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Old 7th Sep 2010, 14:07   #1 (permalink)
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Bed Bugs and Sulphur

Recently reading on the BBC news website about the infestation of bed bugs that is sweeping America and could go worldwide:

BBC News - Don't let the bed bugs bite

Remember some sixty years ago accompanying my father to my gran's house where he blocked all the windows and the base of doors with old towels, poured a liberal quantity of sulphur on to an assortment of old saucers and lit them. Gran came to stay for a day or so whilst her place was fumigated by the sulphur dioxide. Didn't half pong, but it seemed to work. Don't suppose 'elf and safety would allow it nowadays, might injure any burglar breaking in whilst the place was empty.

A good sprinkling of sulphur on a teaspoon of golden syrup was also a cure for us kids who might have boils, spots or other symptoms of unclean blood. Probably banned the sale of sulphur now, as unsociable people might be inclined to mix it with saltpetre and something else to make gunpowder, especially close to the November the 5th. I suspect aircrew would be particularly susceptable to bringing the nasties home. So can you still get sulphur? And was it a good solution for bed bug infestations?
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 14:13   #2 (permalink)
 
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A good cure for bed bug infestation? Burn your mattress??
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 14:25   #3 (permalink)
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That's all very well, but I have read that they do get into the cracks in the bedframes, and anywhere else they can hide when the bed isn't occupied. So burn pillows, blankets, doonas, etc as well as the bedframe and mattress?
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 14:40   #4 (permalink)
 
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I will declare a professional interest here. One of my clients is one of the UK's leading authorities on bed bugs and recently there have been many new developments in how to deal with the problem.

To answer a couple of FAQs - it's generally a waste of time burning or otherwise destroying an infested mattress. Deal with the problem in situ and then consider what to do with your bed. If you remove an untreated bed / mattress and take it outside, you risk spreading the problem throughout your home as the hitchhikers fall off when you are moving it / bumping it down the stairs.

Bed bugs DO NOT just live in beds. They can be found behind skirting, in cracks in the wallpaper, in light fittings etc etc. All they want is a nice dark secure place to digest their meal, but still close to their next one

For more and importantly accurate information, have a look at this non-commercial website: www.bedbugbeware.com


I hope that helps but please feel free to PM me or post here for more information on the subject.

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Old 7th Sep 2010, 14:43   #5 (permalink)
 
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Since it seems bedbugs can live in other places in ones' home other than just the bed, perhaps the solution is to simply burn one's house down?
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 14:59   #6 (permalink)
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At RAF Changi we were bothered by bed bugs. Hygiene Flight were as useless as you might expect them to be and declared it was due to reinfestations arising from we single mens' dirty weekends, sleeping in dubious places.
(The military were very good to us. New arrivals were issued with a list of all the best places in town.)

In reality the buggers were hiding in the cane chairs at the Malcolm Club. The reason why we had bite sores all over the back of our knees.

RAF bed frames were tubular steel constructions and easily dismantled. There were spare beds in every block. Our solution was to place your matress outside in the tropical sun all weekend, from whence the bugs would flee. Then you poured lighter fluid into the inside of the dismantled bed frame tubes and set fire to them. Pour more lighter fluid on anything that survived the conflagration as they exited and Bob's your uncle. Bite free nights for another couple of months.

Thinks, Why am I scratching my head, body and arms so furiously while writing this? They weren't itchy in the "Names" topic...
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 15:04   #7 (permalink)
 
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Setting fire to ones bed? My, what drastic measures to undertake.

Sounds like a job for Donald Merwin Elbert aka, The Trashcan Man!!!!
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 15:17   #8 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Gran came to stay for a day or so whilst her place was fumigated by the sulphur dioxide.

Just a safety note here, please!


Don't anyone try this at home. H2S is one of the most deadly chemicals known. Around 100 ppm (Part Per Million) will kill you. The famous 'rotten egg' smell is at low ppm. The gas then kils your sense of smell before killing you. In all, probably more lethal than the gas they use in the USA for executing criminals.

In short, VERY, VERY nasty stuff. Don't play with it.
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 15:52   #9 (permalink)
 
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When you burn sulphur in air, you get sulphur dioxide, SO2, and not hydrogen sulphide, H2S. Sulphur dioxide is nasty, and dissolves readily in water to form sulphurous acid, H2SO3. (H2O + SO2 = H2SO3) This rapidly takes up oxygen from the air to form sulphuric acid (2H2SO3 + O2 = 2H2SO4)

Burning sulphur in air produces up to 7% sulphur trioxide, which readily dissolves in water to give sulphuric acid.

Hydrogen Sulphide may be made by heating sulphur in a hydrogen atmosphere, but more usually by the action of dilute hydrochloric or sulphuric acid on a ferrous sulphide. Alternatively, by the action of heating antimony sulphide with concentrated hydrochloric acid. It is, as lars said, extremley poisonous: 1 part in 800 in air has been known to kill dogs. It burns in air with a bluish flame, giving sulphur dioxide and water.

In Victorian times, 'sulphur candles' were available for fumigation: I gather these were normal candles with sulphur added to the wax.
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 16:25   #10 (permalink)
 
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Thanks for the chem lesson, mate. Saw H2S and overreacted.

Indeed, recall making H2S in Kipps apparatus at school; result was a strapping and the evacuation of the science block.
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 16:36   #11 (permalink)

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Can't one still get those fumigating candles to use in greenhouses?

