bonus of eliminating other insects that might be on the premises. Always consult with a knowledgeable pest control professional trained to use heat treatments. 1st Choice Pest Control is  is a state certified company knowledgeable in bed bug remediation. One area where professional expertise is not required is laundering infested linens or clothes. Occupants can wash these items in hot water with detergent, followed by heat drying for at least 20 minutes in a clothes dryer on high heat, will kill all stages of bed bugs. This is an effective method, but will not prevent reinfestation of these items. They must be stored in plastic bags or containers after laundering until the problem is under control.

Pesticide Applications

Currently, most non-chemical products and techniques do not quickly or efficiently eliminate established bed bug populations. In many cases, the judicious application of a pesticide by a certified pest control professional is necessary. However, bed bugs have developed an extraordinary resistance to most classes of pesticides. This means that a chemical only approach is insufficient. The best programs combine targeted pesticide applications with nonchemical treatment options. Any pesticide used should be labeled specifically for bed bug control and, where necessary for use on belongings such as mattresses and furniture. Many over-the-counter aerosol products are not labeled for bed bug control, and should not be used only on belongings or surfaces as specifically stated on the pesticide label. It is in everyone’s best interest to apply pesticides according to the label. Misapplication is a violation of the law, and can lead to unnecessary exposure that can threaten the health and safety of occupants, or regulatory fines and lawsuits.

Residual applications (long lasting pesticides)

Precise placement of a suitably labeled, registered and formulated residual chemical insecticide is still a practical bed bug control. Effective insecticide treatments consist of applying interior sprays or dusts to surfaces that bed bugs contact, as well as and to cracks and crevices where they rest and hide. Before using any residual insecticides, care must be taken to select the least-toxic active ingredient and formulation.

Retreatment, when needed, should be carried out after the shortest interval permitted by the label until bed bugs are eliminated. The choice of chemical products and specific application techniques can depend on many factors, including the physical location, product label, the immediate environment, the presence of sensitive populations in the building (including children, elderly and health-compromised individuals) and local, state or national laws.


Crack-and-crevice applications

Because of their habit of hiding clustered together in cracks and narrow hiding spaces, precisely applied crack-and-crevice treatments are among the most effective control techniques against bed bugs. Active ingredients change over time. There are several products, including those containing multiple ingredients labeled for use against bed bugs. Various formulations and devices are also available for applying insecticides to bed bug-infested areas.


Insect Growth Regulators

Insect growth regulators (IGRs) have virtually no effect on vertebrate metabolism because of their mode of action and low application rates, when applied properly, but they are very effective against bed bugs, impeding their development and fertility.

Preparing for Conventional Bed Bug Treatment

Preparing for treatment applications is critical to its success. This section describes preparation for both conventional bed bug treatments as well as for heat treatments.


Multi-Unit Residence

Proper preparation before treatment is essential for effectiveness. This preparation protocol is for conventional chemical treatment. Some treatments do not require this level of preparation some may require more. Do not remove any items from the infested rooms before treatment. By doing this, you increase the possibility of spreading the bed bugs to other rooms and units.


Before Treatment

  1. Move all furniture at least two (2) feet away from walls.

  2. Have all drawers in dressers, nightstands, vanities, and armoires removed and emptied for inspection. Store contents in sealable plastic bags or tightly secured garbage bags.

  3. Wash/dry clothes, bedding, and linens

    1. Wash clothes, bedding, and linens with laundry detergent using the hottest water temperature setting that is practical. Next, place all “dryer safe” items in the dryer on high heat for at least 20 to 45 minutes. Store items in sealable plastic or tightly secured garbage bags after drying.

    2. Place “dry clean only” items in sealable plastic or tightly secured garbage bags and brought to the dry cleaners. Dry cleaners should be notified of the infested items so the infestation does not spread within the facility.

  4. Place both the mattress and box spring on their side – the pest control company will need to have access to the underside of the bed. Remove everything from the headboard(s). Wash/dry as appropriate, and store all items in sealable plastic or tightly secured garbage bags.

  5. Remove all children’s toys and any other items that children can put in their mouth, especially those items on the floor, from the infested rooms. Place washable/dry-able items in the dryer on high heat for 20 to 45 minutes. Items may also be put in sealable plastic bags or tightly secured plastic garbage bags and then placed in the freezer for four days, if practical. After washing/drying or freezing, store all items in sealable plastic bags or tightly secured garbage bags.

  6. Remove all items found on the floor of closets and underneath the beds in infested rooms, wash/dry as appropriate, and store in sealable plastic or tightly secured garbage bags.

  7. Remove all pet bedding, wash/dry as appropriate, and store in sealable plastic or tightly secured garbage bags.

  8. Unless otherwise instructed, remove all items from coffee/end/sofa tables, bookshelves, hutches, TV stands, CD/DVD/tape cabinets, and entertainment units in rooms to be treated. Store items in sealable plastic or tightly secured garbage bags.

