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Bed bugs are a very difficult pest to control because they are very good at hiding in small cracks and crevices. In addition, modern populations of this pest are highly resistant to the insecticides used for their control.
Because bed bugs are hard to reach and our insecticides have not worked as well as we expected, homeowners and pest management professionals have been looking for new ways to kill bed bugs. Heat is effective in killing them and can be used in many different ways to treat infestations.
For example, heat in the form of steam can be used to treat bed bugs on carpets, behind baseboards and upholstered furniture. Clothes dryers and portable heat chambers can be used to kill bed bugs in infested household items. Larger heat chambers can be used for furniture treatment, while professional heating systems can be used to treat entire rooms and structures.
Heat treatment offers certain advantages when it comes to handling bed bugs. Heat is not toxic and can kill all developmental states of bed bugs, including eggs. However, heat treatment of any kind (except for your home’s clothes dryer) is relatively expensive and has no residual activity. The lack of residual activity means that bed bugs can once again infest the day after treatment. Even so, heat treatment remains one of the most effective tools we have in the fight against bed bugs. Among the different techniques and tools, there is one that you have at your fingertips and you can use:
The Clothes Dryer
One of the difficulties we face in eliminating infestations is the treatment of all household items that bed bugs are capable of infesting. Insecticides cannot be applied to household items such as toys, clothes, shoes or bedding.
Fortunately, a clothes dryer is excellent for killing all bed bugs found in these items. A full dryer, at high temperature, is capable of killing all the stages of development of this insect, even the egg stage, in 30 minutes. A dryer with a removable shelf is also excellent for killing bed bugs on items that cannot be rotated in the dryer, such as leather shoes, bags, ornaments, even books. For these items it will be necessary to increase the drying time to ensure that all items reach the thermal death point of the bed bug.
Any living being has a lethal temperature above or below its optimum survival temperature. In the case of bed bugs, they are very resistant insects and have quite extreme lethal temperatures.
In the case of bed bugs, recent studies indicate that all eggs subjected to 48 ° C for 71.5 minutes die and that all adults and nymphs subjected to 45 ° C for 94.8 minutes also reach 100% mortality.
Therefore, these studies set the lethal temperature of bed bugs at 50-55ºC, a range that guarantees 100% mortality of any phase. For this reason, one of the most effective control measures used today for the treatment of bed bugs is the application of heat located in infected areas.
To reach this high temperature, the clothes must be dried in a large dryer in the hot setting for at least 30 minutes (for a load of 3.5 kg). Still, you should always check if the manufacturer’s instructions of the pillow allow it to be put on the dryer.