After treating their home for bed bugs, homeowners’ biggest underlying fear is bed bugs making a comeback.
To answer the question, can bed bugs come back after a year? In plain honesty, it is yes.
But there are many reasons for bed bugs returning after a few months or years from the treatment.
Many homeowners even observe that bed bugs are returning after 18 months from treatment.
Some people find out that they still have bed bugs after 3 treatments or bed bugs got worse after treatment.
So, what are the reasons for it?
And what can you do so that you don’t face a bed bug re-infestation after a year or so?
You’ll get the answers to both of your questions in this post.
Plus, you’ll also get to know how you can be 100% sure that bed bugs are gone after treatment.
Let’s dive in.
Why Do Bed Bugs Return After Treatment?
There are quite a few critical reasons for bed bugs’ return to your home. But the most important reason is that they were never gone.
All your methods, including the professional bed bug control you have paid heavily for, can fall short of getting rid of them.
Let’s get into the reasons for bed bugs’ dreaded return.
You Used DIY Ways Of Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs
Well, the internet is full of DIY and mommy blogs, especially in the pest control domain, that promise you similar or better results than professional pest control.
We’re not against these blogs. But the cold hard truth is that DIY ways of getting rid of bed bugs are useless.
DIY ways with home stuff can work against bugs that don’t cause an infestation. For example, if you want to use DIY methods on centipedes and earwigs that don’t present the infestation chances, then go ahead and use it.
When done right, you’ll get results.
But the problem with bugs like roaches, termites, and bed bugs is that they’re tough, and they present a considerable infestation risk. On top of that, they multiply very fast.
Bed bugs, roaches, and termites are hard to get rid of. They’ve been roaming the planet millions of years before we did, and with time, they’ve developed immunity against many pesticides.
Bed bugs have developed immunity against pesticide chemicals like pyrethroids and neonicotinoids (source) over the past few decades.
So, to believe that you can get rid of bed bugs by just using bleach or vinegar is like expecting a miracle.
Why do DIY ways to get rid of bed bugs don’t work?
The reasons for it are quite obvious. But many homeowners ignore it.
- Bed bugs are good at hiding. No matter what you use, bed bugs will sense it. It’ll make them hide in places where the solution you’ve created following the DIY advice or the pesticide you’ve used can’t reach.
- Many stopgap methods of getting rid of bed bugs, like bug bombs, have a limited reach. These methods don’t have the residual toxicity that can spread to every bed bug in your home.
- You were not alert enough in the initial stages of bed bug infestation. You took the initial signs of bed bug infestation, like bed bug bites or bed bug shells, lightly. As we said earlier, bed bugs spread very fast. And hoping that killing only a few bed bugs that you can see by using DIY ways will solve the bed bug infestation problem is a significant and costly mistake.
The Pest Controller You Hired Was Incompetent And Unreliable
Now let’s be clear on one thing, not every pest controller is a reliable one. Pest control business is an expensive business to operate.
You need knowledge of insects and bugs. And on top of it, you need expensive pest control equipment, especially when it comes to bed bug removal.
Mom and pop pest control shops don’t have these. Most of the time, they don’t have the knowledge and equipment to treat your home for bed bugs properly.
There have been many instances when homeowners observed that incompetent pest controllers came and drowsed their homes with pesticides.
Pesticides do work, but they’ve got a low success rate, especially when the level of infestation is very high.
A reliable bed bug expert will always gauge the intensity of bed bug infestation in your home before he recommends the type of bed bug treatment.
Make sure to ask some important questions from the pest control company before hiring one.
Most of the time, the only reliable and sure-shot method of getting rid of bed bugs is heat treatment. Heat treatment is the method that guarantees you 100% results.
But the equipment needed to administer heat treatment is expensive.
Unreliable and inexperienced pest controllers can’t afford it.
And you need years of experience and expertise to use them. So, what do they do?
They spray your home with pesticides. But pesticides aren’t 100% effective in killing bed bugs and their eggs.
You leave a few bed bugs and their eggs behind, and bed bugs will show up again within 3 months.
