What’s With the Heat? The Benefits of Thermal Treatment for Bed Bugs

Chances are, this whole thing is new to you. We never had to deal with Bed Bugs growing up. Some of our parents never had to deal with them either. The closest we got was the whole “Goodnight, Sleep tight, and Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!”

A lot has changed since then. A lot. What was once just a saying is now very real for many people and businesses. Bed Bugs are here to stay and our tools to fight them are futile at best. Until recently.

Recently, our industry has adopted some technology borrowed from the water restoration industry known as Structural Pasteurization. Structural Pasteurization involves heating a house or structure to a specified temperature for a specified time for any number of reasons such as killing mold or drying. The pest control industry has taken that same idea and adapted it to take advantage of the one universal weakness that all Bed Bugs and their eggs share: They just can’t take the heat. Period. All Bed Bugs and their eggs will die at approximately 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Sounds easy enough, right? In theory and on paper, it is quite simple; raise the temperature to at least the lethal zone then just like waving a magic wand, no more Bugs or eggs! It’s not quite that simple, and in fact there is quite a bit more that goes into it like large, finely calibrated equipment and machines, and not to mention the specialized training that each technician must go through so we don’t burn your house down.

The point I want to make is simple: Thermal Treatment for Bed Bugs is far superior to traditional methods. In the past, we would treat using a combination of chemicals (none of which I would want my children sleeping or sitting on and most of which the Bed Bugs have built a very high tolerance to), steam bed frames and mattresses, have the customer wash and dry clothing on high heat. Then after maybe our second or third visit, we would cross our fingers and HOPE we have been successful and eliminated each and every bug. Often times during this process if you didn’t want your mattress or couches doused in chemicals, we would recommend you discard and replace affected furniture or, at the very least have you invest in a good mattress encasement. These methods were all we had at our disposal, and with some diligence we could produce a 60% success rate on average after several visits and after you have paid us for those visits and replaced the bad furniture.

Heat Treatments changed the effectiveness and efficiency of eliminating Bed Bugs. It’s really quite interesting. We take advantage of the Bug’s natural curiosity. Once the area or room reaches about 100 degrees, the Bugs are drawn towards the heat. Our body temperature is at that same level – about 100 degrees. The Bugs get very excited presumably because they know that around 100 degrees, its feeding time. They think a host must be nearby. The Bed Bugs are running around hypersensitive to their warm surroundings. What they don’t know however, the temperature is gradually rising and rising. Another thing they don’t know – they don’t know that their demise is just minutes away. Soon, the temperature is at or above 113 degrees or otherwise known as “the lethal stage”. Our job doesn’t stop there. Bed Bugs find all kinds of places to lay their eggs. Usually well protected areas away from the action. With the aid of high velocity air movers, we are continuing to raise the room temperature to +/- 140 degrees and driving the heat into everything such as into the walls, floors, beds, furniture, and every void in the treated area. Sooner or later, there is absolutely no where left to hide and the lethal temperature will “soak” into everything.

Simply put, even if we had a “super chemical” that had no risk of building resistance, we would never be able to get the chemical into all the places that we can get heat. By the time you replace furnishings that are infested, put up with several chemical treatments over a period of weeks, and at the end of all that, you have a 40% failure rate just to start the process all over again.

So what’s with the heat? The answer is EVERYTHING when it comes to your home and belongings with an infestation of Bed Bugs. Plus a good night’s sleep!