Monthly Archives: February 2011

My bed bugs are not pesticide resistant

On January 19th a report was published stating that Ohio State University scientists have conducted the first gene related study to identify the pesticide-resistant genes bed bugs carry.  While we have known since July 2007 that bed bugs are pesticide resistant (see 2007 study) it is nice to know that scientists are trying to identify what makes this happen and how we can take advantage of it in new chemical development.

As a bed bug dog trainer I have to keep a colony of bed bugs on hand.  They live and die in a vial with a screen on top for air(see photo).  No, I don’t feed them on my body, but I am taking volunteers.   If you take the time to read the 2007 study indicated above you will learn that there is an almost 40-year-old laboratory colony of bed bugs that has not developed the same resistance to pesticides.  I buy my bugs from them for two reasons: 1) It is actually really challenging to collect 25 bugs in a vial without some escaping or spending hours in a really infested house. 2) Should mine escape I can spray them dead in a matter of seconds.

One day there will be a bed bug magic pill, but today heat is the only successful option.  In the mean time stop spraying bed bugs!  It does not eliminate them and it is making their species stronger!

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control


Bed Bug’s Trojan Horse – Used Furniture

Even if you know where it came from, best to not bring it home. This link describes a personal story of someone who brought home a recliner from his dad’s nursing home. They thought by leaving it outside for 3 months the bugs would die off. They were sadly mistaken.

Don’t assume hard wood furniture is immune either. They are called bed bugs because they EAT in bed, NOT because they live in it. They live close by their feeding source and that can mean the nightstand, the lamp, the picture frame, the alarm clock, the headboard, the base boards etc.

Bed bugs will “hibernate” or “go dormant” when stressed, threatened or starved. Today, a technique most often activated by pesticides. It is just another excellent coping mechanism they have developed through time. There are documented re-occurrences of bed bugs 16 months later.

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

Why 360 degree chemical treatments for bed bugs are “so last year”

If you are treating bed bugs with chemicals, by all means, treat the units above, below, and to the right and left as well.  Chemical treatments spread bed bugs because the bugs run and hide from the pesticide.  Bed bugs can live for days after being exposed to a pesticide, all the while laying their eggs to ensure the next generation survives.

However, if you are using heat to treat bed bugs and dog to detect their presence, you don’t need to treat all the units around the infested one.  You can use the dog to determine the reach of the infestation and then just treat the ones that ACTUALLY HAVE BED BUGS.  This can save a company thousands of dollars in unnecessary treatments.

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

Not all Bed Bug heat is created equal

Heat treatments are very effective at treating bed bugs.  At the Bed Bug Answer we have over a 98% success rate the first time with Heat Treatments.  However, all heat is not created equal.  Here are a few options and considerations when selecting a method for your business or residence.

1) Propane Heat – gets VERY hot VERY fast, it is hard to control temperature variances and balance the heated environment, the location can have very high extremes (over 150 degrees) which will damage electronics and potentially set of fire sprinklers.  Buyer beware.

2) Steam Heat – great for small jobs but not an effective tool for a full room.  Technician must be extraordinarily detailed and that is tough to find in a hourly wage employee.  Takes a really long time to cover everything, wicker is a huge pain.

3) Chamber or Box Heat – great for the items that go into the chamber, but it misses all the bugs in the rug, baseboards, walls, etc.  First time success rate is high, over 75% but not typically effective for infestations that have been around for an extended period of time or that have been previously treated with chemicals.  Also, tight packing of the chamber creates cold pockets where bugs can survive.

4) DIY Heat – NEVER a good idea.  Cold air pockets and inexperience make this a true waste of time and VERY dangerous.  Insurance likely won’t reimburse you for a home fire cause by DIY heat either.

5) Electric Heat – can be harder to power if the location has old wiring, but VERY effective in killing bed bugs SAFELY.  Power issues easily overcome by a generator.   Easy to manage heat temperature maximums and maintain for extended periods of time.  Safe for everything in the environment excluding pets, plants, plasma TVs, and a few other small items. PackTite is also electric heat.

