Bedbugs: Way of life, distribution and control

Cimex lectularius, colloquially better known as bedbugs, are parasitic insects that feed on human blood. In many parts of the world, bedbugs have become a growing threat.

Natural pest control method without chemicals

Habitats & spread of bedbugs

Many countries are facing the challenge of combating bedbug infestations effectively and thus avoiding serious health problems but also economic damage. Bedbugs are nocturnal and prefer dark, quiet environments during the day. They are excellent crawlers and can hide in tiny joints, cracks or gaps. They come out at night to feed, but quickly retreat if disturbed. Bedbugs are insects that can survive in a broad range of environments and are highly adaptable. They prefer to live in bedrooms, beds, fabric-covered seating and deep pile carpets as they feed on human blood. They hide in mattresses, bed frames, bed linen and in cracks or joints in furniture.

Bedbugs can quickly spread through travellers and their luggage, which leads to their prevalence in hotels, holiday homes and on public transport. Additionally, bedbugs can be transmitted through the use of second-hand furniture, clothing, and household items. In apartment buildings or hotels, bedbugs can travel between flats through crevices and cracks in walls and floors.

Effects of bedbugs on humans

The impact of bedbugs on humans involves causing skin irritation, rashes, allergies, and increasing the risk of disease transmission. These parasites remain hidden during the day and become active at night, attracted to the human body heat and CO2 exhaled into the air. This results in discomfort from the bites and may cause sleep disruptions and psychological stress.

A bedbug infestation can have significant financial consequences. Treatment costs are one aspect, while the other is the expense of replacing contaminated furniture. Especially for accommodation establishments, bedbug infestations can lead to reputational damage and resulting financial losses due to guest cancellations.

Bedbug control

Effective bedbug control necessitates a comprehensive and synchronised approach to eradicate all developmental stages and locate the bugs in their hiding spots. Sometimes, only a skilled pest controller can provide the necessary and efficient relief.

The first important measure is to identify the infestation: the bed frame, mattress, bedclothes, and surrounding areas must be checked for bedbugs, such as excrement traces and the bugs themselves. Bedlinen, curtains, and clothing ought to be washed at high temperatures while thoroughly cleaning the infested rooms. Freezing clothes for several days is also an alternative to high-temperature washing.

However, merely cleaning the rooms is generally inadequate when it comes to permanently getting rid of the infestation. The use of insecticides is also commonly ineffective in controlling bedbugs. It is crucial to adhere strictly to the manufacturer's instructions and ensure that appropriate indoor-use products are employed. However, the effect is reduced on the one hand by the fact that it rarely reaches all the places where bugs hide or where eggs have been laid. Secondly, many pests have developed resistance to conventional insecticides.

Professional pest controllers decide the best course of action based on the level of infestation and local conditions. Heat treatment is a popular alternative due to numerous benefits. It is efficient, environmentally friendly, and avoids the use of harmful chemicals while leaving no harmful residues in the environment. The method is highly effective in eliminating bedbugs, including their eggs, in all stages of development, even in the most stubborn cases. It acts quickly, and typically only one treatment is needed to completely eradicate the infestation. This is due to pests being unable to transpire and consequently, their body temperature rising in accordance with the ambient temperature. Above a body temperature of 45 °C, enzymes decompose and the body's own proteins denature, coagulating them. As a result, the molecules lose their biological function, leading to the flattening out of metabolism and biosynthesis, ultimately causing death in animals. Heat treatment makes use of this vulnerability to heat. An oven designed for heat treatment, such as the FrigorTec DEBUGGER, heats a room evenly and maintains a constant temperature until the pests denature, effectively eliminating them. Research demonstrates that heat-based pest control proves effective on a range of common building pests, including ants, bedbugs, beetles, mites, cockroaches, moths, wood-damaging beetle larvae (such as woodworms), as well as material- and storage-damaging larvae (such as mealworms).

Preventing bedbug infestations

To prevent bedbug infestation and to avoid bringing the pests home with you in your luggage, you should take the following measures:

When travelling, particularly in hotels, inspect beds for signs of bedbugs. These unwanted pests prefer to hide in tiny crevices, thick carpets, and furniture and can easily overcome smaller obstacles. However, they typically struggle on smooth surfaces and are unable to climb height differences. Check your baggage thoroughly upon arrival at your residence and sanitize or wash all luggage promptly, if needed.

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Insect heat treatment in food processing

Performing heat treatment while protecting material

Hours of exposure to heat reliably kills storage and food pests, but also puts a strain on the rooms being treated. If performed correctly, however, heat treatment is possible without any damage to the building. Preparing the room also ensures that the entire pest population is killed off without damaging any objects.

Insect heat treatment for removing bed bugs from hotel mattresses

Keeping a watch-out for bedbugs so that your guests will not need to

In tourist accommodation such as hotels, youth hostels, or holiday homes, pests come and go with the guests too. In particular, bedbugs spread quickly in such places, and annoy guests in the long term. Using thermal pest control to treat a room is suitable for hotels, as it does not use insecticides and guests in other rooms are not disturbed.

Pest control method against flour moths

Ensuring food hygiene without insecticides

Food-processing factories have to meet the highest hygiene requirements, but are also an ideal habitat for storage pests. An infestation can have serious consequences for companies, up to and including the closure of operations. Heat treatment is particularly suitable for the food-processing industry, bakeries and mills, as it is a chemical- and residue-free process. Hotels also use heat treatment to combat bedbugs.

Heat treatment unit for removing pests

Deadly for pests, harmless to humans and the environment

While pests in private households are often only seen as a nuisance, an infestation can have serious consequences for companies. Sectors such as the food-processing industry, mills, bakeries and the hotel industry therefore rely on effective control measures. Heat treatment is a form of ecological pest control that does not use insecticides and makes use of biological protein coagulation.

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