As bed bug remediation professionals, our goal is total elimination of bed bugs. We invest a lot of time with our clients with bed bug education, inspection, and treatment planning. Bed bug heat treatments typically require a full day of heavy effort to achieve success. Despite your best efforts, you receive an unexpected callback. The client has found a live bed bug in one of the bedrooms, or saw one crawling on a wall, and they want you to resolve the issue. In the following article, we will explore some options to address callbacks in a manner that is effective and requires minimal resources. Some of those options include monitoring devices, steaming, and electric bed bug heaters to name a few.
Let’s start with some basic best practices for addressing callbacks. In our bed bug education classes, we always teach our attendees to start by confirming the existence of a live bed bug specimen. We encourage before starting any treatment, whether it is the first treatment or a callback. People mistake bugs such as carpet beetles and German cockroach nymphs for bed bugs all the time. You can reinspect and determine if the client saw a “straggler” that may have survived the treatment. You could employ monitoring devices that have lures in them such as the Nightwatch or Delta Five to attempt to trap a live bug. I typically ask potential clients or existing clients to attempt to save one in a zip lock bag for identification if possible.
If you have verified that it is a bed bug, you must address the issue. Let’s suppose you treated the entire home with heat, and went through the painstaking effort of loading all the air movers, large propane bed bug heater(s), and spent a full day of labor and fuel. The treatment is under warranty, so the callback is 100% on your dime. The client is expecting heat, as you have likely have explained the benefits of the process. Most of the time, the problem resurfaces in just one room, not the entire house. Instead of retreating the entire house, you can utilize electric bed bug heaters to perform partial treatments. This is an excellent option to provide your client heat, and not tie up a crew and all the associated costs for a full day. The heaters can be safely left behind with the room closed off for the day while you perform other services.
In closing, I have found that most clients prefer to attempt to remedy a callback with a partial treatment approach. It also reduces the time and effort of preparation on their part. Electric bed bug heaters typically can be plugged into standard 110 volt outlets, and have precise temperature controls to prevent overheating. We do recommend the use of plenty of air movers in leave behind situations to account for a technician not being present to manipulate items in the room. The additional Standing the bed and opening the drawers at the beginning can help eliminate cool spots as well. Technicians can also implement other methods such as steaming as adjunct. If you find that you or your technicians are repeatedly experiencing callbacks, we would encourage that you seek further bed bug education on best practices. For more information on best practices, see an article on critical elements of training from our Managing Partner, Dave Walters.