Chemical-Free Treatments Kill Bedbugs With Extreme Heat

VIDEO: A new procedure called thermal remediation kills the bugs with high heat.
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Bedbugs are a growing problem. People can unwittingly get them at work, or at the movies, or in retail stores.

Added to the aggravation, irritation of the bites and social stigma of having a bedbug infestation in one's home is the cost of treatment.

Traditional methods of bedbug treatments cost thousands of dollars and there's no guarantee the maddening pests won't return.

But one chemical-free method of treatment is giving people new hope.

The process is called thermal remediation, which uses intense heat to kills the blood-sucking bugs in one treatment.

Process Preserves Homeowners' Belongings

So far, it seems to have worked for Allison South of Long Island in New York.

Click HERE to learn how to avoid bedbug-infested hotels and to learn how to handle an infestation in your home.

South's nightmare began about three weeks ago - it's left her frustrated, stressed and embarrassed. South has no idea where she picked up her unwanted guests.

"It's come to the point where I feel like something is itching, I just go crazy at this point because I think it's a bedbug. I'm waking up every night with bites the size of a dime coming on the way down my arm," South told "Good Morning America."

South's problem quickly spread to every room in her house.

"The more we sprayed – we went through four cans – and they were still crawling, coming out more on the mattress," she said.

So when South and her father heard there was a chemical-free treatment available, they called A & C Pest Management immediately.

"We found out that we don't even have to move our clothes. They can take care of the books, just leave everything in the house," South said.

"GMA" followed A & C Pest Management into South's home, which was literally transformed into a giant oven for 8 hours.

"We got our temperature up to 134 degrees," Jim Skinner, a bed bug expert with A & C, said. "Now what we'll do is we'll take our fans and you'll notice … what we're going to do is force that hot air into the cushions and into the couches."

Thermal heaters were placed in every room of the house, and the high temperatures killed the bedbugs in one shot, the heat gradually drying out their bodies until they were dead.

Bedbugs Turning Up at Movie Theaters, Retail Stores

During this process, pets must be removed from any premises, as well as oil paintings, along with anything that's made of plastic or which is likely to melt.

The treatment appears to be highly effective, but it's not cheap.

Thermal remediation will run anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000, while chemical processes can run anywhere from $1,300 to $5,000.

This treatment is among several avenues being explored by the pest control industry to battle the resurgence of hardy critters, which many theorize is due in part to the ease and frequency of international travel.

Once a common household pest, bedbugs were virtually eradicated by the 1950s through the widespread use of DDT. The federal government banned the use of DDT in 1972. The chemical had led to the near-extinction of certain bird species and had proved to be toxic to other wildlife.

The insecticides currently being used to kill the bugs can take up to three treatments to be effective, and the process involves packing, bagging and sterilizing everything in the home, as well as tossing out infested clothing and mattresses.

Complicating matters even more, bedbugs are developing a resistance to some of the chemicals being used to treat infestations, research has shown.

In the meantime, bedbugs are becoming a problem for people from all walks of life.

They've even made an appearance at popular retail chain stores – including Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister in New York City.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.

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