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Organic bed bug control
My college aged son if fighting bed bugs that he may have inherited when he moved into his new apartment. I read the great flea control thread and was wondering if anyone has had any luck with diatomaceous earth killing bed bugs?
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While I have never had to deal with bed bugs personally, I have heard from a lot of different people that say diatomaceous earth works great and the the chemical army is lame - frequently needing to be used over and over.

i would try 20 mule team borax, full strength on everything..let it sit a long time and then vacuum it well and throw out the bag, and then retreat immediately..let is sit again and then vacuum in a day or so..

2 treatments will work with fleas..not sure about bedbugs..

can't hurt to try
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I think borax is great for mold control and getting odd smells out of laundry.  It seems that I do think of borax as a solution for a lot of things.  And I know that it works really well as bug control.  About as well as DE.  But!  It is toxic.  Just mildly toxic.  I would gladly eat a quarter cup of DE but I would not eat a quarter teaspoon of borax. 

I would not be comfortable putting borax on a mattress that I intend to lay on a lot later on. 

But ..... I suspect many people would be quite comfortable doing so.
I'm going to disagree with you on the efficacy of the chemical army. The highly toxic chemicals that were common place in the household in the 40's up on through the early 80's were highly effective on bed bugs , so much so that they were nearly eradicated from the continent (even though spraying was cut way back in the 70's and 80's the residuals kept on keeping on up until the mid 90's). The truth is that we now have fewer bed bugs than we did in the 30's but everyone is just getting reacquainted with them.

They are difficult to deal with with out the highly toxic chemicals, but should be dealt with. a steam cleaner will help to get them out of the folds of furniture and curtains, vacuum, DE, sticky barriers on the legs of beds and couches. bed bugs are elusive but fortunately very unlikely to pass diseases from one person to another. Cleaning out the clutter and sealing cracks and holes in woodwork can also work for reducing insect infestation. Be sure he washes his sheets regularly.
I wonder if the residuals are still with us, only the bedbugs have evolved to resist them.

I recall reading that malaria would have been eradicated in the 1970s if DDT's effectiveness had not been squandered by farmers. DDT on bednets and the eaves of houses would not have been a problem for birds of prey, either.

I expect future generations will be angry at us for trivial use of penicillin and related compounds, too.

Borax is a naturally occuring mineral that is good for killing many insects and it is a fire retardant as well. I have used it in my attic to treat for insects and the fire suppressing properties are beneficial as well.
Boric Acid. Roach powder.

Seems like you can only buy ortho-boric acid at stores now, but can get the old stuff from bio-deisel folks.
Make sure to get the fine powder, not the chunkier stuff.

Don't think boric acid is toxic, it is an inhalant problem.
They still put it in the eyedrops for newborns....

Would mix some up with a little soap in a sprayer, and do the back of picture frames, under drawers, bedframes etc.

Powder gets blown into any holes you can find, and spread around perimeter of room, and sweep into edges and cracks.

This is what they use for termites now. think it works on all insects. Don't think 20 mule team will do much. it is borax (alkali) not boric acid.
Fortunately I caught my infestation early. It came about after I let a friend crash at my place for a few weeks while I was away. Turns out, he had bedbugs, too.

I went through the bed/room with a fine tooth comb. Actually, a pair of tweezers and a headlamp, literally scouring ever surface. I plucked all the ones I could find, and anything else that looked odd, and put them in rubbing alcohol (which I then set on fire outside, just to spite the little buggers). I then vacuumed with a powerful vacuum (hepa filter, all corners including baseboard molding, etc), sealed the beds/pillows up in bags (1.5-2 years minimum), set sticky traps around the legs of the bed, and waited. No more bites or bugs. Two and a half years later I still don't have the desire to take that mattress out of it's bag, though.  ops:
Hello to everyone!! I heard also that DE and boric acid works but only if you catch infestation in the early phase. Is that true?
Kidney bean leaves have bug velcro on them !

Kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) were raised from seeds (Johnny's Seeds, Product 2554). Individual leaves (trifoliate, node ≥ 1) were severed where the base of petiole met the stem, were sealed in bags with moistened paper to remain hydrated prior to experimentation and were used within a few hours.
I would just be cautious applying DE to indoor living spaces and perhaps use a face mask.. Just lookin' out for his lungs! adios
I know someone who is part of the curezone crowd, who puts 1/4 tsp of borax per gallon of water that he drinks, and has been doing so for years. I drank a cup of it one time to see if I would get sick or anything, nope, felt fine. Water tasted a little funny but not awful. Can't comment on its health effects, but if it works, I wouldn't hesitate to use it.

Also found an article regarding heat to kill bedbugs and associated eggs, would feel much safer about heat-treating than just about anything.

