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Kill Bed Bugs with Heat

Feb 20, 2012

Before we start our discussion of how to kill bed bugs with heat, let’s first take some time to discuss this highly resilient human parasite.  Bed bugs generally size between 4 and 5mm in length and less than 3mm in diameter, they are oval shaped with a reddish brown colour, and they can survive in a wide range of temperatures making them  common worldwide.  For the most part, bed bugs had been all but eradicated in the industrialized world, but populations have steadily increased since the mid-1990s.  While the cause of this resurgence is not completely understood, most experts cite the cause as a combination of factors including more frequent international travel, a lack of focus on controlling bed bug populations, and increasing resistance to pesticides.

Regardless of why bed bugs are increasingly prevalent in developed countries, it is important to destroy bed bug infestations in your home.  Bed bugs are associated with a number of health consequences.  Not only are bed bugs annoying, they can cause skin rashes, allergies, and even psychological effects.  Unfortunately, killing bed bugs is traditionally a very difficult endeavour.  They can inhabit your bedding, carpets, draperies, and upholstery.  While management typically involves the use of pesticides such as pyrethroids, dichlorvos, and malathion, there are non-pesticide options as well.  Nevertheless, few treatments are completely effective the first time, especially in the case of widespread infestation.

Recently, professional pest control providers have increasingly chosen to kill bed bugs with heat.  Given steam treatment for the appropriate length of time, you can kill bed bugs at all stages of life with heat.  Adults and nymphs can be killed when exposed to temperatures above 113 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 15 minutes.  However, eggs must be heated for at least 60 minutes at the same temperature to be killed.  In order to eradicate a bed bug infestation, you must kill all the adults, nymphs, and eggs in your home. 

While there is professional equipment that helps thoroughly treat your home of bed bugs, you can try some simple tricks to kill them yourself.  For example, using a steam iron, you can thoroughly heat mattresses and bed sheets.  Similarly, washing clothes, bedding, and towels on the hottest water cycle and then tumble drying at a high temperature for a minimum of 60 minutes may kill your bed bugs. 

Steam cleaners are also a particularly effective and safe method of killing bed bugs.  Steam on furniture, carpets, mattresses, and draperies can help to eliminate bed bug infestations.  Nevertheless, bed bugs have always been very difficult to eradicate.  If you have tried these methods and you are still having problems with bed bugs, it is time to call in a professional.  A combination of heat and pesticide treatment may be necessary, and professionals have better supplies and more experience when it comes to destroying a bed bug infestation.


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