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I have access to a large amount of lumber that is infested with bed bugs.

Is there an extermination technique that I can do at home to rid this wood of the infestation? I am open to applying pretty much any chemical that is readily available for consumers to purchase. It's ok if it's poisonous to humans, I have space where I can store the lumber for a few days where people won't be exposed.

  • It's unclear to me what you're asking. Are you looking for suggestions for building bedbug-resistant furniture, instructions on how to eliminate bed bugs from an existing infested piece of furniture, or are you concerned that bed bugs have infested the lumber that you plan on using for a furniture project? – rob Apr 8 '15 at 7:05
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    Also see www2.epa.gov/bedbugs/top-ten-tips-prevent-or-control-bed-bugs for some general recommendations on dealing with bed bugs. – rob Apr 8 '15 at 7:06
  • @rob yes i am looking for reusing wood for another construction work which is infested.But that is huge in quantity applying repellent or any pest solution wont help.Need a measure like a gas which will possibly spread in all way in a storage room where it is stored. – user2408578 Apr 8 '15 at 7:29
  • Welcome to the woodworking site. I've updated your question based on the comments you made as well as to improve the English. I think this phrasing gets much closer to describing your situation, but I could be wrong. Feel free to revert or update it if you need. – drs Apr 8 '15 at 10:00
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    @user2408578 thanks for the clarification! – rob Apr 8 '15 at 16:05
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It's worth knowing that Bed bugs don't have a particular affection for wood but any small space where they can hide near a host.

Don't use it

Best advice I would say for materials that have a known infestation. I would also suggest avoiding toxic fumigation. "It's OK if it's poisonous to humans" is a scary concept. Yes, you will be fumigating this wood and will keep people away from it. However you don't say what you will be doing with the wood. If humans/animals will have contact with it later then I worry about latent chemical residue.

Most sites that discuss fumigation, where wooden furniture is concerned, warn that the process might not penetrate the wood enough. If that is the case then all that would have been accomplished is exposure to bed bugs and toxic chemicals. Those points are a very important aspect of what you should consider.

The little buggers can survive for a year without a host so even if you think you get them all it can be a while before you see them again (assuming they haven't moved!).

If you really, really must

In general having the wood in a dry kiln or any heat controlled environment, for an extended period of time should kill the bugs. FYI using a dry kiln is the IPPC approved method of non-toxic treatment of pallets before they are shipped internationally. Some are more resistant that others especially at different stages in development. Also sealing the wood after that can help slow if not stop their propagation. Be wary though if they are still contained inside the finished wood.

In theory a credible source

Looking at an in depth article on bed bugs from the US National Library of Medicine

Heat is a very practical and effective means of nonchemical bed bug control. The exposure of C. lectularius to 45°C for 1 h will kill all stages , and at temperatures over 60°C, all bed bugs are rapidly killed.

I never have kiln dried anything and don't know if those temperatures are liable to damage rough wood or dry them too quickly. Just understand that heat can kill 'em dead.

I found this little post useful as well. It is centric to a university but the advice is applicable outside that scope. For a general guide on bed bugs:

Best Management Practices for Controlling Bed Bugs

Casual Nudging Reminder

Again, there are other ways to get wood and I would strongly consider using other sources.

  • On forums I've seen people suggest just using insect-infested lumber and trusting that any remaining insects will be suffocated eventually if you just apply several coats of finish, but I've never seen any evidence to support whether or not this is effective. – rob Apr 8 '15 at 17:24
  • Also...did you forget to finish your last sentence? – rob Apr 8 '15 at 17:25
  • @rob I don't think the last sentence is missing anything....... As for the first comment general rule suggests that finishing will lock them in there. I doubt it but don't know if bed bugs are willing to eat there way out of that. Depends on what people think is enough finish. – Matt Apr 8 '15 at 17:40
  • looks like your version 6 edit fixed the incomplete last sentence. – rob Apr 8 '15 at 17:43
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Bedbugs are easily killed with heat, and fortunately high heat is not required. 45C or 113F is sufficient to kill all stages of bedbug life if heated for an hour.

Depending on the amount of lumber, size of the room, how its stacked, and how well insulated the room is, heating can take a long time. I'd suggest one or more high output heaters. If you can place a probe in or near the middle of the stack you can tell when the wood has reached sufficient temperature. If you add fans to create a convection current the process may go more quickly. Heating the room to well above 45C will heat the wood interior to 45C more quickly, but you'll have to balance that against possible damage to the wood and finish.

Make sure the room is sealed. A wood drying kiln might not be appropriate if it uses a lot of unfiltered ventilation - and most do, since the primary objective is to remove moisture. Further, some kilns don't attain the heat needed, instead relying on high volume and/or high velocity air to extract moisture from wood. Be aware that bedbugs can go dormant. When food becomes unavailable, adults can live many months or longer without feeding. Air drying or low temperature kilns will not eliminate bedbugs, and depending on how they are ventilated may, in fact, spread the infestation.

The bedbug infestation suggests that the wood is already dried and possibly finished, having been in close contact with humans for some period of time. This temperature shouldn't cause problems, but be aware that it will dry out more depending on the length of time required to bring all pieces of wood up to the uniform 45C temperature.

I wouldn't try chemicals or poisoning. Crevices, nooks, and spaces inside the wood may prevent the method from being 100% successful, and it only takes a few bedbug eggs to restart an infestation.

In the meantime, make sure you thoroughly launder your clothing as you come into contact with the wood prior to disinfecting it, and taking good hot showers. Bedbugs are something you shouldn't let propagate if at all possible.

  • Not to be nit picky but how is this different than my answer? With the exception of make sure you thoroughly launder your clothing as you come into contact which is good advice – Matt Apr 8 '15 at 17:56
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    "Nit picky" "bed bugs" - I see what you did there. – Charlie Kilian May 8 '15 at 19:18

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