In America, no other household insect in recent times has been more difficult to keep up with than bed bugs, a blood sucking menace that seems to be advancing across the globe at will. It also seems just as hard to keep up with all of the different methods, chemicals, machines and high tech devices there are to deal with them. Peruse any pest control magazine or go to any trade show and you might think you’re in the ‘bar scene’ of the original blockbuster movie Star Wars. We have freeze guns, special vision wear, UV flashlights, c02 traps, bed bug sniffing dogs of all breeds, heat machines, new & improved chemicals and even specialty monitor traps where the bug can’t climb the slick surface or gets caught in a well thought out pattern of sticky glue dots. But in the end with all our high tech gadgets bed bug work still looks like a hurricane went through the home and the home owner is left to clean up the mess.
Search & Destroy Has Been The Mainstay
Along with the many tools and products, there seems to be just as many methods to employ them but most require the entire dismantling of a room or home in a “search & destroy” fashion so as not to leave even one live bed bug behind. This approach makes so much sense because one live bed bug can and will in all likelihood get back to the same numbers if not more when missed. And since most devices or methods need to make direct contact on the insect to kill it–there is really no way to avoid this major disruption of the home.
Although somewhat anecdotal, I get many e-mails on my Ask The Bug Doctor feature asking why bed bug work has to be so invasive and is there any other way of doing it? I suspect many consumers across the board feel this way and will soon be demanding different approaches. It’s one thing to hand over a check for $1500.00 and have your home treated and then spit shined & polished but quite another to watch it all get turned upside down and discombobulated. Sure most companies try to put things back they way they found it but nothings gonna be the same once you’ve stripped beds down to their nub, overturned couches and furnishings, emptied closets, removed all pictures and even pulled back wall to wall carpets. This is a huge disruption to the home and it can sometimes take weeks for the owners to tuck it all back in nice and neat.
Is There A Better Way?
I’ll say one thing about the bed bug sniffing dogs and other similar devices. They do cut down on this need for dismantling somewhat but bed bugs still need to be exposed for the contact kill. The University of Florida has come up with a partial answer in that they devised a way to build ‘mini heat vaults‘ around dorm room furniture using large Styrofoam insulation boards. Setting electric heat registers and fans up at the entry allows them to control the temp for the right amount of time to assure a complete kill of everything inside the vault. The key words- everything inside the vault and again it still means a major disruption. Another method of note is to use the same heat and fan approach but instead of a vault, Nuvan pest strips are hung in front of fan and heater. This cuts way back on dismantling but the room must be vacated and not re-entered in some cases for days. The vapors permeate the contents of the room killing any and all bed bugs. The link for specific details and the ‘how to of killing bed bugs with these strips is currently down & I’m thinking it is only temporary- it could be this method is no longer recommended by Nuvan so please do your due diligence.’ When you look at these two quasi answers to the dilemma of disruption you can see the wheels of invention are turning. I’m sure there is more out there I’ve not heard of or ideas and ways companies use to help keep this problem to a low roar. I’d love to have you comment below if you have anything worthwhile we can all learn from. Bed bugs are a relatively new bug in town in terms of proportions, population and approach. However here in Ocala Florida, we’re known for horses and roaches as big as horses but not quite yet on the map bed bug wise so your participation would be appreciated.
The 100% Cure Is It Worth The Cost?
Having said all this there is a 100% way to treat the entire home and moving very very little. Vikane is a fumigation product that for eons has only been associated with termites or other WDO’s. For a long time here in Florida there was hardly a week that went by where I didn’t see a home or structure ‘wrapped’ and your first thought was always, “they must have had drywood termites.” Slowly, the way of the tent has given way to more localized and targeted means. Would you be surprised to know however that Vikane is labeled for more than just WDO’s? and guess what is prominently displayed on the first section- You’re right! Bed Bugs!
Now tenting is not without it’s challenges and there are things inside that need to be removed because they react to the gas– a pet fish or bird comes to mind. I’ve done both bed bug and tent work and both are somewhat labor intensive. Tenting however requires far less on the homeowner and your home doesn’t look like it was just burglarized and ransacked. Add to this that the fumigation gets to every tiny crack or crevice and will kill any and all bed bugs no matter where they’re hiding is a big plus. No worrisome thoughts of what if they didn’t get them all. Maybe the biggest factor is that from most of the information I’ve seen, both tenting for bed bugs and non tent bed bug jobs are pretty close in price. It’s not that tent work is cheap mind you- it’s just that bed bug work is very high. I’ve seen prices of $3000 for whole house treatments using any number of the methods described earlier in this article. Tenting, at least in Florida where it has been a staple service for years isn’t even that much for termite control on most regular sized homes. I just sold a tent job of 33,000 cubic feet (two story) for drywood termites for under $1500. That same house for bed bugs might easily cost double at the going rates around town. (350 per room) The beauty of fumigation for bed bugs is that once that tent goes on, everything still in the house dies and when it’s taken off you have zero population with much less disturbance.
So, just a thought on bed bug work and an alternative that is being done to some degree already but I’m simply asking why not more? What say you?