Rockwell Labs Ltd: Bed Bugs


July 16, 2013

By Founder and CEO Dr. Cisse Spragins

Because bed bugs directly seek out and attack humans, and they can harbor in the tiniest of cracks and crevices, thoroughness in treatment is absolutely critical.

Heat is the bed bug’s Achilles’ heel: Just five minutes at 122°F will kill them. Heat is ideal for treating clothing, bedding and objects from small furniture and toys to ornamental pieces and electronics. Items that won’t be harmed can be run through a dryer. Otherwise, heat chambers can be used. There are an increasing number of chambers available, and plans for building your own can be found on the Internet. Heat can also be used for entire-premises treatment in some cases, although the process can become complicated and the equipment expensive.

Heat, of course, has no residual. I’ve found that the ultimate extended residual to use as a standalone or to complement heat or other chemical treatments is an engineered silica dust. Because it is a desiccant, heat will only speed up the kill by making the insects even more susceptible, and there is no resistance to silica. Unlike most chemicals, the product itself is not affected by heat, and an added bonus is the extremely low toxicity to humans and pets.

Liquid treatments with pyrethroids and/or non-repellents can also be used for crack-and-crevice and surface treatment, provided they are labeled appropriately for the areas to be treated. Small voids, such as hollow bed or furniture legs, conduits or wall voids can be ultra-low volume (ULV) fogged with an appropriately labeled formulation. Because of the significant pyrethroid resistance in some bed bug populations, however, pyrethroids should not be used as the sole treatment.

There are a significant and increasing number of treatment and monitoring options available. More than one method will generally be required for effective results against these tenacious pests. Examining the business aspects of bed bug treatment is also very important. Treatments are labor-intensive. And even if every bed bug is killed, accounts like hotels or rental properties can become re-infested quickly by the next guest or renter. These issues must be addressed when bidding jobs, so as to avoid potentially significant losses.

About the Author

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Dr. Cisse Spragins is founder and CEO of Rockwell Labs Ltd. She is also a PMP Hall of Famer, Class of 2018.

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