was I successful

Asked July 23, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT

Hello. I found 5 or 6 live bed bugs in a few screw holes of my wood bed frame. I squished those bugs and after finding no more, I immediately took the bed apart on a large sheet of thick plastic. I vacuumed all the pieces paying special attention to the cracks, crevices, holes and gaps. I then sprayed the entire frame generously with Hot Shot bed bug and flea aerosol spray again concentrating on holes, cracks, crevices and gaps. I wrapped the pieces in the plastic and sealed all the seams with duct tape. I put the sealed frames in my attic where this time of year the heat has been unbearable for more than 5-10 mins. They remained there undisturbed for the past 30-40 days. I took the beds out 2 days ago and opened them outside on my driveway. I sprayed every inch with Lysol and wiped them down with Clorox wipes. I inspected every hole, crack, crevice and gap with a flashlight, a small Allen wrench and a playing card. I then sprayed them with murphys oil soap with orange zest, spraying directly into the holes, cracks,etc. I scrubbed all the surfaces with a hard bristled brush. I inspected again with the tools. I found no signs of anything after all that. In the bottom of the plastic I found what appeared to be 3 dead 1st stage nymphs and on 1 side board I found 5-10 fecal spots which may have been from before I stored them away. The frames have been in my garage for 3 days. Is it possible that any stages survived that treatment ? Is it possible I missed any ? My gut says no but I'm terrified I did. Please help. Thank you.

Montgomery County Pennsylvania

1 Response

Yes, it is possible some survived. But don't panic yet.

Bedbugs need a blood meal to defecate. The fecal spots could be from feeding before you sealed up the bed frame. However, you may not have gotten enough heat to kill them all. Eggs need the higher heat to kill them than nymphs and adults. If the one you found on the side board was an adult female, she may have laid eggs.

To kill bed bugs you need to get the temperature up to 140 F for at least 45 minutes. The problem with furniture is that often the structure of the furniture insulates the bedbugs from the air temperature. So in commercial heat treatments, the air temperature are raised much high and held for longer periods in hopes of getting enough heat to all the bed bugs. Were you able to achieve this in your attic? Maybe.

I would be cautious using sprays. Sprays have to actual hit the bugs to work - it's not like roaches where the residues of the insecticide can kill them. As our bed bugs specialist says you have to see them to spray them, and then you may as well squish them with a hammer.

Even if you got them all in the frame, you may have bed bugs in other spots in the bedroom. You may want to check with a local pest control company that specializes in bed bugs treatment and see if they have a detector dog. Dogs trained to smell bed bugs are very good at finding them. A trained dog should be able to give you peace of mind that all the bedbugs are gone from the bed and the bedroom.

Dini Miller is a nationally recognized expert in bed bugs. She's written some free publications you can download from the Virginia Tech website that you may find helpful.