Like a biblical plague spreading across the land, bedbugs are back in the U.S., and the problem is only getting worse. Nearly extinct in this country just a few decades ago, these bloodsucking vermin have evolved to become tougher, stronger and more pesticide-resistant. While modern chemicals are proving to have a limited effect on these super-bugs, good ol’ American ingenuity has dreamed up a whole host of innovative methods to deal with the comeback of these critters; promising news if you’ve recently awoken with the telltale trails of itchy red bumps. And since many of these new methods eschew the use of pesticides, they serve as fantastic alternatives for those looking to avoid pumping gallons of poison into their homes.
If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Cook ‘em
Killing bed bugs with heat is one of the most effective new methods on the market today. Exterminators armed with industrial-grade heaters and fans blast hot air into your home, getting the temperature inside to around 140 degrees and holding it there for a few hours. A typical bedbug will croak once its insides reach about 115 degrees, a temperature that is still safe for much of the stuff in your home. And while as effective as the most potent pesticides, the heat method won’t leave behind a toxic residue.
Heat treatment also works as a preventive measure on a smaller scale. If you’ve been traveling on the road and think you might have come in contact with bedbugs, you can purge your belongings in the dryer or create a makeshift hotbox with a space heater in the garage.
Death By Dust
Diatomaceous earth, or DE for short, is a harmless white powder to humans, but it’s deadly to insects. The flour-like powder works its way under the pest’s exoskeleton, terminating the bug by desiccating it from the inside. DE is commonly used in the garden to keep outdoor pests at bay, but more and more people are using it in the home to fend off nocturnal bloodsuckers. While it is a safe and natural solution for those looking to avoid chemical pesticides, it does have a downside. The bugs have to come into direct and prolonged contact with material for it to have an effect, so you have to spread it pretty extensively throughout the home. To be effective, the powder has to stay bone dry, so it isn’t the most effective method for those living in humid climates.
Tracked by Blood Hounds
Already trained to sniff out bombs and drugs, dogs are now being taught to pick up on the telltale scent of bedbugs. By zeroing in on the smell of bedbug pheromones, dogs have a 98 percent success rate in finding the critters. While the dogs can’t rid your home of pests, they can help you figure out whether those red bites you’ve been waking up with are the result of bedbugs or merely mosquitoes. And working in tandem with a trained exterminator, the dog can help sniff out where most of the bugs are hiding out, allowing the pest control expert to focus on the right spots.
While dogs can be an effective means of sniffing out bedbugs, training and caring for the animals can be expensive – a cost that invariably gets passed onto the customer. Enter the bedbug-sniffing robo-nose. The machine’s sensors are set to detect the same pheromones that dogs sniff out, as well as CO2 and methane, which bedbugs also emit. In addition to the lower upkeep costs, the device’s inventor claims his method is more accurate and even more sensitive than a dog’s nose. Now if only he could invent a robot that could kill the obnoxious pests it discovers, we’d finally have a better mousetrap.