Heat vs Chemical Treatment for Bed Bugs: 12, 000 Treatments Done!

Heat vs Chemical Treatment for Bed Bugs: Which Is Best?

If you’re worried you may have bed bugs in your home, your first question will likely be something along the lines of, “how do I get rid of these things, and fast?” You have two main options when it comes to ridding your home of these troublesome little insects: heat treatment and chemical treatment.

In this guide, we’ll look at the pros and cons of both. You’ll also get all the basic knowledge you need to make sure you can be free of bed bugs as quickly and efficiently as possible.

A Few Things You Should Know About Bed Bugs

First, to help you put your treatment options in context you should know a little bit about bed bug prevalence, their life-cycle and why infestations are so tricky to deal with.

How Common Are They in the US?

Fifty years ago, bed bugs had been all but wiped out. However, since the 1980s, there’s been a sharp resurgence. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this has happened partly because bed bugs have become resistant to some pesticides, and also because transmission rates have increased as a result of international and domestic travel.

Today, many pest control experts consider bed bugs to be the number one infestation problem in the US. We can attest to this as we serve Ohio which has some of the worst bed bug infested cities like Cincinnati which always makes it on to the top 10 infested bed bug city lists across the nation.

Fact 1: bed bugs are very common.

Why Are They Difficult to Treat?

Bed bugs are extremely stealthy. They’re small, and are guided by a survival instinct of tucking themselves away into tight, difficult-to-reach crevices. They’re capable of lodging themselves in areas little thicker than the width of a fingernail, and can stay there out of sight for months between feeding sessions.

These factors make bed bugs both hard to find, and difficult to eradicate even once you know where they are.

Fact 2: They’re stealthy, sneaky and resilient.

How Quickly Should I Treat an Infestation?

Adult female bed bugs will lay up to anywhere from five to a dozen eggs daily. In its lifetime it will lay up to 500 eggs. A bed bug colony is therefore going to grow very quickly. But that’s only part of the problem. Their movement patterns make it even worse.

A female is hard-wired to retreat from other bed bugs before laying its eggs. This means bed bugs have a tendency to migrate quickly from room to room. A small colony in one bedroom can rapidly become an infestation across your whole house.

Fact 3: Fast action, and quick-acting treatment is important.

Now that you’re up to speed on how bed bugs operate and why they pose such an infestation control challenge, let’s compare your treatment options.

Option 1: Heat Treatment

Heat treatment involves raising the temperature in your home to the point it’ll kill bed bugs. A pest control specialist will place specialized heaters throughout your home, gradually raising the temperature to over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Strategically placed fans circulate the hot air, effectively turning your bed bug infested rooms into a convection oven.

A bed bug will die within an hour or two if it’s exposed to temperatures in the 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit range. They’ll die instantly once the heat increases beyond that. That’s the temperature we aim for.

The whole process is discreet, takes less than a day, and is powered off a single generator.

Heat Treatment Pros

  • It’s usually a single treatment: Done right, a heat treatment to exterminate bed bugs will require just one treatment. Chemical treatment usually requires several visits.
  • It attacks bed bugs where they’re most vulnerable: bed bugs are tough insects, and they’re remarkably good at hiding out of reach. Moreover, some strains are resistant to certain pesticides. The beauty of heat is that, unlike chemicals, it gets everywhere. No matter how many layers of bedding or clothing a bed bug is hiding under, the heat can reach and destroy it. Heat is also deadly to bed bugs throughout all stages of its life-cycle. They can run but they can’t hide.
  • There are no residual effects: Once the heat in your house returns to normal, the only lasting change you’re left with is a lot of dead bed bugs. This is an advantage if you’re worried about chemical residues in your home.
  • Heat treatment is discreet: Let’s face it, having your home treated for bed bugs is not exactly something you want to advertise to your neighbors. Heat treatment is discreet. All that’s visible from the street is a generator, which you could easily be using for anything from running fans to dry paint, or steam cleaning your carpet.

