10 Aug An attempt at chemical free bed bug control
Over the last number of years I have been working with a reputable award winning landlord with his bed bug problems. We started off with my standard treatment plan which was:
- heat sterilize couches and beds in my trailer
- apply Tempo PCP # 25673 @ 1% concentration to furniture, baseboards, and door/window frames while the furniture is heating
- instal climb up interceptors with Trapper Max mouse glueboards surrounding the interceptor under all sleeping surfaces
- reapply Tempo @ 2 weeks
- monitor for bed bugs via the glueboards. When no bed bugs have been caught for 6 weeks we consider the situation solved.
- Remove glueboard/interceptor combo trap and replace with only interceptors. Suite periodically inspected thereafter.
The landlord had tremendous success with this program and then started thinking “if we are catching all these bugs on the glueboards as they make their way to the host why do we need to do two chemical treatments?” I, in my skeptical voice, stated “that might not be a good idea – i have no idea how that would work.” The second treatment was dropped and the program still worked excellently.
Then the landlord started thinking “if we are catching all these bugs on the glueboards as they make their way to the host why do I need any chemical treatments?” I, in my skeptical voice, stated “that might not be a good idea – I have no idea how that would work.” Anyways this landlord has now gone almost 3 years and 50 suites treated with zero chemical applications. And the landlord reported good success rates. There were periodic failures which required reheating of furniture but that could be expected even with the full program. The landlord’s evaluation of the program is that “it takes longer to get rid of the bugs with a chemical free method but the spread to neighbouring suites is reduced.”
I informed a rooming house operator of this success and he started to incorporate these glueboards into his own treatment plans (which relied heavily on chemical control). Though initially reluctant and skeptical this landlord experienced excellent results and began building custom beds to accommodate these traps. We actually got bed bugs out of rooming houses, which is amazing, and the landlord stated: “I don’t know what you did but we got rid of the bugs!!” In reply I deferred to the glue boards being added to the plan.
I, of course, was very interested in what was happening but refused to try this method in my own apartment block. I was afraid to try this method because failure leads to big consequences and I stuck with the tried and true method – until 1 year ago. I have treated 5 very small infestations and one moderate infestation successfully in that time using only heating and trapping. The last three cases, including the moderate infestation, are documented in my blog entitled “a-preliminary-evaluation-of-spraying-insect-repellant-deet-on-a-bed-bug-infested-bed-in-multi-family-settings.”
Since then I have done some video research on these glueboards to determine the exact process in which the bugs are caught. I was surprised at the rate at which my experiments repelled the bugs. For example when a glueboard was placed on a piece of plywood (non slippery substrate) and introduced to the experiment area it appeared a number of the bugs were repelled by the glue board. The bugs where inhibited from climbing onto the slippery portion of the glueboard. But if a bed bug did run into the glue board it was unlikely to escape. And if the bug approached the glueboard tentatively (because I introduced a new item to the experiment pan) the bugs would not be caught as easily.
With the research I have done so far it appears the best scenario to use these glueboard/interceptor traps is on slippery floors such as hardwoods or waxed tile. These floors have similar substrates to the slippery edge of the glueboard which would then be less likely to cause the bugs to be tentative. (my own cases were all on waxed tile). If I was looking only at the research pan I would conclude the glueboards were a failure. But if I look at real life evidence I have to conclude otherwise. It appears that my research pan can not adequately simulate real world conditions. I will continue experimenting to see if I can figure this out. If the results are borne out with further testing a simple glueboard and empty tuna can could be instrumental in a chemical free bed bug eradication plan.