As an expert in bed bug heat treatment, I believe it’s important to provide accurate information and debunk the myths and fears surrounding these annoying creatures. Recently, I came across an informative video by Mark Rober, an ex-NASA employee and celebrity YouTuber, who specializes in creating scientific and diverse videos. In this video, Mark dives into the fascinating world of bedbugs assisted by Rutgers University’s Dr. Changlu Wang. He presents valuable information about bed bugs, such as their growth stages, feeding habits and life expectancy, but also demystifies several beliefs about them.
I invite you to watch this 25-minute video and read my summary of the video’s key points, along with my expert view on effective bedbug treatment strategies.
Understanding Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are small insects that go through five stages of growth, taking several months to mature. They have remarkable antennae capable of detecting body heat and carbon dioxide emitted by humans.
As humans, we have five senses, but their superhuman antennas give them two extra senses, allowing them to detect both body heat and carbon dioxide being breathed out by a potential host. Then once they get close, they use their sense of smell also on their antenna to lock down the exact final position of the person, which is all to say if you exhale your smelly warm breath on them (exhales), they get really excited.
Feeding Habits and Survival
Bed bugs thrive on blood and prefer to feed about once a week. However, they can survive for long periods without feeding, ranging from three to six months, and even up to 300 days in colder environments. Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs do not transmit disease, which explains the lack of government-backed eradication efforts.
Watch a bedbug feeding on blood at minute 3:42 of the video, fascinating!
Bed bugs are generally active from midnight to 3 AM. Once they’ve reached their food source, they take about 10 minutes to feed, returning quickly to their hiding place once they’ve had their fill. Did you know that not everyone has an allergic reaction to bedbug bites? This explains why some people can cohabit with these little critters without realizing it, and only become aware of them once a major infestation has developed.
According to a CDC Joint Statement on Bed Bug Control in the US, the severity of allergic reactions varies from patient to patient, and can even lead to secondary skin infections such as impetigo, ecthyma and lymphanigitis. In addition, it has been shown that bedbug infestation can affect the mental health of their victims, causing anxiety and insomnia.
Debunking The Myths About Extermination Methods
Several methods are available online to exterminate bed bugs. However, not all methods are created equal. In this video, Mark Rober conducts experiments to test various remedies often recommended for bedbug control, such as ultrasonic repellents, fabric softener sheets, mothballs, baking soda and essential oils, as well as various pesticides. The results show that most of these remedies are ineffective in killing or repelling bed bugs, debunking common misconceptions.
But why were even pesticides ineffective?
According to Professor Wang, part of the reason for these terrible results is that many strains of bedbugs have developed immunity to a lot of these chemicals over the years. And he thinks in 10 years, all bedbugs will be immune. And this sort of makes sense, because they’re constantly undergoing localized mass extinction events when people try and spray them, and only the most hearty minority survive each time and pass on their increasingly pesticide-resistant genes.
But Which Treatments Are Effective?
According to Mark Rober’s experiment, diatomaceous earth and heat treatments are the most effective methods for exterminating bed bugs.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance composed of crushed fossilized shells which effectively absorb moisture. When it comes in contact with a bedbug, it sticks to its exoskeleton and dehydrates it. Diatomaceous earth also passes from one individual to another, which is why it has a mortality rate of around 90% after ten days.
However, what’s not mentioned in the video is that diatomaceous earth is a surface product only. Furthermore, it is not recommended to apply this type of product on certain objects such as mattresses, carpets and televisions.
To achieve 100% effectiveness, heat treatments are the solution. As bed bugs die at a temperature of 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius), they can be effectively eliminated when subjected to intense heat. While tumble-drying at a high temperature or using a steamer can effectively eliminate these pests, it’s best to treat major infestations with a heat treatment so you can sleep soundly at night.
Bedbugs’ lifestyle and life expectancy, combined with the fact that some people have no reaction to bedbug bites, make them difficult to detect and get rid of. In addition, bedbugs behave differently in a laboratory than they do in real life, where they can easily travel from one unit to another in condo and apartment buildings, hotels and seniors’ homes, and even move into shared living spaces. That’s why it’s essential to take preventive measures, such as inspecting your bed when you travel and buying an anti-bedbug mattress protector to help you (and your neighbours) avoid a bedbug infestation.
If, however, you’re unlucky and fall victim to an infestation, you’ll need to call in a bed bug extermination professional. At Thermapro Solutions, we use an effective heat treatment to get rid of bed bugs for good. Contact us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.