This old saying has long been used as a warning against the nighttime invaders that very few of us ever had to worry about. Now, these pesky little critters have begun to reemerge, and can be found in hotels, condominiums, and yes, maybe even in your own homeowners association! According to a recent article by Bruce Melanson, the president of Prevail Pest Control, bed bugs are once again reaching epidemic proportions. Dr. Michael Potter, University of Kentucky entomologist was quoted recently, "Bed bugs are just going ballistic everywhere. It is going to really rock this country".
What the pest control industry is working towards now is the most efficient treatment standards that address timely elimination, cooperation, and residual protection, thus minimizing the overall chance of re-infestation. There are several schools of thought currently utilized in the marketplace. Most notable is "traditional" pesticide applications and "heat" treatments.
Let’s discuss these two treatment techniques in a simplified manner to better understand these options.
Traditional pesticides in today’s world offer great advantages in many ways. These products don’t resemble the products our parents, or for that matter our grandparents were familiar with such as DDT. Today’s products are prolific in each of their use, as there are many to choose from, depending on the target pest. With bed bugs, there are several products utilized in a variety of ways to provide for the optimum end result, elimination and protection against reoccurrence.
Heat treatments have been employed by pest management professionals for over a decade now to battle a variety of pests including Drywood termites, fleas/ticks and now recently, bed bugs. Heat treatments are designed to increase temperatures to a threshold where bed bugs cannot survive. This process is time consuming, requiring machines, fans, and cables distributed throughout the targeted area, the structure or segment thereof, as well as the need for a dedicated and safe power source. Once placed in "proper" position, it takes several hours for the area to achieve the required temperature of 132 degrees for bed bug mortality. There are features to this method that many would agree make sense, but there are additional drawbacks worth consideration.
Manufacturers disclaimers often warn that when using heat to kill bed bugs, it needs to happen as fast as possible or the gradual temperature increase WILL cause the bugs to scatter and possibly lead to FURTHER INFESTATION. They also remind us that some materials are more resistant to heat than others, such as your mattress or couch, which is where most infestations reside. There is also the risk for some items to explode when exposed to increased temperatures and photographs and other personal or sensitive materials can be damaged as a result of a heat treatment.
Traditional pesticides when handled properly by trained professionals, along with communicating and coordinating treatment preparation, protocol and placement of materials, will provide massive reduction, if not elimination with the initial treatment.
A practical follow up plan should be enacted at the time of initial service; to inspect, verify results and re-treatment if necessary to ensure complete control standards. Products and equipment employed will vary, allowing the most suitable to be used throughout the home. "Pesticides" include but are not limited to NON-REPELLENT products, IGR’S, and BEDDING SAFE materials, to name a few.
Non-repellent products are best described as "cloaked" or "unrecognizable" to the target pests, thus allowing them to remain and move about the treated area without being alarmed. IGR’S are insect growth regulators which prevent population growth and provide residual protection.
Bedding safe materials are "green" ranging from products that resemble rubbing alcohol to steam machines to mattress encasements. As you can see, with proper equipment, placement and products, the most effective long term solution to battling this epidemic is traditional pesticides. Let’s face the facts, pesticides have been used for centuries and continue to be the leader in battling ALL PESTS TODAY.
What MUST also be considered is a proactive approach to minimizing the concern at the outset via a comprehensive proactive inspection, treatment and certification program installed as part of all our daily lives, be it multi-housing, corporate complexes, retail shops, moving vendors, public places or just our very own home.
Be sure to subscribe to this column, and stay abreast of issues involving you, the homeowners of Palm Beach County! If you've had any issues with your HOA that you'd like me to try and delve into, and possibly write about later, please let me know. Also, if you'd like to join the discussion on Twitter, you can find me at http://twitter.com/#!/faborplumbs. While you’re at it, please read my articles about local getaways, motorsports, elections, and restaurants.