If you catch bedbugs, you don’t have to call a licensed pest control company, but you’d be foolish not to, is the take-away message from a warning issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last August. “Using the wrong pesticide or using it incorrectly to treat bedbugs can make you, your family and your pets sick,” the EPA said in a consumer notice cited by The Hill Healthwatch online. “It can also make your home dangerous to live in and may not solve the bed bug problem.”
Alarmed by reports of dangerous pesticide misuse and extreme measures taken by some homeowners and apartment dwellers in DIY efforts to eradicate bed bugs, the US EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) released a joint statement last July warning consumers against using outdoor pesticide products in their homes in an attempt to get rid of bed bugs. Reports from licensed pest control professionals in the field and the media of people wetting their beds, pajamas and even bathing their babies with garden insecticides have caused growing concern among government officials, the medical community, public health guardians and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Using harsh chemicals not approved by the EPA for residential use can cause severe burn-like irritation of the skin and eyes, possible damage to the central nervous system, and can even expose you to carcinogens.
There have also been numerous reports of house and apartment fires erupted by desperate people using highly flammable liquids to kill bedbugs. In January, a man from Cincinnati, Ohio, who was cleaning furniture with a mixture of insecticide and alcohol, started a fire in his apartment when his cigarette ignited fumes from the chemical mixture. In July 2008, a man from Eatontown, New Jersey blew up his apartment while attempting DIY pest control. A pilot light ignited the chemical splashes and fumes causing an explosion that blew up the front windows of the apartment and caused a fire that destroyed the man’s apartment and caused severe damage to neighboring units.
“Pest control companies have reported seeing many ineffective and potentially dangerous measures used by DIYers, including ammonia, bleach, fire, smoke, kerosene, wasp spray and insect bombs, as well as concentrated pesticides. purchased on the Internet, “by Kentucky entomologist and bed bug expert Michael Potter, writes in Bugs Without Borders, Defining the Global Bed Bug Resurgence, an international survey of pest management companies recently conducted by the University of Kentucky in collaboration with the NPMA. “As bed bug victims become more desperate, serious injuries can result from such applications, especially among those who choose not to hire a professional,” he warns.911pest.ca
Bedbugs don’t always respond to home treatment. These apple seed-sized insects that feed on human blood are difficult to kill, a function of their biology and behavior. At best, do-it-yourself home treatments can force bed bugs to relocate, spreading infestations more quickly. These insects have a tough, protective carapace that is not easily penetrated. To kill, pest control products must come into direct physical contact with the insect; and their eggs are unaffected by products currently approved by the EPA for residential use. When not feeding, bedbugs hide in inaccessible spaces deep within tiny crevices, inside walls, behind baseboards, under floorboards, and inside electronic devices. Bedbugs and their eggs can also be easily carried on clothing and personal items, allowing infestations to spread quickly in a home or apartment building. This combination of biology and behavior makes it nearly impossible to kill an entire bed bug infestation with a single pest control treatment. Three professional pest control treatments spaced two weeks apart are typically required to successfully exterminate a bed bug infestation and ensure all hidden insects and newly hatched eggs have been killed.
Professional extermination by a licensed pest control company with experience in killing bed bugs is the most effective way to p