What is Thermal Pest Control and is it the Best Option for you?

Ambient heater for thermal pest control to kill bed bugs

The Benefits of Ambient Heat and Thermal Pest Control

Article by Joseph Salvatore Knipper

An effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program strives for long-term pest solutions without the use of chemicals and insecticides, except as a last resort. One of the methods used, especially to fight bed bugs, is heat treatment (also known as “ambient heat” or “thermal pest control”).

How Heat Treatment Works

Pests, like humans, prefer a certain temperature range. If it’s a hot day, you dehydrate more quickly. Pests are no different, except that, being smaller, this dehydration happens far more lethally and dramatically. According to NewScientist.com “heat destroys vital proteins and fatally desiccates the insect’s tissues within minutes.”

Heat treatment is most commonly used against bed bugs. Bed bugs die when heated to temperatures of 120 °F for 20 minutes. Their eggs are a bit more resilient, requiring up to 90 minutes at 120 °F.

Other insects can also be treated using ambient heat with various temperatures requirements, including fleas (95 °F), mites (130 °F), carpet beetles (120 °F), and moths (varies by species).

Equipment for Thermal Pest Control

Heaters: Depending on the size and layout of the location, we typically use industrial-grade electric heaters or a special heat rig with a built-in generator.

Fans: Fans are used to distribute the heat evenly to ensure that the entire area is covered and the heat reaches all possible spaces where pests may be hiding. 

Thermometers: Our pest control experts use remote thermometers and heat gun thermometers to ensure that all areas, including common hiding places, reach the required temperatures. 

With this equipment, we can safely and evenly raise the temperature of every area of your home or apartment to 140 ° Fahrenheit. This level of ambient heat will exterminate pests without damaging structures or furniture. 

How does thermal treatment compare to traditional pest control?

Efficiency: Thermal treatment has one major advantage over other treatment methods, such as cryo and pesticides: it usually only takes one visit.

Pesticide treatment for bed bugs usually requires a second treatment fourteen days later to kill any bugs which have hatched since the first treatment. Thermal treatment, however, is fatal to bugs at all life stages, including eggs, so there is no need for a second round of treatment.

Time: The preparation work required for thermal pest control is often significantly less than that required for traditional pest extermination.

Prior to heat treatment, you should take steps such as unplugging electronics, spacing out clothing in closets, and clearing clutter from your floor. Also, certain items in your house such as those made of wax (candles, crayons), things that spoil in heat (houseplants, fresh food), and items under pressure (soda cans, aerosol cans), should be inspected and removed.

Safety and Eco-Friendliness: Heat treatment is a chemical-free method of pest control. For people concerned about the materials introduced to their homes or people with health concerns regarding pesticides, thermal pest control can be a preferable alternative. Heat treatment leaves no traces except dead bugs.


Thermal pest control can effectively eliminate pest problems after just one visit, does not require the use of pesticides, and takes less time than other forms of pest control. If you’d like to learn more about the heat treatment process, contact MMPC and our experienced pest control experts will be happy to answer your questions.

A Final Note

As is the case with all forms of Integrated Pest Management, heat treatment is most effective when combined with other methods.

As part of our thermal pest control program, MMPC also performs exclusion and proofing, which limits the potential for new pests from entering and existing pests from escaping to neighboring homes/apartments during the treatment. Combining different techniques gives you the best chase of successfully eliminating an infestation.