For most people, the sheer mention of bed bugs has their skin itching and their face cringing. It might surprise you, then, to learn that 20% of people in the US have either had bed bugs in their homes or know someone who has.
The idea of small bugs crawling around in your beds and belongings is cringe-worthy and gross. It’s exaggerated to another level when you imagine the bed bugs using you as their food source.
If you react like most people, the thought of bed bugs in your home has you in near hysterics, ready to do whatever it takes to make them disappear.
A bed bug heat treatment is the most effective method for eliminating bed bugs. Wondering how heat gets rid of the unwanted pests and what it entails? Read on to learn more about a bed bug infestation and how to eliminate it.
Bed Bugs, By the Numbers
With such a high percentage of homes that have experienced bed bugs, it’s not surprising that exterminators across the US are reporting a rise in their occurrence in homes.
While bed bugs are in all states and locations, if you’re traveling to Philadelphia, you want to check carefully for the pests. Philadelphia has the highest infestation rate of any city in the country.
The state of Ohio has the highest rate by state. More generally speaking, the Southeast has about 30% of all infestations across the US.
If you don’t live in any of those places, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to have concerns. In fact, 97% of pest control experts have had calls to treat bed bugs in the previous year.
The biggest issue once you have them is how quickly they can multiply. A female bed bug can lay 500 eggs during her entire life span.
Since they survive on human blood, they feed for between three and ten minutes at a time—more on clues that you’ve been bitten a little later.
Identifying Bed Bugs
The only good news related to bed bugs is that they often leave behind clues that they are present. The more quickly you notice and act on bed bugs being present, the less cumbersome it will be to eliminate them.
Bed bugs are tiny reddish bugs you already know to eat human blood. They often leave behind reddish or rusty look stains on furniture or bed linens.
Bed bug excrement can also get noticed with the naked eye. It would appear to be the tiniest dot of dark red that might bleed on fabric, much like a marker dot.
If you have a heavy infestation, you’re likely to see bed bugs if you go look where they hide. Bed bugs might hide in:
- Creases of a mattress
- Seams of chairs or other fabric furniture
- Between cushions
- In between folds of fabric, like curtains
- Under wall hangings or wallpaper that’s loose
For reference, a bed bug is about the width of the edge of a credit card. If you can slide a credit card into a spot, a bed bug could hide there.
Bed Bug Bites
Since bed bugs feed on human blood, you may notice you have bites. Many humans have an allergic-like reaction to bed bug bites.
A person who has bed bug bites might notice clumps of bite marks, often three to five bites together. The bite effects often appear as a zig-zag pattern on the skin.
It’s not uncommon, especially at first, to confuse a bed bug bite with another bug bite like a mosquito. If they persist, you need to start to look for bed bug infestation clues.
Checking for Bed Bugs
While there are several clues you might look for yourself with bed bugs, if you’re concerned you have an infection, you might want to seek a professional bed bug inspection.
Before you can address treating the bed bugs, you need to know if they really exist and to what extent of an infestation you have. This is when you want to call the professionals to inspect your home or business.
Bed Bug Treatment
When a pest control company gets a call about bed bugs, it usually involves a little hysteria and desperation to make them go immediately.
Unfortunately, treatment for bed bugs is complex because it’s hard to kill them. Most people are desperate to try anything possible to get rid of them quickly.
In the long run, trying home remedies for eliminating bed bugs may not make sense. They are rarely effective and sometimes can cause a bigger problem.
There’s some evidence that attempting to treat bed bugs with chemicals makes them more resistant. The best method for getting rid of them is a heat treatment which must be done by a professional.
What Is a Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs?
Pest control specialists will suggest treating bed bugs with heat treatment. This type of treatment uses high temperatures to administer heat throughout an infested area to destroy the bed bugs and their eggs.
The most effective treatment for eliminating a bed bug infestation is high heat. Specialized equipment gets used to raise the temperature very high within a space to destroy bed bugs.
The heat treatment method doesn’t use chemicals; instead, it uses extreme heat. It takes some preparation for this type of treatment, yet, it has proven to be the most effective method for getting rid of bed bugs.
What Not to Do When You Spot Signs of Bed Bugs
For many people, their instinct is to get rid of stuff as quickly as possible. They might even start moving things around to unearth the bugs.
Some people will run to their local home improvement store looking for over-the-counter chemicals to treat the bugs.
Often chemical treatments, especially non-professional ones, are ineffective. In fact, it often makes bed bugs more resistant.
You also want to be cautious about moving things. You don’t want to run the risk of actually spreading the bugs.
What to Expect With Heat Treatment
As you prepare for heat treatment, there are a few things to know.
First, it’s important to tell your pest control specialist if you’ve used any chemicals for treatment. You want to try to remove all chemicals and chemical residue before the heat treatment.
