The past summer we woke every morning with welts all over our arms and legs that itched like crazy. At first we thought they were flea bites-we have several cats and a dog but they were flea free. All the members of the family were plauged with bites for many weeks and I went through the usual suspects, poison ivy, fleas, mosquitoes, black fly until I read in a magazine that bedbugs were becoming an epidemic in the U.S. Horrors, I thought bedbugs existed in unclean environments-our house is not the cleanest abode but not the dirtiest either but apparently it doesn't matter if you have the cleanest house. They can travel on clothing and even new mattresses cross contaminated when loaded into the same truck that had removed old ones.
I surfed the web and looked up how to eliminate the nasties but all of the remedies seemed too toxic especially when we were to be exposed to the insecticides for the night. We never saw a bedbug which is supposed to be the size of an apple seed and no spotting of blood on the sheets. I lifted the mattress and pad and set sticky traps but never caught nor saw one. The only evidence that we had was that we were bitten at night and scratched all day. I vaccuumed the rooms thoroughly but we were still bitten. Apparently they can hide in all kinds of crevices, behind artwork hung on the wall, in photo frames and in radios etc. I finally bought some diatomaceous earth which looks like a fluffy baking soda and is actually used in baking as a filler and dusted the floor all around the beds, under the matress pad and mattress and the crevice where the carpet meets the wall. After about a couple of weeks, no more bites. But we never saw evidence of any bedbugs.
So if you are plauged by mysterious bites (welts) that you can't stop scratching, you may have BEDBUGS! According to AP the Big Apple has an epidemic on hand.
About diatomaceous earth-you don't need a lot. I made the mistake of buying 10 pounds of the stuff thinking I neeeded to make repeated applications but one application was enough and 10 pounds is a lot-about twice the size of a standard flour bag. Diatomaceous earth is the skeletons of diatoms which are tiny animals that live in the sea. The skeletons have sharp points which pierce the exoskeletons of the bedbugs and other insects and they die by dehydration. I'll use the remaining 9.9 pounds as an insecticide dust to control aphids and I'll try it as a spray on Japanese beetles. At first I was a little leery of using it-would we inhale it and have an asthma attack? I mean if it has sharp points it could pierce the tissue in your nose, bronchial tubes and lungs couldn't it? Not to worry. Apparently the particles are so small that it doesn't affect your lungs,the mucus membranes take care of that,just don't stick your head in the bag. Wear a dust mask when making the application. I even put some under our pillows without any adverse reaction.