Bed bug infestations in the United States have risen by a staggering 500 percent in the last few years, and we’ve got every right to be nervous about this growing population. These nasty insects can survive several months without food, and they withstand temperatures from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Professional treatments are your only option once bed bugs move in, but there are many natural ways to keep these hungry critters at bay.
Mix a Minty Fresh Bed Bug Repellent
We love the fresh smell of mint, but bed bugs hate this strong scent. The herb also contains compounds which target the bed bug’s nervous system, so they can kill the critters when they move in. But with each bed bug laying one to five eggs a day, they typically multiply before the herb’s powers can take hold. This makes mint better for repelling the insects than eradicating them.
You can harness the preventative powers of mint by boiling the leaves in a pot of water. Pour the strained solution into a spray bottle and apply the mix to your mattresses and linens. The herb’s a great stress reliever too, so it’ll help you sleep a little easier while it’s keeping the bed bugs away.
The Great Garlic Bed Bug Solution
As with mint, bed bugs turn their noses up at garlic’s heady aroma. Crush a few cloves to release their scent, and boil them in water. Strain the liquid into a spray bottle, and apply the solution to baseboards, bed frames, and other fixtures where bed bugs love to live. Unfortunately, you’ll probably be as offended by the smell as the bed bugs. Can you imagine sleeping in a room that smells like garlic breath?
Cayenne Pepper Keeps Bed Bugs Away
Many people love the kick that cayenne pepper brings to our cooking, but bed bugs aren’t such fans of this hot spice. Sprinkle some of the pepper into your bed frames, and any other cracks and crevices where bed bugs might slip in, to deter the pests.
However, this method should be used with caution if you have young children around. It may burn their mouths if they ingest it or irritate their eyes or noses.
Herbs Help Prevent Infestation
Bed bugs are sensitive to the strong aroma of dried herbs, especially thyme, rosemary, cloves, and eucalyptus and bay leaves. Put the homemade potpourri into small muslin sachets and leave them underneath your mattresses, behind your headboards, and under your pillows and cushions. With 67 percent of American exterminators treating bed-bug infested hotels and motels, it’s a good idea to make a few spare sachets for your suitcases and garment bags.
It’s important to replenish your herbs regularly though, as they’ll quickly lose their potency. In optimum conditions, dried herbs last for two years. When they’re packed into glass jars and kept under harsh supermarket lights, they become weaker. Your herbs already suffered before you purchased them, and they’ll continue to lose their powers through time spent in muslin bags.
Again, you’ll need to contact an exterminator should bed bugs ever move in to your home (it’s also a good idea to have your home sprayed regularly). However, these natural measures will minimize your chances of making an emergency call.