What happens when engineers get bed bugs?

Dataloggers! and a “hot box disinsector” is what:

It should come as no surprise that I built something that’s bigger, uglier, and harder to use…

H/t sfbedbugs.com.

Ed Nisley also made his own yeast CO2 trap and successfully used the family van as a thermal chamber. Start here.

The DIY problem is this. People do incredibly, disastrously dangerous things in DIY treatments. Mind-bogglingly dangerous. In many ways DIY is the devil we have to fight. However, it seems clear (to me, perhaps not to you?) that really our only hope to eradicate everyone’s bed bugs lies in a DIY protocol that is accessible and effective.

Ed’s various DIY adventures are not that, but they are immensely entertaining to read about.

Particularly interesting was to read about how they suspect they got bed bugs, doing something that sounds like fantastic fun. Bed bugs, spoilers of all that is good in the world.

Yes, yes, his conclusions about pesticides are inaccurate. One can’t have everything in life.


  1. Ed Nisley

    Well, I wouldn’t describe it as *fun*, but we certainly got a lot of lemonade out of that particular batch of lemons…

    Unfortunately, I think the Australian Code of Practice summarizes the pesticide situation pretty well: if it’s not an organophosphate, it won’t work in real life.

    Synergized 4th generation synthetic pyrethroids, along the lines of deltamethrin, have a kill rate around 95% after ten days: far longer than anybody would be willing to let pesticide residues cover their apartments while they’re living elsewhere.

    *Everything* else is worse, right down to the “natural pyrethrins” that provide “no control”.

    We called in a genuine licensed pest control operator from the local Big Name company. He looked around, observed that we’d already done essentially everything “his guys” would do, spent half an hour verifying that our (isolated, encased, shower-before-entering, known-clean) bed didn’t have any bedbugs, gave us a breathtaking estimate for what seemed to involve no more than spreading DE atop our existing application, and left.

    Pitted against that level of competence, DIY looks downright attractive…

    The only reason we got away with our DIY approach is that we knew our infestation started with a small number of bugs: kill off as many as we can, as often as we can, and we will definitely make headway. DIY won’t work when your neighbor across the hall keeps an infinite supply of freshly bred bugs on tap, ready for instant deployment.

    Bottom line: maybe our DIY approach isn’t accessible, but it was *effective*. Best of all, it didn’t involve anything more hazardous than DE and a few hundred feet of masking tape.

    May all your vacations be less, um, interesting…

  2. Renee Corea

    Hi Ed,

    I didn’t mean to imply that your efforts were not effective. It’s more that the combination of things you did is not in the totality an accessible and effective protocol (that can be duplicated and widely deployed), probably because you did many things in addition to your DE application, some of which (but not all thankfully) are not within the reach of people without machine shops! Note I’m also not saying that what you did was overkill, honestly I’m totally in awe of your writeup. And I also appreciate that what you did was not dangerous. If it had been, I would not have written about it.

    As for the pesticide comment, it’s possible to have a more nuanced perspective on the efficacy of pesticides, both in real-world applications and in what they represent for this epidemic. You’ll certainly have no argument from me about deltamethrin, and indeed I don’t want to argue with you about anything, but perhaps there is another picture that is a lot more complex and interesting than you suppose it to be. For one thing, pyrethroids are not the only pesticides that are available in the US, though I can’t blame you for thinking that. And resistance in bed bug populations is not something one can generalize about. Though again, deltamethrin is truly one sorry pesticide. Many people despair because they think their professional treatments won’t work, as in fact sometimes they don’t, but lots of protocols that use pesticides are actually effective.

    In any case, pretty cool, Ed, and thank you for writing about your experience. I’m very sorry you had to go through it but glad to have the dispatches!

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