The Ins and Outs of IPM: What Is Environmental Pest Control?

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We’ve all heard the adage about the power that an ounce of prevention holds.

Arguably nowhere is this more important than in pest prevention.

Taking a proactive stance is the foundation of environmental pest control, a strategy that seeks to take smart action before a pest problem occurs, rather than focus on strictly responsive measures.

Much of these tenets are based on the concept of Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. This is a broad-based approach that helps homeowners take an eco-conscious look at the way they keep bugs at bay.

At Custom Bed Bug, we’re dedicated to following IPM methods to help our clients safely avoid bed bugs before they occur.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at how this strategy works and why it’s so effective. Read on to discover what sets our team apart.

The Environmental Dangers of DIY or Store-Bought Pesticides

When you notice the signs of a bed bug infestation in your home, it’s understandable to have a strong and fervent reaction. After all, they’re invading one of the most personal and oft-used rooms in your house!

In your quest to get rid of them as quickly as possible, your first inclination might be to run to the internet. After all, Dr. Google is a pretty convincing expert!

When you do, you’ll encounter myriad different recommended approaches. This advice will come from average homeowners and professional pest control companies alike.

One of the most commonly-recommended techniques is to spray the affected area with a harsh chemical meant to kill the bugs in their tracks. There are pesticide treatments you can buy in the big-box store, as well as ones you can make at home.

At the onset, these might appear promising. So, you pick up a bottle from the shelf or try to make your own at home. If you go the latter route, you’ll likely follow instructions that require the use of common household ingredients, such as talcum powder, baking soda, or vinegar.

On-the-Shelf Solutions: Harmful to Your Health and the Environment

Let’s start with the store-bought stuff. Sure, these might be effective at killing the bed bugs you can visibly see. However, it’s important to remember that these tiny pests are incredible at hiding. In fact, they can live comfortably in a crack that’s no wider than the width of a credit card!

In addition to lining the edges of your mattress or the underside of your box spring, they’re also perfectly content to crawl inside dresser drawers and electrical outlets. They can even scurry under carpets and rugs, and travel into your walls if they find a space to squeeze into.

The bottom line? You can’t possibly spray every single surface that a bed bug could inhabit. Many sprays are also inept at killing bed bug eggs, which is critical for long-term control.

The most surprising part? Spraying these pesticides could actually make the infestation worse. To escape the fumes, the bugs may migrate into adjacent rooms or apartments, spreading the damage even further. This is especially the case if the bed bug population has become resistant to commonly-used pesticides, which is often the case.

On top of being ineffective, these chemical-laden solutions are also dangerous to your health.

Pesticide exposure could trigger a range of symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Even when you follow all of the instructions on the label, the potential consequences could be significant. In addition to posing a threat to your physical health, pesticides that target bed bugs are also damaging to the environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that household products like these must be disposed of in a safe and strategic way to avoid causing major harm to the ecosystem around you.

Unfortunately, it’s all too common for homeowners to simply pour the unused contents of their containers down the sink or toilet. Or, they simply toss the container in the trash with some liquid still inside. All of these actions could negatively affect our waterways, in addition to our soil, turf and other vegetation.

At-Home Methods: Ineffective and Potentially Hazardous

Understanding the risks of commercial pesticide products, it might seem as though at-home, DIY treatments would be preferable.

While these solutions are often gentler than those you’ll find at the store, they are still ill-advised. Why is this the case?

For one, remember how elusive and cunning the average bed bug can be. You could concoct the most powerful homemade spray around, and still miss the one, tiny spot where they’re hiding. For that reason alone, it’s always best to call in a professional bed bug extermination company.

Then, there’s the risk of coming into contact with a product or ingredient that isn’t safe to handle.

Many DIY pesticides rely on common ingredients already in your pantry, yet this isn’t always the case. Some require you to purchase materials you might not have on hand, such as rubbing alcohol. Misusing or overusing this simple ingredient could lead to isopropyl alcohol poisoning.

This condition can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Stomach pain
  • Slowed breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Coma

As you spin your wheels and waste your time on these ineffective and risky approaches, you’re only giving the bed bug infestation a green light to spread and multiply. When you want them gone as soon as possible, such makeshift solutions simply won’t cut it.

This leads us to an important question: If both commercial pesticides and at-home solutions aren’t effective, safe, or recommended, where can you turn? The answer lies in choosing a bed bug extermination company that specializes in environmental pest control.

What Is Environmental Pest Control?

So far, the methods we’ve discussed have centered primarily around bed bug treatment. These are actions that people take and products that people use after they’ve already discovered a bed bug infestation in their homes.

