Many people have heard of insect pest heat treatments, but few understand how pest control professionals use heat to eliminate indoor and outdoor insect pest infestations. Over the course of human history, everything from fire to microwaves have been used to kill insect pests with heat. Humans have used the heat from fire to kill bugs, and to prevent infestations on skin and in dwellings for thousands of years. Today, however, fire is not considered a sensible form of pest control for obvious reasons, but this has not stopped residents from attempting to kill indoor pests with homemade blowtorch devices.

Not long ago, an Ameircan man burned his house down after attempting to use his lighter to kill indoor insects, and it is surprisingly common for Americans to accidentally set their homes on fire in an effort to kill spiders with blow torches. Another man doused the inside of his rental car with alcohol in order to eradicate a bed bug infestation. The man’s plan to kill the bed bug invaders succeeded when the rental car went up in flames after he lit a cigarette in the front seat. While fire and flammable liquids should never be used to eradicate insect pests from a structure, boiling water has been used for centuries as a successful form of pest control in limited cases.

Pouring boiling water in soil has proven effective at eradicating some plant pests like weevils, while leaving some plant species unharmed. Many types of ant pests, particularly red imported fire ants, have been killed by pouring boiling water onto dirt nesting mounds. Experiments have seen the use of steam to kill carpet beetles and clothes pests, and steam is used today to kill agricultural insect pests within soil. Electricity has been used to kill wood-infesting pests, and one scientist used a home microwave to kill indoor webbing clothes moths.

Today heat treatments are mainly used to eradicate bed bug infestations. This is done by having pest control professionals place large heaters throughout an infested house. These heaters warm the internal structure to at least 122 degrees, killing the bed bug pests. In some cases, pest controllers use heat blasting guns to target areas of a home that are suspected of being infested with bed bugs. In each case, the process basically involves turning a home into a “convection oven.”

Have you ever had your home heat-treated for an insect infestation?