A comparison of two different beds and their ability to hold onto bed bugs.

In the last few months I was privileged to be involved in treating two suites with slightly different beds. Both beds were melamine construction box frame (sitting on the floor) queen sized beds with wooden slats under the mattress (no box spring). Both suites were comparably infested with bugs limited more or less to the bedroom. The biggest difference between the two beds was that one bed had plastic holders in which the wooden slats fit. The other bed had plain wooden slats without plastic holders. Overall it was a pretty decent comparison of very similar beds with only the plastic holder being the difference. If there was a discrepancy in comparison it was the plastic holder bed had a slightly larger infestation than the other ordinary slatted bed.

We heat sterilized the plastic holder bed and upon later inspection, noted there were surprisingly large numbers of dead heated bugs in the plastic holders. The rest of the suite was treated chemically with tempo 25673 but no activity was noted in other furniture. The newly heat sterilized bed was returned to the bedroom with modified glue boards under the frame. 3 weeks later 8 bugs were noted in the glue traps.

The other suite without the plastic holders was treated chemically with tempo 25673 and the only bugs noted were in the melamine pull out drawers under the bed, the mattress, and slatting – the rest of the suite appeared bug free except for one bug on the couch reported by the tenant. I saw no evidence on the couch (glue boards under couch legs for the entire treatment process also showed zero bugs). The drawers were treated with dragnet 24175 (appears less messy than tempo on dark surfaces and better contact killing than tempo ) and konk 31110 (aerosol pyrethrin). The mattress was addressed with hydropy 29762 @ .25% applied with a standard B&G sprayer. Modified glue boards were set up under this bed and two weeks later 61 bugs were noted in the glue (mostly first instar). The second check at 4 weeks showed zero bugs and subsequent checks showed the suite remained at zero bugs.

My initial surprise at the number of bugs in the plastic holders was corroborated by the glue board trap counts. It appeared the plastic holders (with wooden slats inserted) were highly favoured by the bed bugs and reduced the dispersal effect compared to a bed without plastic holders. This observation is similar to another case where a plastic holder \ wooden slat in a brass tube bed also held a surprisingly large number of bugs.

One aspect of Integrated Pest Management theory is an attempt to reduce harm through changes in environment. The addition of suitable harbourage material to a bed reduces dispersal to other areas of the home and this appears to me to be a valuable strategy. I have for years suggested that mattress encasements cause harm by encouraging dispersal. As such I have always recommended people obtain beds with a box spring and legs – this arrangement reduces dispersal. It appears I can add a bed with plastic holders and wooden slats to the recommendations. In one way the plastic slat bed is actually superior to the box spring as the plastic is much easier to treat. It would be interesting to pit a plastic holder /slatted bed against a box spring bed – I wonder which one would hold more bugs before dispersal started in earnest?

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