Yet, what if you could successfully prevent the problem from ever occurring in the first place? What if there were a few simple steps you could follow to keep your home clean, your family safe, and the ecosystem protected?

With environmental pest control, there is.

This is an eco-conscious pest control strategy that focuses on successfully preventing an infestation for the long term. This is achieved through a variety of means, including biological control and habitat manipulation.

If a pesticide is deemed necessary, it’s only used after extensive monitoring reveals that it is needed. Even then, the substance is strictly used to remove only the target organism. In other words, there is no opportunity for the substance to come into contact with a beneficial organism, or one that is not posing a risk.

Any pest control materials or methods are carefully chosen with much thought given to their short-term and long-term impact. The ones that pass the test are those that minimize risks to:

What does this mean for a homeowner facing a bed bug infestation? How does it relate to our pest management approach at Custom Bed Bug? Let’s take a closer look.

Tenet 1: Ecosystem Management

First, IPM and environmental pest control focus on managing the ecosystem that could potentially house an infestation. The primary goal? To create an environment that’s so healthy and protected, pests couldn’t possibly infiltrate it.

In a broader sense, this applies to any area, indoor or outdoor, where pests could be an issue. For instance, farmers practicing IPM would focus more on growing a healthy, pest-resistant crop than spraying their fields with pesticides. Or, proactive homeowners could spray or caulk around their doors and window openings to keep insects and rodents out of their house.

For our team, this means taking a thorough look at your home and identifying any areas that could be vulnerable to attracting bed bugs.

Our Home Protection Services are designed to identify any current risks that could bring bed bugs into your home for the very first time, or tigger the re-occurrence of a previously-treated infestation.

At this time, one of the chief factors we look for is the presence of secondhand furniture. Any time you bring pre-loved items into your home, you introduce the risk of a pest infestation. Sure, these items might be marked at a lower price point, but if you’re routinely scouring online marketplaces or thrift stores for your next find, you could bring home more than you bargained for.

We’ll also speak to you about ways to stay safe when you travel, as hotel rooms are equally notorious for harboring and spreading bed bugs.

The couches, chairs, beds, dressers and other surfaces in these rooms could all harbor bed bugs. While the sheets might be changed regularly, there are still plenty of ways for them to hide. A thorough initial search can give you peace of mind before you settle in. Then, when you arrive home, you can wash and dry your clothes to avoid bringing any unwanted visitors into your home.

Tenet 2: Pest Identification

You took all of the precautions and did all the right things. Still, you woke up one morning to bites on your arm.

Instead of rushing to the store to buy a can of pesticide, taking an IPM-centric approach requires taking a step back, first. Instead, you can apply your knowledge (or a pro’s expertise) to help you take a more careful and considerate approach.

Before you begin any form of bed bug treatment, DIY or otherwise, it’s critical to understand exactly what kind of pest you’re dealing with. Otherwise, you could be unfairly targeting a beneficial or non-threatening species.

The only failsafe way to confirm that those bites indeed came from a bed bug is to contact a pest control team that specializes in bed bug treatment, like us. We’ve worked in this specific niche for years and we know exactly what to look for.

In addition to recognizing the signs of a bed bug infestation, we can also identify bed bug eggs. While we’ll often find physical evidence of the bugs themselves, this isn’t always the case. As such, a few of the other factors we look for include:

  • Bites in a line formation
  • Musty odors
  • Blood stains or dark spots on your sheets or mattress
  • Dark spots on the wall
  • Bed bug eggshells
  • Shed exoskeletons

Only when we’re 100% confident that a bed bug infestation is present will we move forward with treatment. Red, itchy bites alone are not enough to assume the issue is bed bugs. A skin rash can be attributed to a range of conditions, from eczema to an allergic reaction. Our detailed approach to inspection can help confirm whether or not the bugs are actually present.

Tenet 3: Monitoring and Decision-Making

Environmental pest control and IPM require careful monitoring of any identified infestation. In other sectors, this usually requires the use of advanced, environmentally-sound forecasting, warning and early diagnosis systems.

In the realm of bed bug extermination, it simply means taking an accurate look at the scale of your pest problem. If there’s only one, single bug, you may be able to simply remove it and your work is done. However, the presence of one bed bug usually indicates that there are more present, lurking nearby.

Once you know that these bugs have found their way into your home, you can determine your appropriate course of action. In IPM language, this step is known as setting your threshold. For our industry, one bed bug is one too many, though this isn’t always the case with other pest or rodent infestations.

For instance, you may only have a single mouse that’s managed to sneak into your pantry. If that’s true, then an extensive treatment plan would be overkill. This underscores the importance of the monitoring systems mentioned above. Due to the quick movement of bed bugs and their propensity to multiply, it’s safe to assume that where there’s one, there’s more.

