When most people think of pest control, they immediately think of pesticides and other chemical treatments. While these potent poisons are undoubtedly effective for killing pests and clearing out infestations, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of spreading chemical treatments throughout their homes. Unfortunately, it’s often much more difficult to reliably clear up a pest infestation without these chemical-based treatments. However, when it comes to bed bugs, heat treatments provide a completely chemical-free alternative to conventional treatments.
Insects are made of proteins, just like people and other animals. To sustain their lives, insects rely on proteins and enzymes to be able to perform essential biological functions properly. But when proteins are heated up to a specific temperature, they become denatured. Denaturing means that proteins lose their shape and start to break down. They are no longer able to interact with one another properly, and the cells that comprise the insect cease to function as they should.
Laboratory studies provide us with a range of temperatures at which a certain percentage of bed bugs caught by a heat treatment will die. To ensure complete control of a site, the bedbugs need to be heated to 50°C for two hours or 52°C for one hour. Note that this is the temperature the bedbugs themselves need to reach, not the environment around them.
Heat treatments are effective and reliable chemical-free treatments, but only when they’re applied correctly. Heating an entire room to the appropriate temperature takes time and energy; it doesn’t come cheap. If the temperature is too low or the heat isn’t applied evenly throughout the area, the treatment won’t take, and bedbugs will survive, lay their eggs, and keep the cycle going. However, if the temperature is allowed to rise too high, it can cause damage to furniture and fixtures. Careful control is required.