Types of Bed Bug Treatments
You have bed bugs and you call three different companies and they all have different types of bed bugs treatments. How are you supposed to know what works or does not work? Some companies want to heat your house, others want to freeze the bugs, and then others just want to spray some chemicals. Then you have to decide what type of prep you want to do. There are no prep, low prep, and even cleaning your house for days requirements. Hopefully, this will break down the basics of the treatments available for bed bugs and allow you to choose the treatment best for you.
Thermal Heat Treatment
Thermal heat treatments must heat the home to at least 117° to kill the live bugs and eggs. The ambient air temperature could reach higher than that. This treatment uses either electric, diesel, or propane heaters along with powerful fans to create high temperatures in your home. The heat is energized by powerful fans that circulate the heat and blend it throughout the rooms. Much like a convection oven would do.
The treatment is effective but as a stand-alone procedure is not always 100%. It takes time for the target temps to be reached and the bed bugs start to move to find “cold zones” in the house. These could be under a baseboard, in a wall, or a lot of other places.
Bed Bug exterminators can beat these resilient bed bugs by applying chemical products during the treatment.
Thermal heat is the always best choice for higher-level infestations. Bed bug heat treatments are the quickest and most efficient way to kill any level of bed bug infestation. This type of treatment is usually a low prep treatment. Most of the prep work is protecting items in the home that can be damaged by the high heat.
Using chemicals by themselves will most likely not achieve 100% elimination of the bed bugs. Research has shown that chemical applications can kill bed bugs but it can take a long time for that to happen. Bed bugs can also build a resistance to a pesticide and pass that on to future generations. If that happens then the infestation will never die from the chemicals but rather old age.
A chemical approach is usually the cheapest option of all of the treatments and could require many visits over 2 – 3 months. This is also usually a high prep treatment. You may be asked to bag all of your clothes, strip your beds, move everything from under the bed, empty the closets, and it goes on. Your prepping of the house makes the company spend less time there and speeds up the service.
Freezing Bed Bugs
A system called Cryonite exists where instead of heat a company freezes the bed bugs and their eggs to death. This system is safe and does not leave any chemical residue behind. Cryonite will not harm items such as electronics, books, and other sensitive items.
While this system does work there are a few drawbacks. The freezing does not penetrate through heavy fabrics. That means that the treatment may not be able to get to the bed bugs or their eggs. This type of treatment is not widely offered by bed bug professionals.
Steam used as Heat
As with freezing, steam can kill bed bugs and eggs on contact. Special steamers with attachments are used. The clothes steamer you have at home will not accomplish the same effect. Steam can also penetrate folds of fabric and other cracks and crevices. Steam can be a labor-intensive process for the company if the home is heavily infested and has lots of furniture. Steam also leaves no residual effect behind, so the treatment is only as good as the technician performing it. Steam as a stand-alone could be a low to medium prep for you as a client. It depends on what the company plans to steam.
Steam does not require as much time from the company as a thermal heat treatment and is usually less prep.
Combination Bed Bug Treatment
A combination of techniques to kill bed bugs combines different parts of stand-alone treatments to create a very effective solution. Each company can have its own version of this treatment and at 120 Pest we offer 2 basic versions using steam or thermal heat.
Heat is the cornerstone of all of 120 PEST’s treatments and is delivered either by directed steam or thermal heat. The heat either kills the bug or makes them more susceptible to the targeted chemical placements. The bed bugs are also excluded by using mattress encasements if thermal heat is not used. Thermal heat takes away the need for encasements because the mattress and box springs are heated to the target temperatures. Steam is not able to get the mattress to the target temperature. An encasement installed after steaming the mattress or box spring could also cause mildew or mold issues. We remove live and dead bed bugs during the treatment. Each bug removed is one less that must be killed by the other measures. Monitors are then installed to ensure that if any bugs survived, they are caught, disposed of, and by reading the monitor you can help to find out where it came from. This is a no-prep to low-prep procedure. No prep means that all you need to do is clean up and vacuum before the treatment date.