Bed bugs are insects that feed on people’s blood, like mosquitos do. Bed bugs live inside and like to feed at night. Therefore they are usually found near beds. Hence the name “bed bugs”.
Bed bugs are on the comeback, primarily because of an apparent resistance to pesticides, and because of more travel by people around the world. Hotel and motel rooms become infested, and guests inadvertently spread the bugs.
Treatment with pesticides and chemicals isn’t as effective as in the past. Treatments that do seem to work well involve freezing or heating the bugs. Freezing involves spraying the area with dry ice (or frozen carbon dioxide.) Dry ice is near -110 degrees Fahrenheit. This method appears to work well for treating cracks and crevices where bed bugs like to hid.
Heating bed bugs is another effective treatment option. This method works well for treating large areas such as whole rooms with furniture, bedding and clothes. Temperatures of 110-130 degrees Fahrenheit are necessary to kill adults and eggs. These high temperatures need to be held for 20 minutes or so.
What does this mean for hardwood floors?
Since wood changes size based on temperature and relative humidity of the surrounding air, and relative humidity is affected by temperature, heating or cooling a space can cause wood to expand or shrink. Hardwood floors that get or too cold could warp, cup, crack or check.
In most treatments, the heat or cold is applied relatively quickly. So minor, if any, issues with the floor will occur. In cases where the treatment takes a long time or something goes wrong with the process, some damage could occur. When things go right, floor temperatures won’t get higher than what you could find in front of a large sunny window.
To help keep treatment times to a minimum, it would be helpful to get as much stuff out of the space as possible. If you have a closet slam full of clothes, heating time will take longer. So bag up extra clothes and heat treat them in a tent or PODs or something like that. Don’t just move them from room to room or take them to your neighbors, or you’ll just spread the bed bugs.
If you have questions about treatment effects of your hardwood floors, contact us. For more information about bed bugs in general, contact your local Extension Service or pest control company.