Getting Better Bed Bug Heat Treatment Results: Why probe during heat treatments?
by Tommy Underhill
May 15, 2018
My college chemistry professor once told his class, “Cold glass looks like hot glass which looks like cold glass.” Do you want to take a guess at how many of his students burned their fingers on hot glass during that year?
The moral of that story is that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. The appendix located at the end of the Bed Bug Field Guide identifies the thermal death point of potential organism targets using GreenTech Heat. Treatment temperatures and duration of exposure are recommended in this chart. Keep in mind that all termite and structural pest jobs require heating the wooden structural members to the lethal temperatures. Bed bug treatments heat room contents, floors, floor coverings, and walls to the specified lethal temperature and require lower energized air temperatures to achieve lethal levels.
University studies have identified the thermal death point of various species of insects mostly under laboratory conditions. Laboratory conditions are ideal and perfectly controlled by the scientist conducting the study. In the field where treatments are performed, conditions are never ideal. Consequently, temperature levels and exposure duration must be increased in order to achieve an efficacious treatment.
Multiple probes should be used to measure the temperature of infested areas, areas that are hard to heat, areas that will tell you energized air temperatures, and the like. Probing will also inform you when you have proper energized airflow... and just as importantly when airflow is lacking! Remember that you do not ONLY probe infested areas. Probing locations will vary depending on the organisms being treated as will difficult-to-heat locations, the materials that are being treated, the size of the treatment area, etc. For example, when treating for bed bugs, it would be appropriate to place a probe in the middle of a laundry basket or pile of clothes. As a general rule, use one probe for every 200 square feet of treatment area after probing the difficult-to-heat locations, the infested areas, and other areas that will help manage the treatment process.
About temperature probes
Temperature probes or thermocouples are thin wires consisting of two dissimilar metals which create a minute electrical current when joined together. The strength of this electrical current is influenced by temperature that is then measured and translated into temperature readings by a digital thermometer. Remote wired temperature probes are also excellent tools that can transmit a temperature readout captured and recorded digitally.
Temperature probes represent a key component in the GreenTech Heat process. These thin wires are inserted into furniture, deep in a pile of clothes, under carpet padding, in cabinets, and inside of key wall voids to ensure lethal temperatures are reached. This crucial information provides a distinct advantage over other treatments. It tells the GreenTech Heat technician when lethal temperatures are achieved. By having this information, the technician is empirically assured of a “kill.”
The recommended dosage for bed bugs is 140°F for two hours—measured in the coldest part of the structural construction. When the technician utilizes numerous temperature probes in the most difficult-to-heat locations and in the contaminated or infested areas, he or she will not need to guess whether a kill has been achieved throughout the treatment area. Thermocouples always need to be inserted into the most difficult-to-heat areas of a structure as well as areas of infestation or contamination.
Because of the convected energies created by the GreenTech Heat electric and propane heaters, we do not recommend residents re-enter the property until temperatures have cooled to 85°F.
If my memory of all those years ago is accurate, three students burned themselves on hot glass that year. Don’t get burned by thinking you achieved a kill. Probe your treatment and know the bed bugs and their eggs are dead.