Penn State Turns Up The Heat On Bed Bugs
Monday, February 27, 2012
STATE COLLEGE - As bed bugs continue to be a growing problem in
apartment buildings, dorm rooms, hotels, hospitals and homes across
the country, a new treatment method is proving to be effective and
less disruptive for students at Penn State Univeristy.
Whole room heat treatment is changing the way they treat for bed
bugs in campus residence halls, said David Manos, assistant
director of housing at Penn State.
"Previously, once a case was confirmed, the room would be
quarantined and it would be treated with combinations of chemicals
and heat treatments for individual items. All clothing and bedding
would have to be run through the dryer, and the student would be
displaced for a minimum of 21 days. It was very labor intensive,
typically one room would require 20-30 hours of time, as well as
very disruptive to the student," says Manos.
Last fall, John Parks of Parks Pest Control in State College and
the Centre Region Bed Bug Coalition, approached Manos about an
alternative treatment for bed bugs. Parks had recently purchased a
whole room heat treatment unit with four heaters and Manos
expressed interest in trying it out.
"With whole room heat treatment, the entire room and all contents
are heated to 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit," Parks explains. "Bed
bugs will die instantly at those temperatures. We use remote
thermometers that can be monitored on laptops to make sure all
areas of the room reach the right temperature." The heaters will
automatically shut off at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so no damage will
be caused to the contents of the room.
Manos says it the new treatment method eliminates the use of
chemicals to treat bed bugs completely and lessens the impact on
students. "Typically the student can move back into the room within
24 hours, and they don't have to move their belongings and treat
Depending on the degree of infestation, adjacent rooms will be
inspected. Despite careful inspections by the housing staff and
posted information about bed bugs and other educational efforts,
bed bug cases at Penn State have almost quadrupled this school
year, up from four cases last year to 17 so far this year.
"Without the new treatment program, it would have been very
difficult to keep up. The collaboration between Parks and Penn
State's contracted pesticide control operator, Orkin's Randal
Ridenour, has resulted in big advantages to the students and the
Penn State community," says Manos. "There is no silver bullet for
bed bugs; the best deterrent is still education. If barriers fail
however, whole room heat treatments are vital to prevent the spread
of bed bugs. It's been the best answer at Penn State, and probably
the best answer for the community."
Information on effective bed bug management in multiple
environments can be found at the Pennsylvania IPM Program's bed bug
resource web page at: http://extension.psu.edu/bedbugs.