Heat Treatment Cons

  • Heat treatment won’t stop bed bugs from returning: Heat leaves no residual effects. Without residual chemicals providing a preventive barrier, they may return. However, keeping your home freed of clutter and thoroughly cleaning your bedding on a regular basis are both effective non-chemical bed bug prevention measures.
  • You’ll need to prepare your home: During treatment, your house will have to be vacated, including your pets. You’ll also probably need to make sure that heat-sensitive items such as wax and crayons from the house. Our pest control experts can offer advice on what’s safe to keep in your home and what should be removed.

Things to Consider When Using Heat

Heat treatment is a great option. It’s fast, discreet and can reach infestation areas that are hard to reach with chemicals. You will need a prevention strategy in place though. One great option to consider is to use heat in conjunction with chemical treatments around the boundaries of your house.

This gives you the benefits of minimizing chemicals in your home while setting up a residual chemical barrier where it’s most useful.

Option 2: Chemical Treatment

Chemical treatment involves the introduction of chemical agents throughout the house. Typically, a pest eradication expert will employ three kinds of chemicals: a contact insecticide to quickly eradicate easy to reach bed bugs, a residual (long-lasting) chemical to kill bed bugs on an ongoing basis, and a dust to provide longer-lasting protection in cracks and crevices in and around infested rooms.

The effectiveness of chemical treatment depends on getting to the bed bugs. Unlike heat, chemical treatment is site-specific. Treatment typically therefore happens over multiple visits, to be sure no bed bugs are missed.

Chemical Treatment Pros

  • Chemical treatment can be highly effective: Especially if you catch the infestation in its early stages, chemicals can eradicate bed bugs quickly and reliably. Moreover, the combination of quick-acting pesticides with dusts and residual chemicals means you can effectively hit bed bugs over time, and throughout every stage of their life-cycle.
  • It can help prevent future infestations: Residual chemicals act as a barrier against future bed bug infestations. While the continued presence of chemicals in the home is not an ideal solution for everyone, it undeniably offers long-term protection.
  • It’s cost effective: Chemical treatment is often slightly less expensive than the bed bug heat treatment option.

Chemical Treatment Cons

  • Chemical treatment requires a lot of preparation: The chemicals have to reach the bed bugs. This means you’ll have to thoroughly prepare infested areas, removing as many barriers as possible to ensure the chemicals reach where the bed bugs are hiding. A chemical treatment requires time, preparation and careful planning.
  • It exposes your home to residual chemicals: While these chemicals are safe for residential use, if you have pets in your home or people with chemical sensitivities, the chemical treatment route may not be for you.
  • Chemicals don’t kill the bed bug egg: Unfortunately, chemical treatments don’t kill the bed bug egg. Remember a female bed bug is laying at least 5 bed bug eggs per day.
  • You’re most likely looking at multiple treatments & it’s not guaranteed to get you bed bug free: Chemical treatments require a pest exterminator to carefully find and target areas where the bed bugs are most concentrated. As you’ve already learned, these critters are sneaky! For this reason, chemical treatments usually work best when applied two or three times over a period of several days or weeks. Therefore, it’s frequently a less convenient and less discreet option.

Things to Consider When Using Chemicals

The big draw of chemical treatment for many customers is that it provides long-lasting protection against bed bug infestation.

The drawback is that it usually requires multiple applications, and some people may not feel comfortable with having chemical residues in their home. It’s also important to remember that, for the treatment to be effective, you’ll need to carefully prepare your home so that the chemicals can reach targeted areas.

The Best Bed Bug Treatment

So, let’s circle back around to the important question: if you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation, what’s the best treatment to use?

Clearly, whether you opt for heat or chemical treatment will depend on all the factors we’ve looked at in this guide. Some people are drawn to the single-treatment convenience of heat, while others feel that the long-lasting protection of chemical treatment is worth the potential downsides of having residual chemicals in your home.

On balance, for the vast majority of our customers, we recommend heat treatment (our clients love this option because they don’t have to get rid of furniture because of bed bugs). It’s quick, it’s discreet, and it just seems to be the best way to counteract bed bugs’ natural sneakiness and resilience. From years of experience exterminating bed bugs, heat treatment wins every time. We consistently get calls from people who have had their homes chemically treated only for bed bugs to resurface again a few weeks or months later.

