I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to get this pdf page from a slide show presentation from the 2nd EPA Bed Bug Summit onto this post and I finally realized a screen shot would do the trick. Here is the link to the entire presentation titled, Improvements in Prevention and Control Techniques: Using Heat for Best Effect, by Dr. Stephen A. Kells. I have quoted from this presentation in a prior post. Now that I am seeing the slides and not just listening to the presentation, I thought I should share this helpful guide showing what machines work on bed bugs and what do not.
They show that the industrial machines, the enormous metal boxes but also the Ladybug XL2300 are the machines that will get results. The cheap hand held machines, they state, only lead to frustration as there is not enough heat coming out of the machine.
I have personally reiterated that bed bugs can survive up to 18 months without a meal. It sounds sensational but in fact was supported by studies done prior to 1950.
A paper in the publication, Insects, published on May 11, 2011 finally brings sobering evidence that in fact, bed bugs are not indestructible. You can find that paper here. This research done at Virginia tech suggests that bed bugs can only survive a modest 3-5 months at most without feeding. Furthermore, having genetic resistance to pesticides shortens the survival rate even further. The additional energy expended on thickening exoskeletons and producing large amounts of detoxification enzyme diminished their survival rates considerably.
The researchers at Virginia tech were specifically trying to find out if this new resistance to pesticides changed the survival rate during starvation. The results are dramatic to say the least. The study was conducted using 2 strains that were susceptible to pyrethroids and two that were resistant. Ist instar nymphs had the shortest survival time, 13.8–36.3 days mean, 13.8 representing survival time for one of the two resistant strains and 36.3 representing one of the two non-resistant strains. The differences in survival rates varied between all strains, showing the greatest survival rate to be 3rd and 4th instars of the non-resistant strains at 116.4–142.6. Adults bed bugs maxed out at 106 days of survival after their last blood meal.
The paper points out that in addition to the older studies not accounting for resistance to pyrethroids, they were conducted with bed bugs being held at a temperature below 11°C (51.8°F). It is unlikely that residential temperatures would ever dip that low.
I don’t know enough microbiology to know if the following is significant, however, it should be noted that the study was conducted using chicken blood as the food source for the bed bugs as they were being reared and also as their final blood meal. Though the bed bugs were kept in optimal conditions for longevity until their final blood meal, I can’t help but wonder if the source of the blood could possibly contribute to the difference in survivorship compared to the studies from prior to 1950. It seems reasonable that if there is any difference in the nutrient density of human blood and chicken blood, it could make a difference.
Still, the results found in this paper are good news. At the very least, one can conceivably wait out an infestation by moving into the shed for 5 months.
The Oregonian Bulletin informs us of a new bed bug related invention that is patent pending: the Bed Bug Resistant Bed.
The full article is available here. The bed frame is made of metal that is coated with an extra slippery top coat. The legs are splayed to make it impossible to push the mattress up against the wall and the mattress is covered in vinyl.
It is gaining popularity in low income housing just through word of mouth. It makes sense for many uses, such as homeless shelters and youth hostels as well.
A New Zealand television station reported today that a New Zealander by the name of Sarah Carter may have died due to pesticide exposure while traveling in Thailand earlier this year.
The pesticide in question is Pyrophus. There were several other sudden tourists deaths around the same time and investigations are still ongoing.
Similar horror stories are happening here in the U. S. as residents take matters into their own hands, purchasing pesticides meant for outdoor use, such as Propoxur, and using them indoors in unsafe doses. There are also reports of parents who spray their children down with Raid before putting them to bed.
If for no other reason then the unsafe use of pesticides, bed bugs have become a serious health risk on a global scale.
I am continuously impressed with Jeff White. About a week ago, when Marie Claire’s article on bed bugs and dating went viral, I did not respond to it, not wanting to give any more attention to the hysteria. But too, I didn’t care enough to put into words the distaste I had for the article and the publication. Talk about trying to profit from the suffering of others, and creating more anxiety in order to seem relevant in this bed buggy climate.
