Control Solutions Inc.: Bed Bugs


July 5, 2013

By Marie Knox, Technical Service Manager

In my opinion, bed bug jobs require a “toolbox” approach. What I mean is that it almost always takes more than one product (repellent, non-repellent, liquids, dusts, monitors, etc.) and more than one method (sanitation, heat treatment, steam, residual chemical, fumigation, etc.) to achieve control of an active infestation. There is also no guarantee that a homeowner will not re-infest their home with bed bugs again. This can happen easily in a number of ways: kids bring them home from college, they’re brought in on luggage from a recent trip, houseguests may bring them in, furniture purchased from thrift stores or garage sales may be infested, discarded infested mattresses are picked up and brought home; the list goes on.

Let’s take a look at sanitation and residual products for control. There are many products labeled for bed bugs from many different manufacturers. I personally believe, however, that a number of steps must be taken before any residual treatment is made:

Communicate with homeowners: I think this is the most important part, so that a pest management professional (PMP) can set the homeowner’s expectations ahead of time and let homeowners know that they will have responsibilities — chores, if you will — prior to and during the treatment process.

Inspect on first visit: Depending on the treatment method(s) chosen, it can take two to five visits to a home to gain control and verify that it is bed bug-free. The first visit is usually the inspection. Afterward, the homeowners must follow a prescribed list of activities, including:
• throwing out infested mattresses;
• hot washing and drying of linens, clothes, drapes, etc.;
• hot drying of water-sensitive articles;
• packaging all cleaned items up in clean trash or space-saver bags; and
• storing clean items far away from the infested room(s) before the PMP can come back to do the first treatment.

Treat on next visit: The first treatment may involve dismantling furniture, removing outlet covers, lifting carpet edges, etc. The treatment can be made using a number of different products, followed by putting it all back together once the treatment is dry and completed.

Following up: After the initial treatment, a PMP should generally revisit the structure at 10- to 14-day intervals to reinspect and perform additional residual treatments if needed — always following the product labels concerning retreatment intervals.

Prevent reinfestation: Once an infestation is controlled, customers need to be aware of how their home was infested in the first place and avoid re-infesting it. Asking the homeowners where they may have traveled in the last three months or so helps them think about where they may have picked up the bugs, or if they brought home any “new” furniture or mattresses, etc. In the case of apartments/multi-family dwellings, this can be difficult because the neighboring apartments may also be infested — and if all infested units are not addressed, the bud bugs can simply travel to a neighboring unit to re-infest it. In addition, new tenants can move in nearby and bring a new infestation with them. All is not lost, though: Residual products labeled for bed bugs can and should be used as part of a complete treatment to kill any newly introduced bed bugs.

Other considerations
If a mattress is infested, it is generally recommended to throw it away and not introduce a new one until after the infestation has been resolved. If a homeowner insists on keeping an infested mattress, and it is treated with a properly labeled product, then it is highly recommended that a proper bed-bug-proof mattress encasement be placed on the mattress after any treatment has dried and never removed. The bed bugs cannot get out (if any eggs hatch inside) and more importantly, if the home is re-infested, a mattress and box spring with covers can be easily inspected because the cover doesn’t have many places for them to hide.

Some products do have language on the label to treat mattresses (tufts, seams and edges, or even broadcast spray), while other products may not have any on-mattress labeling. Some products simply have interior residential crack, crevice and/or spot language on the label, but do not specifically state mattresses. It is always up to the licensed PMP to read the label of a product he or she intends to use. If there are any questions about the language, inquire with your state regulatory agency for its interpretation of the label.

Bed bug work is a specialized service, and not all PMPs should try or even want to get involved in it unless they are willing to explore all that it requires to do a job thoroughly and correctly. There are a number of options in addition to residual products that I have not covered — including heat treatment, steam and fumigation.

It’s a brave new world out there for PMPs. Happy bed bug hunting!

About the Author

Marie Knox is PCO Technical Service manager for Control Solutions Inc.

Leave A Comment

Comments are closed.