Bed bugs also known as Cimex Lectularius are parasites that feed on human blood. For a person suffering from a bed bug infestation, the question foremost on mind must be “how to get rid of bed bugs naturally?” Often, people dealing with bed bugs wonder if there are any natural predators or enemies of bed bugs that can help them on their quest to eliminate these parasites safely and effectively. Let us find out what are the natural methods of eliminating bed bugs.
Yes-Bed bugs do have enemies!
Many organisms feed on bed bugs. Such organisms are called natural enemies of bed bugs. Bed bugs have many natural predators like pharaoh ants, American cockroaches and cone nosed insects. Certain spiders also kill bed bugs. Cockroaches are wonderful natural predators of bed bugs as they eat bed bugs and can eliminate infestations before they escalate. However, biological control of bed bugs through natural predators will not help you since you will then need to eliminate the predators later. Secondly, bed bugs are great at hiding and they usually seek areas near the host’s sleeping places such as cracks and crevices near the beds to hide. You certainly do not want to bring in roaches in these areas.
What insects kill bed bugs?
Several insects kill bed bugs and following are the most common ones:
- Argentine ants
- Hemipteran predator
- Pharaoh ants
- European imported fire ant
- Delicate assassin bug
- Masked bed bug hunter
- Tropical fire ant
- Wind scorpion
- Pyemotes mites
What spiders eat bed bugs?
The main species of spiders that eat bed bugs are:
- Cobweb spider
- Philodromid crab spider
Do lizards eat bed bugs?
Several species of lizards are known to eat bed bugs. However, if you are thinking of using this natural method for eradicating bugs, you could not be more wrong! Lizards need specific environmental conditions like heat, light and humidity which may be difficult to maintain. This is an impractical method of bed bug elimination.
Can one use ladybugs to kill bed bugs?
Ladybugs are often used in gardens to control populations of tiny insects and ants that feed on plants. However, it is not known whether ladybugs indeed kill bed bugs. Additionally, it won’t be a practical solution in the bed rooms.
Life cycle of Bed bugs
A female bed bug lays up to 3 eggs a day or 500 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs hatch within 3-10 days and the nymphs are about 1.5mm long. These take up to 7 days to molt and transform to the next stage of the life cycle. In this period, the nymphs need a lot of blood meal. A fully grown adult bed bug is about 5.5mm long and it too needs several blood meals to reproduce and lay eggs. Bed bugs die when exposed to 120 F for a minute or 113 F for 30 minutes. An alarming fact is that they can survive for up to 5 days in the freezer.
Do bed bugs spread diseases?
Until recently, it was believed that bed bugs did not spread diseases. However, researchers in Vancouver recently found out that bed bugs do carry methicillin-resistant and vancomycin-resistant organisms which can cause bacterial diseases in humans. So-when it comes to bed bugs, it is very important to clean, vacuum and remain vigilant at all times and prevent things from getting out of control.
Natural fungal control of bed bugs
It is heartening to know that a great deal of research is being carried out to determine natural elimination techniques for bed bugs. According to a study carried out by entomologists in the University of Pennsylvania, Beauveria bassiana- natural fungus that causes disease in bed bugs can be used for natural control of these parasites. The results of the study are encouraging. The team also believes that such natural methods are easy to replicate in a lab and soon people can use them as pesticides. Basically- the researchers used an air spray and exposed 10 bed bugs with the fungal spores (sprayed on cotton bed sheets). All bed bugs exposed to the fungi were infected and died within days. The infected bugs also carried the bio-pesticide back to their hiding places and infected the unexposed or healthy bugs. You can read the entire report here.
Bed bugs are cryptic creatures and people suffering from an infestation would want them out of their house as soon as possible. The natural methods of eliminating bed bugs could include bringing in the natural enemies of bed bugs but this may not be a practical solution. We hope science and technology can soon find a permanent, easy and safe alternative to eliminate and prevent bed bugs once and for all.