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And of course, if you do want a preventive treatment, it’s always possible to use chemicals to provide a barrier around the boundaries of your home while relying on heat to deal with your current infestation. This can offer the best of both worlds.

If you have any more questions, just talk to us! We’re experts in dealing with bed bug infestations, and we can help you choose the right treatment strategy for your unique situation.

Integrity Pest Solutions is the leading pest control company in Columbus, Ohio. Art, the owner of the company, has done over 12,000 heat treatment for bed bugs in one of the top states that bed bugs have overrun.

www.ohiogotbugs.com

Bedbugs (Itch, Itch, Scratch, Scratch)!

Resources

You’ve heard the horror stories. The unsuspecting tourist whose souvenir of his trip came in the form of small red welts up and down his leg. The mom from the playground who tells a trusted friend about her “problem” and how she had to toss out her daughter’s entire collection of American Girl dolls (she whispers, fearful the other moms will hear and forbid their children to play with hers). The young couple excited to close on their first apartment only to find out that their neighbors had an “infestation.”

These parasitic insects have emerged as a serious issue, not just in big cities like New York but in small towns across the country. What can be done about them? Are they really a problem or are we all just overreacting?

  • Louis N. Sorkin, American Museum of Natural History
  • Susan C. Jones, Ohio bedbug task force member
  • Michael F. Potter, professor of entomology
  • Bonnie Friedman, writer
  • Richard J. Pollack, public health entomologist

What They Look Like

Louis N. Sorkin, an entomologist and arachnologist, has worked at the American Museum of Natural History since 1978.

Extensive infestations of bedbugs in homes, especially city dwellings like apartments, condos and co-ops, can easily spread throughout an entire building, especially when infested apartments are treated in isolation. That’s why it’s crucial for people and government agencies to understand the issues and work together.

Bedbugs are adept hitchhikers and harbor on and in furniture and other objects. They also live within walls, floors and ceilings where pipes and wiring become their highways. Health care workers, home care personnel, cable TV installers, plumbers and electricians, to name a few, can easily and unknowingly provide easy access to crawling bugs or transfer bedbugs from one client to another. People living in infested homes can unwittingly infest their workplaces. Unfortunately, most people are misinformed about this bug’s basic characteristics.

For one, “bedbug” is a misleading name: the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, is not restricted to beds. The typical description — wingless, reddish brown, and up to quarter-inch long — is also inaccurate, and you’ll easily overlook infestations if you’re looking for insects that fit that bill. Immature bedbugs are much smaller and pale, though they’ll become plump, turn red and then darker after feasting on and digesting blood. Adults have vestigial wings.

The females lay tiny, pale eggs in crevices, and not just in furniture, box springs, and mattresses. Electric clocks, stereos, window encasements, curtains — the list for possible bedbug harborages goes on and on. Females produce hundreds of eggs during their lifetime, and they must feed on blood to stay fertile and reproduce. Tiny, pale nymphs — 1/32 inch or about as long as a credit card is thick — hatch from these eggs. In order to grow to adulthood, they go through five immature stages — each requiring at least one meal of blood.

Since many people confuse the bugs with other insects like cockroaches, and because bite reactions are sometimes misdiagnosed, infestations aren’t always reported. Others become used to living with bedbugs. Then there are people who are reluctant to report infestations because they incorrectly equate bedbug infestation with unclean conditions. But recognizing bedbugs is the first step in effective pest control — for you, and your neighbors.

The Public Health Threat

Susan C. Jones is an associate professor in the department of entomology at Ohio State University. She is the O.S.U. Extension state specialist on household and structural insect pests and serves on two bedbug task forces in Ohio.

An increase in bedbug infestations is not just a problem in New York City, it is an unfortunate phenomenon occurring all over the U.S. and the world. Many factors are involved in the increased incidence of bedbugs. A major factor is the public’s lack of knowledge about them and how these parasitic insects are spread and how they should be controlled.

