Interview with Colin Hickey from Green Planet
We already know that pesticides, bed bug sniffing dogs and heat treatments are being used to treat infestations, but what about another green alternative for pest control professionals?
Entomologists at the Allston, Mass based company, Green Planet are using steam and a vacuum to deliver an eco-friendly option to customers. “The steam will reach about 100 degrees and in about one to two seconds it will burn the bed bugs. There’s also an adhesive on the eggs, and the steam will open the eggs before they hatch and make them explode. This means that the eggs are not viable,” Hickey said.
To avoid trapping cool air into the vacuum, a towel is placed on the end of the steam gun. It’s also important to make sure the steam is not coming out too strong, which would cause a reverse reaction and blow the bed bugs away as opposed to sucking them in.
Hickey also stressed that green techniques are used as part of his team’s IPM (Integrated Pest Management) plan, but that the products they use are not necessarily green. “The goal is to try and limit people’s exposures to pesticides, reducing the amounts used, and localizing the areas,” Hickey said.
According to National Geographic, their definition of the phrase “Eco-Friendly” means “Earth-friendly or not harmful to the environment. You can engage in eco-friendly habits or practices by being more conscious of how you use your resources.”
Other methods used by Green Planet also include encasing mattresses, box springs and sets up monitor traps. Thhe traps, also referred to as “bed bug moats” and have a glue-like substance that will catch the bed bug. The monitors are placed on the leg of the bed. “Most of the cases we have seen are within close proximity of the bed—within five feet,” Hickey said.
For more info. on Green Planet, go to www.greenplanetpest.com
Let’s talk about a few bed bug products on the market right now, that you can potentially use while on vacation. As far as the reliability of these inventions, your best bet is to read the customer reviews and make sure there is a money back guarantee. Most of the products are pretty affordable and accessible through online purchases. Here’s a summary of a few of the bed bug products being offered to consumers:
Bed Bug Travel Spray
Most of these sprays come in 3oz bottles, so they will pass through security checkpoints at the airport. Be sure to find out if the ingredients are EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) certified. Basically, this means making sure that the pesticide has a minimum risk, while being able to kill the insects. Travelers can spray it on their luggage, hotel bed, car seats and furniture. The one I researched on Amazon was priced at a modest $5.95.
Bed Bug Cocoon
This one sounds a bit ridiculous at first-A “Cocoon” to protect people against bed bugs? It looks more like a Snuggie (with a hood included) rather than bed bug protection gear. The advertiser’s claim “The sleeping cocoon’s tightly wound polyester threads are spaced only 1 micron apart to prevent 100% of bed bugs from penetrating the fabric.” I think we can translate this description into simpler terms by thinking of it as wearing an expensive bathrobe to bed. I’d be more impressed if the “Cocoon” design resembled the footed pajamas that zipped up from head to toe that we wore as kids-nothing was going to get inside those suckers! If you do decide to go for the bed bug Cocoon, it’s a little more green than you might expect. And no, I’m not referring to being Eco-Friendly-I’m talking about cash. It is priced at $79.95.
Green Clean Dissolvable Laundry Bags
Now these are bags I would want to carry. You put them in your laundry machine and they dissolve right into the water. Have you ever tried those dissolvable Crest white strips that magically disappear on your teeth and give you a brighter smile? If you have, then you can understand how these laundry bags work. Also, the heat and detergent will assist you in getting rid of any bed bugs and in preventing the spreading of infestations. You can get a box of them for $30.50. Even if you don’t have bed bugs, they may be useful for travel and offer an eco-friendly solution.
Bed Bug Pheromone Monitor and Trap
This product offers a way to check for bed bugs and encase them into a see-through trap. The pheromones draw in the bed bugs and then they get stuck in a glue-like, sticky substance. The monitors are very small and can be placed around the edges of a bed or furniture. If you do catch one, you will have concrete evidence to show a landlord or hotel manager. The best part about this product is that it has “free and discreet 2-5 day shipping”. The monitor and trap go for $17.95.
How do you know if those red bumps on your skin are from bed bugs? It is difficult to distinguish the bites from other insects. However if the marks are red, itchy, in a line and/or clustered together, you may want to investigate further. Not everyone will have the same reaction to bed bugs. One person may swell up and have an allergic reaction, while another may have no discomfort.
