Heat Treatment / Steam Treatment
Heat treatment involves exceeding the thermal death point of Bed Bugs
Research has shown that bed bugs cannot survive extended periods of exposure above 113 degrees Fahrenheit or 45 degrees Centigrade so one method of control is heating a harborage area to above this temperature, also called the thermal death point of bed bugs. Bed bugs are excellent crawlers and so it is important that the entire area of infestation exceeds the thermal death point and that no bed bugs can move to cooler places. Excluding them from migrating can be achieved by sealing or making sure that there are limited escape routes from a heated room. Heating will also kill bed bug eggs provided that there is adequate residence time and that the heat is maintained.
Heat can be generated by several methods. Perhaps the most common is the propane heater. Commercially available heaters are connected to flexible ducting to introduce the heat into the infested room. Monitors are used to make sure that the “core” temperature of the room and furnishings achieve the thermal death point.
Applying steam to infected areas
Steam is also used to treat localized areas. Bed bugs prefer folds in furniture upholstery or other out of the way places to lay their eggs and congregate. Steam cannot be used effectively for large spaces, but steam generators can yield excellent control by applying the steam directly to infested areas. Most steam generators have application tips or nozzles which are small and must be used as a directed treatment of just a few square inches at a time. Steam generators must be properly designed so that the steam contains less than 5% moisture. Department store steam generators will most likely be ineffective as their purpose is cleaning rather than pest management.