People simply don’t take measures to protect themselves from these tiny hitchhikers, especially when they travel. People often do not recognize that they have bedbugs in their homes until an infestation is well entrenched, and the bugs become much more difficult to control.

Too many public health officials have failed to recognize or to address, in a timely manner, the significance of bedbugs as a public health threat.

A related factor is the unnecessary social stigma connected to bedbugs: They are NOT associated with filth or economic status. The failure to acknowledge and discuss bedbug problems furthers the spread of them. Indeed, it is unwise to place infested items on the curb as others often scavenge these items and spread the bedbugs to new households.

People typically don’t understand that bedbug control requires considerable effort, attention to detail and coordination by multiple parties including residents, pest management personnel and property managers. In multifamily dwellings, the practice of treating an infested unit in isolation rather than inspecting (and potentially treating) all interconnected units is a practice that allows bedbugs to spread quickly to adjacent units and is not cost-effective.

Bedbugs require multiple control tactics and there is no “magic bullet” — pesticides alone are not the solution. For example, reducing clutter is very important.

Bedbug control is expensive and time-consuming, and with the current recession, many people lack the financial resources to hire an experienced professional. Do-it-yourself insecticide sprays tend to work on contact and, therefore, seldom provide control of bedbugs since the insects hide in many inaccessible locations. Bedbugs also have developed resistance to many commonly available pesticides.

Unfortunately, many public health officials have failed to recognize or to address, in a timely manner, the significance of bedbugs as a public health threat. That’s a huge problem.

Educate and Eradicate

Michael F. Potter is a professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky, where he specializes in pests infesting buildings, people and property.

On the matter of bed bugs, history is repeating itself. Just as we saw in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, bedbugs are moving beyond urban centers and seaport towns into less populated areas.

It’s safe to say that probably every state has a bedbug problem. And as history has shown, we’re not talking only about infestations among the poor, we’re talking about the middle class and the wealthy. You’ll find bedbugs not just in hotels, but in apartment buildings, offices, summer camps, movie theaters, college dormitories, buses, even waiting rooms in major hospitals.

We need to encourage chemical companies to invest in research and development of new insecticides.

So what should we do? For starters, we need to improve public awareness. People don’t tend to think about bed bugs until they’ve been affected by them — even doctors have been known to misdiagnose the bites. People should inspect their beds (especially near the headboard area), not just at home, but wherever they sleep on vacation or at college. Don’t even think of picking up used items left on the curb. The public needs to put the prospect of bed bugs on their radar screen.

Landlords should inform tenants about the growing problem with bed bugs and also put up information sheets in their buildings. Preventive inspection by tenants and pest control firms would go a long way toward curbing the problem and isolating a possible infestation.

Second, public health departments and other government agencies need to take the problem seriously. Because bed bugs are not deemed disease transmitters like cockroaches, rodents or flies, they tend to be ignored in health budgets. This needs to change. While they might not carry disease, they are a huge emotional and economic nuisance and can lead to allergic reactions and infections.

And finally, we may need the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory groups to allow emergency use of certain older insecticides and, more important, we need to encourage chemical companies to invest in research and development of new insecticides. Almost everyone in the pest control industry will tell you that better insecticides are needed to effectively and economically combat the global resurgence of this pest, used in concert with other non-chemical approaches.

In the 1940s 50s and 6OS, DDT was responsible for the virtual eradication of bed bugs. I’m not advocating for DDT — research indicates that today’s bed bugs have developed a resistance to it anyway — but I do think chemical companies, if there were incentives, could develop affordable, 21st century versions to help win this battle. Otherwise, we are in for quite a ride.

The Emotional Toll

Bonnie Friedman is the author of “Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer’s Life” and “The Thief of Happiness.” She is a professor of creative writing at The University of North Texas.

When I lived in New York, bedbugs invaded my Brooklyn brownstone apartment and I became obsessed with them. Every crack in the plaster, every split in the ancient floorboards, every infinitesimal gap around light switches and radiator pipes became the object of anxiety. Insecticide and caulk never sated my suspicion that bedbugs were still lurking.