You will need to be out of your home for approximately 12 hours. During that time, the pest control company will raise the temperature in the treatment area from 120 degrees to 140 degrees.
While this temperature is high enough to eliminate the bed bugs, it isn’t dangerous to most of your belongings. You’ll want to remove a few things that might be at risk. More on this shortly.
Prepping for Heat Treatment
There are some things you’ll need to do to prepare for the heat treatment. There are also some things the pest control company will come in and do as they prepare the heat treatment. Let’s take a closer look.
Prepare Your Beds
A common place for bed bugs to be is in the beds. So, you and your pest control company will pay close attention to this area.
First, if you have air mattresses or water beds, they will need to be deflated or emptied.
You want to move beds several feet away from the walls, so there is room for the heat to circulate around your bed. You also want to remove anything from under the bed.
Your pest control company will likely remove the linens from the bed. You also don’t want to remove any plastic that encloses a mattress or box spring.
Another place bed bugs like to hide is in layers of clothing. You want to avoid the risk of recontamination. If you’ve removed any clothing from the space, that clothing will need to be treated before reentering the treated area.
Any clothing still in the space can remain. If it’s in dresser drawers, the clothes can stay there. However, the drawers will need to be removed from the dresser itself. You want to spread it out so the heat can penetrate it.
Ask for clarification with your pest control expert, but some clothing can be washed and dried on high heat for 30 minutes for treatment. It then needs to be sealed in air-tight containers to prevent re-infestation.
Luggage is sometimes the culprit for bed bugs entering the home. Even if it isn’t the mechanism used for the bed bugs to enter the space, it’s a good place for them to hide.
Make sure your pest control company has access to all luggage; it’s emptied and opened up for heat treatment.
You want to eliminate as much clutter as possible before treatment. Yet, you want to be careful about removing things from the space and infecting other areas or preventing the complete elimination of bed bugs.
Before your treatment, talk to your pest control company about what needs to be moved, opened up, or removed from the space.
What’s in Your Home Can’t Tolerate the Heat
Some things in your home can’t tolerate the extreme heat. You’ll want to remove or protect these things before your heat treatment. Some examples of items to protect include:
- Firearms and ammunition
- All flammable chemicals
- Vinyl records
- Computer software
- Vinyl window blinds
- Wine and other alcohol
- Fresh fruit and vegetables not in the refrigerator
- Medication and vitamins
Let’s take a look at a few other things to look out for before your heat treatment.
Use of Large Air Blowers
As part of the heat treatment, the pest control company will likely use large air blowers to help circulate the heat. These blow a powerful blast of air that can knock pictures off walls.
Look around for loose items or stacks of papers that must be secured before the air blowers are going.
Pets and Plants
All live plants, pets, and humans must be removed from the treatment area on the day of treatment. The high heat would harm live plants and animals.
If you have an aquarium, it should also be removed if possible.
You might be surprised that computers, flat-screen televisions, and remote controls are familiar hiding places for bed bugs. They need to stay in the treatment area.
If the electronics are unplugged, they should be fine in high heat. If possible, remove any batteries. If you’re concerned about the temperatures, check with manufacturers about their heat threshold.
Sentimental Personal Items
As you prepare for your heat treatment, there are some things you’ll likely want to remove. These might include:
- Painting and other artwork
- Antique furniture
- Musical instruments, although cases should be treated
- Personal items, including jewelry, heirlooms, and credit cards
Before removing any items, you should have your pest control company inspect them so that you don’t reinfest your home when they return.
The Day of Heat Treatment
You must be out of the home for at least 12 hours during the treatment. Your pest control company may ask you to turn your furnace to a high temp to help with the heat. Be sure to turn off your AC.
You should choose one set of clothing during the treatment and leave everything else behind.
Make sure you remove all trash from the home before the treatment.
During Heat Treatment
During the heat treatment, the pest control will come in with their equipment. They will place large blowers that will get placed throughout to make sure the heat circulates.
Once the property reaches 122 degrees, it must stay there for at least three hours. The pest control company will continue monitoring to ensure the heat is circulating and all areas maintain at least that temperature.
Cabinets and drawers will remain open during the heat treatment. The pest control specialist will move items around to ensure adequate heating circulating for treatment.
After Heat Treatment
After the heat treatment, it will take some time to get the temperature back down. You can open windows to help cool down.
You’ll want to carefully vacuum around to remove dead bed bugs, casings, or egg groupings.
Be prepared that many things will have moved during treatment, or fans will have moved them. Any movement was to ensure all high heat levels were consistent in all areas.
Getting a Bed Bug Heat Treatment
Realizing you have a bed bug infestation can be scary and overwhelming. Knowing you can get a bed bug heat treatment to eliminate them can help.
If you’re concerned you have bed bugs, it’s time to call in the professionals for an inspection and heat treatment. Contact us today to set up an inspection and treatment options.
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