Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood. They thrive in areas with an adequate supply of hosts such as mattresses, baseboards, carpets and cracks.
Eradicating bed bugs can be difficult if they are not detected and treated early. Heat and chemical treatments are the two main methods used to eradicate bed bugs. The following is the difference between heat and chemical treatments.
Chemical treatments involve the application of pesticides to infested areas. Among the most commonly used pesticides include lambda-cyhalothrin, bifenthrin, imidalcloprid, carbaryl, fipronil, diazinon, premethrin, spinosyn chlorfenapyr and DDT.
Effective eradication of bed bugs through chemical treatments requires two to three visits though a small percentage of companies are able to do this in one visit. The chemicals are normally applied on infested areas to kill the insects. Bed bugs have however developed resistance rendering some of the chemicals like DDT and chlorfenapyr less effective.
Applications of chemical treatments need to be handled with care since the bed bugs can migrate to the neighbourhoods causing them to spread and re-infest treated areas later. Cracks may pose a challenge to effective chemical treatments since the chemicals may never get to reach all the insects.
Spraying of mattresses, may not be desirable since it can cause allergic reactions and pose health risks like cancer to the user. Sufficient ventilation is necessary and sprayed mattresses should be left unused for a sufficient amount of time to avoid these health risks.
Heat treatments involve the application of sufficient heat to the infested areas to kill the insects. This can be done using steam, clothes dryers, hotboxes or building heat treatment.
Steam treatments involve the application of steam at 65 to 75 degrees Celsius for a sufficient amount of time. This may be tedious and time-consuming. Effective treatment requires thorough steaming of the mattresses, pillows, bed frames, box springs, bed covers, curtains, carpets and any other infested materials.
The clothes dryers’ heat treatment method involves washing the infested clothing and blankets in hot water and then placing them in a dryer at high temperatures for at least twenty minutes. This may be effective in eradicating bed bugs from these fabrics but they may be re-infested if the bed frames and mattresses have not been treated.
Hot boxes are devices providing a sustained amount of heat that kills bed bugs together with larvae and eggs. These devices are rented by pest control companies at a nominal charge.
Building heat treatment on the other hand involves raising the room temperatures above the killing temperatures for these insects. This is normally done by professionals and can be applied in the entire building or certain parts of the building. This is regarded as the most effective treatment method because it can eradicate bed bugs in a single application.
Deciding on the best method to use will therefore depend on the nature of the premises to be treated and the availability of resources. Heat treatment is effective but involves more work, money and time depending on the nature and type of building. Chemical treatments may be less effective but more visits can be done. Chemical residue treatment around the suite prevents re-infestation which is not possible to do with the heat treatments. Integrated pest management may therefore prove useful in eradicating bed bugs and preventing re-infestation. It involves using a combination of mechanical, chemical, vacuum as well as steam treatment.