Bed bugs are one of those bugs that inspire an instinctive reaction passed down from our ancestors. You know, the one where you want to burn everything you own so that the bugs can return to the hell from whence they came and you can sleep in peace.
They’re disgusting, they’re terrifying, and you want them out of your life.
That makes it frustrating when you look up your local bed bugs company only to find that their rates are somewhat expensive. Given the choice between killing the bugs yourself right now and hiring an exterminator, it’s tempting to skip the exterminator and go to town yourself.
The thing is, your local bed bugs company has their rates set that way for a reason. Here’s why a professional bed bug exterminator can be expensive–and why the cost is 100% worth it.
Why a Bed Bugs Company is Expensive
We know that it’s frustrating to have cost stand as a barrier between you and your peace of mind. It’s also frustrating to look up rates and find that bed bug treatment can sometimes be more expensive than other forms of extermination.
The thing is, bed bug extermination is expensive for a reason. That rate is the result of a combination of factors, and while the price can sometimes be high, it’s more than worth it.
First, let’s take a look at why your local bed bugs company can get expensive.
There’s a bed bug company, and there’s an exterminator. They both kill bugs, so they must use the same basic services and equipment, right?
One of the biggest reasons bed bug companies specialize in bed bugs (and the reason their services can be expensive) is because exterminating a bed bug infestation isn’t the same as exterminating, say, an ant or cockroach infestation.
Bed bugs are unique little buggers. Killing them requires a unique understanding of where the bugs hide and what it takes to kill them, which means you can’t hire a regular old exterminator–you need someone who specializes in bed bugs.
Also, regular extermination equipment won’t work on bed bugs. In order to properly wipe out a bed bug infestation, you’re going to need specialized equipment, along with someone trained and certified to use that equipment correctly.
Think of your local bed bug company as a skilled service, like your dentist, hair stylist, mechanic, or plumber, because that’s exactly what they are. They’re trained to offer a skill set you can’t obtain elsewhere, which is why you pay a premium to utilize their services.
Second, keep in mind that the cost of bed bug extermination isn’t limited to the extermination itself. Your total sticker price can also account for other factors prior to your extermination appointment, like the inspection.
A full-home inspection is critical to ensuring that the exterminator does their job correctly. You see, bed bugs spread rather quickly and they’re fantastic at hiding. The only way an exterminator can guarantee they’ve dealt with the problem is by inspecting the entire house for signs of bed bugs.
Some exterminators will offer a free inspection, while others will charge for this service. This depends a little on how extensive the inspection is–the longer and more labor-intensive the inspection, the more expensive it is.
This can be a bit frustrating, but keep in mind that the more thorough the inspector is, the more thorough the exterminator can be. It’s always better to let the inspector check thoroughly than cut them off and not deal with the infestation in its entirety.
The cost of your treatment will also depend on what type of treatment your home receives. Spoiler alert: there’s more than one type of bed bug treatment.
As the cliche goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat (er, kill a bed bug). Part of the inspector’s job is to look at your infestation and suggest a few options to treat your unique infestation. The key with any treatment is to wipe out all the bugs in one go, wherever they may be hiding.
Here are a few of the most common treatment types.
Fumigation, or killing with chemical pesticides, is one of the most known ways of killing bed bugs, mostly because it’s the most common way of killing…well, any bug.
The Environmental Protection Agency has registered more than 300 chemical products for use in exterminating bed bugs. Most can be used by consumers, but a few are registered for use only by trained professionals.
In a fumigation treatment, your entire home is sealed off and filled with fumigation gas to kill all of the bugs. You will have to vacate your home for a few days to avoid any risk of poisoning.
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between regular fumigation and structural fumigation. Structural fumigation is effective in ensuring you don’t have a hoard of bed bugs hiding in your foundations, but it’s also more expensive and usually comes with severe infestations and is very limited in most regions. Also, your homeowner’s insurance policy may not necessarily cover it.
In cases where the infestation is so bad that your entire house has to be fumigated down to the foundations, you may need to put everything you own in a trailer or storage unit and fumigate that as well, or leave as much of your property in the house as you can during the fumigation. It may ruin fragile items, but it will most likely kill the bugs.
If done properly, fumigation should kill all of the bugs in the house. That said, we’ve seen that bed bugs are becoming resistant to pesticides, so your safest bet is to combine fumigation with another treatment option.
One chemical-free option is steam treatment. The idea is simple: create steam at 200+ degrees Fahrenheit and drive it into cracks and crevices where bed bugs might be hiding.
The heat from the steam comes out in a 2 to 4 inch stream and is so hot that it kills bed bugs on contact, regardless of their stage of life. Pesticide resistance won’t do a bed bug any good in this situation. Steam is typically used when you know where all the bugs are and the infestation is very small. It would be very difficult to steam a whole house 2 inches at a time.
