When Leland K. Russell explains the protocol he developed for All Pest Inc. to kill bedbugs, it's like he's unraveling a military operation.
He has a specific modus operandi and strategic devices. There's the Climbup Insect Interceptor, which in the bedbug world, works as an early warning system. Also included in the arsenal are powders, vacuums, liquids, steam and sticks.
"We use the protocol on every bedbug situation," Mr. Russell said.
He commended the owners of All Pest, Jerry and Tammi O'Brien, for supporting the protocol and making a commitment to train and educate its employees.
"They had the foresight to see this bedbug epidemic was coming," Mr. Russell said.
Here is his protocol:
First, the client must wash all clothes in the room, including those in closets and drawers.
Things like linens and draperies must also be washed and then everything is put in bags to keep them clean of bedbugs.
"The room is then essentially empty except for furniture and personal items, such as computers, clock radios, alarm clocks, shoes, telephones, books and toys," Mr. Russell said. "The client has to put all such things on one side of the room. Now, we come in."
All receptacle covers for electric outlets are then removed and insecticide dust is inserted. "We then drill the walls," he said. "We make 3/16ths (inch) holes and inject dust into the wall voids."
Mr. Russell said the pesticide All Pest uses is low-toxicity to humans, "and certainly of low risk." He said the Environmental Protection Agency sets safety standards on pesticides, and a few states, such as New York, add further safety standards.
Pictures are then taken off the walls and vacuumed.
Baseboards and carpeted areas are treated with insecticide sprays. "With liquid, we get better coverage and we don't dust in places where it can be disturbed and people breathe it. Dust only goes in cracks and crevices and voids," Mr. Russell said.
Besides an insecticide, the spray has an insect growth regulator. "Neither alone is enough to do the complete job," Mr. Russell said.
Next, the two-person team starts on the furniture, with every piece and every crack and crevice vacuumed.
Personal items like electronics, toys and shoes are then targeted.
"We put these items inside plastic bags with pest strips," he said. "The chemical spreads in the bag. It's a solid stick. But it sublimes. It goes directly from solid to gas. The chemical inside the bags builds up as a vapor and kills all stages of bedbugs." The items must remain in the bags for two weeks.
The other half of the room is then treated.
"Then there's the bed," Mr. Russell said. "In bedbug work, the bed is ground zero."
The first priority is to isolate the bed, and this is where the Climbup Insect Interceptor is deployed.
"I met the inventor of the thing at the Chicago National Symposium on Bedbugs last month," Mr. Russell said. "Before it's all said and done, she's going to be lying on a very sunny beach. They are selling millions of these things."
The device is a doughnut-shaped piece of plastic that fits under the bed legs. It has a well treated with talc. If a bedbug tries to access the bed, it has to go through the talc and gets trapped.
"Now we have a monitoring device," Mr. Russell said.
The box springs and mattresses are taken off. "We treat the frame, usually with a combination of liquid spray and dust," Mr. Russell said.
"Encasements" are then used. These are special cloth covers that go over mattresses, box springs and pillows. No plastic encasements are certified to be bedbug proof, Mr. Russell said, because of zippers, which bedbugs can fit through. Zippers on cloth encasements are specially designed, Mr. Russell said.
Open areas such as carpeting are not places bedbugs usually hide, Mr. Russell said. Regardless, his company does some spot treating on carpets (especially around the bed) with a liquid residual pesticide as well as a full carpet treatment with an insect growth regulator.
The last items to deal with in rooms are upholstered chairs, which are steamed. The steamers emit water vapor at 240 degrees. "At this temperature, bedbugs of all stages, including eggs, are killed instantly," Mr. Russell said. "Now, we move on to the next room."