Thank you Jeff for being a voice of reason and taking on a topic which is important, though a bit outside your scope of expertise.
The New York Times reports the latest invention targeted against bed bugs. In addition to sucking up debris, the machines, “uses UV light, which is a germicidal,” killing numphs, eggs and bugs. Ryan Douglas, chief executive officer of Verilux admits however that this machine is more preventative than it is exterminating as some tough adult bugs may survive the UV rays. He doesn’t consider this a detractor since the hearty bugs may survive many weapons used in the fight against bed bugs.
In New York City, I can see this becoming a hot item With 6-10% of the populations living with bed bugs currently, it would make perfect sense to add a UV germicide to the arsenal.
I owe the discovery of this post to New York vs Bed Bugs. An inventor in Wilmington, NC created a bed bug sniffing device. How fabulous! I will wait a year or two for them to perfect it and then I will definitely be purchasing this item.
Another inventor created a bed bug proof locker liner. I personally have suspicions about this product not being able to protect your belongings. The only benefit is that since there is no blood meal in your locker, perhaps the liners will encourage any residing bed bugs to move on to another locker that is easier to penetrate.
I was able to listen in on the summit through their phone line. Dr. Wang discussed the efficacy of DIY. He stated that it can be effective and affordable with a small infestation of less than 12 bugs. Participants in the study were able to bring their infestation level to zero in eight weeks. For a bigger infestation, professional assistance is desirable. The measures he mentioned were mattress encasement, interceptors and other isolation methods, diatomaceous earth, weekly laundering/drying of all belongings, and manual destruction as well as steam, and vacuuming.
Other researcher’s mentioned that domestic steamers are not very effective, that it must be an industrial grade steamer for the high heat and capacity. There must be an output temperature of over 180ºF and the capacity must allow for a reasonable working duration or else frustration ensues. It was even mentioned that a dry steamer without a towel, but just from the nozzle pushing steam into a crevice beneath floorboards can reach 3 to 4 inches into the floorboard thus reaching kill temperatures inside the floorboards. Furthermore convection vs conduction heat was discussed as to the possibility of bugs escaping during heating process. Convection, where hot air is moved into spaces such as wall cavities allowed for far less movement as the bugs did not attempt to move until the heat of 118ºF was already reached, which results in immediate death for adults (122ºF results in immediate death of eggs). With Conduction, bugs started to move at 80ºF, started to attempt to feed at 95ºF, and started to try to escape as the temperatures reached over 105ºF.
Today and tomorrow, February 1 and 2, the EPA is holding it’s second National Bed Bug Summit. Find more information on the EPA Bed Bug Summit page. They even provide a link to a webinar of the summit so we can all attend. Unfortunately you will need to dust off your Internet Explorer, assuming you have moved on to Firefox like the rest of the population. Firefox is not compatible with the Oracle Web Conferencing software that they are using. I will have my explorer up for sure. Hopefully I won’t miss anything exciting while I run around trying to make a living in this lovely economy.
These exciting new findings were reported on Bloomberg Businessweek at bloomberg.com. This article explains that it was believed to be a DNA mutation that caused the bed bugs to be resistant to pesticide, specifically Pyrethroids, ” but in fact many genes have helped the insect adapt to commonly used pesticides” This response is better explained in this Wall Street Journal article that state:
Bedbugs today appear to have nerve cells better able to withstand the chemical effects, higher levels of enzymes that detoxify the lethal substances, and thicker shells that can block insecticides.
This is helpful but no one really can foresee how these findings will help in the fight against bed bugs. Clearly this is a strong argument for Integrative Pest Management strategies, especially mechanical methods such as heat. I wonder what the verdict is on the thicker shell’s ability to protect a bed bug from Diatomaceous Earth. Frightening.
You now know for sure that an exterminator who says he can spray ‘em dead is probably not the guy you want to hire.