Can Heat Kill Bed Bugs... Really?

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Dec 1, 2022

Can Heat Kill Bed Bugs... Really?


                Can Heat Kill Bed Bugs... Really?

Are you skeptical if heat is enough to kill bed bugs? It seems too easy - set up a heater in a room, leave it for a few hours, and return to a treated room. Can it be this simple?

Yes, heat can eradicate bed bugs better than any other pest control treatment. Still, success is in the details, and following instructions is the key to eliminating bed bugs with heat.

If you're considering using bed bug heat treatments to eradicate bed bugs from your homes, here's what you need to know 

It's All About Temperature and Duration?

Our heat treatment packages will kill bed bugs, but they must be set up correctly for the best results. A successful treatment really comes down to two factors: 1) reaching the critical temp of 120 degrees and 2) maintaining this temperature for a duration of time that is sufficient to allow the heat to penetrate the nooks and crannies where the bed bugs are hiding. 

The heat has to be at a high enough temperature for long enough to heat the entire room; otherwise, the heat may not reach spaces where the bed bugs may be hiding. Any surviving pregnant female bed bug can start the cycle over, and you are back to square one. 

Bed bugs (including bed bug eggs) die at all life stages when exposed to temperatures above 113 degrees for 60 minutes (To learn more about the temperature that kills bed bugs, click here.). The challenge with heat treatments is getting all the spaces in the room up to this temperature. If you turn on the heaters and bring the room up to 113 degrees and then turn them off, you have only treated the surfaces of everything. When you keep heaters going for a longer duration, that critical temperature will move farther into the nooks and crannies of the room. After the recommended 24hour treatment cycle, everything in the room, inside the walls, and under the baseboard will be at a critical temperature. For this reason, we recommend bringing the temperature up to 120 degrees (to be safe) and maintaining a duration of 24 hours to ensure this temperature is throughout the space long enough. 

Getting this right every time and in every room you treat is crucial. Remember the critical factors for success are:

1) Reach the killing temp of 120 degrees

2) Maintain this temperature for 24 hours

For more information, check out our training videos and online classes.  

It's not just set-and-forget 

Heat treatments can be easier and more effective than many forms of pest control, but you can't simply set and forget. You must constantly monitor the heaters throughout treatment to catch an issue early on before too much time passes. 

One common problem is popping a circuit breaker. If your heater overloads a circuit breaker, it will shut off, leaving you with fewer heater elements and fewer BTU's to raise the temperature. You could end up wasting hours of treatment time and never get up to the proper temperature if you don't quickly realize that a breaker has turned off. 

We recommend checking the treatment room every 1 to 2 hours. Take a temperature reading with your laser thermometer each time in all the areas where you think bed bugs may be living. Also, check the lights on the power cords to confirm that you have not popped a circuit breaker. If you notice a light out, shut down the equipment, reconfigure the power cords to different outlets, and turn the breaker back on to resume the treatment. 

Preparing The Room For Treatment Is Vital 

Here's a video that will help you understand what goes into heat treatment preparation. We aim to use the heaters and fans to get hot air circulating the room to create an even heating rate and prevent cold spots from forming. Much of the preparation needed for success will be to facilitate an even rate of heating. Our goal is to expose all the surfaces in the room to the fast-moving hot air. Time spent on preparation is time well spent. 

Check out the preparation videos.

And, if you want more info in-depth education, check out our online training classes

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