12 Jun Bed bug friendly furniture

Exterminators dread certain types of furniture because it is so difficult to treat them. For example, the cheap wood/fabric integrated folding futons are terrible. The difficulty with these particular pieces of furniture is that there is very little good harbourage on the exterior of the piece. Often the units have smooth steel legs that create some difficulties for the bugs to climb down (climbing up is no problem). Therefore the bugs are encouraged to burrow deeply into the futon in search of good harbourage. And for sure there is excellent harbourage available but only inside the covered frame which the exterminator can not access. One might try to cut holes in the futon fabric to gain access but to do a good job the futon is ruined. As such these futons are basically garbage when infested.

A slightly different problem arrises with very fancy wood frame beds. Often these beds are queen and king size and squished into tiny bedrooms. Add a couple of dressers and there is no room for the exterminator to work. And to do a good job the entire bed needs to be disassembled with mattresses and box springs turned upside down. How is the exterminator supposed to do that in such a cramped space? The temptation for the exterminator is to cheat and not disassemble the bed and rely on surface treatments but this is not nearly as effective. If there are untreated areas the resistant bugs will find them and simply move to those areas.

In my own apartment block I have included a clause in my leases that states that all tenants must have a bed with legs and the tenant must sleep on those items. This stipulation, by definition, excludes captain’s beds with clothes directly under the bed which can cause so much harm with incidental infestations of work places and friend’s homes. Also any couch longer than the length of the door will be cut in half with a saw and removed in pieces if it is found to contain bed bugs. This stipulation encourages smaller couches which can be more easily moved through hallways to be heat sterilized.

The best beds are the smallest bed you need for a given purpose. For example, a single person does not need a queen size bed – get a single or maybe even a double. Also the ideal bed has a simple steel frame that can be easily treated as opposed to fancy/ornate wood frames (usually made of particleboard) that contain infinite numbers of tiny bed bug harbourages and fall apart with the slightest movement. Also make sure the bed has a box spring as most of the bugs will harbour in that item. The inclusion of that box spring discourages the bugs from wandering further from the bed and into clothing and back packs which causes more harm. Keep in mind that the box spring ceases to be an excellent harbourage if it is on the floor. It needs a nice frame with legs to function properly as a bed bug harbourage.

The best bed on the market is the polished brass bed with an integrated steel/brass headboard. These beds can be easily set up an inch away from the wall and does not allow the pillow to touch the wall. The bugs can easily climb the polished brass but, when engorged, they have difficulty climbing down. As such all (or most) of the bugs stay right on the bed and a nice cosy box spring is just the ticket. The box spring will fill with bugs and the infestation is very localized – perfect. Some people might find the concept gross but in reality the number of bites remains the same either way. Attempts to keep bugs off the bed just means the bugs commute further and cause damage with unintended infestation of the work place and friend’s homes as they harbour in dressers and clothing instead.

Keep in mind that couches are basically throw aways if they are to be chemically treated. It is true that we have salvaged many couches with a chemical only approach but it is difficult. A better couch (in chemical only treatments) would be items that can be disassembled and treated like Ikea type furniture. On the other hand these types of couches contain less harbourage and the bugs will harbour further away from the couch. For me I like small stuffed couches as they contain an infinite number of excellent harbourages which encourages the bugs to stay on the couch. I then wrap it and heat it – perfect.