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To wipe out increasing infestations, a local company demonstrated how it recently began making the little blood-suckers’ lives hot, hot, hot.

With DDT banned, Magical Pest Control became the Ontario licensee of a California firm’s registered heat-kill method, licenced technician Alex Dayan told reporters.

During a demonstration in a vacant Queensway apartment, Dayan said business “exploded” since the North York company imported ThermaPlusHeat.

The landlord paid $1,000, compared to about $350 for legal pesticide treatment in the 1,000-square-foot flat, Dayan said. “People don’t want chemicals in their house.”

The exterminators used portable generators and fans to reach 45C.

Vinyl records, window blinds, cassettes and oil paintings are among objects which must be removed to prevent warping or melting, “and we have to be careful if people are living there,” Dayan said, adding windows must be open to prevent heat pressure explosions.

But after several hours, the process killed bed bugs Dayan brought in a sealed dish, plus “three or four” found near dining room baseboards.

Without furniture or clothes – their favourite domains – any adults or eggs behind the baseboards were also dead, he said.

“These advances are really needed,” said Reg Ayre, Toronto Public Health’s healthy environments manager.

Of the death-by-heat method, the co-chairman of the Toronto Bed Bug Project said “if you want to reduce the use of chemicals, this may be one of the tools that will achieve this. Is it the panacea, I don’t think so.”

From Ottawa, Prof. Jeff Dawson, a Carlton University biologist who teaches adaptations in extreme environments and studied death rates among other insects, said “a full study on human bed bugs is needed before deciding.”

— Ian Robertson

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