Pest Management Professional Discusses Bed Bug Treatment Options

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STATE — “Pest management professionals are using a variety of methods to deal with bed bug infestations these days,” says Leonard Douglen, Executive Director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association. “It’s a significant challenge because they are so small and there are millions, if not billions, of them in just the Tri-State area.”

In general most people are unaware they have a bed bug infestation until they are bitten. “By then, the bug has already established himself in a home, apartment, dormitory, or any of the many other places they now show up.” The good news is that they do not transmit disease, but the bad news is that they are spreading everywhere.


The biology of bed bugs is largely unknown to the public, but Douglen notes that, under favorable conditions, a newly emerged adult female will feed and mate, beginning to start laying eggs within three to six days. Under the right conditions, she lays approximately five to seven eggs per week. Throughout her lifetime of six to eighteen months if she is able to feed regularly, she may lay from 200 to 500 eggs.

The eggs usually hatch within seven to ten days at room temperature as the nymph becomes an adult and the cycle repeats and repeats and repeats.

“Now multiply that one female bed bug by millions,” says Douglen “and you get an idea of what the public and pest control professionals are up against. They are the ultimate hitchhikers, moving around by almost every way imaginable as humans and their pets go about their normal activities.”

“Because bed bugs like to cluster together in narrow cracks and crevices, in mattresses, box springs, and other furniture, finding them can be 90% of the job of eliminating them,” says Douglen. “It must be said, however, there is always the stray, single bed bug or more that goes undetected.”

“There are a number of EPA-registered insecticides available to pest management professionals,” says Douglen and one of the preferred treatments in an insecticidal dust that leaves a residue that will kill the existing population that come in contact with it as well as newly hatching ones. “It may, however, take several re-treats to achieve a complete elimination of bed bugs because they can inhabit virtually any place in a structure.”

Other control measures include liquid sprays, usually around carpet edges, baseboards, and wall/floor intersections. Pressurized aerosols are another way pest management technicians can get the residual insecticides into cracks, crevices, and other openings where bed bugs hide.

There is a very long list of treatment sites whether either bed bugs have been found or are suspected to be hiding. Any part of a bed where a victim has been bitten is subject to treatment.

Non-chemical options include vacuuming to remove accessible bed bugs, but that is complicated by the fact that they cling tightly to rough surfaces such as fabrics and even bare wood. The process has to be intensive to achieve the best results.

Thermal treatments where dry heat is applied are useful because bed bugs are susceptible to it; exposing them to heat, depending on the temperature involved, can kill bed bugs within from one hour to a day. Some areas and items can be treated with steam, but that includes potential harm to various surfaces.

Like heat, cold has the same effect on bed bugs. A relatively news spot treatment called “Cronite” uses pressurized CO2 that is deposited as “snow” that kills bed bugs on contact and flushes out others that can be eliminated via vacuuming or insecticide treatments.

“Those who have experienced bed bug infestations should understand that it is necessity for re-treats in order to ensure that the entire population has been exterminated. However, this does not guarantee that bed bugs will not be reintroduced as the result of contact with them in other structures, as the result of travel, or just a student returning from college” says Douglen.

“It is an extremely vexing pest problem and one that is likely to be around for some time to come until new insecticides are introduced to overcome the resistance that bed bugs have developed.”

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