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Bed Bugs Can’t Beat the Heat

It’s clear that bed bugs are still a big problem. For the last two years, we’ve received several calls a week about this home invader, and the calls just keep on coming. This blog post will revisit some points from our post in January to help explain how bed bugs spread, why they take over so quickly and why heat treatment is – hands-down – the best way to get rid of them.

Why is bed bug heat treatment better?

This remedy is increasingly in demand because it’s a one-shot, single-day treatment that does not involve chemicals.  And because heat penetrates the treatment area, it’s less prep work and fuss for the homeowner or business before pest control professionals arrive. We have invested in heat treatment because it is truly the best way to eradicate these pests from your home or business. Instead of spraying chemicals only on accessible areas, our system accesses EVERY inch of an infested structure. With our system, portable electric heaters, powerful air mover fans and an electric temperature sensor system bring the heat level to 120 to 130 degrees. At 120 degrees, all stages of bed bugs will be dead in about 13 minutes. We install temperature probes in strategic areas and then regulate and gauge the temperatures until every area has been treated at the right temperature for the right amount of time. The alternative to heat is to use chemical treatment methods. Multiple surfaces have to be sprayed with chemicals to kill bed bugs.  It’s necessary for the property owner to do some pre-and-post tasks in the treatment area (such as remove food and other items so that the chemical does not contaminate, and wipe down some surfaces once the treatment is completed).  Chemical treatments typically involve four separate chemical treatments within a 30-day period.

Why are bed bugs so hard to treat?

Bed bugs are efficient colonizers. Because bed bugs are only about the size of an apple seed, they maximize their chance of survival by hiding out in unexpected places: electrical outlets, the underside of carpets, inside electronics and so many other hard-to-reach areas of a home or business. You could even have bed bugs stored away in unused clothing and waiting for a chance to feed for up to 18 months!

What are bed bugs, anyway?

Many people think that bed bugs can’t be seen by the human eye; but that’s not the case at all.  They’re actually about the size of an apple seed.  Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, and are mostly active at night.  Although they can be found in sneaky places all over a home or business, they mostly like to hide in crevices close to where people sleep. When their victims are at rest, bed bugs will come out of hiding.  First, they inject a saliva secretion that contains an anesthetic and blood thinner so you don’t feel them bite.  Next, they engorge themselves with blood from people or pets for up to ten minutes. And finally, the bed bug will retreat to reproduce and molt.  A single female bed bug can produce up to 50 adults in one 30-day cycle!

Where do bed bugs come from?

The bed bug problem is definitely worse as you get nearer to the East Coast, but the bugs are literally hitchhiking their way to mid-Missouri.  They make their way on luggage, furniture, clothing and even people.  Bed bugs have been found in homes, hotels, apartments, healthcare facilities, dorms, schools, busses and other public places – it’s easy to see why stopping the spread is so tricky!

Yuck!  Let’s talk prevention.

One of the most disturbing things is that it’s just so hard to keep them out of your home once they’ve hitched a ride in.  Homeowners and businesses can practice a few key preventative measures to keep an invasion at bay:

  • Don’t take used or curbside items. Bed bugs can live for up to 18 months without feeding, so it’s best not to take a chance on items that could be infected.
  • Treat with heat before you know. Smaller items you’re unsure of introducing into the home (clothing, toys, backpacks, shoes, etc.) can be placed in the clothes dryer on a medium-high setting for 20 minutes.  The heat will likely kill all stages of bed bug that may be hiding out.
  • Inspect hotel bedding. Take just a few minutes to survey key spots on bedding when you’re staying away from home.  Check for dark spotting or staining, eggs and eggshells, and for the bugs themselves.  Prime locations for bed bugs to hide out are mattress seams and tags, as well as ledges or creases around headboard areas.
  • Take care when you return home. To be safe after traveling, wash and dry (in the dryer on medium-high setting) all clothing when you get back from a trip.  Be sure to seal up luggage tightly in a trash bag and leave stored in a garage or basement.

The good news is that when bed bugs become a problem, there is a one-day treatment that will kill them. No matter where they hide out or what stage of development, a professional heat treatment system will get the job done.

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