People say heat cannot kill bed bugs
by Tommy Underhill
March 5, 2018
A couple of days ago we spoke with Taylor, a potential client, who shared a video she found on the internet where a guy sitting in a car talks about heat not being an effective treatment against bed bugs. In his video he clearly states he has been exterminating bed bugs for at least ten years, but Taylor questioned this man’s credibility regarding his blanket statements on the efficacy of heat treatments.
Dr. Linford was first to commercialize heat as an insecticide for structural pests in the late 1980s. I have worked with Dr. Mike and further developed this technology specifically towards bed bugs for more than fifteen years. I’d like to disagree on every point the guy in the video makes, and discuss and rebut them point-for-point.
GreenTech Heat has never taught that pesticide treatments are bad. Many of the traditional chemical treatments do utilize materials toxic or dangerous to humans and pets—and the traditional pest control industry is responding to customer request for more options which are less-toxic to humans and pets. Unfortunately, insect pests are becoming more resistant to many of the traditional chemical treatments. We whole-heartedly believe that heat is the only methodology that can achieve a 100% kill for all stages of insect life—egg through adult—when properly applied. We teach and often recommend utilizing desiccant barriers to limit movement. Our own GreenTech Prevent post-heat-treatment spray is formulated from soy oil and other ingredients EPA-listed as GRAS. We teach that heat often increases the effectiveness of chemical treatments through synergistic effects. The GreenTech Heat process is EPA registered and approved. Let’s address all sides of the issue.
Use a clothes dryer, but don’t heat a room
The guy in the car advocates putting your bedding in a dryer to kill bed bugs, but says heating a house won’t work. I see a disconnect here. Help me to understand how heat from a clothes dryer—between 125°F and 135°F, according to dryer manufacturer GE—will kill bed bugs but heating the hardest-to-heat part of a room to 140°F and holding it for two hours will not. When properly applied and lethal temperatures at the hardest-to-heat areas are monitored, achieved, and maintained for the prescribed length of time, a 100% kill is guaranteed. He says bed bugs will escape the treatment area whereas they cannot flee the dryer—more on this a bit later.
Heat treatments are extremely expensive
He claims heat treatments are “extremely expensive”. Even when deemed effective, traditional treatments require repeat applications. Even if the initial treatment kills 100% of all insect pests, chemicals are not generally ovicidal and most chemicals require time to denature insect carapace... leaving a time when the bed bugs will still bite! A week or two later and eggs hatch, requiring a repeat treatment. When your clients consider the inconvenience of multiple treatments—and being bit each time a clutch of eggs hatches!—a less-expensive treatment can quickly become significantly more costly, painful, and inconvenient.
Heating is pointless because bugs will flee
He claims heating one room chases the bugs to other rooms. University studies have shown that bed bugs are not that smart, and the insects don’t have an exit strategy just-in-case some human decides to heat their world to lethal temperatures instead of being a placid blood host. Bed bugs typically travel along pheromone paths. These pheromone paths lead from harborages to food sources. Bed bugs create the pheromone paths as they search for food by honing in on exhaled carbon dioxide, so they can find another blood meal at a later time. The paths scents are strengthened each time a bed bug follows it. No food=a stale path. Stale paths don’t get followed.
Unlike drywood termites, cockroaches, ants, and bed bugs are not confined by the materials they infest. When temperatures exceed the range to which these insects are accustomed, the insects attempt to escape the heat by occupying the coolest locations available to them, such as cracks, crevices and wall voids. Controlling insects in a contaminated space is important not just because of the damage they themselves can cause, but also because they serve as vectors for diseases and contaminants. Our training regimen teaches that establishing a perimeter is an important part of an insect eradication strategy.
