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Does microwaving kills bugs and eggs?

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  1. bohorev

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sun Jul 26 2009 20:57:30
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    Can I use a microwave oven to kills bugs and eggs? I have several books that may have been in contact with bugs. I am wondering if I can use a microwave oven to sanitize them. Ho long would I need to cook them for?

  2. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sun Jul 26 2009 21:19:30
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    No, microwaving books is not only ineffective in killing bugs or eggs, but it's very, very dangerous.

    As for treating books, you have few options. If buying a Packtite is an option where you are, Packtiting books seems to have worked well for a lot of people.

    There are also protocols for heating books that librarians use that you can probably find a thread on, but as with any thermal protocols, you must be very, very careful lest you cause a fire.

  3. parakeets

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jul 27 2009 8:48:25
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    The post first sounded like a recipe --microwaved bedbug eggs. Mmm, yummy. I affirm what Buggyinsocal said about fire hazards so don't microwave books. You can seal the books in ziplock bags and that will work, too. I once heard a PCO at a conference offer a suggestion to use a hot hair dryer on things like books--not to kill the bedbugs (because it won't), but simply as an inspection tool. If there are bugs or nymphs in the books, you might get them come out to avoid the high heat of the hairdryer. Nothing is foolproof, but bedbugs don't like heat.

  4. Aris

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jul 27 2009 9:45:56
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    Read bed-buscouk's comment in this thread (post number 7, I believe):
    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/microwave-the-bug-out-of-the-book#post-1057

  5. Aris

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jul 27 2009 10:02:25
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    I wouldn't be surprised if some insects managed to survive longer than a book survives in a microwave.

    I had a problem with ants a few months ago. Some of them managed to make their way into my new 1200 W microwave oven, unbeknownst to me. I set the microwave timer to about a minute to warm some food, and as I was removing the food I discovered ants in the oven still moving around. (Don't know what the microwaving would have done to the reproductive capacity of a juvenile or adult bed bug, but I'd be afraid to take a chance.)

    Obviously, this wasn't a properly controlled experiment in bed bugs elimination. But I had tried with an older, more powerful microwave oven about a year ago to see what the microwave oven does to books. After about 45 seconds, the book pages tended to brown a little, and paperback covers started to curl. The books also got a bit of a slightly-toasted smell to them (not like toasted bread; I'm not really sure how to describe the smell). Of course, it all depends on how long you leave the book in there. After seeing those ants still crawling around, my sense was that the books might be damaged BEFORE the bed bugs were killed. (One factor which makes it harder to interpret what was going on with the ants is that the ants may not have been in the optimal location for receiving/absorbing the microwaves -- microwave ovens are designed to deliver the microwaves beam to a specific location a few centimeters above the floor/turntable of the oven, where food is most likely to be placed.)

    Note that my new microwave oven's manual specifically warns against heating paper products and books. And I imagine, although I don't know, that there might be an issue with books that might have metal in them (metals in the pigments of illustrations on the cover or in the pages of the book, for instance.)

  6. Aris

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jul 27 2009 10:20:48
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    buggyinsocal - 12 hours ago  » 
    As for treating books, you have few options. If buying a Packtite is an option where you are, Packtiting books seems to have worked well for a lot of people.
    There are also protocols for heating books that librarians use that you can probably find a thread on, but as with any thermal protocols, you must be very, very careful lest you cause a fire.

    An much less expensive option might be to try heating the books doubly-sealed in a container (for example, within two sets of contractor bags) in a car or outdoors in direct sunlight, if you are in an area where the temperature gets very high in the summer. As with any thermal treatment method, you have to be careful not to overpack the contents, otherwise you risk a failure of the heat to reach all areas inside. You also MUST confirm that the temperatures deep inside the books reach and are maintained above 120ºF for 30 minutes (although 30 minutes is probably cutting it too close -- the longer the better; an hour, at a minimum, is probably safer; 2 - 4 hours even better). You can buy an inside/outside thermometer, with a wire probe that you stick inside the pages of a book in the middle of the stack, to monitor the temperatures for less than about $10 in a drugstore or hardware store. Wireless temperature monitors are also available.

    Jeff White has an excellent 7-minute video discussing outdoor thermal treatment at this link:
    http://tv.bedbugcentral.com/index.php/2009/07/bbctv-diy-1-using-the-heat-of-the-sun-to-kill-bed-bugs/

    (Note that a disclaimer with the video states very explicitly: "Please be aware that using the sun to eliminate bed bugs is not recommended by Bed Bug Central due to the risk of failure and infesting items that weren’t previously infested....")

  7. Aris

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jul 27 2009 10:47:57
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    There's also been some discussion about using a Hot Shot No-Pest strip, which contains the pesticide chemical DDVP, or dichlorvos, with the books in an airtight sealed container for certain lengths of time. The books would have to be very loosely arranged so that the gas released from the No-Pest strip would be able to reach all areas inside the books where bed bugs could have harbored or laid their eggs.

    Note that using DDVP seems to be VERY controversial on this board, largely from safety concerns. You should try searching on DDVP or dichlorvos on the board.

    Jeff White also has several videos discussing using DDVP for other items, NOT books per se, that cannot be treated with spray chemicals. Try searching for Hot Shot or No-Pest at tv.bedbugcentral.com.

    If this treatment method is used, you must be VERY careful to follow the package label of the pesticide and any instructions from the manufacturer. (In the US, restrictions on pesticide use vary from state to state.)

    I'm not an expert. Just repeating what others who know more than I do have written.


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