Also a thing that looks like a mossie coil, which is a slow burn DDT thing rather than a tiny contraceptive device...
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 17:01   #12 (permalink)
 
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Fumigating devices are not a good idea and generally just make the problem worse.

Bed bugs are tough critters and nothing a member of the public can buy over the counter will generally kill them - all you'll suceed in doing is creating an environment which the bugs find unpleasant so they will vacate the area.

If you have just one infested bedroom and try such DIY treatment then they may well leave that room and you will now have lots of other infested rooms instead

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Old 7th Sep 2010, 17:25   #13 (permalink)
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Must admit we don't have a problem with bed bugs in 'Orsetralia. Cockroaches gobble up the bed bugs like salted peanuts on a bar counter. The geckos and lizards scoff the cockroaches, and the snakes make light work of the geckos and lizards. Just have to make sure the snakes don't get you.
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 17:37   #14 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Must admit we don't have a problem with bed bugs in 'Orsetralia
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but since 1999 the number of bed bug infestations in Australia has increased by around 5,000%
Source: http://medent.usyd.edu.au/bedbug/bed_bugs_factsheet.pdf

Stephen Doggett, from the Department of Medical Etymology, ICPMR at Westmead Hospital in Sydney is generally accepted as one of, if not the, world's leading leading authorities on bed bugs.


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Old 7th Sep 2010, 17:37   #15 (permalink)
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Good thread. Thanks for the info.


How big are they? Sounds like time to get the shop vac into the rooms.


Wife hates carpets in this climate. I hate glass floors.

Will Vacuuming help?

We have a Dyson in both countries, and have taken the UK one to two places we've stayed in. It pulls masses of fine dust out of things that have just been vac'd.

This pesky new kitten has found my bed. Have to have the door open to let the A/C air out again. I awoke at oh,four,sparrow's this morning to the touch of his whiskers on my face. Cute, but I'm not too sure I want a fury thing that near in this climate.

I always used to get asthma when I went to my Gran's house. Great big mattresses filled with goodness knows what. Terrible nights wheezing away, and now they tell me it was probably bugs that did it.
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 17:38   #16 (permalink)
 
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How bed bugs killed a Swedish funster.

Attempts to kill bed bugs have had fatal consequences for a number of people, some famous, some not so famous...

The Swedish poet Dan Andersson came to a sticky end due to a hotel's ill starred attempt to kill these little critters...

From the dreaded Wiki

Quote:
Dan Andersson died in room 11 at Hotel Hellman in Stockholm on 16 September 1920, where he had gone to look for a job at the newspaper Social-Demokraten. The hotel staff had used hydrogen cyanide against bedbugs and hadn't cleared the room as prescribed. At 3 pm Andersson was found dead. At the same time, insurance inspector Elliott Eriksson from Bollnäs also died. The hotel was located at Bryggaregatan 5 in Stockholm, but was demolished in the 1960s
O'er the grass and the grey roof-tops like a whisper comes the night,
With her few pale stars' wretched fire
And East across the moor land to the tarn goes down a light,
Goes a song through the lily-sprinkled mire.
Far and wide the black storm thunders, and round the islet there
Chant the waves of the desert spaces
O'er the dark and angry waters, lo, the night sounds call to prayer,
For a Dreamer, a Musician, lies dead.

Lively stuff.
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 17:51   #17 (permalink)
 
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I've heard that fragmentation grenades work wonders against bedbugs.

I wonder if this is true?
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 17:55   #18 (permalink)
 
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Add rgbrock1 to the list of famous people (at least on PPRuNe) who are most at risk of shuffling of this mortal insect coil in pursuit of dead bed bugs.

I appreciate that you have a predeliction for heavy ordinance rgb but surely it would be easier just to use a flame thrower?
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 18:02   #19 (permalink)
 
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I'm reminded of Twain...

From 'Roughing It':

Quote:
There are no fish in Mono Lake--no frogs, no snakes, no polliwigs-- nothing, in fact, that goes to make life desirable. Millions of wild ducks and sea-gulls swim about the surface, but no living thing exists under the surface, except a white feathery sort of worm, one half an inch long, which looks like a bit of white thread frayed out at the sides. If you dip up a gallon of water, you will get about fifteen thousand of these. They give to the water a sort of grayish-white appearance. Then there is a fly, which looks something like our house fly. These settle on the beach to eat the worms that wash ashore--and any time, you can see there a belt of flies an inch deep and six feet wide, and this belt extends clear around the lake--a belt of flies one hundred miles long. If you throw a stone among them, they swarm up so thick that they look dense, like a cloud. You can hold them under water as long as you please--they do not mind it--they are only proud of it. When you let them go, they pop up to the surface as dry as a patent office report, and walk off as unconcernedly as if they had been educated especially with a view to affording instructive entertainment to man in that particular way. Providence leaves nothing to go by chance. All things have their uses and their part and proper place in Nature's economy: the ducks eat the flies--the flies eat the worms--the Indians eat all three--the wild cats eat the Indians--the white folks eat the wild cats--and thus all things are lovely.
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 18:03   #20 (permalink)
 
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Namib:

I had actually contemplated the use of a flame thrower for ridding one's home
of the pesky pests. However, the use of such a device would lead to an inferno of, perhaps, vast proportions.

A fragmentation grenade, or two or three or four, would alleviate the risks involved with the use of a flame-spouting apparatus.

Then again, there are mortars as well. Not the 100mm variety, of course, but more along the lines of an 88mm mortar. That should toast the little bugs.
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