The Wall Street Journal on “new” bed bug-fighting tactics

by nobugsonme on March 20, 2008 · 2 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, heat, how to get rid of bed bugs, thermal treatment, vikane

The Wall Street Journal published an article today mentioning some of the “new” methods of fighting bed bugs. The WSJ mentions Stern’s new Cryonite method, ThermaPure’s heat treatment, Bed Bugs and Beyond’s “poisonous gas,” and Advanced K9’s bed bug dogs.

We’re all familiar with all of these options, and in some cases, with other providers of heat, Vikane gas, and bed bug dog services.  Nothing really “new” to us there.

However, I don’t think we were aware that

. . . researchers at the University of Minnesota are studying bedbugs’ behavior in an attempt to develop a trap that simulates a typical victim — a sleeping human.

Bring it on, University of Minnesota!

We do know that newbites (what we call Bedbuggers with newly detected bed bug problems) often jump on the latest treatments or the latest,  flavor-of-the-month PCO that the last guy just mentioned “discovering.” And sometimes those are good choices. But it helps to be skeptical: we’ve learned grand claims of success should be taken with a grain of salt:

Companies pitching the latest eradication methods — such as heat or icy sprays — say they are more effective as well as more palatable for people worried about using pesticides. Yet entomologists caution there still are drawbacks: The cold spray might not reach every bug; dogs can miss hiding places high up in a room; and heating might cause bugs to flee to a cooler place in the home. Except for heating, the latest methods usually require the homeowner to go through the onerous process of clearing out rooms, drawers and closets, and washing or dry cleaning all clothing and linens.

“We don’t have any easy method of elimination,” says Michael Potter, a professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky who has observed an increase in bedbugs through his research and work with pest-control companies. “We are looking for the silver bullet.”

And so far, there isn’t one.

More expensive options can be very successful.  But the amount of money you pay does not necessarily correlate to the most effective treatment.
Vikane gas can be very effective if applied to a single-family home, but we’ve heard of one case where it had to be repeated (and, of course, we don’t know what went wrong in that case). Having one’s belongings professionally gassed and moving can also be effective, but be cautious: if everything isn’t gassed and a bed bug gets moved, or the new home has bed bugs, or one is still being exposed to bed bugs, then you’ve spent a lot of money only to re-treat later.

Of thermal and freezing, two other professional options that are on the more costly end of the spectrum, WSJ said:

Another solution is killing the bugs and their eggs by heating a room to between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. ThermaPure uses infrared heaters to uniformly heat the room, says President and Chief Executive David Hedman. Treatment costs between $500 and $1,000 per room. (Easily melted items like candles and lipstick must first be removed.)

At the opposite end of the temperature spectrum, Cryonite, made by CTS Technologies, a unit of Venteco PLC in London, aims to eradicate the bugs by dousing them with a snowy spray of carbon dioxide. A drawback: Some bugs can survive if they aren’t directly hit by the spray. Treatments cost between $600 to $700 per room, or as much as 50% more than a conventional chemical treatment, says Douglas Stern, managing partner of Stern Environmental, one of the companies using the method.

Different options are better for one person vs. another, one living situation vs. another, but the bottom line is: if the provider is claiming their method works well, ask to see research studies, and ask for a guarantee.

1 carrisima May 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I hate to say it — but the influx of immigrants which caused the bedbug plight after WWII is repeating itself. It appears we have the ability to sift through luggage for bombs but not for bugs. Another culprit may be the refurbishing of mattresses. In any event, the spreading culprits are most-likely foreigners. Love your neighbors but not their bugs. Another good reason to own your own home — unattached, of course.

2 RosaRosa August 24, 2009 at 10:43 am

Carrisima, do your homework before blaming bugs on immigrants. DDT eliminated bedbugs many years ago. Then it was banned for health reasons. Now the darn things are back — in 5 star hotels and Ivy League college dorms. Should we blame the hired help for those bugs, who are more than likely native to the good old USA.

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