That said, your house may or may not be thrilled about this state of affairs. You’re going to have to be very careful about making sure your house dries out completely. Either way, your electronics will NOT be happy about this.
Another chemical-free treatment option is freezing treatment and like steaming can only be applied in a 2 to 4 inch stream.
As with steam treatment, the idea is simple: every living thing has a certain temperature range of optimal functioning. Once it’s too far outside that range, it dies. Bed bugs are no different.
Freezing treatment uses machines that produce a dry ice powder which kills bed bugs on contact. This is typically done with a machine that uses a pressure hose to convert liquid carbon dioxide into dry ice. You can avoid potential moisture damage found in steam treatments, and you won’t need to vacate your house for a few days as you would for fumigation.
That said, freezing treatment comes with two main downsides.
First, bed bugs have to come in contact with the dry ice to freeze, since it’s not possible to drop your entire house to a temperature cold enough to kill a bed bug. Bed bugs are great at hiding and will quickly flee from the treatment area once they realize what’s happening, so it can be difficult to catch every bug.
Second, bed bugs may not necessarily die from the treatment. Or rather, the dry ice will kill them if it gets them cold enough, but if they only get a glancing hit of dry ice, a bug may appear dead only to revive once it returns to normal room temperature.
Plus, because bed bugs are cold-blooded, their metabolism slows down in colder temperatures. They can survive at normal room temperature for about three months without a blood meal, but in colder temperatures they may be able to survive for up to a year without feeding.
The point is, cold treatment can work, but it’s not a guarantee.
The most effective of the treatments is heat treatment, particularly when combined with fumigation.
As in fumigation, your entire home is sealed. An exterminator will then use generators and high-powered fans to gradually heat your home to above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gradual heating does two things. First, it initially attracts bed bugs, because they think that heat means a potential meal. Second, it’s the proverbial frog in boiling water–or bed bug in a boiling house. Gradual heating means that the bugs don’t have the opportunity to flee from the treatment and slowly overheat until they stop functioning and die.
As with steam treatment, this sidesteps the issue of pesticide-resistant bugs. Unlike steam treatment, it doesn’t carry the risk of moisture damage. And unlike freezing treatment, it can be used to treat your entire house quickly and efficiently. Heat is also the best way to kill bed bugs hiding in wall voids where freezing and steam treatments cannot reach.
When combined with specialized chemical service to wipe out any particularly crafty bugs, it’s the best option for completely wiping out your infestation.
That said, the only way to guarantee an effective treatment is to treat your entire home, which is more expensive than treating a single room.
On that note, let’s talk about the next factor that affects your treatment cost: the size of your home.
Generally, bed bug companies will charge you a minimum fee per room, by square footage, or give you a flat fee for the whole house. Those numbers vary between companies and houses, but more treatment area means more labor and equipment, which means a higher price.
This is also why the number of rooms being treated will drive up the price. Each successive room requires more equipment and labor on the exterminator’s part..
While treating the whole house is more expensive than treating a few rooms, keep in mind that bed bugs travel quickly. The only way a company can offer an extermination guarantee is by exterminating the entire house.
Severity of the Infestation
The severity of the infestation will also drive up the price of your extermination services.
Remember, the more severe the infestation, the more bugs there are and the more widespread they are. An exterminator shouldn’t be in and out quickly in a house with a severe infestation–otherwise, they’re wasting your money.
If an infestation is severe, it will require a lot more work on the exterminator’s part, since they have to account for more rooms and more bugs while doing their best to ensure no bugs escape. It will be more expensive, but it’s better to invest now than to allow an infestation to continue unchecked.
Time and Labor
Finally, in case you hadn’t caught on, time and labor plays a big role in how much your treatment costs.
A highly experienced and certified exterminator will be able to charge more for their time and labor because they provide expert services. And if we’re being honest, you shouldn’t spend your money on anyone less than the best. You want an exterminator who will give you an honest assessment and someone who will work hard to ensure your infestation is wiped out.
As a rule, keep in mind that bed bugs take more time to exterminate than other bugs. This isn’t because they’re harder to kill (they’re not like cockroaches) but because it’s harder to kill all of them at once. The only way to ensure you completely wipe out an infestation is to treat the entire house.
This means that while regular pest control services can be in and out in an hour, bed bug extermination can take several hours for a single treatment and may require multiple exterminators on-site for a full-house extermination.
Is it a pain in your wallet? Yes. But if you want your bed bug problem gone, it’s a necessity.
Why Professional Bed Bugs Companies are Worth It
We’ve spent a lot of time extolling the cost of bed bug companies, explaining why they cost so much. But if you’re like many homeowners, you’re thinking about the follow-up question: why is it worth it to spend all that money and hire a professional?