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“A little O.C.D. is good for beating the bedbugs,” advised the president of the extermination company.

Compulsive? The effective approach is to be compulsive? I can do that! For months, I sprayed, laundered, vacuumed, hauled to the curb — and lived on the verge of tears.

For months, I sprayed, laundered, vacuumed, hauled to the curb — and lived on the verge of tears.

To go to sleep knowing that bugs might emerge and bloat themselves on your blood or your partner’s blood during the night, to know from the online photos that the bugs release tiny revolting versions of themselves, to understand that you aren’t safe despite the Vaseline gobbed on the bedlegs, the special clothes you sleep in, coaxes you to the verge of a kind of madness. One feels kootified, horrified, nostalgic for the days of DDT, I’ll choose cancer over bedbugs is the crazed idea — and yet.

One day, given enough labor and money, it is over. You are one of the regular, normal people again. You feel oceans of wellbeing without ever feeling quite as you did before.

Now there is a new awareness — and avoidance of secondhand clothes, tag sales, the odiferous man on the subway scratching his ankle. Post affliction, you are with all itchy humanity, your awareness and compassion heightened. For better or worse you know, in the end, that the mind itself will never quite be free of bedbugs.

Don’t Panic

Richard J. Pollack, a public health entomologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, is the author of the educational resource on the biology and management of bedbugs.

Whether country manors or urban efficiencies, our homes are our castles, and few folks are willing to share their abodes with vermin of any kind. Despite this, bedbugs have become resurgent in communities throughout the nation, but they have not spread as quickly as misinformation and hysteria about these reviled pests.

Bedbugs may not be as prevalent as is generally perceived.

Bedbugs may not be as prevalent as is generally perceived. Every home is endowed with fairly innocuous insects, and these are often misconstrued to be bedbugs. The discovery of a bug on or near the bed doesn’t qualify it as a bedbug. The mere presence of bites or a “positive” response from a bug-sniffing dog may be suggestive, but these are far less useful in solving the mystery than is capturing and identifying the real culprit. Treating the home without such an objective basis is unjustified, wastes money and may constitute a gross misuse of insecticide.

Nary a day passes without tearful homeowners, tenants or building owners complaining they have, or believe they have, bedbugs. At best, the elimination of bedbugs may command a tidy sum and considerable time and effort in fighting them. At worst, reactions to their bites will cause a few people to seek care in the emergency room. For most, the reactions to the bites are mildly — or incredibly — irritating, and they may continue to offer insult long after the actual injury. Bedbugs are a medical problem for those who are affected, but the level of concern is generally far less than that of a serious illness.

Few people complain as much when a mosquito is singing in their ear, yet mosquitoes feed on blood, leave similarly itchy reminders behind and sometimes transmit agents of disease and death. On the bright side, bedbugs are not known to spread disease-causing microbes to people. In an odd twist of logic, many residents readily spread insecticides throughout their homes to battle bedbugs, but then eschew the use of similar products aimed to reduce a mosquito borne public health threat in the community.

Last, but not least, the finding of bedbugs stimulates the blame game. Tenants accuse the landlord or previous tenants, and landlords impugn the tenants. Only the bugs know for sure from whence they came, and it generally doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Rather than targeting the bugs, hostilities tend to escalate and lawyers are retained. Regardless of which side prevails in court, the lawyers profit from the proceedings, and the injured parties continue to suffer from the bugs.

In the challenge against bedbugs, emotion and fear tend to prevail over rationality and caution. Until new effective products and methods become available, the bedbugs will remain uninvited guests in many of our homes.

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Either Richard j Pollack has never had his home infested by bedbugs, or, i don’t want to visit his home

Is there no natural predator or parasite we could enlist? Can we raise spiders and mites to kill bedbugs?

I work with senior and disabled housing in Colorado. It is a big problem and only getting more entrenched. The worst is when persons think that they do not have bed bugs but indeed they do. The bugs then multiply rapidly and undisturbed.

