How to make bed bugs come out of hiding? (4 Ways That Work!)

Dealing with bedbugs is incredibly unnerving. It is even more frustrating when you can't see the tiny hitchhikers. Unfortunately, bed bugs are masters at hide and seek. They prefer to hide in tiny cracks and crevices where you can hardly see or suspect them. They have a unique ability to flatten their tiny bodies, enabling them to go unnoticed for a very long time.

In fact, most people wake up with bed bug bites but only discover the critters after the infestation has become widespread. That is why we have compiled the best tricks to help you beat bed bugs at their own game. Here is how to make bed bugs come out of hiding, according to pest control professionals:

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What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny insects that belong to the genus Cimex. They are officially referred to as Cimex lectularius Linnaeus. These critters survive solely on blood and prefer to feed at night. They suck blood by injecting the skin of their victims with their needle-like mouthparts.

Studies have shown that when bed bugs puncture the skin, they inject more than 40 different salivary proteins into your bloodstream. Some of these proteins widen blood vessels and promote blood flow, while others inhibit clotting and anesthetize the skin. That is why most people do not realize they have been bitten until after bite marks develop, which can take several days.

A common sign of bed bugs is blood stains on bed clothing. The anticoagulant compounds in bed bugs' saliva prevent clotting so that bleeding continues even after bed bugs stop sucking blood. Interestingly, some of these compounds contain antimicrobial properties, protecting hosts from secondary infections due to the bites.

People have different reactions to bed bug bites. Very few people are totally immune to these bites and will not develop a reaction. Others experience severe allergic reactions, while the vast majority will experience localized itchiness and swelling due to the bites. Unlike other common household pests, bed bugs are not known to carry or transmit diseases to humans. However, recent studies have linked bed bug infestations to psychological effects like stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How to Identify Bed Bugs?

Knowing what a bed bug looks like is the first step in eliminating an infestation. Multiple bugs such as ticks, booklice, baby roaches, carpet beetles, and bat bugs resemble bed bugs. This means that an inaccurate identification can lead to pricey treatment for the wrong pest.

These wingless critters have a flat, oval shape with a brownish color. They usually measure up to 4-5 millimeters in length (about the size of an apple seed). However, the body of a recently fed bed bug tends to swell, making it look more elongated with a reddish brown color.

Bed bugs are true bugs. Hence, they comprise a tiny head with two round and gleaming eyes protruding on each side. At the tip of its head is an elongated tube-like mouth part known as the proboscis, which the insect uses to pierce the skin and suck blood. Also, part of its body is a small thorax, an oval-shaped abdomen, six thin legs, and two antennae.

Bed bugs, like ticks, have an unquenchable thirst for blood. However, bed bugs are relatively larger than ticks, and they don't stick around after taking a blood meal. They immediately retreat into their hiding spot, for instance, in the folds of your mattress.

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?

In order to force bed bugs out of hiding, you must be able to identify their hiding spots. Bed bugs are nocturnal pests, meaning they are mainly active at night between 2 am and 5 am. So, where do they go at the break of dawn? Bed bugs can't fly. They only crawl a short distance from their host, approximately 5-20 feet away after a blood meal.

  • They commonly hide in a variety of places near your bed or resting area, for instance:
  • In the mattress, box spring, headboard, or bed frame
  • In nearby furniture, for instance, in the seams of your couch and between cushions
  • In curtain folds
  • Under loose wallpapers and behind wall hangings
  • In drawer joints
  • Under the edge of your carpet
  • In the cracks and crevices in your walls
  • Inside electrical outlets
  • Along the side of a window frame

It should be noted that unless controlled fast and effectively, a small bed bug infestation will multiply rapidly and spread beyond the bedroom to other parts of the house. Female bed bugs hide their tiny white eggs in secluded areas. The females produce a sticky substance, making it easy to stick her eggs in mattress seams and other surfaces close to her food source.