This guy doesn’t now bedbugs like we know bedbugs
He claims bed bugs will burrow into walls and insulation and that bedbugs will retreat to the cool crawl spaces under the house. Firstly, bed bugs are not burrowing insects. They live in cracks, crevices, and tight spaces. Heat rises, and when things get hot, they tend to migrate down to lower temperatures. Unless there is a crack to the crawl space to migrate through, the best these insects will do is try to get down by where carpet meets the baseboard. This is why the GreenTech Heat Solutions training directs technicians to introduce and direct heat as closely to the floor as possible. All our heat packages $1999 and up include our Master Heat Technician Certification: we are not just shipping you product and having you hope for the best. GreenTech Heat is with you when you need it most by providing 24/7 technical support.
Temperature probing is science
This fellow describes a failed heat treatment he re-treated where the heat technicians came, heated, and left—and these customers got bit later that night. He makes no mention if the heat technicians utilized temperature probes to empirically determine if lethal temperatures were verifiably reached during the treatment. We provide our customers with the science behind the technology to ensure an efficacious treatment every time. Conducting a heat treatment without monitoring is like driving a car with your eyes closed.
He claims that heat treatments routinely fail, and emphatically states that traditional treatments require “several treatments” over a “couple of months”. As I questioned before, why would anyone put up with the probability of being repeatably bit during an extended traditional treatment when a properly-conducted and monitored heat treatment will kill 100% of all bed bugs and their eggs in a single treatment?
GreenTech Heat has a list of customers in pest control, property management, hospitality, and camps treating homes, apartments, multi-unit housing, hotels, and cabins with heat. They routinely tell us they achieve a 100% kill in one day every time. Temperature measurement is key.
Here’s a point I actually agree with him upon: the bites might actually not be due to bed bugs. He says it could be fleas. It could also be spiders. Many insects bite. All insects have a thermal death point and with proper monitoring your technician can be assured to reach it.
Toxicity = carbon footprint?
He relates a story of a customer who called him after a failed heat treatment. This customer told this exterminator he didn’t want toxic chemicals sprayed around him, his children, and his pets. He didn’t want his family to come in contact with these chemicals. Rather than discuss the toxicity of his treatments he related how he discussed a heat treatment’s “carbon footprint”, the additional costs of electricity the customer incurred, and completely ignored the customer’s desire not to have toxic chemicals sprayed in his family’s living areas.
GreenTech Heat Solutions isn’t a company that just sells heat equipment. We offer a comprehensive training program that has been repeatedly substantiated by university studies. Dr. Linford and our team developed our technology and equipment for the structural pest market exterminating pests including termites. Heat can successfully eliminate insect infestations in many places chemicals cannot reach, such as the interior of a 12' long 4"x12" wooden beam—in one treatment. Temperature measurement is key.
GreenTech Heat is laboratory proven
Our heat technology is laboratory tested. GreenTech Heat uses superheated air to eliminate insect infestations as well as disinfect, decontaminate, and dry out buildings. Dr. Linford’s technology has been independently tested by university entomologists:
- University of California, Riverside 1991
- University of California, Berkeley 1992
- University of Hawaii 1993
- University of Florida 1993
- University of Minnesota 2011
- University of Kentucky 2015
Dr. Vernard Lewis of UC Berkeley conducted testing on behalf of the State of California for a five-year period. These university studies found Dr. Linford’s process to be fully efficacious in the eradication of drywood termites in phase two, and the only primary alternative to structural fumigation. The process is effective in eradicating all metamorphic stages of insects, including egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Dr. Vernard Lewis of UC Berkeley and his research team of Gail Getty and Robin Taylor conducted a separate field study of the efficacy of the technology using live bed bugs. They found that bed bugs and their eggs were 100% eradicated by the process effectively used by GreenTech Heat.
GreenTech Heat provides 24/7 technical support to our clients and extensive presale support to future clients. Your success is the only true measure of our success. As always, please feel free to contact us at 855-GTH-BUGS (855-484-2847) with any specific questions you may have.
Taylor, thank you for your call. I hope our answers to your questions will help you and others be bed bug free.