Inmy poverty days on the Lower East Side of MAnhatten there were plenty of bedbugs. A simple rmedy which may not suit everyone ws to paint the seams of the matress with turpentine. Works like a charm.

oh my…
chemists – get at it…
politicos – use your weight on this issue.
media – shed the light.

people – clean your clutter and be open with your neighbors on any current issues..

and if you do have them, please don’t thrown out your stuff without notes…OR sleep over at your parent’s or any other place without taking exceptional caution that you are not carrying them to a new place….

Has anyone considered that the energy conservation push to wash household laundry in cold water is creating or exacerbating problems with dust mites, and possibly, bed bugs? It is all well and good to talk about reducing one’s carbon footprint, etc. by using cold water to launder our clothing and bed linens. However….

However, has anyone not beholden to the politically-correct crowd conducted a study in order to determine if the recent increases in asthma, as well as bedbugs, and other “dirt” scourges can be laid at the door of cold-water washing of bed linens?

Just wondering. Perhaps cause-and-effect is at work here.

mmm, bedbugs don’t carry other diseases… well, not yet anyway, but that could change!

One of my favorite stories I like to tell people camping out is the deadly carrier of Chagas Disease, carried by blood sucking insects. It still gives me the willies! It scares the others to death. This disease has been found in the US for the first time due to migration of carriers, people infected with it. If you’re an Indian it’s no big deal, just an enlarged nose, but whites and African Americans die horrible deaths.

Back to bedbugs. I was disappointed to hear several point to the chemical companies to develop an insecticide to treat bedbugs. This is a recipe for failure as the insects always get ahead of the curve and become more virulent. Biological control would be better.

An example of this phenomenon is the flea which seems to be developing a resistance to the topical treatments for pets. In Isla Vista, Ca. – adjacent to UCSB, fleas have been selected over the last three or four decades for resistance to insecticides like DDT and all that have come later. These micropredators have not only thrived but they have become huge, twice the size of the fleas I’ve seen on pets in other places and no, I’m not talking about sticktight fleas or ticks, but fleas the size of pinheads used to keep shirt’s collars in place before you buy them. And the topical flea treatments just remove their competition.

Look up Chagas disease. It’s really scary and the carriers in the wild are often wood rats so don’t camp near piles of sticks near woods and chaparral. Wood rats are cute and they probably don’t like the cone-nosed bugs either. It takes a big bite and leaves it’s poop right next to your mouth so when you wipe your mouth while sleeping, in go the Tryps! Trypanosoma cruzi, related to sleeping sickness. Sleep well, everybody!

The problem is over reacting environmentalists who have managed to ban just about every effective chemical against these sorts of bests because back in the 1950’s it was considered cool for kids to play in insecticide fog and a few of them got cancer.

There are whole classes of chemicals like DDT that are a major problem when sprayed by the ton on farm fields, but are perfectly safe if applied in small amounts inside buildings. The EPA needs to unbind the hands of pest control expects so they can bring out the big guns. The only reason things like malaria and beg bugs have passed out of cultural memory it because of the past successes of the chemical industry that was so casually discarded back in the 1970’s.

Please know that one can easily claim victory in their battle against bedbugs if you rely on a steam generator. They do not stand a chance against steam focused on their habitat. Please believe me..it becomes a non issue.

My advice:
1. Reduce clutter
2. Get a steam cleaner–use often and everywhere on surfaces that can tolerate the steam.
3. Do not retrieve items from the curb unless you’re willing to quarantine them (i.e., place outside in plastic in sunlight for > 1 week, steam clean them etc.).
4. Sleep in a tent in your home for 18 months to starve the bedbugs and to gain peace of mind. It’s tough going to sleep knowing bloodsuckers are literally after you.
5. If you’re itching because of the bites, use Brave Soldier’s First Defense which is a cleaning & healing antiseptic spray. Don’t scratch bites since that will leave marks on your skin. Wash with antiseptic soap until the bite marks disappear.
6. Be proactive with your health. Too many health professionals take the mental and physical aspects of this problem lightly. Multiple bed bug bites over time can cause/exacerbate anemia. Note that bed bugs can bite anywhere on your body–genital areas, eyelids, lips, etc. If you don’t want to sleep in a tent indoors, buy insect netting and make an envelope around your sleeping area. Sleeping bags are another alternative (make sure your head is covered with netting). Bed bugs will crawl on the ceiling to get to you.
7. You are not alone. Stay strong!