Also, a full-fledged heat treatment for the entire home is expensive.
Many homeowners look for temporary and cheaper options over heat treatment, only to realize that they don’t work.
From our experience, if there’s one thing in your life where you shouldn’t look for saving money, it’s the bed bug treatment for your home.
And you won’t regret it.
You Ignored Early Signs Of Bed Bug Infestation
Bed bugs are hard to spot. Unless bed bugs leave bite marks on your body or you see a bed bug, you couldn’t know that there can be bed bugs in your home.
There are some early signs of bed bug infestation that you should be aware of, and you shouldn’t ignore at any cost.
Early signs of bed bug infestation are –
- Blackish brown or rusty spots on bed sheets or fabric in drawers. These spots are fecal spots of bed bugs. And bed bugs infest not only your bed but also closets and drawers.
- Bloodstains on your bed sheet or pillow cover. These bloodstains are from bed bugs that got squashed by your body weight while you’re sleeping. You might not always get bed bug bite marks on your body if you’re nonreactive to bed bug bites. So, if you’re ignoring these bloodstains on your bed sheet just because you don’t have bite marks, then you’re letting the infestation grow.
- Shed bed bug skins and eggshells on places like your bed’s head and footboard, drawers, and couch are also clear signs of growing bed bug infestation. Both of them mean that bed bugs are reproducing fast, and they’re also maturing into adults ready to bite you.
- Bed bugs emit a distinctive stench that can alert you of their presence. Some may find it hard to detect. The odor is very significant in empty apartments or houses that have a bed bug infestation. So, keep it in mind if you’re moving into an apartment that was lying idle for quite some time.
- And finally, bed bug bite marks. Do not confuse bed bug bites with mosquito bites. Bed bugs will bite you in the softer portions at the back of your knees and elbows, where mosquitoes generally won’t while you’re sleeping.
Bed Bugs Hitch Hiked Into Your Home
Another reason for bed bugs making a comeback after treatment is that they latch on to something or someone and get transferred into your home.
Hitchhiking is a common way for bed bugs to travel.
And one of the most common places where you can bring bed bugs to your home is the hotel room.
If you’re staying in a hotel room or at anybody else’s home, it’s always wise to carry a bed bug spray for clothes.
It reduces your chances of bringing bed bugs home to nearly zero.
All you’ve to do is use the spray on your luggage and clothes while leaving the room.
The spray will kill the bed bugs that are stuck on your clothes and fabric.
If you have any visitor who has bed bugs on his clothes, then he or she also transfers the bed bugs to your home.
Bed bugs don’t spare cars either.
If you’ve got a heavy bed bug infestation in your home, then for sure that bed bugs will move to your car.
Or if the visitor to your home has bed bugs in his car, then bed bugs can easily latch onto his clothes and get transferred to your home.
And from the car, bed bugs can also get into baby car seats. If you’ve got a baby, you seriously don’t want that to happen.
What To Do When Bed Bugs Come Back After Treatment
Now that you know why bed bugs come back, it’s time to figure out what you must do when observing a bed bug re-infestation.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the first thing that you must do is to stop using DIY methods.
They didn’t work earlier, and they will fail if you use them again.
And the second thing you must do is please contact a reliable bed bug controller.
Ensure that the bed bug controller has all the necessary licenses, has been in the business for at least three years, and has the essential equipment needed for heat treatment.
It’s important to know if they’re skilled enough to administer heat treatment.
So, don’t forget to check the reviews or ask for references before you hire one.
Bed bugs’ return indicates that the previous heat treatment wasn’t done correctly for the entire home or wasn’t done at all.
You will need a full-fledged heat treatment for your entire home if you want to get rid of bed bugs once and for all.
And reliable bed bug controllers will always spend a considerable amount of time inspecting your home for bed bugs.
Some may even do a canine inspection.
How To Know Bed Bugs Are Gone
Bed bugs are hard to get rid of. And the only way that guarantees the destruction of bed bugs in your home is heat treatment.
Heat treatment, when done correctly and for the entire house, has a 100% success rate.
