The first part of the answer to that question is that bed bugs are as new to today’s generation of pest management professionals as they are to the American public. As a result many of the pest management firms are still trying to figure out how to effectively deal with bed bug infestations. In fact many pest control technicians have never even seen a bed bug, let alone treated for them. It is difficult to find a company that is very experienced and really understands how to effectively manage bed bug infestations.
Some warning flags that can be used to help identify inexperienced companies are companies that are quick to offer a guarantee that they will eliminate or “solve” the problem in one or two visits may not really understand what they are up against. Of course consumers are likely to prefer a company that is confident that they can solve the problem in one or two visits compared to a company that explains that elimination cannot be guaranteed, and that it may take three to four visits or possibly more to resolve the problem. However, the later company probably has a better understanding of the pest and in the long run is probably better equipped to deliver a higher level of control. The consumer really needs to be very aware that it is very difficult, and sometimes impossible to eliminate 100% of the bed bugs in a dwelling.
Probably the largest factor that contributes to bed bugs being difficult to control is that many of the pesticides that are commercially available are effective as a direct spray but have little to no residual effect on bed bugs. Chemicals like DDT and Malathion which were used during the post WWII era were very effective largely due to their long-term residual properties. These chemicals are no longer available to us today and many of the pesticides that are do not have nearly the residual effect that these products once had. Therefore, although eliminating bed bugs from a home is possible, the treatments involve time consuming, detail oriented work that may take several treatments to control a bed bug problem.
Clutter is probably the single biggest obstacle that stands in the way of control. Closets that are filled with belongings, items stored beneath beds or furniture, piles of clothing or other items on the floor, etc. all provide an unlimited number of hiding places for bed bugs. In addition, clutter creates areas that cannot be effectively treated by your pest management professional. The more clutter, the longer it will take to gain control. In the case of very cluttered conditions, control may be impossible. For this reason control is much more easily achieved in a hotel room which is not permanently lived in as compared to an apartment or single family home. One option to deal with some of the clutter in a home is the Packtite portable heating unit. This is a collapsible container that items can be placed in and turned on and the unit the heats up the contents to lethal temperatures for bed bugs and their eggs.