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This was news here in San Francisco over a year ago. The reporter of that story in the SF Chronicle said that laundromats were being besieged by people bringing in large amounts of bed linens to be dried. If I recall the story correctly, they weren’t washing the linens, (necessarily), they were drying the already dry linens in the hope that the heat would kill the bedbugs.

The article also stated the the bedbug epidemic was caused by a strain of bedbug that had developed resistance to common insecticides.

I related this story to an acquaintance and she continued to inquire of me for updates on the epidemic and whether a control had been discovered.

I had to tell her, “No”, and I believe that that is still the case. I also don’t know if bedbugs can survive the laundromat driers although I have read that raising the temperature of a flat or house to 120 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours will kill the buggers.

At a popular, national-chain, campground cabin, we were awakened in the night to bites. A search with flashlights and a bit of internet surfing on the cell phone confirmed – BED BUGS!

By morning we had our plan …
1. throw away the pillows
2. all linens and dirty clothes went into big zip-lock bags
3. suitcases that had come into the room were strapped outside the vehicle
4. enter the house one at a time, stripping clothes into the washer
5. run the heater on the car in the driveway in the 100 degree heat to cook anything left
6. vacuum, wipe, or wash everything before it came in the house (much of the stuff sat in the garage for another week in the Oklahoma heat)

We’re six weeks later, and just now getting a bit more comfortable that our plan really work.

What about using Geckos? When I was a young man I lived in Laos during the late 1960s and in West Africa. Most Westerners kept a pet gecko in their houses.

The geckos ate bedbugs (and just about any other insect they could reach). Their droppings were very small, dry, and not smelly – they could easily be removed by a dust pan and brush.

Maybe other pet lizards would do just as well as geckos.

From looking for effective yet safe bed bug killers online I’ve encountered a number of comments regarding *food-grade,* freshwater diatomaceous earth (DE), a white powder that mechanically kills most insects by scratching the waxy coating on their exoskeletons so that they dehydrate and die – it seems much better than chemical insecticides for not encouraging resistant bugs, and it’s supposedly safe for humans and animals to *eat* (often fed to animals for deworming, or horses to reduce flies in their dung), though it shouldn’t be breathed in excessively (but what dust should?), and it’s spread around plants to eliminate garden pests. (This is NOT, by the way, the swimming pool-variety DE, which is very toxic.) I haven’t tried it yet, but will for my just-discovered infestation. As an aside, I’m almost glad that I do get such a bad allergic skin reaction to their bites (think big blisters on red welts) to have alerted me to the problem before it got worse.

Now there’s an interesting article online about scientists using a combination of DE and chemicals that mimic the bed bug’s “alarm pheromones”, which make them more likely to walk through wherever the DE powder is spread, and therefore more likely to die. So it seems some scientists at least *are* paying attention. I appreciate the view of the study’s lead author: “We think that rather than pursue completely new pesticides, it’s better to use old pesticides in new ways.” Otherwise we end up using ever more toxic chemicals to fight bugs that develop ever-increasing resistance:

Ohio State University. “Scientists Use Bed Bugs’ Own Chemistry Against Them.” ScienceDaily 6 June 2009. 24 August 2009 //www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/06/090602133555.htm

I’m a former pest control guy and public health inspector in the Seattle area. I have expertise that you will not find so easily and here’s what I would do.
This is my own personal discovery and you will not get this information from anyone else no matter how expert. You can treat your whole house, furniture, everything for about 10 bucks. Use chinchilla dust bath. It’s made of diatomaceous earth and it kills anything with an exoskeleton, roaches, fleas, bedbugs, yellowjacks, you name it. You can buy it at a pet store. Sprinkle it or puff it with condiment squeeze bottle or something similar, work it in with a wisk broom, vacuum the excess and you’ve nailed them. Don’t hire an expensive pest control firm that will spray toxic chemicals.
My method is better, cheaper, safer and effective. Sprinkle some on your dog too and you’ll save money on your flea control problems too.I can hear you going “huh, chinchilla dust bath?” Yes, chinchilla dust bath.

