Rapid Killing of Bed Bugs on Luggage Using Heat

October 11, 2016

loudonIn a recent study by Entomologist and Teaching Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Catherine Loudon discovered that a brief 6-minute exposure of soft-sided luggage to high temperatures, 158-167°F, was sufficient to kill all the bed bugs found on the exteriors of the luggage, including those located under zipper flaps or decorative piping.  Full results from the study were published August 1st in Pest Management Science.

“The transport on or in luggage is one of the ways that bed bugs are spread,” said Loudon.  “Bed bugs located on the outside of luggage provide one of the few cases in which they are more constrained peripherally and potentially more vulnerable to heat treatment.  We also looked at any tendency for bed bugs to move into the luggage while heating and observed that only one bug in 250 was found to have moved into the luggage.”

According to Loudon, the brief heating treatment of luggage represents a promising way to reduce the spread of bed bugs.  Loudon suggests the possibility of using heating chambers, similar to the ones in her study (provided by Jack Schmitz (Pur Systems, Lake Havasu City, AZ) at hotels and airports as a means of decreasing the spread of bed bugs on the outside of luggage.  While such brief heat treatment would not kill any bed bugs inside the luggage, it does not heat the contents inside, and could be part of a component of integrated management for this pest.