Here’s why an exterminator is always a worthwhile investment.
DIY Doesn’t Work
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but there’s one major reason why hiring a professional is always worth the money: DIY just doesn’t work.
Yes, you can do a DIY inspection, provided that you know what you’re doing. But if you’re contemplating DIY extermination, save yourself the headache.
You can buy pesticides that will kill bed bugs. That’s not the issue. The issue is that killing the bed bugs you see isn’t the same thing as wiping out your bed bug infestation. If anything, it’s an invitation to the bugs to hide more effectively.
The only way to ensure that you’ve handled the infestation is to wipe out all the bugs at once, and the average homeowner simply doesn’t have the resources necessary to do that kind of work.
Take freezing, for example. Many homeowners correctly believe that freezing bed bugs will kill them, so they stick infested items in a freezer.
Freezing bed bugs will kill them. The problem is that most consumer-grade freezers don’t get low enough for long enough to ensure the bugs are dead, and the temperature rises every time you open the freezer to check. Plus, remember that a bug that seems dead may revive once it reheats.
The same thing goes for putting infested furniture outside. The weather doesn’t get cold enough for long enough to reliably kill bed bugs. Plus, when you take infested items out of the house, you run the risk of spreading the infestation to your neighbors.
Be a good neighbor. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.
Pesticides Aren’t Necessarily Enough
On a related note, keep in mind that the pesticides you purchase for a DIY extermination attempt may not be enough to kill your infestation.
Yes, there are a great many EPA-approved pesticides that can kill bed bugs, and yes, many of them are available to the average consumer. The problem is that you have to treat everything to ensure every bug comes in contact with enough product to die. Also be aware that most products that consumers can buy without a license are considered repellants and they do just that, repel the bugs, and if you are not careful you will just keep pushing the bugs around your home or worse into your neighbors home.
Unless you happen to be an exterminator yourself, you wouldn’t even know where to begin. You certainly wouldn’t be able to treat your house safely.
There’s also the unpleasant fact that not all bed bugs will die when you hose them with pesticides. Unfortunately, humans have used enough pesticides on bed bugs over the years that some bugs are becoming resistant to them. You won’t know whether you’ve got resistant bugs until you try to kill them and it doesn’t work.
Save yourself the anxiety (and the frantic call to Poison Control). Call a professional instead.
Bed Bugs are Great at Hiding
All of this comes back to a central fact about bed bugs: they’re great at hiding. If cockroaches are the tanks of the bug world, bed bugs are the ninjas of the bug world.
An adult bed bug is roughly the size of an appleseed. They’re tiny, disgusting, and mighty (mighty good at using their size to their advantage, that is). They’re fussy about their food–they’re parasites, so they only eat blood of warm-blooded mammals, vampire-style. But when it comes to hiding, they’re equal-opportunity squatters.
Bed bugs get their name thanks to their favorite hiding place around your beds, where their meal conveniently becomes unconscious for about eight hours every night. That said, bed bugs only care about blood, and they don’t care where they hide as long as it provides them easy access to the dinner table (you).
This means bed bugs will hide almost anywhere that humans frequent. Couches, chairs, tables, carpets, crevices, blankets, clothes, suitcases, purses, even nail holes in the wall and behind your electrical outlets.
Average homeowners simply cannot account for everywhere a bed bug might be hiding in their home. The best option is to eliminate every potential hiding place by exterminating the entire house in one fell swoop.
Inspectors Know How to Spot Subtle Signs
The truth is, bed bugs are tricky little buggers. They know how to get to their food, they know how to hide to ensure they don’t get killed between meals, and they’re small enough that they have plenty of hiding places to choose from.
And unlike some other bugs, they don’t necessarily leave obvious signs of infestation. It’s quite possible to have a major bed bug infestation for some time without being aware of it. Again, bed bugs are spectacularly good at hiding.
An average homeowner might have the good (or bad) luck of spotting a bed bug en route to its hiding place, but most homeowners don’t know how to look for signs of hiding bed bugs.
Bed bug exterminators and canine teams are trained to recognize the subtle signs of a bed bug infestation. They can figure out where bed bugs are likely hiding in a room and where they might reasonably be hiding, including spots that might never occur to the average person. Then, they can give you a realistic plan of action to wipe out the infestation.
A Bed Bug Company That Works Hard to Protect Your Family
The long and the short of it is this: a bed bugs company is expensive because bed bugs are difficult to exterminate. A good bed bug extermination company has to charge more if they’re going to provide services that genuinely protect you and your family from infestation.
We’re here to provide the bed bug protection your family needs, no matter how big or small your infestation. Get in touch today to let us know how we can help.