Bed bugs are extremelyy sensitive to heat and are killed quickly when exposed to temperatures over 45oC. If heat is used for bed bug control, it is important that the high temperatures are applied suddenly; a increase in temperature will cause the bed bugs to disperse.
The most practical method of exploiting heat is through the use of steam vapour. The great advantage is that it will kill all bed bug stages.
It’s important to note that there any many different brands and types of steam machines available on the market, however not all are appropriate; the unit must be able to produce steam of a low vapour flow and high temperature. Steam flow rate must be kept to a minimum to avoid blowing bed bugs about and to reduce wetting. Steam machines are only as effective as their operator. To achieve anywhere near eradication, an intimate knowledge of the pest and its ecology are essential, inspections must be diligent and the treatment process must be meticulous. The instructions of the steam machine must be read thoroughly noting all safety instructions prior to use. Steam machines take time to reach operating temperatures, this can be done while the inspection is in progress.
As the steam machines are operated with a low steam vapour flow rate, it is necessary to place the nozzle directly onto the surface being treated; the temperature drops away rapidly from the nozzle and a separation of only a few centimetres will not be lethal to the bugs. The nozzle should be moved along at a rate of only 30cm per every 10-15 seconds.
The steam treatment should start with the mattress, then be applied to the seams, under labels and handles, and both inside and out of an ensemble base. It will be necessary to remove the material base of the ensemble which should be kept, and if required, re-stapled after the infestation has been eradicated.
The cushions of chairs/ sofas should be treated next, paying particular attention to seams and buttons. Always check if the sofa is a sofa bed, and if so, treat the mattress as above. Carpet edges can also be treated with steam, along with the straight edge both above and below.
It is a myth that bed bugs can be killed via heat by placing infested materials into black plastic bags and then into the sun.