by Dan McCabe
According to Dr. Michael Potter, University of Kentucky entomologist, bed bugs are once again reaching epidemic proportions. Bed bugs are found today in hotels, apartments, dorm rooms, delivery vehicles, dry cleaners, jails, hospitals, churches, cruise ships, furniture rental stores and private homes. Because pesticides are losing their effectiveness at treating bed bugs, the search is on for new ways to eliminate infestations. Heat is the future and the future is now here. Studies show that heat will kill bed bugs without harming the environment. And since heat can be effective in a single bed bug treatment, it can be more cost effective than chemical alternatives.
This non-chemical, non-toxic approach penetrates wall cavities, mattresses and other hard to reach locations to kill bed bugs. By applying heat evenly throughout a structure we are able to kill bed bugs wherever they are hiding. Heat will kill all of the growth stages of the bed bug including the eggs.
There is considerable documentation citing the temperature and time correlations necessary to kill bedbugs and their eggs. Several sources (Usinger 1966, Gulmahamad 2002, Quarles 2007) report that adults and nymphs die within 15 minutes at temperatures greater than 113ºF and 60 minutes to kill eggs. Raising room temperatures above the thermal death point and maintaining that temperature for several hours will eliminate a bedbug infestation.
The temperatures required to kill bedbugs and their eggs fall well within the temperature ranges that can be achieved by using the right equipment and properly trained technicians. The low thermal death point of bedbugs allows pest control technicians to better adapt the process to the building and its contents while still achieving efficacy. Unlike many pesticides, heat will penetrate into all of the harborages and kill bed bugs where they reside. This process forces heat into beds, bedding, mattresses, furniture, electronics, wall cavities, etc. leaving no place for bed bugs to hide. Not only does heat eliminate bed bugs but also the frustration of extensive preparation. This process means clothes no longer need to be bagged and laundered as in present bed bug requirements.
Results from current research conducted by the University of Kentucky show that bed bug resistance to insecticidal products is on the rise. Oftentimes this leads to overcompensating by increasing amounts of chemicals, which can be a dangerous practice.
Recently, pesticides have shown to be ineffective in managing infestations with a single treatment. An informal survey of pest control operators conducted by an entomologist at the University of Massachusetts found that 68% of all bedbug infestations require three or more treatments, 26% require two treatments, and 6% require just one.
Heat is a simpler control methodology which alters a bed bug's natural environment, making it lethal to the bedbug. Heat is a non-chemical process and therefore is the practical solution for people with chemical sensitivities, the elderly and hoarders.