Step 2: Decide whether to call a professional

If you have conclusive evidence of a bed bug infestation, you must now decide whether to tackle the problem yourself, or to call in a professional. Please be aware that bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate. Even professionals often require multiple visits. It only takes one or two individuals to survive the control measure and the infestation may return. Care must be taken not to disperse the infestation within your own property or to your neighbours. In the past the BBF has always recommended that homeowners seek the help of a professional. However, in many countries professional bed bug treatments are now very expensive and the BBF recognises that this may simply be out of reach for many, so we now provide self-help advice.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to tackle a bed bug infestation yourself:

Who’s responsibility is it? – It is often the responsibility of the landlord to make sure that a premises is free from vermin. Rules vary from country to country and there may be specific clauses in your housing contract, so check this before calling a professional.

Complexity of the situation – Small infestations are almost always in, or very close to, the bed. In situations where people spend a lot of time sitting in one place, such as old people’s homes, chairs and sofas may also become infested. The earlier the infestation is identified, the easier it is to treat. As infestations become more well established, bed bugs tend to spread into more of the furniture and belongings around the bed, and even start dispersing to neighbouring rooms. At this stage, the cost of treatment will increase, but so will the work involved in dealing with the infestation yourself.

Where did they come from? – It is important to consider where the bed bugs might have come from. If they are spreading from a neighbouring apartment or building, then even successful treatment of your own apartment is only likely to provide temporary relief unless the neighbouring apartments are also treated at the same time. If this is not possible, then the self-help options may be of more value than paying for a professional treatment.

Physical strength and good eyesight – To eradicate bed bugs it will be necessary to lift the mattress off the bed and move the bed around. You will need to be able to visually inspect all areas of the bed and immediate surroundings, which will likely involve crawling around on your hands and knees. You will also need relatively good eyesight. Adult bed bugs are close to the size of an apple seed, but young nymphs are similar in size to a grain of brown sugar.

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