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BATTLING BED BUGS
Bed bugs are well-adapted to living with humans. Like other successful parasites, they prefer to live near their next meal.
In the case of the nocturnal bed bug, this usually means close to where people sleep or lounge.
In recent surveys of bed bug-infested apartments, for example, more than 90 percent of the insects were found living in beds, sofas and recliners ( see “battling bed bugs in apartments, “ pct august 2006).
Disposal. The fastest way to reduce bed bug numbers is to throw out infested items. Bed bugs can be hard to eradicated from beds and upholstered furniture because so many may be present and well concealed.
Box springs, sofas and recliners are especially challenging, affording unlimited hidden harborage within inches of the host. Heavily infested or damaged mattresses, frames and headboards also may warrant disposal. Nonetheless, throwing out infested items isn’t an option for some customers and often may not be necessary.
When infested items are discarded, bagging or wrapping them prevents dislodgement of bugs en route to the dumpster.
Vacuums can remove many types of pests ranging from cockroaches to ladybugs. Routine vacuuming by clients is seldom of much benefit against bed bugs because they hide in places where normal housecleaning efforts do not reach. Targeted vacuuming of infested harborages, however, can be useful if performed properly and limits of the procedure are understood.
Bed bugs are harder than cockroaches to dislodge with a vacuum.
Adults and nymphs cling more tightly to surfaces and each tiny translucent egg is affixed with a cement-like substance. When vacuuming bed bugs, better results are achieved by scraping the end of the suction wand repeatedly over the harborage area. While many bed bugs will be dislodged, some individuals and especially eggs will be left behind. Removal becomes difficult if not impossible when bugs and eggs are located deep within crevices of wood, fabric or upholstery. Another potential concern when vacuuming bed bugs is the chance they will be spread. Perhaps more so than with cockroaches, we have noticed some bugs and plenty of eggs surviving the high-speed ride down the vacuum hose into the collection bag. If vacuum bags are not discarded, bed bugs could be transported to other clients or back to the office. Brush attachments enhance the potential for spread by allowing bugs and eggs to adhere to the bristles.
Sterifab / Bedlam.
Sterifab and Bedlam are often used to treat bed bug infested beds and upholstered furniture. Although both Sterifab and Bedlam are technically pesticides, some companies choose to use them because of their comparatively short residual when treating human contact surfaces. Sterifab and Bedlam contain mainly alcohol and the relatively shortlived pyrethroid d- phenothrin.
There is uncertainty whether either product has sufficient residual activity to kill bed bug nymphs emerging from eggs, why in most cases a good safe pyrethroid (suspend) is also recommended. To study this question, groups of adult bed bugs were sprayed directly with each bedlam and sterifab.
In another experiment, adults and newly emerged nymphs were confined on filter paper discs that were treated one hour, two days or seven days earlier. Three different bed bug populations were evaluated:
Two previously shown to be susceptible to pyrethroid (suspend) insecticides, and a third population known to be resistant.
When adult bed bugs were sprayed directly with sterifab or bedlam, all (100 percent) died including those from the pyrethroid-resistant population.
Efficacy against resistant bugs presumably was related to the alcohol present in both formulations which itself is lethal to bed bugs as a contact (wet) spray.
When newly emerged nymphs were confined on surfaces treated with sterifab or bedlam one hour, two days, or seven days before, almost all (95% to 98%) of the pyrethroid (suspend) susceptible nymphs were killed, but nearly none (2%) succumbed from the resistant population.
These preliminary findings suggest that both Sterifab and Bedlam provide excellent contact kill as a direct spray against adults and nymphs.
Whether they’ll also afford residual protection against emerging bed bug eggs depends on the (pyrethroid) susceptibility of the population and perhaps other factors still being investigated.
Laundering / Drying.
Bed bugs often infest bedding, clothing and other personal belongings which cannot be treated with insecticides. But highest water setting should be used.
Please note we could find no study that has been done to test the benefits of laundering and drying of infested bedding.