Eliminated from homes and businesses across North America following World War II with DDT, these unwanted “guests” create the potential for financial loss. DDT was banned in the 1980s when it was found to have harmful effects on the environment.
Cleanliness has little to do with the causes of infestation and until recently, new insecticides provided successful treatment for infestations. However, the effectiveness of chemical insecticide decreases over time. Like all insects, bed bugs exposed to chemicals gradually evolve adaptations that give them immunity to the chemicals contained in insecticides. While the insect’s immunity increased, so did global travel and the recycling of furniture. The combination of these events caused a global resurgence of the pests.
Integrated Treatment Approaches
The most effective way to fight bed bugs uses an integrated treatment plan including one or more of the following:
- Insecticide applications such as the application of chemical sprays or fogs
- Steam applications applied to furniture, carpets, floors, and beds
- Heat treatment (a method still under development) heats interior spaces to a temperature high enough to kill insects and their eggs
- Cold treatment is a relatively new technique that uses extreme cold to target the insects and their eggs
Best Practices for Heat Treatment
The effects of heat treatment on building materials, fire prevention sprinkler systems, portable fire extinguishers, electronic devices, plumbing, and electrical wiring are still relatively unknown; be sure to hire a contractor trained in using this method. Contractors generally remove smoke detectors and set fire protection sprinkler systems to higher temperatures. In some cases sprinkler heads must be removed, and the fire control system isolated and tagged as “shut down” by your fire equipment maintenance contractor. Consult your local fire department to determine whether proper shutdown and restart is complete. Obtaining a “hot work” permit and a dedicated fire watch is highly recommended.
Resources to Find a Licensed Contractor in Your Area
- Google “bed bugs”
- City of Toronto, Public Health
- Vancouver Coastal Health