Why Killing Bed Bugs with Electric Bed Bug Heaters Is Always the Most Effective Method
The DDT Years
Although bed bugs have been documented in human history as early as 400 BC in ancient Greek texts there has been a recent resurgence of bed bugs that started about 20 years ago.
Along with the resurgence of these despicable insects there has been a mad dash to figure out how best to get rid of them.
Bed bugs were all but eliminated after the end of WWII with the effective and widespread use of DDT, but at considerable cost to environmental health.
Once DDT was banned from use due to environmental concerns in 1972 the pesticide industry was forced to become more creative and develop safer ways to combat all insects including bed bugs.
At first, the intial classes of EPA approved pesticides were very effective in killing bed bugs but then normal evolution took over. Bed bugs eventually developed resistance to the pesticides designed to kill them similar to the way human bacterium have developed resistance to the antibiotics designed to kill them
The outdated pesticides have now become annoyances to bed bugs, unless there is direct contact with the bed bugs which causes the bed bugs to scatter to avoid the pesticides. This causes the problem to be less localized, in maybe one bedroom or unit, and more widespread especially in multi-unit buildings.
The pesticide-resistant adult bed bugs pass their resistance on to their bed bug children via their DNA who would then pass it on to their offspring.
An arms race of sorts has ensued between the bed bugs and the pesticide manufacturers.
The pesticide companies continue to fail at developing new formulations that will kill bed bugs and the EPA has fallen behind in approving new classes of pesticides that kill bugs.
High profile bed bug infestations, including those that affect top athletes and other celebrities continue to be in the headlines resulting in specialized class-action law firms winning bigger and bigger awards and settlements from property owners.
Heat has been scientifically proven to be the best method for killing bed bugs quickly and safely.
There are other non-pesticide methods being developed like using genetically engineered poisonous spores from fungi that the bed bugs bring back to the bed bug cluster which poison them. Although the results have been promising this is not the quickest, surest way to kill bed bugs quickly and in one treatment session when time is money.
Another important factor to consider when deciding the best way to kill bed bugs is the growing trend for younger families who resist spraying chemicals into their living environments.
Seniors are also pushing back as they develop chemical sensitivities and allergies with age. Caregivers are more often requesting non-chemical solutions now than in the past.
The trust that the government will protect one against consumer dangers like harmful pesticides has been eroded when compared to older generations who grew up with RAID commercials on TV and cartoon cockroaches being blown up on the screen. The movement towards eliminating toxic chemicals of all types from our daily lives is real and heat is a non-toxic as you can get.
Alternatives to Pesticides
Steam, freezing, vacuuming and trapping are all great ways to kill bed bugs on the surface of things when you can see them crawling around.
The problem with these visual methods are that bed bugs are expert at staying hidden and laying their eggs out of site. It is proven to be virtually impossible for anyone with a steam or freezing wand to kill all bed bugs and their unhatched eggs in drawers of clothes, tightly packed closets and any living space where clutter is an issue.
Bed bugs cannot develop a resistance to heat the way they have developed a resistance to pesticides.
Heat kills bed bugs every time they are exposed to it, no ifs ands or buts.
The trick lies in making sure to expose bed bugs to a high enough temperature for a long enough period of time.
Entomologists the world over all agree that adult bed bugs will die when exposed to 114°F for at least 20 minutes. The hotter the temperature, the quicker they perish.
To kill bed bug eggs requires slightly higher temperatures for longer periods of time because they tend to be located in more protected, insulated areas like mattresses, bedding, clutter or other fabrics. Heat will penetrate these items unlike pesticides which can only be sprayed on the surface.
Bed bugs prefer the room temperature to be warm. That is why they tend to take up residence in anything that is plugged into an electrical outlet. They will choose to live in TVs, stereos, video gaming devices as well as electrical outlets and light switches themselves.
Once the temperature gets too hot for them bed bugs will try to crawl away from the heat to a cooler place.
The best way to kill bed bugs inside the items in which they are hiding is to quickly introduce heat while simultaneously moving the hot air around them using high volume recirculation fans.
Because the bed bugs are surrounded by the hot, swirling air they have no way of determining where the heat it is coming from and therefore cannot run away from it.
Bear in mind that bed bug heating equipment is engineered to achieve temperatures much higher than the maximum 80° F temperatures of heaters sold to keep people warm.
The recirculation fans used in bed bug heat remediation are outfitted with high temperature electronic components allowing them to function in temperatures up to 180F. Normal fans including carpet drying fans will overheat and fail in the higher temperatures required to kill bed bugs. Using non-heat-rated fans is also not advisable when performing heat treatments to kill bed bugs.
In addition to a heater and recirculation fan, a third component is a wireless temperature monitoring system which is very helpful but not an absolute requirement when killing bed bugs with heat.
A separate temperature monitoring system allows you to view a readout of the temperatures inside the treatment area while you are comfortably outside the treatment area. This is the best way to check for and avoid “cold spots”.
Bed bugs can sense cold spots and will go to them to survive. It is critical to create the most even temperature profile possible in the area being treated. For optimal results the temperature from one sensor to the next should stay within 10 degrees of one another.
If a sensor is more than 10 degrees different from other sensors you will need to make adjustments in the form of: repositioning a fan or the heater, moving some furniture or all of the above. This is a critical piece of the puzzle to achieve success and is the primary reason it is best to use separate recirculation fans which can redirect the hot air for optimal results.
Plastic, budget heaters have built-in fans and are unable to direct the hot air to where it needs to go as effectively as a separate, external recirculation fan. Also, extension ducts can be attached to separate recirculation fans which can direct hot air into hard to reach places like crawl spaces, deep closets or drop-down ceilings.
One last thing worth mentioning if you kill bed bugs for a living is this. Do you want to be able to maintain and repair your electric bed bug heaters yourself or be reliant on the company that sold them to you to do so? If time is money and you answered the former then be sure to purchase equipment that uses open source parts available anywhere (i.e. Amazon, Grainger.) from a company that can easily walk you through simple parts replacement.
To discuss any of these ideas in more detail please feel free to call us at 970-221-1036. We will do our darnedest to help you assess your situation and make intelligent suggestions based on what you tell us.