bed bug heat treatment

Does Bed Bug Heat Treatment Work?

Greenville is among the top areas on a list most affected by bed bugs in America. Now that’s something to consider especially if you live here or any of the surrounding areas. Bed bugs can cause so much anxiety and stress, especially when you experience a bed bug infestation in your home or you bring them in from somewhere you have been that has bed bugs. The reality being, that you only need to be in an area with an infestation for an hour before the threat of carrying that infestation can happen. This is especially prevalent in the travel industry.

In this article, we are going to deal with two types of treatment and why one is more favorable than another.

Myth Busting — Are you unclean if you have Bed Bugs?

Time to bust the biggest myth of all when it comes to bed bugs. Most people believe that if you have a bed bug infestation, that you are unclean and keep an unclean home. It does not mean that you are unclean if you have an infestation of bed bugs. They can very easily be introduced to your environment without your knowledge. You may see some signs lurking in your mattresses, encasement and sheets or perhaps in your furniture. They are small insects that prefer human blood and will try to nest close to the host to feed when the host is available. They will lay eggs in clothing and that is one of the easiest methods of transporting from area to area.

This insect, which is an arthropod is so small, around the size of an apple seed and difficult to spot. They are easily transmitted from place to place — often without your knowledge. You could even carry them in by innocuous means.

As a pest, they are not the easiest to get rid of, and certainly do it yourself bed bug solutions often do not work. They have in the past become rather resilient to pesticides. One way of exterminating bed bugs is heat treatment. However, and this is huge, does heat treatment really work to exterminate bed bugs? Yes and No! You will see that some major flaws exist and why treating with modern pesticides is often much better.

Bed Bugs In A Nutshell

does bed bug heat treatment work?
These bugs are tiny

As we mentioned above; Bed Bugs are so small and flat and about the size of an apple seed. Their shape, which is incredibly horizontal to any surface, allows them to get into the smallest of crevices that you would not consider possible.

bed bugs
The Clypeus Is What We Worry About

The part of the anatomy that we are most concerned about is the ‘Clypeus’ which is part of the head. It is the aspect of the bed bug that’s much like a beak shaped type extrusion that is used to pierce the skin. The proboscis, which is hidden is then released and used to feed on the blood host, and that's usually a preference for human blood. Its abdomen is twice as wide as the thorax and it is because of this that it looks quite segmented from above. It is this type of design that makes it so unique in being able to access the tiniest of spaces.

Bed bugs lay about 3 – 5 eggs at a time and can lay hundreds of eggs during a lifetime. They can live on floors, windows, ceilings, beds, couches, and even walls. As shocking as it may seem, bed bugs have even been spotted coming out of cell phone cases, though this has caused much controversy in the past. Many people have their phones next to them at night, especially when traveling or in Hotels. If the opportunity is there, and they can get into your phone, they will. Bed Bugs remain active on any surface and have an impressive resilience to varied conditions. As mentioned previously; they feed on human blood and will bite any host they can get access to, normally for you and me, its when we sleep, hence the term ‘Bed Bug’. Usually, the bites are not painful at first but may result in blotches and itching, and that can be mentally exhausting, causing sleepless nights and anxiety.

Carrying In Bed Bugs

does bed bug heat treatment work
Close up cimex hemipterus on corrugated recycle paper

Bed Bugs can travel to different places easier than you think. They often go unnoticed and hide in the smallest of crevices during the day. Their behavior is very much on the opportunistic side. They will take any opportunity to get into something and will hide there until there is a need to feed, or they will hide in a place near where a host lives or sleeps. They are especially prevalent in hotels. This is due to the transient nature of people coming and going and bringing in pests with them without knowledge in clothes and baggage. They are also prevalent in condos, apartments and sometimes single family homes, or even public spaces. They can spread and leave bed bug eggs in your bookshelves, clothes, and stuffed toys at home, and they will replicate relatively easy.

The Bed Bug Cell Phone Argument

There is a great debate raging on whether they can infest phones. In fact Cell phone Bed Bug phenomena is very much a controversial subject and the topic of much debate between experts and pest control operators. They have been known to get into electronic devices and though often denied, it was reported widely in a news article about bed bugs getting into phones in hotels. This is one easy way of transferring one infestation to a new place.

Think about it, as mentioned previously. If you have your phone near you at night as most people do, you give opportunity to bed bugs if you have a pest infestation or one that is beginning. If they can get in, they will.

Even though this debate still rages on, there’s enough evidence that suggests that bed bugs do in fact get into electronic devices and can obviously survive in those conditions.

Bed Bug Life Cycle

The average lifecycle of a bed bug from egg to adult is about a week to hatch, and more precisely, 35-40 days to reach adult hood. The female can lay up to 500 eggs during her lifetime.

bed bug heat treatment destroys the bed bug life cycle
Bed Bug Life Cycle

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to control and this is in part due to their ability to build up resistance to bed bug treatments, especially DIY products that are pyrethrin based for home pest control. Let’s look at the treatments and each of the pro’s and con’s.

Effects of heat treatment vs chemical treatment

There’s so much debate about this type of treatment, and though it is suggested this is the best way to eradicate bed bugs — it comes with some caveats. Bed bug heat treatment is considered the safest solution, but it does come with pro’s and cons unlike a chemical treatment that has residual effects on bed bugs that may have been missed.

Pioneer of Heat Treatment

David Hammond developed the bed bug heat technology used in conventional treatment. According to him, any cell or organism disintegrates when placed in temperatures that are around 45 Celsius. There are some things to consider when looking toward this type of treatment.

“You can kill the bugs immediately when you expose them to bed bug heat.”

A bed bug heat treatment can effectively kill pests during a single session, especially when the infestation is severe. It is beneficial for pest control, but only if applied correctly. However, and here is the biggest issue. This type of treatment relies on the operator, and as we know, the operator can make mistakes and also miss areas that may be infested. If the operator misses any infested areas, then you have a problem that will not go away and will continue to become worse as the life cycle continues and eggs continue to hatch. Though it is often suggested that it is healthier, it does not always work due to operator error. Let’s not forget, that bed bugs can run away from heat too, especially if there is a mode of escape.

The Pro’s For Heat treatment and The Cons for Chemical Treatment

Unlike chemical treatment, using heat treatment doesn’t emit harsh chemicals and is considered more environment friendly. However, as we mentioned this is down to the operator, and as we know, that is a one time hit or miss.

The Pro’s For Chemical Bed Bug Treatment

This is very simple. Most Bed Bug chemical treatments are not as harsh as claimed and the major benefit is the residual chemical that is left behind and continues to eradicate the problem well after the operator has gone. This of course is superior to heat whereby it is one time hit and extermination of bed bugs that can be missed. We prefer the chemical treatment of bed bug infestations to ensure the infestation is eradicated properly. One other con of heat treatment is the possibility of damage to furniture and objects by the intense heat generated.

How does a pest control company apply bed bug treatment?

There are two main ways that treatment can be applied as we mentioned before.

  1. Bed Bug Heat Treatment
  2. Bed Bug Chemical Treatment

Heat Treatment: A pest control specialist uses electric heaters that are set to 135 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 57 °C). The high temperature dries up bed bugs, and you’ll see residue after the treatment. Nevertheless, this will not always work, no matter what is claimed due to error from the operators.

One of the other significant draw-backs of heat treatment – not only has to contend with operator error. You have to think about the time it takes to treat with heat, which can often be a whole day with no guarantees that all bed bugs are gone. This is very costly and is often out of the reach of many people’s pockets. It is very difficult to bear that cost with the amount of work it takes. The argument being that Chemical treatment often is not as good. As you will see, this is not the case in the modern day.

Chemical Treatment: Chemical treatment is often preferred, not only due to the cost associated with the bed bug extermination, but also because of the long-lasting residual effect to ensure the bed bugs are eradicated long after the heat has dissipated or the areas of infestation missed. Now, back in the day, the chemicals used were a class of products called ‘Pyrethroids,’ and those used were often not as good, making the treatment of bed bugs difficult and actually one of the most difficult pests to eradicate. Bed Bugs developed a strong resistance to this Pyrethroid based treatment. So more research was needed.

Bed Bug Research

Times change, and so does research and science. The dangers associated with chemical treatment are no longer as prevalent or worrisome in the modern day. Pen State university announced in 2017 the emergence of a new type of bio treatment that is being developed to eradicate bed bugs during the life cycle. This type of pesticide is now finding its way into the market.

Other research institutes — BASF in particular, have success with pesticides that also treat termites. This research is ongoing but has some favorable results thus far. Bed bugs can run from heat and it is difficult to spot treat depending on the level of infestation and how heavy that infestation is, and in what areas of the home or multifamily dwelling it is found. Nevertheless, the fact that bed bugs will always develop a resistance; the research shows that Chemical treatment will always have the residual kill zone and as research moves forward in modern times, more effective ways of using a combination of applications and bio applications will become more effective than heat treatment, and will be far cost effective long term with less application needed.

Preparing For Bed Bug Treatment

You will have to be out of your home or dwelling whilst bed bug treatment is being applied and your pest control professional will educate you on what to do and what to expect. Here's some top tips to prepare for your bed bug treatment.

  • All furniture needs to be moved away from the walls
  • Launder Everything you can and place the laundered items in air sealed bags
  • Strip your bed, and that means removing mattress and bed box. You could actually disassemble the bed itself
  • Remove items from cupboards and wardrobes
  • Remove pictures and mirrors from the walls
  • Empty your nightstands and place items in a sealed bag.
  • Remove books and place in boxes in the middle of the floor
  • Vacuum floors, carpets and rugs.
  • All pets to be removed from home and to keep out a minimum of 4 hours after any treatment.
  • Items that cannot be Laundered should be dry-cleaned or discarded.


There is no clear winner here, but from the research that is being developed shows more promise that leads toward a more proactive chemical based treatment for quick and effective eradication of Bed Bugs

Set an appointment for pest management with Scouts Pest Control to make your home free from bed bugs using safe chemical treatment. We are committed professionals who exterminate all the pests from your home to make you sleep comfortably at night. Any questions? Call us today to select your treatment option.

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