Killing Bed Bugs With Bed Bug Heaters

Science Wins Again - The Best Way to Kill Bed Bugs is with a Bed Bug Heater

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 resurgence of bed bugs that started about 20 years ago.

Along with the increase of these despicable insects there has been a mad dash to figure out how best to kill bed bugs.

Killing bed bugs with DDT all but eliminated them after the end of WWII. This ‘scorched earth’ approach of course came at a considerable cost to environmental and human health.

Once DDT was banned from use due to environmental degradation in 1972 the pesticide industry was forced to become more creative and develop safer ways to control all harmful insects including bed bugs.

At first, the initial versions of EPA approved pesticides were very effective in killing bed bugs but then, as always,  evolutionary forces 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The outdated and ineffective pesticides have now become mere annoyances to bed bugs, unless there is direct contact to the bed bugs. Because bed bugs are masters at hiding it is virtually impossible to spray the chemicals directly on to all of them. The bed bugs will scatter to avoid the pesticides. This causes the problem to spread out and become more widespread, especially in multi-unit buildings like hotels and apartment complexes.

The pesticide-resistant adult bed bugs pass their resistance on to their bed bug children via their DNA who then pass it on to their offspring. It is extremely difficult to completely kill bed bugs with chemicals anymore.

An arms race of sorts has ensued between the bed bugs naturally evolving physiology and the manufacturers of pesticides.

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 bed bugs while not harming humans.

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 larger and larger monetary awards and settlements from property owners.

Bed bug heaters have been scientifically proven to be the absolute, #1, most effective and 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 the other bed bugs in their community cluster. 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 and your company reputation is on the line.

Another important factor to consider when deciding the best way to kill bed bugs is the growing trend for younger generations to push back against spraying chemicals into their living environments. The trust that the government will protect one against consumer dangers like harmful pesticides has been eroded compared to previous generations who grew up with RAID commercials on TV and cartoon cockroaches being blown up on the screen.

Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides

Steam, freezing, vacuuming and trapping bed bugs are all great ways to kill bed bugs on the surface of things when you can see them crawling around.

The weakness with these visual bed bug killing methods are that bed bugs are very good at staying hidden and laying their eggs out of sight. It has been proven to be virtually impossible for anyone using a steam or freezing wand to kill all bed bugs and their unhatched, hidden eggs in drawers of clothes, tightly packed closets and any living space where clutter is an issue.

Penetrating Heat Using Bed Bug Heaters

Bed bugs cannot develop a resistance to heat the way they develop resistance to chemical pesticides.

Heat from bed bug heaters kills bed bugs every time they are exposed to it no ifs ands or buts.

The trick of course is making sure to expose bed bugs to a high enough temperature for a long enough period of time.

Those who study insects and are considered experts are called entomologists. Entomologists all over the world agree that adult bed bugs will die when exposed to 114°F for at least 20 minutes. The hotter the temperature, the quicker the bed bugs will die.

To kill eggs laid by bed bugs requires heat treatment with 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 treatment will penetrate cloth or fabric covered items like mattresses, sofas and clothing in drawers and closets unlike chemical pesticides which can only be sprayed on the surface.

Combining a bed bug heater and fans for heat treatment to kill bed bugs in a home is not unlike using a convection oven (which uses heat and moving hot air) to cook food.

Using a whole-room bed bug heater and fans to cook personal items like furniture, clothing, picture frames, drapes, carpeting and electronics so those items internal temperature gets up to 120°F is an absolute, 100% effective method for killing bed bugs when done properly.

Bed bugs prefer a room temperature that is warmer than humans do. That is why they tend to hang out 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. Anywhere electrical current is flowing and creating some warmth is a good place to find bed bugs hunkering down while waiting to feed on you in your bed.

When using bed bug heaters, once the temperature gets too hot for them bed bugs will crawl away from the heat to a different, cooler location to survive - if they can figure out where that cooler location is!

The best way to kill bed bugs inside the items in which they are hiding is to quickly introduce heat while simultaneously swirling the hot air around them using high volume, high temperature 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.

Keep in mind that bed bug heaters are engineered to be used in very hot environments compared to where people live. They require special, heat-rated electronic components that can withstand temperatures much higher than the 80° F maximum temperatures of heaters that are sold to keep people warm.

The recirculation fans used in bed bug heat remediation for killing bed bugs 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 not advisable when performing heat treatments to kill bed bugs.

In addition to a heater and recirculation fan, a third component to efficiently killing bed bugs is a wireless temperature monitoring system.  Although helpful it is not an absolute requirement when killing bed bugs with heat. Many people use a handheld infrared temperature “gun” to spot check temperatures. Be sure to invest in a good one as cheaper models are not accurate enough to ensure a successful bed bug heat treatment that kills all the bed bugs.

A separate temperature monitoring system with multiple wireless sensors 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” where bed bugs might hide and survive to torture you another day.

Without the circulating hot air 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 be within 10 degrees of one another.

If a sensor is more than 10 degrees different from other sensors you will need to make adjustments like: repositioning a fan, the heater, the furniture or all of the above.  This is a critical piece of the puzzle to achieve success and 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 fan which can be positioned independently. Also, extension ducts can be attached to separate fans which can direct hot air into hard to reach places like crawl spaces, deep closets or drop-down ceilings.

Covid-19 Virus Dies at 158F

As of 20MAY2020 studies at both the National Institutes of Health and Stanford Medicine have determined the Covid-19 virus will die when exposed to temperatures in excess of 158F.  See studies here: NIH study, Stanford Medicine study. CBS News video

Numerous PestPro Thermal System's lodging customers are now reprogramming our bed bug heater's thermostats to achieve the 158F required to decontaminate both hard (non-porous) surfaces and soft (porous) items like beds and other fabric covered items where penetrating heat is the only viable option for sanitizing everything in a hotel room to make it safe for new guests.

Since plastic, budget bed bug heaters will not achieve the temperatures required to kill the virus our customers are thankful they made the right decision to purchase our commercial bed bug heaters when they did. 

For meaningful answers to your intelligent questions please feel free to give us a call at 970-221-1036.