The following FAQ was written entirely by Sean, a Pest Control Operator and entomologist in Vancouver, and is posted with his permission. Check out his Bed Bug Resource [site no longer active, link removed]. Thanks Sean!
If anyone wants to add to this topic, click comments, and let us know what you know!
Advice on getting treatment to eliminate bed bugs, from a Pest Control Operator
I can not stress enough how important it is to do a bed bug treatment correctly right from the onset. The slighest misstep can literally make a solvable problem a nightmare.
All too often you get do it yourselfers that think they can do the job just as well as a licenced technician can. This is simply not the case 95% + of the time.
As I have said many times … leave this one to the pros.
The trick is for the general public to decipher who the pros are in their area. I will not lie to you, there are good companies and bad companies. There are also good companies with some bad individuals.
Two things to watch out for; underpricing and overpricing. Ask them what the job breaks down to on an hourly basis per technician that they are sending (some companies use two techs per job). This puts all companies on equal footing for comparison.
Underpricing means you will get what you pay for; poor service and inexperience.
Overpricing means that the company likely does not want to do bed bug jobs. They price so high that they are looking to discourage people from hiring them. They just plain can’t or do not want to do bed bug work.
Look for a company with middle of the road pricing. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have received complaints recently. Ask the company to provide references from clients that have been satisfied with their bed bug work. Many companies will have letters of praise on hand.
Some other things to look for;
1) Do they offer a guarantee?
2) If so, what does it entail?
Keep in mind that many companies will NOT offer guarantees to hotels or multiunit dwellings because the chance of reinfestation is too great. If you live in an apartment ask what their guarantee is for a freestanding home. This will give you an idea of how confident they are about their work.
3) Do they have liability insurance?
4) If yes, how much does it cover?
If no … walk away.
5) Do they have dedicated bed bug technicians?
Many companies are now forming bed bug task forces if you will. These companies will likely have more experience.
6) How long do they expect the treatment to last?
A thorough bed bug treatment (inspection plus application) is going to take a minimum of two hours (based on a normal hotel sized room).
7) How many treatments does the price include? (Editor’s note: in order to have some confidence that they will eliminate bed bugs in your home, it should usually include at least two treatments, spaced about two weeks apart).
8) Ask the company how many treatments it will take to eliminate bed bugs in the home.
If they say one … walk away.
If they say two-three they are being honest.
If they say several (3+) they likely are not doing the job right.
The last thing is that people need to realize that they are going to need to be bait for the treatment to be most successful. They essentially need to carry on their routine of sleeping in the bed, etc. This will maximize the chance of the bed bugs coming in contact with the pesticides.
Entomologist / Pest Professional
This is what one PCO posted on the forums in this thread, in answer to the question of what traditional treatments entail:
This is what you should look for (as a person knowledgable in the topic):
1. They don’t rely solely on pesticides. Non-chemicals measures are a plus and they should use bed encasements or at least recommend them, vacuums and hopefully steam. Current research is showing tolerance and resistance to a lot of pesticides we have available so relying on them may be a mistake.
2. Some sort of crack and crevice treatment, and hopefully a dust, is an absolute must, these bugs hide in cracks and crevices and if you’re not getting to them you’re not addressing the problem.
3. Follow-up treatments. Having done lots and lots of jobs I almost never eliminate bed bugs in one treatment and depending on the conditions (infestation level, clutter, construction, etc…) is will take 3 or 4 typically, maybe more.
4. They address most if not the whole structure. If they just do the bedroom that has the known problem, or the bedrooms or just the couch it’s a mistake. These bugs distribute throughout the structure and you can’t limit yourself to one area. The treatment should encompass the entire structure.
I could probably go on and on but these are the big ones. The rest is a personal decision.
Editor’s note from Nobugsonme: Readers, feel free to add a comment below which tells us what PCO you used (and your location), and the kind of service you got. Be sure to tell us what you know about the treatment used, how many times they came back, and how long your problem has been solved (or going on, as the case may be.) Obviously, we are not responsible for the mini-reviews below. Anyone is welcome to comment. Please be honest and fair, and don’t recommend yourself!