Saturday, June 22

Its A Trap: New Invention Sizzles Bed Bugs

There are worse things to worry about than sparkly teenage bloodsucking vampires, such as bloodsucking bed bugs found within said books.A rogue bed bug was recently found in a Las Vegas-Clark County library center. Luckily, the finder was able to capture the pest using a piece of tape, but questions arose as to how many more were nestled away within the nearly 18,000 books that circulate through the service center.

Instead of asking how many there are left, a few University of Nevada Las Vegas students believe they have the answer to the bigger problem of how to get rid of them: Solar-powered book drop.

Undergraduate engineering students Jack Cheney, Nicole Ramos, and Vachara Maneeraj created this brilliant piece of technology that is capable of roasting bed bugs to death. It is well known that thermal remediation is a safe and very effective way to remove bed bugs, so this solar powered book drop will function just the same. “BUSINESS QUOTE regarding thermal remediation, facts about bed bugs, how many hotels affected every year, etc.”

Their solar project was part of the university’s senior engineering desing competition that ended back in May, during which all engineering students must present — after a year in the making — their project using engineering techniques. The three got the idea from Shawn Gerstenberger, the dean of the School of the Community Health Sciences, who told the student body back in fall 2013 about the unavoidable spread of bedbugs in library books.

Many libraries have had to close as a result of infestations, which are normally thought to occur in hotels. The only previous known way to remove the bugs was to destroy any affected books.

The solar powered book drop is composed of an insulated wooden black box with a Plexiglass top that creates oven-like temperatures to kill the bed bugs. However, things are just starting to heat up with this oven-invention. Once the book lands on the heated grill, the bed bugs will be most likely to crawl out of their hiding place to avoid the heat, but will then fall through the cracks of the grill and land on a rough earth mixture which will literally scratch and slice up the bug’s exoskeleton. After that, they will surely be dead.

To test their new death trap, the three students took 75 bed bugs (ordered online) and tested their invention. Working with a $1,000 was tight, but not many prototypes were needed to finally complete the $400 final design.

The students are thrilled to be applying their engineering background skills to a real-world situation, and have even applied for a patent and are hoping to sell the product, which was successful.

Because of the immense amount of heat the heated box gives off, Ramos explained that their invention could work not only to kill bed bugs, but also the common cold virus. Libraries are at an increased risk these days as bed bugs have found more ways to travel outside the bedroom.

“The Bed Bug will become very active as the temperature in their environment begins to rise above 100° F – as they come out of hiding looking for a warm body as a meal,” says Richard Halbach, Ph.D. President, Thermination Technology (Division of REH Consulting, Inc.). “This is one reason that room heat treatment methods are so effective relative to chemical methods. Pesticides irritate the bug so they seek cover, heat brings them out of hiding to die as the room continues to reach killing temperatures above 122° F.”
The university staff and librarians have urged students to continue going to the library, but to be acutely aware of what bed bugs look like. They are wingless and brownish-red in color with a body slightly smaller than the size of an eraser top. The bugs are very rugged, and can survive weeks without feeding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *