Putting bedbug solutions to the test

November 10, 2010 9:42:34 PM PST
Bedbug infestations are on the rise across the country and in Philadelphia.

They're lurking everywhere and no place is immune. Adult bedbugs feast on human blood and their favorite time to eat is while you are sleeping.

John Nurthen manufactures ActiveGuard. He believes this product is so practical because it kills the bugs when they come to the bed.

ActiveGuard goes on your mattress or box spring like a fitted sheet. Your regular bedding goes on top. ActiveGuard's liner is treated with an insecticide called Permethrin.

"What happens is when the bedbugs come in contact with that fitted sheet, they will die within hours for up to 2 years," said Nurthen.

ActiveGuard's starting price is $99 for a twin.

Jeff White of Bed Bug Central, a pest research and product development facility, agreed to test ActiveGuard for Action News.

"We want to make sure they can back their claims - and we're not going to take a product and use it in our control or sell it to other people if it doesn't do what they say it can," said White.

White put a piece of ActiveGuard in one container; a plain paper towel in another. The bed bugs were placed inside. Then it was time to wait.

"There's no one product out there that you can use that's going to make all the bedbugs go away," said White.

But White says there are products that do work to prevent or identify an infestation. One of the most effective ones he's tested is the climb up insect interceptor.

White explains that the device works by putting the leg of your bed or couch into the center well of the interceptor. The bedbugs climb up the wall of the interceptor to get to the leg of the bed, but they fall into the outer well and get stuck. They can't get out.

A four pack retails for $22. But make sure when using the interceptor, you tuck in your sheets or the bed bugs will just crawl up the sheets. Remember, bedbugs can't jump or fly. They can only crawl.

And for travelers, White recommends GreenClean fully dissolvable laundry bags, also $22 for a 10-pack. Put your clothes in before you get home, then when you return, throw the whole thing in the wash.

You can also try BugZip encasements. Zip up your purse, backpack, or suitcase so bed bugs can't get on it or in it. The large size retails for $19.99.

And for $320, the PackTite is a portable unit that promises to eradicate "stow away" bedbugs using heat.

Back to the test on ActiveGuard: "All the bugs in the treatment were dead, and all the bugs in the control were alive," explained White. The begbugs placed on the Active Guard lasted less than 24 hours.

"So basically, what we found is yes, if bugs sit on the cover, they definitely will die," said White.

But White has concerns about how the product will work in the real world: "This isn't typically what's going to happen in the field. The bugs aren't going to just sit on a treated surface, they're going to find someplace else to hide."

But ActiveGuard's maker says even if the bedbugs don't stay on the ActiveGuard sheets, they will die after having been exposed to it for even a short time.

If you're debating encasements versus ActiveGuard fitted sheets, one option is to use both. But if you do use an encasement, White says make sure it's a proven product.

Also when we asked ActiveGuard about the exposure to pesticides, the maker says his product is absolutely safe.

Also, many other products do claim to protect you from bed bugs. White says many of them are a waste your money.

LINKS:

ActiveGuard

Bed Bug Central
1. Mattress Encasements
2. Boxspring Encasements
3. Climb Up Insect Interceptors
4. Dissolvable Laundry Bag
5. PackTite Portable Heat Unit


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