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My experience as a bed bug exterminator in Toronto

I have the pleasure of working in gross environments without my stomach turning. This is an essential factor when becoming a bed bug exterminator. While most callouts aren’t that bad, we get the odd horrific case of bed bugs. If you’re easily grossed out, bed bug exterminating isn’t the best job for you.

It’s not uncommon to see infestations with thousands of bed bugs. At least we don’t see disasters like that every day. We treat some very high-end homes for clients who have only seen a single bed bug. It’s common for us to heat treat homes for just one bed bug. Heat treatments are the best way to kill bed bugs all at once and allow for peace of mind.

The worst bed bug infestation I’ve seen in Toronto

I can vividly relive the top 5 five most severe bed bug infestations like yesterday. The one I can never forget is when a client opened the front door and talked to me with at least 50 bed bugs on the jacket he was wearing. I looked inside and saw more bed bugs on the wall than paint. Every inch of me wanted to leave that one alone for the next guy, but this man needed help in more ways than one. I made him strip down and put the clothes he wanted to take in the dryer, including his underwear.

After the drying cycle, I told him to immediately put the clothes in a garbage bag I brought from the company vehicle. Once he put the clothes in the bag and tied it tight, I instructed him to walk outside the front door. Once outside the unit, I put a towel up so he could change into his laundered clothes.

Exterminating bed bugs with high heat in Toronto 

Since Heat Relief is a bed bug heat treatment company only, we are the guys that see the worst of the worst. It’s something we expect, though. The companies that only spray bed bugs with chemicals cannot take down these large infestations.

Our heat treatments are designed to kill every bed bug all at once. Our large heaters pump out the heat while fans circulate the hot air. When I got the equipment set up inside, I stayed in the unit until the ambient temperature was lethal. Bed bugs die at 50 degrees Celsius, but I wait until 60 degrees so that any bed bug that may be stuck on me is dead.

Once out, I chugged the entirety of my water bottle and held the room at temperature for another 4 hours. I would periodically return, moving furniture and personal items to eliminate all potential cold spots. The heat sensors we place do an exceptional job of measuring the heat. At hour 6, it was time to shut off the heat.

A cleaning service came in before we could apply Aprehend in this extreme case. Aprehend is a non-toxic biopesticide we spray after the heat treatment is complete for residual protection. In this scenario, I wouldn’t be surprised if his neighbours had bed bugs, too. Aprehend is handy in multi-unit buildings where re-infestation is possible after our heat treatment.

Working with dogs to detect bed bugs in the Greater Toronto Area

You know the smell if you’ve ever entered a moderate to severely bed bug-infested home. The strong, musty odour sometimes requires a mask, even for me. It’s a good thing bed bugs have a scent, however. This means dogs with an exceptional sense of smell can be trained to alert for bed bugs. Dead bed bugs will stop producing this scent.

Our beagle Bella can even track down a single bed bug if it’s there. If the bed bug infestation is low, we won’t be able to pick up on the smell as humans. Bed bugs are skinny and can hide away in places we cannot see. This is why dogs come in handy if you are unsure whether or not you have bed bugs.

At Heat Relief, two beagles work and live with us here in Toronto. Our dogs love to work, making them easily motivated to find bed bugs. We reward them with a ball. Outside of work, we can never let them have the ball! Their motivation will drop if we give them a ball for not finding bed bugs. That’s why we must be cautious when they get it.

It can be a challenge having a pet be your coworker at the same time. Despite this, it’s gratifying to work with dogs. It’s one of the first things I mention when someone asks, “What do you do?” It’s much better than starting with, “I kill bed bugs for a living.”

Witnessing the emotional impacts of bed bugs on the lives of Torontonians

It is heartbreaking seeing almost all of our clients in emotional distress. Some are worse than others. It’s common to see bags under their eyes from the lack of sleep. At the same time, it’s rewarding to alleviate one’s stress of having bed bugs.

In some individuals, psychological sequelae resulting from bed bug biting events include nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance (to keep the bugs away), insomnia, anxiety, avoidance behaviours, and personal dysfunction. These symptoms are suggestive of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Click here for the article.

It can take some time for our clients to recover from the emotional distress bed bugs have caused them. We aim to kill every bed bug so these people can’t start living normally again. Their bed bug burden is now on us.

The worst areas in the Greater Toronto area for bed bugs

Not all of Toronto is considered equal regarding bed bug infestations. There are certain areas we find ourselves frequently visiting. These two areas are Brampton and Scarborough. 70% of the time, you can find us somewhere in one of these areas. Scarborough has proven to be slightly worse, taking the top spot.

The least amount of bed bug infestations in the Greater Toronto Area

We have seen the least bed bug infestations in Oakville and Etobicoke. Oakville takes the top spot for the least amount of times we’ve gone. Etobicoke takes second place and is ironic because we are based out of here.

Would I recommend bed bug exterminating to pest control technicians?

Bed bugs are one of the most challenging pests to kill. Their ability to hide away makes them difficult to exterminate. It’s critical to be more thorough with bed bugs than most other pests. Whether spraying or heat treating, furniture needs to be moved around so every crack can be treated. Clothes and personal items must be out of all furniture when treating.

Successful bed bug exterminating is taking the time to be as thorough as possible. Rushing a bed bug treatment is a significant error. It’s essential to learn and understand bed bug behaviour which aids in exterminating them. They can be hard to find, but there are common areas they will go to. It’s important to be observant and notice the signs of bed bugs.

I recommend bed bug exterminating for someone who is not easily grossed out, physically capable of moving furniture/ personal items, and has attention to detail. On the bright side, bed bug exterminating can make you a higher income than most other pests.

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