Hard to find, persistent and increasingly pervasive, bed bugs require considerable professional expertise, client cooperation and effective solutions to eliminate.
The Bed Bug Challenge
Dense urban populations, major movements of people and increasing restrictions on residual insecticides have contributed to a major resurgence in bed bug problems in recent years.
Although bedrooms continue to be the site of most infestations, bed bugs have the ability to travel over great distances on clothing, luggage and furniture. This means they are found in a wide range of locations including offices, schools, shops, cinemas and public transport. Controllers should always extend inspections and, if necessary, treatments to other parts of premises found to be infested.
Recent European research further shows that, even without significant resistance problems, bed bugs are by far the most difficult insect pest to control.
These multiple challenges make it especially important to tackle bed bugs with a sound BASF Integrated Pest Management strategy combining proven chemical and non-chemical methods.
Few pests pose control challenges as complex as bed bugs. Research has shown that bed bug strains showing resistance to pyrethroid insecticides are now widespread throughout the world. Factor in the repellency problems associated with pyrethroids and it’s clear that a smarter approach to controlling bed bugs is needed.
This approach should be based around five key essentials:
1. Inspect to establish the extent and location of the infestation.
2. Prescribe the best treatment strategy for the particular situation.
3. Communicate to set the right expectations and gain sufficient cooperation.
4. Treat using the most effective products in the best and safest ways.
5. Follow-up to assess results and re-treat if necessary.
Pinpointing the Problem
Wherever bed bug infestations are suspected, a thorough inspection of the main problem areas is vital to verify their presence. This should also identify all sites of activity and harborage for treatment. This is crucial because bed bugs are seldom active during the day and can shelter deep inside very narrow cracks and crevices.
Being small, the bugs, their eggs and fecal deposits are easy to overlook without the aid of a good torch and magnifying tool.
Key areas for inspection include:
- Tufts, seams, buttons & folds of mattresses
- Box springs, bed frames and covers
- Couches, chairs, cushions and curtains
- Window and door moldings
- Behind loose wallpaper and pictures
- Cracks in walls or hardwood flooring
- Under carpets along walls (tack strip)
- Wall voids (outlets & switch plates)
- Luggage, boxes and other portable items
Inspectors should be alert for the typical bed bug odor. They must also be prepared to move and take apart items of furniture, look inside electrical fittings and lift carpets along their edges so that no potential harborage sites are overlooked.
Wherever evidence of bed bugs is found, neighboring rooms and other areas of the premises should also be inspected to establish the full extent of the infestation.
Preparing the Ground
With beg bugs, more than any other insect pest, good preparation of both the client and the premises ahead of treatment is central to success. Clients need to be prepared for the fact that an initial bed bug treatment may take five hours or more and involve considerable disruption, as well as the likelihood that repeat treatment will be required to achieve complete control.
They also need to be aware that the amount of time and number of treatments needed will increase with the degree of clutter in the environment and active client and occupant engagement. Co-operation in the process is essential to its cost-effectiveness.
- Beds must be completely stripped down before insecticide treatment with all sheets, duvets, blankets, valances and other bedding placed in a bin liner and either laundered or professionally cleaned
- Curtains, soft furnishings and any clothing that may provide potential harborages should also be removed for thorough washing or dry cleaning
- To kill all bed bug stages, materials need to be washed in hot water (> 49º C for > 10 min.) with soap or detergent before drying in a hot dryer (> 60º C for > 20minutes)
- Although their eggs tend to be stuck too tightly to surfaces to be easily removed, vacuuming exposed surfaces or resting sites is valuable in removing a significant number of nymphs and adult bed bugs
- Using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered vacuum will ensure the many allergens associated with bed bugs and their debris are also removed
- Vacuum bags should be removed immediately, sealed tightly inside a plastic bag and either incinerated or placed in the normal rubbish collection
Because bed bugs will move from treated to untreated areas it is important to ensure that any neighboring rooms are also treated. Although not a statutory requirement, access to treated areas should be restricted until the deposit is dry. The time this takes will depend on conditions with good ventilation speeding drying. As a rule, a one hour exclusion period should generally be sufficient.
- Within approximately 10 days a return visit should be undertaken and the premises again inspected thoroughly
- Any areas where bed bugs persist should be re-treated along with any new areas where they may have moved to avoid the initial treatment
- This follow-up is essential as bed bug eggs will hatch after the initial treatment
- It is also valuable in identifying any areas of infestation that may have been overlooked initially
- Where infestations are heavy, a third visit after a further 10 days is recommended
- If possible, hotels should be requested to leave treated rooms unoccupied until the infestation is eliminated