I can testify to the psychological effects, even with a small infestation that was easily dealt with. I had and still have many other sources of stress in my life, and that may have been a factor, but once I realized that my bed was the place I was getting bitten, there was no power on earth that could make me sleep there. It’s especially frustrating that all you can do after a treatment or adding a barrier (sealing in a mattress, putting a bed on legs …) is to wait and see if you wake up with itchy welts again. And make no mistake. Reactions seem to vary, but mine itched for weeks, long after the visible marks were gone.

So anyone who tells a story of how wigged out they were — throwing away expensive furniture, breaking a lease, stripping down and sealing clothes in a plastic baggie before entering the new place — has understanding from my end. It doesn’t seem at all ridiculous when you’re suffering.

the article gives a start, does not help us to distinguish between ‘bed bugs’ and ‘harvest mites’ – a similar biting insect that we pickup while walking outdoors at this time of year. The bites seem to be identical or similar – I wonder wh/not the cirtters are the same or are similar. Advice welcome.
Thanks, Vic

Mr. Pollack obviously has never lived through an infestation, has never had to inspect and pack EVERYTHING in his home into plastic bags, live among these piles for months and months, endure repeated sprayings until gradually apartments around him finally also were treated. Add to that numerous trips to the laundromat, getting rid of mattresses and furniture, thousands of dollars in cost, and not inconsiderable pain and suffering because of the bites, loss of a social life, and fear of transmitting these creatures to family, friends and the workplace. Bedbugs cost me a year of my life, and I will live in fear of another infestation forever.

No one on the panel mentioned what to do to avoid bringing bedbugs home from staying in a hotel, going to the movies, etc. How do we prevent ourselves from becoming unknowing carriers?

quite an interesting article on bedbugs of which we have had an outbreak on our block even !

thanks for the story, however, it would be so much easier if instead of writing a bit on each story of bed bugs and the author, to complete each author before going to the next and having to start all over with each one.
I hope you understand how difficult it can be and distracting to click on continue and then come back to the main webpage to read another author. In any case I appreciate the story and now have to go back to each author to complete their story. Yes or no, would it be easier to complete each author here and go on with another after completing?

When my apartment in Silicon Valley became infested with bedbugs last summer, the apartment complex manager insisted that I brought the bedbugs into my apartment rather than the bedbugs traveling through a gap behind an electrical outlet that I later sealed. When the manager scheduled my apartment for fumigation, I noticed the work log had a lot of complaints for beetles. I wonder how many of those complaints were bedbugs instead. The problem went away after a month of fumigation.

P.S. I largely blame the hotel industry for not doing enough to avoid the spread of these pests. I didn’t think much of a couple of “mosquito bites” i contracted at a hotel in the Washington D.C. area, in hindsight the beginning of my problem. Since I have to travel frequently, I since then thoroughly inspect every hotel room, spray the outside of my lugggage with an enzyme spray which supposedly eats away at their coat and has them dry out subsequently, keep my luggage closed, and keep all of my belongings in zip lock bags of various sizes, vacuum bags with hangers included. When I see open hampers with used linens in hallways, vacuum cleaners standing idly in rooms, it becomes apparent how easy it is to spread bugs from room to room very quickly unless precautionary measure are taken.

These observations are good, but there are no concrete, practical recommendations: What, exactly, to be looking for in early stages of infestation; exactly what the remedies that a family can expect to endure when treating the problem; what chemicals and environmental-related treatment intusions to endure (natural treatments? Do they work?) JH

Hello,
Can Inflatable Mattress be a solution for this matter ?
thx

roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com

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