By Jared Woerth
As pest management professionals, we are not new to bed bugs. In fact, 99.6 percent of pest professionals have encountered bed bugs in the past year, according to research from NPMA and the University of Kentucky. As we have learned, heat treatments continue to be the most effective method when eliminating bed bugs, especially heavy infestations.
Even though heat treatment services are the most effective solution to bed bug problems, common mistakes can occur when performing these treatments, potentially resulting in a heat treatment failure.
The next time you are preparing a heat treatment service, consider these five tips to guarantee the first bed bug heat treatment gets the job done.
1. Know your equipment. It is key to ensure the equipment you are using is equipped to heat the space you are treating. Remember, the equipment has space and size limitations. If you are attempting to treat a space larger than the recommended capabilities, additional equipment will be needed. Ensure you are familiar with the equipment and check with the manufacturer for specific capabilities.
2. Examine the structure. When searching for physical evidence of bed bugs, it is important to focus on the type of materials used to make up the structure. If a space has concrete floors, it is much harder to raise and hold the lethal temperatures. Concrete absorbs heat, so it takes time to heat the space to 135°F and keep it there. Other elements, such as if a room has air flow, will also aid in a heat treatment’s success.
3. Investigate the space. When pest control professionals get a call for bed bugs, the first step is to go to the residence to investigate the situation. It is important to search every piece of furniture to verify what is infested. It is also important to inspect rooms or apartments to the left, right, above and below the space. Bed bugs are known to transfer easily, even through wall voids.
4. Prepare homeowners and residents. It is very important to prepare residents before a bed bug heat treatment takes place. By providing a pre-treatment checklist, you can ensure that residents will have their homes ready and will know what to expect before and after the treatment.
Verify that the checklist you provide to clients includes all pertinent information for bed bug heat treatments. Confirm that the checklist states that certain items like aerosols are removed and that the home is free of clutter prior to the treatment. The resident should not have any trash, food left out, pet waste or other unsanitary items present. The easier it is to access the bed bug infestation, the more successful the treatment will be. It is also helpful to conduct a walk-through with the client before the treatment so they are aware of what items will need to be cleaned or moved.
Always be honest and open with your clients. Realistic expectations will allow everyone involved to fully understand the treatment and next steps. For clients with severely infested units, be sure to communicate that additional treatments may be required for complete control.
5. Give recommendations to clients after the heat treatment is performed. As important as the pre-treatment checklist is, the post-checklist is just as critical to overall success. Among other things, clients must know that whatever items were taken with them on the day of treatment must be washed in a washer and dryer upon arriving home. This will ensure that if any bed bugs were present on the items when they were removed, they are properly treated and eliminated upon their return to the environment.
With bed bugs out of the infested home, it is also important to investigate where the client may have picked up these bed bugs. Playing detective is a great way to ensure the client does not encounter the same infestation and bring bed bugs back to their home again.
CONCLUSION. Keeping these tips in mind, your next bed bug heat treatment service is positioned for success. Knowing your equipment’s capabilities and providing clear communication and realistic expectations to the client is key and will ultimately make all the difference in a treatment’s overall success.
Jared Woerth is special services manager for Wil-Kil Pest Control. He is also a current director and past board president of the Wisconsin Pest Control Association.
This Tech Talk article was originally published in the July 2018 edition of PCT magazine.