The Bed Bug Answer specializes in Heat Treatments for Bed Bugs.  We use Electric heat and Steam Heat to very successfully eradicate bed bugs the first time.  Our room preparation methods and after treatment techniques are trade secrets.  We will get rid of your bed bugs the first time!

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

Hotels Save Thousands with Dogs and Heat

As a hotel owner once told me, the pesticide extermination of a hotel room with bed bugs is an expensive affair.

* Shut down of room for 3-5 days
* Shut down of adjacent rooms for 3-5 days
* Disposal and re-purchase of curtains, blankets, sheets, bed spread etc
* Payment to pest control company for multiple pesticide applications in infested room
* Payment to pest control company for pesticide applications in surrounding rooms

NO MORE! For a fraction of the total cost above we can detect and exterminate the infested room in a day. This saves the hotel thousands of dollars in clean up costs and has the room back on-line for the next day.  Call me, I can help you out!

Ashley, 404-665-3985

Bed bug best practices released by NPMA – Well Done!

The National Pest Management Association released its Bed Bug Best Practices Handbook in January 2011.  There are two versions, one for the pest management professional and a more user-friendly one for consumers.  The information is great and I am proud to say that ALL of their recommendations are already standard operating procedures for The Bed Bug Answer.   They have been in place from the start of our company.

A few highlights:

  1. Disposal of infested furniture is not necessary
  2. Mattress covers are a control mechanism but not a solution
  3. Infestations should be confirmed
  4. Canine teams are particularly useful in detecting bed bugs
  5. Multifamily should inspect surrounding units of an infestation (note, they did not say treat)
  6. Chemical treatments can fail due to pesticide resistance

They also included great content for the Pest Management Professional on:

  1. Client Agreements
  2. Canine standards for certification and use
  3. Technician Training
  4. Methods of Treatment
  5. Health and Safety Considerations for Techs and Consumers

The Bed Bug PackTite = Peace of Mind

Are you concerned about bringing bed bugs home? Do you or your spouse travel for work or pleasure?   If you answered yes, then are you being vigilant in checking your hotel rooms?

The fact of the matter is that bed bugs are here to stay and they will get worse as time goes by.  They do not have any predators and they have humans everywhere to feed on.  So if you have not come across them yet, you will.  And yes, they have made it to GA already!  So it is best to be prepared.

For the elite who live in NYC their best method to keep bed bugs out is to utilize a home heating device.  Many New Yorkers have purchased a PackTite™ for their homes/apartments.  Everyone who comes to stay must place their belongings in it to “cook out the bed bugs” before they can stay.  It works great and it stores up flat when not in use.

But the PackTite™is not just for NYC.  Our hotel and apartment clients are buying them to help out guests and residents.  They can be used for fighting a current infestation (for those items that cannot go in the dryer) or to prevent one from starting.  I use mine when I come home from a particularly nasty bed bug job.

Trust me, it is worth the investment for peace of mind.  I would much rather buy a PackTite™ than have to exterminate my whole home!

This is what it looks like, more info can be found here…

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control

News Flash! – Bed bugs don’t live IN your bed

I am constantly surprised by this issue and the “ah ha” moment when I explain it.  Most have just told me, with pride and confidence in their eyes, that they have just bought a mattress cover.  They think the cover will prevent and solve their bed bug problem.  If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Mattress covers do two things.  First they can protect a clean mattress from an infestation.  Or second, they can trap bed bugs that are already there and prevent them from reaching you for a meal.

