By Denise Emsley, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Public Affairs
PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (NNS) -- Bed bugs are an equal opportunity pest that does not distinguish between the victim's race, age, wealth, origin, and good or bad housekeeping. The good news is Navy pest control personnel at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) have been training up and are ready to use a new heat eradication system to exterminate them.
"In the past five years, bedbugs have been getting a lot of news headlines in Hawaii and becoming a real problem for people from all walks of life," said Edward Perales pest control leader. "With our year-round tropical weather, we have a great location for them to thrive. But we are changing our fighting tactics and upping our game."
In late February, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii's Public Works Department (PWD) JBPHH received a new Bed Bug Thermal Remediation System. This system will eliminate the need to use pesticides and get the job done the first time.
Currently, bed bugs infestations may need to be treated by insecticides up to five times before being able to declare a victory. The process involves packing, bagging, and sterilizing everything in the home, barracks, and office as well as tossing out infested clothing, chairs, mattresses, etc. To complicate matters even further, bed bugs have been developing a resistance to most chemicals used to treat infestations.
With the Bed Bug Thermal Remediation System, the pest management team can treat an entire room, up to 1,600 square feet, at 130 degrees Fahrenheit, in 4 - 6 hours. The system includes one to three heating units, fans to distribute the heat, a computer router, a laptop computer, and in some cases a portable generator so as to not overload the room's power supply.
"After the thermal remediation system is setup and ready to go, signs are posted to keep personnel out of the area being treated," said Airman First Class Alexis Quinteros, pest management journeyman. "We setup a monitoring station in an adjacent space and then keep track of things from our laptop computer."
Bed bugs are not just in mattresses and linens; but can be found in other parts of a room such as in bathrooms and on other furniture. Infestations can appear as a single room issue or even occur in a block of rooms. It all depends on the source of the infestation which usually is from insect hitch hikers arriving on the clothes and luggage of personnel traveling from various parts of the globe.
"This heat treatment hasn't been used at JBPHH before now," said Quinteros. "It successfully kills bed bugs through dehydration as well as any other insects such as silverfish, roaches, and spiders that may be present. A side benefit of the heat process is that is also destroys any residual or trace chemicals which may have been used in the room during past insecticide treatments, a real plus for folks with allergies."
Pest management personnel, nine civilians and five military, are all trained up on the new Bed Bug Thermal Remediation System and waiting to get the first call to take it into the field. Although the system was a little costly, it is expected to pay for itself within a very short timeframe.
"We never know when a bed bug problem is going to arise," said TSgt Douglas Howerton, pest management craftsman. "There isn't a set schedule, a few incidents may occur once or twice a month, with more frequent calls for assistance during the Summer travel period when a larger number of personnel are transferring between duty stations."
The implementation of this new Bed Bug Thermal Remediation System at JBPHH is great news for everyone and is in line with goals to reduce chemical usage at the base protect personnel from unnecessary exposure to insecticides.
"We follow the Environmental Protection Agency's Integrated Pest Management approach which is to use the best effective and environmentally sensitive methods when dealing with a pest problem,' said Howerton. "This means we evaluate, and determine the proper course of action to control and mitigate an issue using chemicals only after we have exhausted all other options."
PWD JBPHH Environmental Division Pest Management Section provides a wide variety of pest control services for rodents and insects. Serviceable areas include industrial and office spaces, warehouses, child development centers, food handling establishments, bachelor enlisted and officer quarters, and natural open spaces.
To report pest issues, JBPHH commands and tenants should please contact their building manager. The manager is responsible to report issues/call in to NAVFAC Hawaii's Emergency Service Desk. To learn more about Pest Management and the services provided at JBPHH, please review NAVFAC Hawaii's Pest Control brochure - https://go.usa.gov/xXKtz.