5 On Your Side

New heat treatment scorches exploding bedbug problem

Posted February 1, 2011

— "Don't let the bedbugs bite" isn't just the stuff of lullabies anymore. These tiny, bloodsucking insects are invading the country's hotels, stores and homes.

Pest control companies say the problem is exploding; a Raleigh company, Triangle Pest Control, reported a 500 percent increase in bedbug calls over the last year.

On Tuesday, the federal government held a bedbug summit in Washington, D.C. The Federal Bedbug Working Group looked at how different cities are dealing with infestations, especially now that many of the bugs have built up a resistance to pesticides. The two-day brainstorming session aims to come up with a battle plan that state and local leaders can bring home to their communities.

Mature bedbugs are about the size of apple seeds. They get into mattresses and small crevices and even experts admit they're extremely difficult to eradicate.

But there's hope.

A new treatment that uses scorching heat instead of toxic chemicals seems to be working for many people who have spent years and thousands of dollars trying to rid their homes and businesses of the creepy insects.

5OYS bedbugs New heat treatment scorches exploding bedbug problem

Expert bedbug exterminator Donnie Shelton of Triangle Pest Control said he starts the heat treatment by setting up a room like a convection oven.

"At 115 degrees, it can no longer take it, so all the moisture that's in the bed bug comes out, and that's how they die," he said.

To make absolutely sure the bugs are dead, the heat is cranked up to 150 degrees for four straight hours.

"Nothing's gonna survive that kind of heat," Shelton said.

Sensors in the room – some are hidden behind the walls – monitor the temperature. A crew with a laptop monitors the heating process from another room.

Shelton said the process works because the bugs – even those hiding in furniture, knick-knacks, outlet boxes and behind walls – cannot escape the heat like they can escape chemicals. While some items, like candles and mini-blinds, can melt during the process, most items can safely stay in the room during the treatment.

The process isn't cheap. Shelton charged $1,400 for treatment in just two rooms, but for homeowners who have tried everything to eradicate their bedbug infestation, it can be worth the cost.


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  • grace4 Feb 3, 2011

    We just had this treatment done last weekend by Triangle which cost us $2700 for 3 bedrooms, we were told standard chargers are $1200 for the first room & $900 for each additional room, but since we had 3 rooms, $2700. We called them after the news cast aired & questioned the $1400 charge for two rooms. He assured us that WRAL made a mistake & that it was for only one room with hardwood floors and greater travel distance. We too questioned & commented on how expensive the treatment was, but we wanted it taken care of fast and didn't see any other companies on google search locally. Just wondering if WRAL would have any comment? The only reason I blog tonight is because this seems to be a huge crisis & certainly has been for us, my greatest hope is that no one is being taken advantage of in times such as these. With all these comments & different prices it continues to make me wonder. The Triangle representative assured us during and after that intergrity was very important to them.

  • magillicutty919 Feb 2, 2011

    As someone that recently had to go thru this terrible situation, there are other options out there, than Triangle. AND yes, I was given a $1000 per room estimate by them! Be sure to call around!

  • 6079 SMITH W Feb 2, 2011

    They EXPLODE? Seems kinda dangerous to heat 'em up like that....just sayin. ;)

  • Leonardo Feb 2, 2011

    Becauseican: It's $1400 for two rooms, but it doesn't say how much it would be per each additional room. Maybe it's $1000 just to come out, and then $200 per room?

  • Timetogo Feb 2, 2011

    Any insurance coverage for this type of treatment? That would be kinda expensive to 'clean up' a whole house.