Bed bugs can only crawl. They will crawl from room to room or from suite to suite in multi-family buildings. They travel along pipes or crawl into and out of spaces in walls. To go long distances (like from building to building) bed bugs need help from people.
New infestations start when a person moves items to a new place. This could include:
A bed bug infestation is not simple to deal with. You will need to do several things at the same time.
Call a pest control operator (PCO):
Have the area treated.
This means to throw away everything you don't need any more. Don't throw away your furniture until you talk with the PCO. The PCO will tell you what items can and can't be treated.
Use a vacuum cleaner and the crevice tool for the vacuum and vacuum all the possible places bed bugs hide.
Wash off any signs of bed bugs as best you can. This makes it easier to see new signs of bed bugs on your next inspection.
The heat of a hot dryer will kill all stages of bed bugs.
Once items have been cleaned and there are no more bed bugs on them, keep them away from areas that may still have bed bugs in your home.
Treat your sleeping place:
Remove bed bugs from your bed.
Protect your bed.
Interceptors for your bed
Isolate your bed
Keep protecting your bed
You'll need to clean and inspect at least once a week until you are sure the bed bugs are gone. This may take weeks, depending on how bad the infestation was, and, in a multi-family building, on how well everyone co-operates.
Chemical treatment is best done by a PCO. The PCO should give you written information that tells you:
The written information should also tell you what cleaning you will need to do afterwards. Ask the PCO or your landlord if you aren't given this information.
There should be information for precautions for people who are sensitive to the smell of chemicals. Check with your doctor if you're concerned about people in your home that are in poor health or who are especially sensitive . This includes infants, seniors, or those with weak immune systems.
If you want to do the chemical treatment yourself, you need to know that using the pesticides incorrectly can make you sick. Use all chemicals properly. Follow the directions on the label carefully and ask questions if you don't understand the instructions.
Not using insecticides properly may only cause the bed bugs to move to a new area to get away from the insecticide. Some chemicals that are licensed for use against bed bugs are only available to a licensed PCO.
If you feel that you've been exposed to the chemicals for too long or if you have symptoms, call the
Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) at 1-800-332-1414.
Using pesticides in dwellings in Alberta is controlled by Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and regulations. Pesticides in Canada are licensed for use by Health Canada.
Heat treatment is a specialized process. The rooms with bed bugs are heated to a high temperature with special equipment. If the room doesn't get hot enough the bed bugs may move to a new, cooler area. Heat treatment doesn't take the place of de-cluttering, cleaning, and ongoing monitoring.
Bed bug dogs
There are several dogs in Alberta that are trained to inspect for bed bugs. There are things you will be asked to do before the dog arrives. The dogs can find bed bugs faster than a trained professional. The dog and its handler work as a team to detect bed bugs. The dog should be trained and certified.
You usually don't know that there are bed bugs in items you move or bring home. Taking precautions to prevent bed bugs entering your home is your best defence. Here are some suggestions that may help:
Bed bug droppings are reddish black to black. They look like small dots or large smears. It can look like a dot from a felt pen that has run a little around the edges. The skin they shed is a light tan—it looks like a dead bed bug.
Bed bugs: Treatment, Prevent spread, and Prevent infestations
Current as of: July 14, 2023
Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.