They are considered some of the most dreaded and persistent household pests, and they have recently reemerged in huge proportions around the world. Because they have developed resistance to most pesticides, bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of, and owners of infested homes are resorting to some downright crazy solutions to drive them out. Here are some of the most incredibly bad ideas to get rid of bed bugs – which are not only are completely useless in dealing with the nasty critters, but they can also put your life and property in danger.
Bug bombs (insect foggers) are another popular method homeowners resort to when dealing with bed bugs, but scientists have recently proven what we pest control professionals have known for a long time: they are completely useless against bed bugs and might even make matters worse by spreading them deeper inside the walls of the house.
Insect foggers are typically designed to be placed at the center of an infested room, while their contents are released into the air and then settle onto floors and furniture (completely exposed prior to the application). Most foggers claim to kill on contact, but the fact of the matter is, bed bugs spend most of their time hidden inside cracks and crevices, under sheets and mattresses, and deep inside carpets, so they are mostly covered from the foggers’ mist. Even if they may venture outside and get sprayed with the toxic substance, chances are they will be perfectly fine, since they have developed resistance to the main ingredients in commercial foggers.
Those who have suffered through a bedbug infestation know that heat treatments are at the moment the only surefire solution to eradicate the nasty buggers. And because they’re eager to do so as soon as possible, they make the mistake to take matters into their own hands – and end up setting their apartments and homes on fire.
Here are some examples of people who, in their desperation of killing off the bugs in their homes, made the news:
For desperate homeowners currently at their third or fourth attempt to exorcise bed bugs from their homes, applying pesticides in larger quantities or using products off-label might seem a good idea, but it never is. According to a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report released in September, 2011, there was an increase in the rate of reported acute illnesses caused by bed bug control over time. In the 8-year period studied, there were an estimated 111 case reports involving poisoning and pesticide injuries and one fatality, but the numbers are considered to be an underestimate.
Aside from the fact that people can get hurt, using insecticides inside the house is a bad idea because it may make matters worse by spreading, instead of killing, insects. DEET (diethyltoluamide) and other insect repellents may work against fleas, cluster flies, and wasps, but are completely ineffective against bed bugs.
Throwing your infested mattress or couch away may seem a failproof method of eliminating bed bugs from your house, but this approach is also wrong on several levels. First, there’s the financial factor: you are throwing away expensive furniture that you will have to spend even more to replace. Two, throwing an item just because you saw a bed bug crawling on it is in no way a guarantee that your nightmare is going to end. (Bed bugs are experts at hiding in the deepest, darkest corners of your room, and only a pest control professional can identify the infestation’s source).
And third, by getting rid of infested household items, you could be passing the bugs further to someone else who might pick up your furniture from the sidewalk.
Throwing everything away might make matters worse by causing the bugs to crawl into another room or a neighboring home. Once you have detected an infestation, it’s best to leave everything in place until you get professional help to address the problem.
Finally, after everything else has failed and you find yourself at your wit’s end, calling a pest control professional seems like the only solution you have left. And it definitely is, unless the company you’re hiring is incompetent and ends up destroying your property, as it happened in the summer of 2011, when a Calgary-based pest control company using radiant heat treatments burned down a 50-unit condominium in Edmonton. The company has been given a $10,000 fine by fire investigators and is being sued for $3,5 million in damages by the apartment building owners.
As much misery as bedbugs may cause, none of the do-it-yourself treatments you have at hand can work to effectively eradicate a severe infestation. Moreover, you can endanger your health and destroy your property by taking matters into your own hands. If you want to get rid of bed bugs in a most safe and effective way, call us and we’ll schedule an inspection to determine the severity of the infestation and the most suitable treatment method.
About the Author
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.