Focus on the Residential Control of Bed Bugs

If you own or rent a stand-alone single family residence, you are in luck. If you are able to work collaboratively with a well qualified pest control company, you have a good chance of solving a bed bug problem. While bed bugs can hide in extremely unlikely places, a well trained and hard working pest control technician can solve the problem with your cooperation. First, you will need to supply the pest control inspector with a clear and full accounting of your activities that perhaps led to the infestation. The technician will want to know:
    • Have you been traveling and do you plan to travel again? If so, what methods of transportation do you use and where do you stay?
    • Have you had visitors, who stopped along the way at a hotel or motel or used public transportation?
    • Do any members of the family live in group settings, such as college dorms or camps?
    • Have any members of your family been in heavily trafficked facilities or public venues?
  When did the infestation start? What was happening at that time? How long has the infestation continued?
    • Have you been self-treating with non-chemical approaches or with pesticides?
    • Does your family have any special needs or accommodations that would have to be made, particularly for any medical or health problems?
    • You will need to review your belongings against a list of items to keep or to dispose of according to set procedures so as not to spread the infestation. Are you willing to follow a very detailed protocol in preparation for the treatment?
    • The process is much like packing up and moving, but in this case, you will be making the walls and floors accessible and bagging up anything that will be removed.
    • Items for disposal must be clearly marked as bed bug infested, so that there is no possibility that they will be picked up for second hand use. If you will be disposing of the mattress and boxspring, these items must be clearly marked as bed bug infested and not for use. These items will certainly need to be covered and sealed before disposal. It is imperative that they not be removed in a manner that might spread the infestation, such as by dragging.
    • Clothing will need to be bagged and taken to the laundromat at time of treatment and washed in a hot cycle for an extended period of time. Place you clothing directly in the washer. Do not let your clothing linger on the counter.
  • The timing of these activities must coincide with that of the pest service.
If your house is not completely prepared for the treatment, it is unlikely that the pest control technician will provide the service. To do so would invite futility. You should ask and receive a detailed plan of attack by the pest control company. There is no one right way to do a bed bug treatment, but there certainly are wrong ways. First, the work must be extremely thorough. It is wise for the technician to combine different methods and/or tools to accomplish the job. If you do not receive a preparation work sheet, you are contracting with the wrong company. Typically more than one service is required, although a skillful technician can be successful in one treatment. A follow up service is highly advisable, if only to monitor the results. Techniques used may involve both chemical and non-chemical treatment methods. Vacuums have been used successfully to remove bed bugs and bed bug egg casings manually. Steamers and more recently freezing devices have been used effectively to kill bed bugs and bed bug egg casings manually. The difficulty with vacuums, steamers and freezing devices is that direct contact or very close contact is required. That is simply not always possible. Often the bed bug casings adhere so tightly to a surface that vacuums will not remove them or they may be so recessed in a location as to be concealed and inaccessible to treatment. Bed bug treatments tend to utilize large quantities of pesticides, so these non-chemical methods can go a long way to resolving the problem and if not eliminating pesticides, certainly reducing the need. These manual methods are similar to non-residual chemical pyrethroids in that they have no lasting impact against any surviving bedbugs. Among chemical methods, there are a limited number of products labeled for use with bed bugs or for the sites where bed bugs reside. Currently recommended products include Suspend or Cykick for general spray treatment, Gentrol as an insect growth regulator to stop the maturation and reproductive cycle of the insect and PB-300 or PB Fogger to act as a chemical mist that can penetrate the deepest cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide. Dust treatments are excellent around electrical outlets and wall voids. New products with lower toxicities such as Phantom (non-repellent) are becoming available. Some of the older products used for bed bug treatments are gradually going out of use due to increased pesticide resistance. The combination of chemical products can be a very effective “one-two-three , You�re Out” for bed bugs:
    1. non-residual pervasive immediate kill application, combined with
    1. the insect growth regulator, and
  1. long lasting residual topical spray, with both latter products having extended capability to eliminate those insects that survive the initial treatment.
  A mattress and box spring cover may be recommended. There are those who will say that it should consistently be used. If fitted and zipped properly, it will keep bed bugs from escaping and biting. Nevertheless, there are a few issues with the use of bed bug encasements:
    1. they are not needed if the bed bugs are dead,
    1. it may allow the technician to take a lazy approach, assuming the encasement will do the job, rather than doing a more thorough treatment,
  1. it provides a false sense of security that one cannot be bitten.
In fact, of the bed bugs reside somewhere other than the bed. Logically, one may argue that it could make the problem worse, if the bugs need to move further away from the bed, into other less detectable hiding places. Encasements I believe are a wise choice in situations where beds are shared or moved around, but I would question the need in a single family residence or an unchanging apartment living situation with bedding that is not leased. There are many contradictions, oddities and much creativity that goes into providing a bed bug service. Normally, when you contract for a service, you would go with a company that provides the longest warranty. This may not be recommended. Companies that offer long bed bug warranties may actually be the least educated and trained companies for this type of service. Companies that have been working with bed bugs for a long time know how easy it is for living spaces to be re-infested. If they offer any warranty at all, the terms of the warranty will be very tightly constructed and will require precise participation by the client to achieve good results. Also, the old adage that you get what you pay for is very true in bed bug remediation. While the volume of bed bug services and efficiencies rendered may allow for somewhat lower prices, generally speaking, you would be advised to contract with a higher price service, with the proviso that they disclose their protocol for treatment. Low priced services simply will shortcut the treatment, leaving you frustrated by a bill that did not accomplish the task. Do be patient with your contracting pest control service. Do your part. Work together for the best results. For a sample checklist in preparing for a bed bug treatment please review the following link:
  • Bed Bug Checklist for Residential Treatment
  • Call Now 1-800-986-1006 or complete the form below

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