However, mattress covers fail to address two important issues:

  1. Bed bugs are called such because they EAT you in your bed, not because they LIVE in your bed.  It is more than likely that they have found other locations besides the mattress and box spring for a more permanent residence.   You will likely see evidence of them ON your mattress but they don’t usually burrow down INTO the fabric for a hiding place. The headboard, the bed frame, the bed side table, the alarm clock, the base boards, the wall vent, the wall outlet or the picture hung on the wall are all easier and more inviting locations for them.   Bed bugs don’t like movement and will find a permanent residence that does not shake, bump and shift.
  2. Bed bugs are not created from nothing.  Everyone does not have them, like dust mites.  YOU must introduce them into your own environment.  So a mattress cover will not prevent them from making a home in your home.  You must be vigilant in keeping them out.

However, if it will give you peace of mind and you choose to buy one anyway, here are a few thoughts.

  1. Buy the most expensive one you can find – a flimsy, ripped cover will truly spoil your bed bug removal efforts.  (Personally I do not relish the idea of sleeping on a bed of starving vampires.)
  2. As a bed bug removal expert, your mattress cover will make my job easier.  It will show me more easily that you have an infestation and it will prevent bed bugs from harboring in your box spring, which can make it hard to find a live one.

Lastly, if you have an infestation, mattress covers and/or throwing out your mattress wont solve your problem.  In fact a heat treatment can help you save EVERYTHING you have in your home or business without contaminating your space with pesticides.  Heat will sterilize all the furniture, the rug, everything.


Bed bugs in my laptop! NOW WHAT?!?

Many people are surprised that bed bugs will harbor in an electrical device. But if you think about it, electronics are typically warm, cozy spaces with lots of nooks and crannies that are not frequently disturbed. It is a perfect spot for a bed bug home. Think about your alarm clock. It is right next to your bed, it is only touched twice a day (setting & snoozing) and it is likely slightly warm from the electricity. (Warmth usually means food to them.)

So what happens when they decide to find other electronics to hide in? What do you do? I was recently brought in to heat a hotel room with this exact problem. The hotel guest had been in the northeast and admittedly stayed in a not-so-nice hotel. After two days at her conference here in Atlanta she opened her laptop to a horrible surprise – bed bugs were pouring out of her laptop keyboard! What happened?!?! My educated guess is that the bugs made their way into her laptop case at the prior hotel. Since it was cold outside, they found the warmest spot in her bag – the laptop – when she left the hotel. A few days later they were hungry again and came out when they smelled food. Gross!!!

To treat electronics you need heat. Liquid pesticides cannot be sprayed onto electronics and dusts will just muck up the systems. Check your user manual first, but most electronics are fine up to 150 degrees. If you are not doing a bed bug thermal heat treatment on your whole space, then I recommend a PackTite™. All your items can be placed inside it and cooked for the appropriate amount of time for proper bed bug extermination. But remember, just because they are dead, does not mean they are gone. Dead bed bugs inside an electronic device can cause problems. So I recommend that you find a good electronics “disaster recovery” company. If it is an infested computer they may be able to clean it for you or at a minimum pull off your data for your new one. They worked miracles on a Katrina flooded desk top that I had.


DIY bed bug foggers – little bed bug control

One of our recent bed bug heat remediation efforts displayed a classic infestation aggravated by DIY methods. The bugs had found a home with this client in her guest bed room. The bed frame was the bed bug’s home of choice – not the mattress. (Mattress covers would have done no good.) While the mattress, box spring, and support beams displayed classic feces patterns, the bed bugs were living in the posts of the bed frame.

My client had tried a DIY bug bomb fogger in the infested room. It killed many of the live bugs but it also sent the remaining ones scattering and looking for new feeding grounds. I could see a few all the way at the top of the wall waiting for the pesticide to dissipate, she had 12 foot ceilings. What the fogger missed was the eggs. So in less than 17 days she was going to have a whole new colony of hungry bed bugs with no food. Her child’s room was right next door, I am confident that her children were their next meal. We performed the heat treatment in her space, the rest is history.

I’ve posted two photographs of the bed frame. One to give you a perspective of the bed frame, the other to show you the eggs.

bed bug treatment - bed frame

bed bug treatment - eggs & feces