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Example of bedbugs in mattress

When Bed Bug Treatments Fail

When Treatments Fail

I was recently struck by the fact that a person was having a hard time getting rid of bed bugs.  When looking around the living area it became apparent to me that although this person thought they had de-cluttered and segregated everything well in fact they had not.   The inhabitant had placed everything in boxes but the boxes were not sealed well and provided excellent hiding places (small cracks).  In addition, every room was full of boxes.

So here are some things to remember:

  • Never use a bug spray (pesticide) indoors that is meant for outdoor use. It is very dangerous and won’t solve your bed bug problem.
  • Using the incorrect bug spray or using it incorrectly to treat bed bugs can make you sick, may not solve the problem, and could even cause the bed bugs to hide where the pesticide won’t reach them.
  • Make sure the product is effective against bedbugs again a simple de-fogger isn’t going to cut it – if bed bug isn’t listed on the product label, the pesticide has not been tested on a bed bug and it may not be effective. Don’t use a product or allow a pest control operator to treat your home unless bed bugs are named on the product label.
  • Before using any pesticide product, READ THE LABEL FIRST, then follow the directions for use.
  • Do your homework, any bug spray without an EPA registration number has not been reviewed by EPA, so we haven’t determined how well the product works.  I recently saw an ad on TV for bed bug be gone. Spray once in the room and bed bugs go away.  I thought it was a joke at first but it wasn’t.

The goal is to eliminate bed bugs, therefore the job has to be done right. Bed bugs are so small that they can live in very tinny cracks. Using pesticides as part of a control strategy must be done properly for the treatment to work. When a pesticide treatment does not completely control the bed bugs, there may be many reasons for this failure, including:

  • You didn’t find all the bed bugs
  • You didn’t adequately prepare area (failure to remove clutter, seal cracks and crevices, etc.)
  • You didn’t treat enough of your home to get all the bugs.
  • You didn’t treat adjacent areas where bed bugs may have moved to (adjacent rooms or nearby apartments in multi-dwelling housing).
  • You only used a de-fogger and thought that would do it.  (applying pesticides at too low a rate may not kill bugs and may speed up development of resistance to that chemical)
  • You didn’t stay on the ball, remember it’s a war not a battle.  (many pesticides will not kill eggs, so treatment must be repeated after the eggs hatch or the infestation will not be controlled)
  • You didn’t wait long enough.  (some pesticides, such as desiccators or growth regulators, may be very effective but take some time to kill the population)
  • Bed bugs’ becoming resistant to a specific type of pesticide (as insects, such as bed bugs, are exposed to a pesticide over time, the most susceptible ones are killed first, and only the less susceptible ones are left to breed, so that relative effectiveness of the pesticide rapidly diminishes).

It is important to stay on top of the situation by constantly checking  surveillance and monitoring efforts, to hire trained, experienced, and reputable pest management professionals, and to use a complete approach.  You may wish to choose different types of pesticides  for sequential treatments or you may wish to use pesticide materials that insects have not yet been reported to become resistant to, such as diatomaceous earth, in combination with other control techniques.

Does the cold kill bed bugs?

Does the cold kill bed bugs?

The short answer is “yes”, but really it’s not an effective method depending on the situation.  It has to stay below freezing for a week.  Let us set the stage, in the dead of winter, in a storage unit that isn’t heated, it gets below and stays below freezing sure it might work.  However, the conditions have to be perfect.  Solar loading during the day can heat it up again above freezing.  Trying to maintain the perfect conditions are almost impossible and the freezing method via mother nature takes a long time.  Not just an hour, but a week.  The colder the better and the quicker they die but it still takes time.  If you live in the north and there’s a hard cold snap (this means its super cold, well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, for 24 hours a day for a week) it could work.  Now let’s set expectations, People who live in the South consider a hard freeze around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or at least my weatherman does, which is not the same as what a Northerner considers a hard freeze.  Turning your heat off in your home and letting your pipes burst is not a viable option.  So don’t do it.  Some companies do use super cold generators to freeze the bed bugs but as I have written previously every single bug and egg needs to be touched to kill it when using super cooling generators or chemicals.  Using cold is doable if you can take the infested items outside and leave them to freeze and can avoid solar loading.  However, it’s not a whole home remedy unless an exterminator comes with special equipment.  See additional posts for other options.

Bring the Heat to kill Bed Bugs

Bring the Heat!  Using heat to kill bed bugs or heat remediation is very effective and environmentally safe for your family, you and everyone one else in your household.  Heat is the Achilles heal to these little buggers.  Now everything depends on your situation but if you are not interested in using chemicals and want to be sure you get them all, heat if used properly, is very effective, efficient and safe.  Bed bugs have not developed a resistance to heat like other bugs.  Why should they, they live with us humans and we don’t like it too hot either.  Humans are not the only ones that have AC appreciation.  I have in previous posts discussed how heat kills bed bugs.  The kill zone is between 120 degrees for adult bed bugs and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for eggs for 20 to 60 minutes, respectively.  The bottom line is that you will have to heat at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes to kill all the eggs which require more time and heat to die. Just killing the adults won’t cut it if the second generation is waiting in the folds of your mattress to come out and ruin your day.  If you have a professional do this it’s recommended that you get several free estimates and references. When deciding on a method review all your options and compare and contrast what works best for you and your budget.  Read the other posts to help you make your decision.

Bed Bug Pesticide Control a.k.a. poison

There are countless methods, chemicals and gimmicks on the market to kill bed bugs.  According to the EPA there are approximately 300 plus registered products under the bed bug chemical treatment category.   Of course, what the effectiveness is something that needs to be considered.  Is it a 10 to 10 ratio or a 1 in every 10 kill ratio.  How exactly does the product need to be applied?  Here come the conditions.  Under perfect circumstances the kill ratio is probably much higher and effective.  Isn’t there always a catch?

When using chemicals of any kind consider that the instructions should be followed to the letter.  Never use outdoor chemicals indoors.  Consider sensitive groups within your home, such as young children and older adults.  People with certain health conditions can be very sensitive to any chemicals.   Although many consumer products exist this might be one area where you should consult a professional.  A single fogger will have very little impact on a bed bug infestation.  It will bother you more than the bed bugs.  Bed bugs are constantly adapting to the new chemicals.  There anthem is “we will over come”.  They are resilient and want to stay with us.  They are very hard to get rid of.  If you choose to use chemicals the steps outlined in the home article should be followed.  If you think “spray and forget” will work you will be very upset to find new bites on you in the morning.  Getting rid of bed bugs by yourself is a job all by itself.  If you know your on the lazy side, just admit it up front and call a professional.  If you are a solid dedicated worker then maybe you can do it.  The choice is yours.

If you choose to accept this mission, the EPA has a site dedicated to product research.  Bed Bug Product Search Tool.  It will not-self destruct in 10 seconds and neither will the bed bugs.