Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: Do Bed Bugs Spread Disease?
A: Bed Bugs are not known to spread disease. They inject a small amount of saliva into the skin while feeding. An allergic reaction to the saliva may cause the area around the bite to become red, swollen and itchy. Do not scratch the bites, as this may worsen the irritation and itching may lead to a secondary infection. 
Q: Why are Bed Bugs resurging?
A: Bed Bugs are common in many parts of the world. International travel and changes in modern pest control are believed to be responsible for the resurgence. These pests were common in the 1940's and 1950's. DDT was commonly used in the 1940's and 1950"s for many insects and was quite effective against Bed Bugs, almost eliminating them within the U.S. In the 1970's DDT was banned, and pest control has evolved into less frequent applications of more targeted products, often pest specific, such as cockroach baits. Many products since the 1950's have not been tested on Bed Bugs and do not list them on the label, and worse yet, they don't allow the treatment sites where Bed Bugs harbor. For example, the mattress and box spring. Only since 2000, have researchers and manufacturers been researching, testing and training on these difficult pests.
Q: I'm a frequent traveler. How can I protect myself from Bed Bugs when I travel?
A: Be aware when you first get to your hotel/motel room. Bed Bugs can be in low-cost motels and high-end resorts and spas. Bed bugs do not know how much you paid for your room. Check the mattress seams. Check around the headboard. Check the luggage rack. Yes, you can see the bed bugs, or sometimes their blood stains or fecal matter. If you don't see the bed bugs or their sign, chances are good that you don't have to worry. If you wake up with bites, particularly in a line(where the bed bugs probe multiple times to find a good spot to feed on), you might be in a room with bed bugs. Some frequent travelers pack their return clothes in a large plastic bag they can seal. On the last day, after packing up, they shower and change into their fresh clothes. Upon returning home, they bag their clothes in the garage and bring it straight to the wash. Their suitcase goes in the freezer in the garage for several days to a week.
Q: I manage a hotel. How do I eliminate Bed Bugs from a hotel room?
A: The first step is to train your housekeeping staff so they know what to look for. Housekeeping is in these units every day, changing linens, etc. If they spot the signs, it is a lot easier to address when the problem is small. If a guest complains, take it seriously and get it addressed. There are many ways to eliminate Bed Bugs in a hotel room. Contact your pest control company.
Q: I manage an apartment building. How do I eliminate Bed Bugs from a unit?
A: You want your property managers, staff, and maintenance staff knowledgeable. Unfortunately you don't get into your units very often, if at all. Try to perform a cursory inspection when you are in a unit, and consider requiring an annual inspection. Many tenants don't report they have pest problems for fear they might get evicted, or for some, they think its not a big deal. Try to create a culture where tenants can approach the property management staff without fear. They'll report problems quicker and you can solve them quicker. Pesticide Treatments or Heat Treatments--which provide better results much more quickly--can be used effectively to treat Bed Bugs. Often it is necessary to treat adjoining units and units above and below a bed bug infested unit.
Q: Do mattress encasements work for sealing off bed bugs?
A: Encasements seal the mattress and box springs from bed bugs getting in or out. It is important to get one that fits the exact size mattress you have, otherwise you'll have lots of creases which bed bugs will find useful for harboring. Don't get a regular encasement - they aren't good enough to seal in or seal out bed bugs. Buy an encasement specifically designed for bed bugs. For example, the zipper teeth must be very small so the first stage nymph of a bed bug cannot get through the zipper teeth. There are fewer folds and seems. And lastly, the zipper has a zipper stop so the end of the zipper doesn't leave an opening for the bed bugs to get out. The encasement you purchase should also have been tested to ensure the bed bugs cannot bite through the encasement. A good bed bug encasement is far less expensive than replacing an infested mattress or box spring.
Q: What are Pesticide Treatments like for bed bugs?
A: First off, you must prepare your room for the treatment of bed bugs. Each company may have different preparation instructions, but they are usually non-trivial. Clutter is the enemy; so the more you can prepare and reduce clutter, the better. Treatments vary by company too. Pesticide selection, communications, and follow up treatments and/or inspections are all important when treating bed bugs.
Q: Does freezing destroy bed bugs?
A: Yes. A sudden freeze can destroy eggs, nymphs, and adult Bed Bugs, however a slow change in temperature, such as putting a pillow in the freezer, may take days to weeks to destroy them. Like many insects, bed bugs can acclimate to slow changes in temperature. The problem with applying freezing techniques in a living space is similar to that of steam. Can you get it everywhere it is needed? Also it is dangerous because of the Carbon Dioxide. You must have the area well vented. Does the person applying it have the skill to perform the process properly?
Q: What is Heat Treatment for bed bugs?
A: During Heat Treatments, the temperature in a structure is raised to temperatures lethal to the target pest. In this case, Bed Bugs, but in other cases, it could be flour beetles at a food processing plant. The temperature, and the duration, may vary by pest. While these treatments have been used in food processing for a century, it is still an emerging procedure for Bed Bugs. The equipment needed is substantial, and being a new application of an old technology, many companies have yet to invest and know very little about this procedure. Heat Treatment process is really part art, and part science. Fact that the applicator really needs to know the Bed Bug's biology, habits, and harborage, you really should consider hiring an experienced, licensed pest management professional with significant experience with Heat Treatments.
Q: Does heat alone destroy Bed Bugs?
A: Yes. Some companies use heat guns, like blow dryers, but it has the same problems steam or spot freezing does. It requires the technicians to find all bed bugs, hit them, and perform the service flawlessly. No doubt these companies are destroying bed bugs and offering relief, but they are removing 90 Bed Bugs, leaving 10 Bed Bugs to reproduce back into 100 bed bugs in a month. They are just building in an ongoing revenue stream for themselves.
Q: What are the benefits to Heat Treatments for bed bugs?
A: Less prep work. Fewer pesticides are used, if any are used at all. You don't need to throw out your furniture. (Some heavily infested items may need to be thrown out with conventional treatments.) The results are fast. The proper temperatures destroy bed bugs in minutes. A typical heat treatment for bed bugs is completed within 6-12 hours, and when completed, you or your tenant will "sleep tight", knowing all of the bed bugs have been killed. Compare this to a conventional treatment for bed bugs, which requires subsequent treatments and regular follow ups, and in few cases, could require months of follow up. Ideally, you want to eliminate them. That's why the entire room needs to be treated with Heat Treatment. 
Q: Will heat damage things?
A: Never say never, but generally it does not damage the structure or furnishings. Of course part of the preparation instructions should be to advise you to what items must be removed before treatment, such as wax candles and lip stick. Otherwise temperatures are kept within a lethal, yet not damaging range of 145 degrees.
Q: Will heat set off my sprinkler heads?
A: This is a question best answered on a case-by-case basis as sprinkler system trigger points vary. In most cases, the sprinkler head is protected from the heat with a sprinkler head cover. Inside the cover, it only gets to about 120 degrees which the sprinkler heads can handle.