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Sponsored Content - 2022 State of the Bed Bug Control Market

When it comes to bed bug control, PMPs are trusting pesticides more and more.

November 7, 2022

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Pesticides have become the go-to bed bug treatment for roughly four out of five (83 percent) PMPs; that’s up from 71 percent five years ago. Eleven percent rely on heat as their primary treatment and 2 percent steam. In terms of what they offer customers overall, 99 percent of PMPs say insecticide treatments, 65 percent mattress encasements or active mattress liners, and 50 percent monitoring. Fewer than half offer vacuuming, heat, steam, canine detection, fumigation or cold treatments.

Dan Baldwin of Hawx Pest Control believes that the more options you have available to customers, the better. “Bed bugs are very circumstantial,” he said. “Heat treatments are often the best way to go, but not always possible. Chemical treatments can work, but they’re very time consuming, and you’re more prone to gaps. It comes down to starting fresh with each property, looking at the individual circumstances, having your entire toolkit in front of you and choosing the approach that’s right.”

From there, you need to communicate the available options, Baldwin added. “We explain, ‘Based on your circumstances, our best approach is going to be XYZ. Here’s what it costs, what the guarantee is and what options you have, if that doesn’t work for you.’ The way to make sure you have a satisfied customer is to be really clear with the expectations. ‘If we do this, this is what you can expect; if we do that, this is what you can expect.’”

John Young of Speed Exterminating Company, Cleveland, Ohio, agrees it takes some detective work to figure out the right approach, but there’s no doubt in his mind that pesticides get the job done. “We’ve tried a variety of tools — vacuums, for example — but I’ve found better success just having our technicians dig in, find where the bed bugs are and direct kill them with an insecticide. It just goes right back to getting your knees dirty, digging in and solving the problem,” he said.

Lucas Geer said that Walker Pest Management, Greenville, S.C., is among the 23 percent who offer heat treatments as one of their control methods. “We have found that heat, supplemented with insecticides, is the best way to go,” he said. “We get great results raising the heat to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and holding it for two to four hours — we move the bedding around at regular intervals to make sure bugs can’t get into isolated spots. We also dust the wall voids around any electrical sockets and chemically treat the bed frames and other furniture. Then we do a two-week follow-up to make sure there’s no more activity.”

Detecting bed bug activity is a science in itself. While most PMPs rely on visual inspection by their technicians, sometimes in conjunction with monitoring, 14 percent continue to swear by canine detection. Scott Mullaney has built Unique Pest Management on demand for this service, which is very high in 2022.

“Business dropped off the cliff when COVID hit, but it has come back with a vengeance over the past year,” Mullaney said. “Customers appreciate the accuracy of highly trained, well-maintained canine teams, as well as their ability to cover large spaces. Paired with visual inspection, canine detection can be an extremely valuable tool. That’s apparent not only in customers’ interest in the service but in their willingness to pay a premium for it. A lot of PMPs don’t use canine detection because they think their customers won’t pay what it’s worth. Our business growth proves that they will.”