4 Ways to Make Bed Bugs Come Out of Hiding

Use a Hair Dryer to Make Bed Bugs Come Out of Hiding

Though visible to the eye, bed bugs are incredibly tiny. Hence, you will need to do a keen and thorough inspection of your house to determine where they are hiding. A blow dryer can help you force bed bugs, bedding, furniture, and other hiding spots out of bed.

Consider using a flashlight to inspect places like the contours of your mattress, the cavity of the box springs, furniture joints, electrical outlets, and curtain folds. When inspecting, watch out for the following signs of bed bugs:

  • The bed bugs themselves
  • White bed bug eggs
  • Bed bug skin (it looks similar to the bugs themselves with the same shape but has a translucent color).
  • Bed bug droppings that look like black or rust-colored ink stains.

The next step is to plug in the hair dryer and set it to the highest heat (unless you're using it around materials that can warp or melt). Direct the nozzle of the dryer towards the suspected hiding spot. Ensure it is 3-4 inches away, and keep waving the dryer back and forth. 

Bed bugs are highly sensitive to heat, so if indeed they are hiding inside, you'll see them running for their lives in the shortest time. Do this for all suspected hiding spots and crush the emerging tiny invaders with a paper towel. Ensure all used paper is safely disposed of in a sealed trash can away from your home.

Use Pesticides to Make Bed Bugs Come Out of Hiding

Pesticides are a highly preferred bed bug treatment option. Even pest control professionals use approved pesticides to eliminate a widespread bed bug infestation successfully. On the downside, bed bugs are increasingly becoming resistant to commonly used pesticides. To increase your chances of killing the pests, consider buying a pesticide that contains pyrethrin or pyrethroid and neonicotinoid as its active ingredients.

These ingredients are highly lethal to many pests and have been proven to kill bed bugs and their eggs. Spray the pesticide directly in the places you've spotted or suspect bed bugs. Spray enough to dampen the entire surface for the best results (this can take up to 10-12 seconds). After you've sprayed all spaces that might be harboring the pesky pests, for instance, wall hangings and fixtures, exit the room and allow the pesticide to work for at least 30 minutes.

Although pyrethroid and pyrethrin are safe for use indoors, you must take precautionary measures when using them. Avoid overexposure, as it can lead to side effects like diarrhea, headaches, and dizziness. Do not re-enter the room until the fumes have cleared, as you'll be putting yourself and your loved ones at the risk of inhaling harmful chemicals.

Use Bag Traps to Make Bed Bugs Come Out of Hiding

Experts have been trying to build bed bug traps for a long time. Recently, researchers were able to add a new twist to bed bug traps, making them even more effective. Like most pests, bed bugs rely on a chemical known as a pheromone to communicate, locate a food source, and return to their hiding spots. Scientists have identified the aggregation chemicals that attract bed bugs to their refuge when they've sucked enough blood. They have also identified a chemical known as histamine that seems to keep them in their hiding spots.

You can use bed bug traps that use a synthetic pheromone to snag the little invaders, allowing you to kill and discard them easily. Alternatively, you can buy bed bug traps that mimic a host (humans). These traps are typical plastic boxes that contain two packets. One packet releases carbon dioxide (which attracts bed bugs) while the other is packed with kairomones, a chemical substance released by bugs when communicating.

Use A Smart Card to Make Bed Bugs Come Out of Hiding

You can force bed bugs out of their refuge using a card. To do this, you'll need a flashlight to illuminate the possible bed bug hiding spots. Hold the flashlight closer to the area you're inspecting and ensure all lights within the room are turned on to improve visibility.

Once you have spotted bed bugs, eggs, droppings, or cast skin, insert a slim card or a thin object into the space and carefully scrape the bugs. You want to use a durable card so you won't have to worry about it breaking in the process.

Use a damp cloth to mash and pick up as many of the exposed bed bugs as possible. Deposit the collected bugs in a container of hot soapy water. Do this by submerging the cloth into the water and wringing it out to release the pests. Finally, dump the contaminated water a good distance from your home.

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