We already know that bed bugs primarily feed off of human blood, but some bed bugs will go after birds or bats if they can access them. The bites on your arm, neck or even face will appear after the bed bug has fed off of you.
The good news is that the red marks will most likely go away in a relatively short period of time (one to two weeks). A trip to the doctor’s office is not necessary UNLESS you are having an allergic reaction. There is no medicine or prescription drug that can cure the symptoms. There are a few over the counter options you can consider for short term use. You can use a skin cream that contains hydrocortisone or Benadryl.
Just remember to resolve the larger issue at hand by using proper professional treatments for you infestation.
We’ve all heard of canines that are trained to locate explosives, narcotics and assist the blind, but, using dogs to find bed bugs? Absolutely. They are the latest weapon of mass destruction in the war against bed bugs. Hotels, hospitals, dorms, public housing facilities and apartment buildings are able to depend on the dogs for accuracy in pinpointing the exact areas of infestations. This gives pest control exterminators an advantage when using insecticides to treat only targeted areas, rather than spraying large amounts of unneeded chemicals into the environment.
According to a report by the Institute for Biological Detection Systems (IBDS) of Auburn University, dogs are able to: “Detect A Substance. Dogs learn to alert to one or two of its most abundant vapor compounds. And, dogs can easily learn as many as ten odor discriminations.”
Basically, the dog’s nose is what finds the bed bugs. A visual inspection would still need to be done to validate the findings. The dogs are also very fast when they are hunting for bed bugs. Recently, the University of Nebraska hired five bed bug dogs to go through over 100 dorm rooms. It was a costly but effective procedure for the school.
A dog that has been certified, preferably by the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association (NESDCA) will ensure that the dog only gives a positive alert when live bed bugs are found. The NESDCA will also make sure that the dog is on a consistent training schedule with their handler.
We are already aware that bed bugs are a problem in the hospitality industry and in the homes of thousands of Americans. However, one of the greatest concerns is in senior housing complexes, where the bed bugs’ victims are more vulnerable than the average citizen. Often times, the elderly are unable to spot the infestations because they can’t see well enough, and, they lack the knowledge of how to spot bed bugs. Additionally, senior residents are afraid to report the incident because they assume that they will be financially responsible for the exterminator bills.
Sadly, by the time an elderly citizen comes to the realization that there are bed bugs, the infestation has spread significantly. And, the physical signs and symptoms that appear on their body have been ignored for a long period of time. Now, policy makers are taking action to protect their senior citizens and the general population. According to the National Pest Management Association, one out of five Americans has been exposed to bed bugs.
Many states are adopting bed bug legislation laws to prevent further infestations not only in senior housing, but in schools, homes and apartments. Some laws even extend into the furniture re-selling industry.
In 2010, New York Governor David Patterson signed a bill that requires NYC schools to notify parents of bed bug reports. Landlords are also required to disclose any bed bug infestations to prospective tenants. Shortly after Patterson’s new bill went into effect, New York’s Housing Division adopted a disclosure form.
In Hawaii, realtors are required to disclose any info. on bed bug issues by answering the following question: Has there been any sign of, or are you aware of any pest problems (e.g. roaches, fleas, bed bugs, mites, ticks, ants, rats, etc.)?
Kansas has a strict law for their hotels and motels to adhere to. If a guest puts in a complaint, the hotel must report it to the Dept. of Agriculture within one business day. Interestingly enough, Kansas had also previously prohibited their housing inspectors to go into the units that were infested because they were afraid of the inspector carrying the bed bugs into other locations.
Connecticut has made headway in the past few weeks to create a bed bug legislation that would include mattress re-sellers to show proof that their bedding is free of bed bugs. The same rule would apply to furniture rental companies.
South Carolina has a bed bug prevention and sanitation act.
Congress passed the “Don’t Let The Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2009”, as well as the “Bed Bug Prevention and Mitigation Pilot Program.”
And, finally in Massachusetts, the bed bug laws are still lenient. Under the current law, the regulations are vague and simply state that landlords are required to “maintain the dwelling you own without insect infestation. Landlords must inspect each unit and take action to remedy and bed bug infestations.”