In many metropolitan cities around the country, the battle of the bed bugs continues. And with it, countless companies offer their products and techniques for bed bug extermination. The market is full of traditional exterminating techniques, some of them more successful than others. But in recent years, a new approach has emerged, sometimes described as “unusual” but very effective. In fact, the Toronto Star newspaper once described it as “death by heat”.
The traditional pesticide approach has been losing effectiveness for many years now, making bed bug infestations more difficult to wipe out. Beyond that, many consumers are reluctant to have dangerous chemicals and insecticides sprayed around their living quarters. So when the professionals discovered that heat kills bed bugs (as well as their eggs), this new methodology began to gain popularity. Today, it’s probably the best way to get rid of bed bugs.
Without getting overly technical, bed bugs start getting agitated at about 110ºF (43ºC). They begin to come out of their hiding places, and are well on their way to “death by heat”. The whole idea is to pump hot air (at a very high temperature) throughout a living space, making sure that all of the rooms are covered. With special heaters and special fans, the premises are transformed into a giant oven. And it’s in this oven environment that the bed bugs expire.
When temperatures reach about 43ºC, adult bugs are exterminated in less than a half hour. In the span of an hour, the eggs are also exterminated. The unique feature of bed bugs heat treatment is that it reaches every little crack and crevice in the premises. It leaves no hiding place secure, and it means that there is no conventional hiding place leftover for the bed bugs. The extreme heat reaches behind the walls, under the floors and in between every nook and cranny.
Entomologists know that bed bugs have a so-called “thermal death point” – that’s the maximum tolerance point for temperatures. Clearly, this also applies to bed bugs, hence the adage “death by heat”. The good news for occupants is that there is little preparation required, prior to the heat treatment. This is quite different from pesticides and chemicals, which require a lot of pre-preparation and additional precautions, especially with children and the elderly.
Heat treatment has proven itself to be safe. But it requires the appropriate equipment and the expertise to operate that equipment. It’s therefore not a weekend project for the do-it-yourself enthusiast. Like anything, it’s a job for the professionals – those with the kind of knowledge and experience that only comes from handling many treatments. Needless to say, the safety and security of the premises and the occupants is paramount.
Nothing is ever perfect, although heat treatment is known to be one of the most effective when it comes to exterminating bed bugs. It’s very convenient for residents and occupants, as nothing much has to be sealed, moved or removed. More importantly, most infestations can be resolved with a single treatment.