  9. Place all sealed or secured plastic bags in an area where they will not restrict access to infested rooms.

  10. Roll up all “area” or “throw” rugs, and place together in an area where they can be treated.

  11. Vacuum floors and use a crevice tool/wand around moldings of the room(s) to be treated. Thoroughly vacuum all furniture, mattresses, pillows, upholstery, and curtains. It is very important to focus on creases, buttons, cording, and folds. After vacuuming, dispose of the vacuum bag or the contents of the bag less vacuum canister in a plastic bag. Seal the bag tightly and immediately dispose of it in a garbage container outside the home. Thoroughly wash the bag less vacuum canister with hot soapy water to eliminate any bed bugs and eggs. Clean or mop all vinyl, ceramic, and wood floors.

  12. Unplug electrical equipment such as computers, TVs, alarm clocks, etc., in rooms to be treated. Remove electrical wall plates. This will allow the pest control operator to treat wall openings.

  13. DO NOT discard mattresses or furniture until a pest control operator does an inspection. Mattresses and furniture often do not need to be discarded. New mattresses or furniture should NOT be purchased until after the infestation has been eliminated.

  14. Notify pest control operator of any allergies, chemical sensitivities, or similar medical conditions prior to treatment.

  15. We strongly recommend that small children, elderly persons, people with respiratory problems, and pets vacate the premises during the treatment. They should stay away for at least four (4) hours or until any treatment product has dried, whichever period is greater.

  16. Inform building management if assistance is needed to complete any of the above tasks.


After Treatment

  1. Leave your home for at least four (4) hours or until any treatment product has dried, whichever is greater. Keep pets and children off treated surfaces until any treatment product has dried.

  2. Keep all windows open.

  3. Wipe off furniture tops in treated rooms, and wash all cribs and headboards.

  4. Do not make bed until treatment is finished and beds are dry.

  5. Do not sleep in the room for a minimum of four (4) hours or until any treatment product has dried, whichever is greater. It is recommended that beds be encased in a zip-up mattress cover made of cloth or tear-resistant plastic for up to one year. Zippered mattress covers offer some protection from bed bugs by trapping them in the encasements. The bed bugs will eventually die over a period of a year. These do not replace any other treatment methods.

  6. Replace electrical wall plates.

  7. Inspect and clean all items before returning them to areas underneath the bed or in the closet.

  8. Inspect and clean all items before returning them to bookshelves, hutches, TV stands, CD/DVD/tape cabinets, and entertainment units.

  9. Depending on your treatment plan, you may need to keep clothing, coats, shoes, linens and other fabric-based items in plastic bags for anywhere from several weeks to months to ensure that your items do not become re-infested. Be sure to check with the pest control operator or landlord for a date when you can safely return belongings to closets or dressers.

1st Choice Bed Bug Solutions Are Ideal For:

  • Residential Properties

  • Apartment Complexes

  • Multi-Family Housing 

  • Hotels and Motels

  • Youth Hostels

  • Group Homes

  • Medical Offices and Clinics

  • Temporary Housing and Shelters

  • Rental property owners and managers

  • University and College Dorms

  • Commercial Properties and Businesses Offices

Bed Bugs Infestations Can Occur In A Variety Of Ways

TRAVELING OR HAVING GUESTS: Bed bugs and their eggs can be carried into your home by visiting an infested dwelling. It is possible to either pickup, transport, or deposit live bed bugs from luggage, purses, shoes, school backpacks, jackets, clothing, and other personal belongings. Remember that visiting businesses, schools, or homes that have bed bugs can also cause an infestation in your residence.

USED ITEMS: Consignment, garage sale, or second hand items may already be infested before you purchase them. Items of greatest concern are furniture, mattresses, bedding, clothing, and plush items. Be sure to thoroughly inspect the items before purchasing them.

ADJACENT UNITS: Multi-Family housing can allow for bed bugs to easily spread to the other units or nearby dwellings if there is an easy route for travel. It is possible for bed bugs to travel or move through wall voids, duct-work, plumbing lines or false ceilings. They can also be transported to and from community laundromats.

Can Bed Bugs Carry Or Spread Disease?

It has been recently determined by Pennsylvania University that bed bugs could also be a vector of Chagas Disease (also referred to as trypanosomiasis or T. cruzi) along with the well known “kissing bug”. Bed bugs have demonstrated the ability contract and transport this potentially life threatening disease to the human population. Once a bed bug has picked it up, the disease can multiply and even thrive in the digestive system of that bed bug. In November 2014, researchers announced that bed bugs carrying T. cruzi have demonstrated the ability to transmit the infection to lab mice (by depositing infected fecal matter near or on the bite wound). Researched also reported that infected bed bugs were able to transfer the infection to lab mice AND more importantly, clean bugs were able to pick up the parasite from infected mice.

Do Bed Bugs Have A Natural Predator?

The answer to this question is unfortunately bitter sweet. In short, bed bugs do have a natural enemy. The bad news is that their enemies are  unsavory pests such as spiders, roaches, and mice.  Not such a good idea for Do-It-Yourself’ers to release these other pests around your house in an attempt to eradicate or eliminate bed bugs yourself.