Can bed bugs grow resistant to heat?
A study from Purdue University examines multi-generational heat resistance.
by Tommy Underhill
February 11, 2021
“Every living organism has a thermal death point,” says Dr. Mike Linford, founder and CEO of GreenTech Heat. This applies to cockroaches, WDOs, and bed bugs. When lethal temperatures are achieved at the hardest-to-heat locations and held for the requisite duration of time, a 100% mortality is achieved every time.
Compared to strategies such as the use of pesticides or insecticides, bed bug responses to extreme thermal environments has been less studied. A study published in the February 2019 PLoS ONE entitled Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L.) exhibit limited ability to develop heat resistance by Ashbrook, Scharf, Bennett, and Gondhalekar from Purdue University looks into the perceived phenomenon where live bed bugs can be found within a treatment area following a heat treatment, possibly due to adaptive heat resistance.
By attempting to breed “heat resistant” bed bugs across multiple generations, the team at Purdue found that sublethal heat exposures reduces bed bug feeding and increases life cycle development time. No bed bugs developed “heat resistance” and all bed bugs exhibited limited ability to tolerate insecticidal heat. The study concludes: One possible explanation for why bed bugs could remain after a heat treatment is that they were exposed to sublethal heat, escaped from high-temperature locations or were introduced to the domicile at a later time.
The GreenTech Heat Solutions bed bug treatment specifies measuring treatment heat at the hardest-to-heat location, and expressly does not assume surface temperatures are representative of cooler locations bed bugs may be harboring.
For more than 15 years, Dr. Linford has recommended the following standardized treatment times for bed bugs measured by the temperature probe at the hardest-to-heat locations:
- 120°F for 4 hours
- 130°F for 3 hours
- 140°F for 2 hours
Examples of hard to heat locations include under the carpet at the baseboard where an external wall meets the floor, under the leg and foot of a heavy dresser, or in the rear lower corner of a closet. The GreenTech Heat Solutions bed bug protocol is well documented in Bed Bug and Other Pests Heat Treatment Field Guide.
Technical questions or ready to get started? Call us at 855-484-2847.
Thirty years of real-world heat treatments has shown GreenTech Heat technology to be 100% effective for bed bugs, cockroaches, termites, and all other insects. GreenTech Heat equipment allows you to self-treat with heat on your schedule and as your needs demand. Our certified training lets you do it right and do it safely the first time. Heat safely kills insects and bacteria, viruses, and mold everywhere they may be found in a single one-day treatment. Call us at 888-699-3944. We have bed bug heaters for sale to get started with heat today.
What People Say
The use of non-chemical measures such as heat treatments has distinct advantages. This method does not have many limitations with respect to the number of items treated and the area to be treated. There are no chemical residues to consider and, compared to gas fumigation of areas, margins for safety are considerably greater. The area treated can include a number of items (garments and furniture) that would otherwise increase the complexity of other control measures, the time required to treat these items, and the potential for control failure.