Deadly for pests, harmless to humans and the environment

While pests in private households are often only seen as a nuisance, an infestation can have serious consequences for companies. Sectors such as the food-processing industry, mills, bakeries and the hotel industry therefore rely on effective control measures. Heat treatment is a form of ecological pest control that does not use insecticides and makes use of biological protein coagulation.

Pests are defenceless against heat

Pests are divided into different groups. Stock and food pests make stocks and food unfit for consumption due to feeding and contamination. These include moths (especially flour moths), mealworms or flour beetles. Material pests, on the other hand, feed on wood (e.g. woodworm) or materials containing keratin, such as wool (e.g. clothes moths). Household pests such as bedbugs or mites often use humans as hosts and feed on skin scales or blood. For those who want to control storage pests, material pests and house pests, thermal pest control without chemicals offers an environmentally friendly and safe option that exploits the protein coagulation of the animals.

Pests are highly dependent on their ambient temperature. Across different species, they show high activity at temperatures from +15°C to +35°C. Exceptions to this are various strains of mites, which can be active almost to freezing level. Temperatures beyond this range can be exploited to combat pests. In grain cooling, for example, the beetles' surroundings are cooled to below 15°C, whereupon they become inactive and no longer pose a threat. Heat treatment is the other extreme. Pests cannot transpire and therefore have no possibility to cool down - their body temperature increases according to the ambient temperature. Above a body temperature of 45°C, enzymes and the body's own proteins denature, i.e. clot. The molecules lose their biological function so that metabolism and biosynthesis decrease, and the animals die. Heat treatment makes use of this heat susceptibility: A heat treatment furnace heats a room or machine, and keeps the temperature constant until the pests denature. Experience has shown that heat treatment is effective against all types of pests that usually occur in buildings: Ants, bedbugs, beetles, mites, cockroaches, moths, wood-damaging beetle larvae (e.g. woodworm), as well as material- and storage-damaging larvae (e.g. mealworms).

Combat all stages of development with one treatment

Heat treatment has important advantages over other methods. On the one hand, thermal pest control does not use chemical substances. The environment is not contaminated with insecticides and pest control can be carried out without residues or subsequent decontamination. Heat treatment is harmless to humans and the environment, and therefore does not require official permits. Operating companies can also kill adult animals, pupae, larvae and their eggs simultaneously with a single application. Chemical fumigation is ineffective against some stages of development, e.g., the robust eggs. In addition, heat treatment also kills insecticide-resistant pests, which cannot be combated with chemical fumigation. Thermal pest control without insecticides also prevents the animals from developing resistance to pesticides.

In the course of heat treatment, pest foci are made visible so that pest prevention and cleaning can be optimized. After the treated rooms have cooled down, they can be used again immediately. Heat treatment is relatively easy to carry out, as the rooms to be treated are mostly left in their original condition, and do not require extensive preparation or conversion. In addition, pest control can be carried out discreetly without chemicals, so that guests in other hotel rooms or personnel are not disturbed. In areas with a risk of dust explosion, heat treatment can be carried out in compliance with ATEX. The warm room air also dries dust and deposits so that they can be removed more easily and mould cannot grow.

Wide ranging applications from food-processing companies to hotels

Heat treatment is suitable for companies from many industries due to its high effectiveness and few accompanying problems. It is particularly useful in food-processing companies. Pests are a threat to food safety, but at the same time they are attracted to food-processing companies, and find optimal living conditions there. For this reason, thermal pest control contributes to GMP (good manufacturing practice) and is included in a HACCP concept. From manufacture and processing through packaging, storage and transport, to the sale of the products: Complete pest control is essential in the food industry.

Heat treatment is also suitable for pest control in hotels, youth hostels, refugee centres, sleeping carriages, holiday homes, and shared accommodation. It is particularly useful where different people use the same facilities and fabrics. The process is therefore often used to debug mattresses. It is also suitable for cleaning seat upholstery and other contact surfaces in meeting rooms or first-aid rooms. Thermal pest control can be carried out in all areas that can be closed off so that warm air can accumulate. Use in museum depots, or the treatment of individual items of clothing or furniture, is also conceivable. Always make sure, however, that materials are not damaged by the high temperature load. If a special picture, musical instrument, or electronic device is at risk, it must be removed from the room and given special treatment.

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