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‘Tis the Season for Murder

Posted: December 19th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sweet, sweet bedbug murder, that is. Ingenious Instructables.com contributor marcgr brings us the project Kill bedbugs with your Christmas lights. And to think we’ve just been using Christmas lights to spell rude words in the yard.

We all know that the holidays yield opportunities for unpleasant little gifts like fruitcake and travel-related bedbug infestation. Marcgr was inspired to create a bedbug death chamber for luggage after his own brush with bedbugs during business travel. His first project, Kill Bedbugs in Your Luggage, is a DIY version of the PackTite, but he was looking to simplify the amount of wiring required.

Why Christmas lights? I needed a heat source that could put out between 350-400 Watts of evenly distributed heat. Hotplates and hairdryers put out too much heat; and things like room heaters don’t have thermostats that go up to 125F. Christmas lights are perfect for the job!

Your goal is simple: heat your luggage or other awkwardly sized item to 125 F, sit back, and imagine the tiny screams of any bedbugs latched onto the seams and crevices of your luggage.

You’ll need a large metal trash can, Christmas lights, thermometers, a Christmas light timer, and various other simple electrical implements, as detailed here. Bear in mind you are using electricity and repurposing the lights for a situation the manufacturers did not intend, and you should read all steps carefully and proceed at your own risk if you want to try this, at least dialing the 9 and the 1 on your phone. Our money is on the regular PackTite, but this is certainly a novel seasonal alternative.

Hat tip for the link to my dad, who apparently still holds a grudge against bedbugs.



Iowa you one, Real Landlord of Genius

Posted: October 4th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Hot bedbugs in Sioux City!  Sioux City landlord Scott Mann claims that for $200 per room, he will bake your bedbugs at 140 degrees.

Bedbug ground zero was an abandoned apartment Mr. Mann called “the mother of all infested places.” His new heater system raised the temperatures to a deadly 140 degrees, high enough to kill bedbugs (anything over 120 degrees is thought to do the trick) but not to damage home furnishings.

Apparently this did the trick. After 4 hours, dead bedbugs littered the apartment. Imagine being the guy with the push broom cleaning that up. Do they crunch when you step on them? What does one do with bedbug corpses? Viking funeral? Do they make fertilizer? A nice addition to pet food? We don’t want to know, for once. What if one of the bedbugs was just faking, as you might find in your finer horror films? Bedbug commandeers garbage truck; rams blood mobile.

Heat treatment may be a desirable alternative to chemical pesticides, as pesticide application often fails to penetrate all areas of an apartment. Bedbugs are notorious for hiding in the tiniest nooks and crannies. There are also potential environmental and health concerns with any pesticide use, although some people swear by professional extermination.

Heat treatment of an entire apartment or home is often logistically difficult, so it will be interesting to see if Mr. Mann’s methods are feasible on a larger scale.  People mistakenly think that cranking up their apartment’s thermostat will do the job, but this is simply not accurate. The maximum high temperature on a typical thermostat is only about 90 degrees. At this writing, no one has done any studies on wearing all your clothes at once in a sauna, although this site’s writers wouldn’t shy away if someone gave us a grant.

Heat is often used in small, controlled environments to treat personal belongings like mattresses and furniture. The average household dryer is capable of reaching temps high enough to treat clothing.  A product for the home market, the Packtite, heats up a sealed chamber, allowing easy treatment of suitcases and other small personal items.

On a commercial scale, welcome the Insect Inferno, a portable trailer that will raise its inside temperature to appropriate but non-damaging levels. Apparently, it takes less than an hour to decontaminate a king size mattress. Paying for heat decontamination seems like a blessing compared to discarding all your worldly creepy-crawly goods. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of various extermination methods in more depth in the coming weeks. If you’ve used heat to beat your own bedbug problem, leave us a comment!