Is Heat Effective in Killing Bed Bugs
The results are in and, yes, heat actually does kill bed bugs effectively.
Now the real question is at what temperature does heat kill bed bugs and how long do you have to maintain that temperature. There is plenty of scientific data around the subject. And fortunate for us, not the bed bugs, we have a strong idea of what will work on them.
Research has been completed over the last few years by some very reputable institutions around this subject. The results provided show a strong indication of the effectiveness of heat treatments on bed bugs and bed bug eggs. This research encompasses many aspects of study and we have some great insight into the temperature and the length of exposure to that temperature are optimum. Many bed bug exterminators have been very interested in this information and have incorporated it into their effective treatment plans.
What we do know is that temperature and exposure time are linked together and are both important factors. It’s kind of like one will not work unless the other is also achieved. In other words, they each depend on the other condition to be met.
So How Hot does it have to Get?
The recent research data has indicated that the internal temperature of the space should reach 49 – 55 degrees Celsius. Now, there will be some wiggle room on the temperature due to conditions such as level of insulation, etc. Also, bed bug eggs tend to be a bit more heat resistant that their adult counterparts. However, when you have adult bed bugs, you have to know for a fact you have eggs as well! So moving the temperature gauge up to the higher end may be more effective on both stages of life of the bed bugs. We have to take into consideration the exposure to all interior at this high heat because we want to avoid damage to certain things such as furniture, etc. A bed bug exterminator will be mindful in attempting to identify any items that could be at risk due to the high temperature exposure. And they may recommend removing them from the space and treating them separately, possibly using other methods.
Next part of the equation is how long does the temperature need to be maintained? Research is indicating a minimum of 4 hours. We say minimum because the heat will need to penetrate into all corners and crevices in the home. Which can take longer depending on the home. And as a bed bug exterminator, we are not done with the process until we have reached the maximum exposure needed. So, treatment will often extend beyond the 4 hour minimum, just to be sure.
Does it really take that long to kill bed bugs?
No, it takes only a few minutes to kill a bed bug at that temperature. Ok, now you think you caught us in a lie! No, the simple truth is, if you collected the bed bugs into a Petrie dish, hit them with that kind of heat, they are going to die quite quickly. But there is no way you are going to get direct exposure on the bed bugs living in your space. They are masters at hiding. And you will need to make sure that the heat treatment is maintained so that it can reach the smallest of cracks and crevices. Even behind the baseboards.
A reputable bed bug exterminator will strive to ensure that the temperature is maintained at a sufficient degree so all bed bugs and eggs are exposed to that kill temperature. They will also ensure that any items left for treatment are laid out correctly so they will be effectively exposed as well. And they will also ensure that the heat is circulating effectively within the space, reaching out to include all areas.
There are some really good sources online to explore the scientific studies conducted on heat treatments and bed bugs. We encourage you to do some quick searches on the topic. It is really interesting reading. Although, we are bed bug exterminators, so it is kind of our thing.