Be careful out there, bedbug warriors

Yes, bedbugs are gross. But before you go all Conan on any creepy creatures living in your mattress, please be aware that pesticides are both helpful and potentially dangerous. With bedbug infestations on the rise in many American cities, the Centers for Disease Control is trying to make people aware of the dangers of using too much pesticide, using the wrong types of pesticide, or not carefully following directions. Know what you're using on your home and know what any company you hire to spray is using, too. (Via Jen Gunter)


  1. I got rid of my (probably minor) bedbug problem with the following two steps:

    1- I spread/sprayed some diatomaceous earth around my bed, and on my mattress.

    2- I bought a mattress cover (the kind that’s labeled as being good against acari is good enough) that completely covers and contains the mattress.  Did the same with my pillows, though I don’t think they had any bed bugs because I never got bitten in the face or neck.

    It’s important to leave the mattress cover on for at least 18 months.

    In my case, the bugs were only in the bed, so they are certain to be dead, by now.  If the bugs are also in other furniture, then more extreme measures might be necessary.  But the bugs tend to live close to their sources of food (human and animal blood) so if you prevent them from reaching you (using diatomaceous earth as a deadly obstacle) then they will eventually leave or die off.

    Diatomaceous earth is also good against ants.  At their scale, it’s like walking on broken glass, and when ants’ and bed bugs’ shells get cut open by that “broken glass”, their flesh just dries out and they die horribly over a couple of days.

    1. DANGER: Diatomaceous earth will give you silicosis if you breathe it in.  Not now, not next year, but in a decade or two.  Silicosis is a nasty, nasty chronic respiratory illness similar to black lung.  You do not want to get it.

      This is exactly the point of the article: the “cures” for bedbugs are sometimes much worse than the problem.  Bedbugs are terrible in a lot of ways, but they won’t kill you or even make you sick. 

      BTW: Diatomaceous earth works as advertised on bedbugs.  Kills ’em dead.  But man, even the “organic, food-grade” stuff contains crystalline sillica that is very hazardous when inhaled (“food grade” does NOT mean “safe to inhale”).  Find another way to kill the bugs.

  2. Yes, diatomaceous earth, and there are two pesticides the exterminator used. We moved into a place that had them, and the rental office “didn’t know what to do.” They used a chemical to kill the adults and another to sterilize the young/eggs. Had one followup for just in case.

    They quickly infested my daughter’s wood bed frame, and that had to go because they wouldn’t not be extracted.

    I’m still traumatized. It’s horrible.

  3. The most effective is heat, there are portable heaters that warm up the room/house gently to bed bug cooking temperature and keeps it there for a while. (leave with pets in the mean while)

  4. Step 1: don’t bring them home.  Use soft luggage.  Treat that, and your clothes with permethrin before you leave.  Put everything (including the luggage)in the dryer as soon as you get home. 

  5. The problem with bedbug infestations is the eggs.  They are tough little buggers. You can get rid of the adults by baking them (get all the furniture that is infested with them into a room and raise the temperature of that room to 50 degrees Celsius for 4 hours or so), or by dusting with Pyrethrum but the eggs need to be starved out or suffocated over about a year.

  6. Maggie, have you looked into the cedar-oil based insecticides? There are a bunch of them out there. The people selling the stuff seem to have a weak grasp on the science, but I can see how it might work– cedar has been used as an insect repellant for centuries.

  7. Greenbug for People works to kill bed bugs and their eggs in one easy treatment.  It is completely natural and safe.  University tested, proven 100% effective.  No heat, no mess, no throwing out furniture.  Get the word out.

  8. Yeah, I got a little chemical burn that went eczema on me (so it lasted a month instead of healing in a few day). So watch out… maybe even be more careful than the directions suggest (I followed them; still got hit). 

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