Tenet 4: Non-Chemical Treatment Method

As you might imagine, environmentally-friendly pest control companies will always prioritize chemical-free treatments over other alternatives! As long as they produce satisfactory results, IPM mandates that these applications be used first, as they pose fewer biological and environmental hazards.

This is why we only provide integrated heat treatment.

Not only does this approach save you the time and money required to endure multiple rounds of spray pesticides, but it’s also far easier on your home, family and environment. Plus, it’s the only treatment proven to kill bed bugs in every stage of their lives, including eggs!

When we apply heat to an infested area, we are able to treat every nook and cranny possible. This allows our treatments to penetrate areas where traditional sprays cannot reach. This includes:

  • Bookshelves
  • Dresser drawers
  • Picture frames
  • Wall voids

As modern bed bugs have grown increasingly resilient to pesticides, this is the quickest and most efficient way to get rid of an infestation for good. It’s also one the safest and most eco-conscious approaches.

What can you expect when you schedule a heat treatment service?

On the day of the treatment, our trained and experienced technicians will arrive at your home, usually between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. You can prepare for this visit by following the steps outlined on our checklist.

What to Expect From Our Treatment

First, the technician will apply a crack and crevice solution around the interior of your structure. This residual barrier is effective at safeguarding your home and preventing future infestations. Then, we’ll set up our heaters and connect our generator. The machines we use are quiet and unobtrusive for discreet service.

The actual heating process includes running heaters and high-velocity fans to create what’s known as a “heat vortex”. Within 30 to 60 minutes, the temperature will reach a temperature that’s lethal to bed bugs (around 120-122 degrees Fahrenheit).

Our signature treatment time takes six hours. At certain points during the process, we may need to adjust and rearrange dressers, beds and other furniture to ensure the heat penetrates thoroughly. Our technicians will closely monitor the internal temperature of your home to ensure heat levels remain constant.

Toward the end of the treatment time, our technician will strategically apply a desiccant dust to certain areas, such as wall voids, to ensure protection even after the service ends. This is a chemical-free treatment that’s both safe and effective.

When the treatment is complete, our technicians will rearrange all sofas, beds and other items back into their original positions. In the hours immediately following the service, take care not to plug in any unplugged electronics until your home’s temperature regulates back to normal.

Tenet 5: Smart, Safe Pesticide Selection

It’s important to note that IPM doesn’t fully denounce the use of pesticides.

When alternatives methods are not properly used or deemed ineffective, environmental pest control does allow for the use of such solutions. Still, they must be proven to be safe for the environment and their effect on the ecosystem is considered before any application or intervention.

At Custom Bed Beg, we believe that an integrated approach is the best way to combat bed bugs successfully. In most cases, this means applying a combination of heat treatment in conjunction with a spray or dust application. These substances are environmentally-friendly and safe to use in and around your home.

We know there are no pesticides that are fully effective on bed bugs (especially their eggs). However, this comprehensive technique is effective at providing both immediate results, as well as a residual to prevent future infestations.

It’s important to mention, however, that environmental pest control also focuses on the reduced use of pesticides, where applicable. To help reduce potential side effects, IPM suggests reducing the frequency and doses of the pesticides over time.

Tenet 6: Anti-Resistance Strategies

We’ve mentioned that bed bugs have become resistant to common pesticides over time. The reason behind this immunity is because, far and wide, these chemicals have been mismanaged and haphazardly used. This applies to both DIY homeowners and pest control companies alike.

As such, IPM guidelines recommend implementing anti-resistant strategies that can help prevent such protections from forming. At Custom Bed Bug, this means not relying on pesticides alone to totally exterminate the pests. Our signature, six-hour heat treatment is fully capable of stopping an infestation in its tracks.

Tenet 7: Evaluation and Follow-Up

Effective environmental pest control also allows for an evaluation period to ensure the treatment was successful.

We’re confident that our heat treatment will fully eradicate the issue at hand. If you find new bed bugs within 30 days after the service, they likely came from an outside location. You can contact us at any time for a follow-up.

Environmental Pest Control: A Bed Bug Treatment Approach That Works

No one wants to wake up to a bed bug infestation. However, it’s important to take your next steps carefully as you pursue treatment. At-home or off-the-shelf solutions only serve to temporarily mask the problem. When you want them gone safely and permanently, it’s best to call in the experts.

Environmental pest control companies won’t rush a treatment or apply harsh pesticides to eliminate the pests. Rather, they’ll take the time to develop an approach that ensures the safety of your family, the integrity of your home, and the protection of the earth.

We’re proud to follow these principles through our integrated heat treatment services. If you have any questions about how our services work or how to get started, feel free to reach out to us today for a free quote.

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