But many homeowners go for pesticide treatment because it’s either cheap or the pest controllers make them believe that it’s enough.
Pesticide treatment isn’t as effective as heat treatment, so you will probably come across bed bugs in your home again.
And that’s the reason many pest controllers will convince you to have many follow-up pesticide treatments after the initial treatment.
But suppose you compare the costs of three or four pesticide treatments with one heat treatment.
In that case, you’ll realize that pesticide treatment ends up being more expensive.
No matter what type of treatment you chose, it’s essential to confirm that the treatment/s successfully removed bed bugs.
So, how to know bed bugs are gone? There are three ways to figure that out.
The first way needs a little bit of patience. You need to know the period within which bed bugs make a comeback.
It’s 6-8 weeks after treatment. Within this period, the bed bugs, if they’re alive, will breed and show up again.
But remember, it’s not the case with heat treatment because heat treatment destroys the bed bugs, eggs, and newborns.
Second, you need to monitor their return. And the only way to do it is by using bed bug interceptors.
Interceptors are little bowl traps that you keep under each of the legs of your bed. These interceptors trap the bed bugs when they try to climb on your bed.
So, if you see any bed bugs in these interceptors, then it means there are still bed bugs left in your home.
Third, the most obvious way is to remain vigilant about the bed bug’s physical sightings.
There’s no better way to confirm the presence of bed bugs than their physical sightings, and of course, bed bug bites.
But, before you get into the process of figuring out if bed bugs are gone, you need to do the necessary due diligence after bed bug treatment.
It’ll help you to remove any leftover bed bugs, and it’ll protect you from bed bug bites.
Here are the two easy steps that you must do after bed bug treatment.
- Vacuum clean your home and steam clean your soft furnishings like mattress, box spring, and sofa.
- Use bed bug mattress encasements for at least 12 months. It’s because if there are any bed bugs in the mattress, then the encasement will trap it, and the bed bugs will starve to death.
The return of bed bugs is also dependent on one crucial factor that many people are unaware of.
If you’re living in a multi-family home, then you can’t do much if the adjacent units have bed bugs and they’re not bothered about it.
The only way to deal with it is to inform the owner/manager of bed bug infestation.
The manager should convince the other dwellers to do bed bug treatment for their homes too.
As a precaution, don’t let the other dwellers enter your unit. Neither should you go to their homes.
It will prevent the bed bugs from hitchhiking from different houses to your home.
How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs After Extermination?
The answer to this question depends on the type of treatment you’ve used.
If you’ve used heat treatment, then bed bugs die instantly without any chances of a comeback.
Many people observe that bed bugs are making a comeback within a year or so, even after heat treatment. The primary reason for it is that they didn’t do it for the entire home, and it wasn’t thorough.
Bed bugs travel fast, at the speed of 3-4 feet per minute. So, if you’re not doing heat treatment for every corner of your home, then it’s highly likely that bed bugs will sneak into other rooms.
If you’ve used a pesticide treatment, expect a 2-3 weeks timeline for the bed bugs to be completely dead.
But some bed bugs might be alive even after multiple pesticide treatments, and they will take 6-8 weeks to show up again.
Yes, bed bugs can come back after a year.
And the reasons for it are –
- You used DIY ways to get rid of bed bugs.
- The pest controller was unreliable and incompetent.
- You ignored early warning signs of bed bug re-infestation.
- Bed bugs hitchhiked into your home.
Bed bugs are hard to kill. To get rid of them, you need to have a full-fledged heat treatment for your entire home or multiple rounds of pesticide treatment.
Heat treatment gets rid of bed bugs once and for all. Still, pesticide treatment always keeps the possibility of bed bugs coming back open. And heat treatment is safe and non-toxic as well.
In this post, we’ve also outlined how to know bed bugs are gone and what steps you can take if you find them again.
The first three to five weeks after pesticide treatment is crucial. If you’re alert enough, then you’d be able to see signs of bed bug re-infestation during this period.
We’re Mark and Jim, and we’re retired pest controllers who made homes pest-free for more than three decades. We, along with our team of experts, founded this site to give you the pest control hacks that work.