Sunday, 11 October 2015

Can Drying Mattress In The Sun Kill Bed Bugs?

Bedbugs are some of the most annoying pests at home. In Singapore, just like everywhere else, bedbugs are notorious for causing irritations to the skin whenever they bite. Though they do not transmit diseases, their bites lead to sleepless nights.

Getting rid of bedbugs is not always a walk in the park, as they have their own ways of survival in this world where only the fittest survive. Their small size makes it easy for them to exist almost everywhere in the bedroom, including the cracks and crevices in bed frames, mattress seams, wall sockets and other areas. Pest control agencies in Singapore are working day and night to get a long-lasting solution to this problem but bed bugs are continually getting adapted to the commonly used methods of controlling them. This calls for use of an Integrated Pest Management approach.

Natural versus artificial bed bug control methods. 

Use of pesticides is not always the best method of controlling bed bugs, because it is not always advisable to spray mattresses or clothes. Additionally, the foul smell of most pesticides may take several days before disappearing. In general, natural methods of fighting bedbugs like drying them in the sun are normally preferred to the artificial ones.

Indeed, one of the simplest bedbug extermination methods is exposing them to direct sunlight. The mattress is the most favourite habitat of bedbugs, and therefore concentrating on them can actually help in fighting bed bugs. It has been proven that drying mattresses in the sun can kill bed bugs, especially when the sun is extremely hot. Here are a few points in support of this method.

· The sun’s rays are dangerous. They cause several skin diseases to human beings. If this is so, what about bedbugs? Ultra-violet rays of the sun are particularly harmful, and after exposing bedbugs to these rays, you don’t expect them to survive.

· Bedbugs are poikilothermic. Meaning that their body temperature changes with that of the surrounding. Exposing bedbugs to the sunlight therefore exposes them to unfavourable conditions and interferes with their normal body functioning. Their simple bodies cannot tolerate extreme conditions, and therefore they will die after exposure to high temperatures, whether from the sun or elsewhere.

· The eggs of bedbugs are the most adversely affected by direct sunlight. Direct sunlight denatures the cells of these eggs, killing them instantly. Remember that killing bedbugs alone will not eliminate bedbug infestation, as long as their eggs survive.

Points to note. 

This method is only successful when all the guidelines and details concerning how it should be done are followed religiously. Here are some of these guidelines.

· As you move the mattress out of the house, be careful to ensure that the bedbugs do not scatter.
If they do, they will spread to other areas in the house, meaning that your efforts will be as good as useless.

· For better results, remove the covers of the mattresses and sun dry them separately. You also need to dry the mattresses from all the sides.

· You may need to turn the mattresses frequently to ensure that bedbugs on all the sides have been sufficiently heated by sunlight. 

· Keep the mattresses exposed to maximum solar insolation when the sun is hottest. You may need to move them from one place to the other to ensure that they are always exposed to direct sunlight.

· Depending on your position from the equator, you may need to place the mattresses at a certain angle in order to trap maximum sunlight. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, place the mattresses facing the direction of True south, while if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, the mattresses should be facing northwards. At the equator, keeping the mattresses flat on the ground is recommended. Singapore is slightly on the Northern hemisphere, and therefore placing the mattresses southwards is advisable.

· The best place to place the mattresses is on the roof, preferably one made of corrugated iron sheets. The temperature of the sheets on the underside of the mattresses and the UV rays of the sun on the side of the mattresses facing the sun rays will put the bedbugs between a rock and a hard place.

Advantages of this method. 

The fact that this is a natural bed bug extermination method clearly means that it is not associated with any side effects, like many artificial methods. It is also easy to apply, as it does not need any specialized training. It only requires the sun to be shining brightly. It is also cheap, as you may not actually incur any costs.

Limitations of this method.

There are a few limitations of this method, just like any other method. For instance, it needs to be done repeatedly for it to be effective. Needless to say, whichever method used, complete elimination of bedbugs is very difficult in the first attempt because of the cryptic nature of bedbugs. Other limitations include:

· Bedbugs are usually active at night. They go to their hideouts during the day, and therefore they may not be exposed to the direct sunlight during the day.

· Bedbugs hide in the tiny pores in mattresses, where direct sunlight may not affect them. This is so especially in cases of heavy infestation.

· You need to dry the mattresses from both sides, and this may be challenging. This is because when the bedbugs sense heat on one side, they may find their way to the other side which is obscured from direct sunlight. You may find yourself playing hide and seek with the bedbugs, until you place the mattresses in such a way that most of the surfaces are facing sun rays directly.

In summary, bedbug control requires a holistic approach rather than a single-sided approach. The first step in fighting bedbugs involves performing a detailed inspection to locate the bedbugs and identify their harbourage sites. A customized bed bug control program would then follow, depending on the extent of infestation. The program needs to integrate multiple tactics such as sanitation, pesticide application and most importantly, prevention measures.