With due respect, before suggesting people CONSUME Borax (Sodium Borate/Boric Acid), PLEASE refer to the following MSDS:


Just my two cents....
Sorry if I have to clarify, I never intended to advocate consuming the stuff, I just know a nut that has for years. Either way the heat method looks like the way to go, bedbugs are tough buggers.

btw here is the msds for salt


and vitamin C


just to illustrate a point.
So why does this fellow choose to drink a borax solution? Now I'm just curious.. And looking at that msds, salt might not be a bad contender for the bedbug battle either.
Not quite sure, he is rather manic at times, but it has something to do with www.curezone.com & this disreputable site:


He mentioned candida, but this guy also is convinced he is infested with bird mites. That is a disorder, but it has nothing to do with mites, it has to do with thinking you have mites or bugs on you without having them.
probably has toxoplasmosis, and it will get worse.

have him go for a screening.

I use boric for all bug infestations. Works like a charm.
Will kill all fungus in the garden tho.

here is the other borax site

Well, I humbly stand corrected. Thanks for putting things into perspective gentlemen. Very interesting and applicable information. It makes perfect sense.
Very simple, reasonable solutions for bed bugs. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!!!

a. FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth. READ UP ON IT FOR YOURSELF FIRST. (LEGAL DISCLAIMER). Yes, wear a mask, but the amount you dust with is miniscule. It kills by cutting their shells and dehydrating them. It is effective as long as it is there. Meaning if you vacuum it up you must replace it. Benign, except for breathing a LOT in. You can de-worm your pets, livestock (intestinal worms only), yourself, etc. Safe for kids, pets, everything except bugs. Good against cockroaches and also ecto-parasites. Be aware that you don't want to use swimming pool DE because it has been altered and is carcinogenic. FOOD GRADE IS GOOD, SWIMMING POOL VERSION IS BAD!!! Is often available at animal feed stores. Very cheap. I have found this product, with permithrin mixed in, at Ace Hardware.

b. natural repellent spray. 1% peppermint oil, 1% clove oil. 98% water. Fragrant. Perhaps use around the room more so than on mattress.? Great for travel since you don't really control hotel hygiene and it might be enough to keep them away from you for the duration of your visit. Thoroughly wash clothes at home BEFORE putting back into storage. Also, de-bug suitcases, etc with the rubbing alcohol. See item 'd.' below.

c. mattress cover. Go to WalMart/chain stores. Look for mattress liners intended for incontinent people. Cheap effective barrier between bugs and mattress.

d. high octane rubbing alcohol. CHEAP/DANGEROUS (FIRE). This you must use CAUTION with. Don't be smoking the big cigar while applying. Is very flammable. However, if you are careful and spray down your mattress it kills eggs. It evaporates quickly but until it does treat it like it will burn your house down if used incorrectly. Last resort since the others work so well.

If you are battling them, understand that they can survive for a LOONNNGGG TIME. Figure at least a half-year of constant corrective procedures after the last bite/sighting/bug.
I lived in a place that was rampant with bed bugs. It was a life-changing event.

Other words of advice. If you discover bed bugs in/on your bed DO NOT DRAG THE MATTRESS THROUGH THE HOUSE!!! Think about how you move stuff. If you have bedding, put it in a bag or some sort of sealable container before moving it. This is hard to do, as you really really will want to 'get rid of them', but dragging them around through your house is the worst option!

Good luck and stay vigilant! If you have ever had these nasty little visitors you'll understand what I'm talking about.

As for the heating/freezing options they work very well. However, they require a lot of energy (okay, freezing a house in Alaska is free for half the year, but what about your pipes/etc.). Get DE and be HAPPYHAPPYHAPPY.

alex Keenan wrote:Kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) were raised from seeds (Johnny's Seeds, Product 2554). Individual leaves (trifoliate, node ≥ 1) were severed where the base of petiole met the stem, were sealed in bags with moistened paper to remain hydrated prior to experimentation and were used within a few hours.

I am wondering if this is the same study...There is an article in the April 2013 issue (the most recent) of Natural History about this method and refers to it as 'old Balkan folk wisdom'. They tested and showed the results under magnification...pretty deadly looking little 'hooks' on those leaves. The article said that they were not able to duplicate the same action with an artificial surface. This article sites 'the Journal of the Royal Society Interface' fas the source for the information.
Morgan...I may be repeating the information in your link but I can't open it on a kindle. ALMOST makes me want to find some bed bugs to give it a try.
Note to self: grow kidney beans!
Someone I know just posted a thorough, peer-reviewed article on bed bugs - including bed bug life cycle, medical/allergy implications, and ways to eradicate - including efficacy of DE compared to other methods.


Well done, Anna!
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