Bed Bug Control: Misc. Nonconventional Approaches


Wang, D., C. Wang, G. Wang, C. Zha, A. L. Eiden, and R. Cooper2018. Efficacy of three different steamers for control of bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L.). Pest Management Science. 74(9): 2030-2037. doi: 10.1002/ps.4933

“BACKGROUND: Bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L., have become one of the most difficult urban pests to control. Steam treatment is reported to be an effective method to kill bed bugs and is considered to be an important component of bed bug integrated pest management (IPM). We evaluated and compared the efficacies of two affordable consumer-grade commercial steamers and a commonly used professional-grade steamer for killing bed bugs. RESULTS: In laboratory experiments, the consumer-grade steamers at affordable prices achieved the same high control efficacy as the professional-grade steamer for treating bed bugs exposed on mattresses (100% bed bug mortality for all steamers), located beneath a fabric cover (>89% bed bug mortality for all steamers), or hiding in cracks (100% bed bug mortality for all steamers). Bed bugs located behind a leather cover did not suffer significant mortality from steam treatment regardless of the type of steamers used and the treatment duration. CONCLUSION: Proper use of steamers can kill all life stages of bed bugs. Affordable consumer-grade steamers are as effective as professional-grade steam machines for eliminating bed bugs resting on mattresses and hiding behind fabric materials or in cracks.”


Liu, Y.-B., and K. F. Haynes2016. Effects of ultralow oxygen and vacuum treatments on bed bug (Heteroptera: Cimicidae) survival. Journal of Economic Entomology. 109(3): 1310–1316. doi: 10.1093/jee/tow034

“Control of bed bugs is problematic, balancing among efficacy, safety, and cost. In this study, ultralow oxygen (ULO) and vacuum treatments were tested on bed bugs to develop a safer, effective, and environmentally friendly solution to kill bed bugs on infested items. ULO treatments were established by flushing sealed enclosures with nitrogen. All life stages of bed bugs were found to be susceptible to ULO and vacuum treatments, and efficacy of the treatments increased with reduced oxygen levels, increased treatment time, and temperature. In the ULO treatments, 100% mortality of bed bug nymphs and adults and >98% mortality of bed bug eggs were achieved in the 8-h treatment under 0.1% O 2 atmosphere at 30°C [86°F]. Different levels of vacuum that yielded different oxygen levels were tested on all life stages of bed bugs. The susceptibility of different stages to vacuum treatments increased from nymphs to adults to eggs. Complete control of all life stages was achieved in 12 h under −982 mbar (−29.0 ) vacuum at 30°C [86°F]. This study demonstrated that bed bugs were very susceptible to low oxygen stresses and ULO and vacuum treatments have potential to be used as effective and safe treatments to decontaminate bed bug-infested removable objects.”


Wang, C, L. Lü, and M. Xu. 2012. Carbon dioxide fumigation for controlling bed bugs. Journal of Medical Entomology. 49(5):1076-1083. doi: 10.1603/ME12037

“We investigated the potential of carbon dioxide (CO2) fumigation as a method for controlling bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L. The effect of bed bug developmental stage, temperature, and CO2 concentration on the minimum time to kill 100% of bed bugs was determined. The minimum CO2 concentration lethal to all bed bug stages was approximately 30% with 24 h exposure time at 25 degrees C. The minimum fumigation time required to kill 100% of eggs using 100% CO2 at 20, 25, and 30 degrees C were 3, 7, and 8 h, respectively; the minimum fumigation time to kill 100% of adult males/nymphs were 8, 13, and 14 h, respectively. The minimum time to kill 100% of adult males/nymphs using 50 and 70% CO2 at 25 degrees C were 18 and 16 h, respectively. We found that eggs were not completely killed after 24 h fumigation when the CO2 concentration was lower than 80%. Thus, bed bug eggs were more susceptible to 100% CO2 fumigation than nymphs and adult males but more tolerant than nymphs and adult males with lower CO2 concentration (50-80%). There were no significant differences among nymphs, adult males, and adult females in their susceptibility to 100% CO2 fumigation. A 24 h fumigation in sealed 158 liter (42 gallon) heavy duty garbage bags filled 90% full with fabric materials and/or boxes and 1,350 g dry ice per bag was sufficient to kill all stages of bed bugs hidden in the materials at room temperature (23-24 degrees C). Sealed heavy duty garbage bags maintained > or = 94% CO2 for at least 24 h. Custom-made double zipper plastic bags (122 x 183 cm) were also used to evaluate the effectiveness of CO2 fumigation for controlling bed bugs. Each bag was filled with fabric and boxes to 50-90% full. Bed bugs were hidden in various locations of each bag. CO2 was introduced into the bags through a CO2 cylinder. CO2 fumigation lasting 24-48 h was sufficient to kill all stages of bed bugs at room temperature, depending on the quantity of materials placed in each bag and whether CO2 was introduced one or two times at the onset. CO2 is an effective alternative to conventional fumigants for eliminating bed bugs hiding in infested household items such as clothing, shoes, books, electronics, sofas, and so forth.”

Yturralde, K. M., and R. W. Hofstetter. 2012. Efficacy of commercially available ultrasonic pest repellent devices to affect behavior of bed bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 105: 2107–2114. doi: 10.1603/EC12166

“Little is known about the potential for acoustic communication in bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), or the use of sound as cues in host location, although many hemipterans are known to communicate with sound. Most behavioral research has focused on bed bug pheromones that are used in aggregation and as alarm signals. We investigated the influence of sound as a deterrent and as an attractant, either of which could ultimately be used to monitor and control bed bugs. Female bed bugs were tested in two-choice tests with four different commercially available ultrasonic repellent devices. We found that female bed bugs were equally likely to occur in arenas with or without sound produced by ultrasonic devices. These devices did not repel or attract bed bugs during choice trials. However, more bed bugs preferred the middle corridor between the test (sound) and control (no sound) arenas when the sound devices were played. Bed bugs were also more likely to exit the middle corridor during control trials compared with treatment trials with ultrasonic devices. Our results confirm that commercial devices producing ultrasound are not a promising tool for repelling bed bugs.”