CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A new Cedar Rapids company is opening its doors in an effort to shut out the bed bug problem in Eastern Iowa.
Orkin, a pest control company, keeps tally of the top 50 bed bug infested cities. In 2011 Cedar Rapids/Waterloo ranked 45th. In 2012, Cedar Rapids/Waterloo jumped 12 places ranking 33rd on the list. The number one city for bed bug problems is Chicago. Last year, the bed bug business as a whole also grew by 32 percent nationwide.
The new Eastern Iowa business, BedBug Chasers of Cedar Rapids, will host a grand opening Thursday night at A Touch of Class Banquet Hall on Mount Vernon Road.
It's different than many bed bug pest control methods. Owners Jason Rogers and Frank Stephen will use a new non-toxic, heating technology that kills the bugs in a single application.
That means the battle against bed bugs is heating up in Eastern Iowa.
"It's a much bigger problem than I had ever anticipated," Stephen said.
The business venture started when Jason experienced the bedbug problem firsthand in his apartment properties.
"I thought, you know what, let's just treat them with chemicals, chemical should work. I noticed chemicals weren't working, we tried some other heat system those weren't working either," Rogers said.
From there the two got the itch to open the Bedbug Chasers franchise in Eastern Iowa. Many pest control companies use chemicals to rid the place of bed bugs, this method uses an indoor convection heating system. The heaters run off a generator and the temperature rises quickly.
"This here tells us how hot we are getting," Stephen said.
"Our heat is a convection style heat; it's able to permeate surfaces, wall clutter, much, much faster than any other type of heat," Rogers said.
"We have 135 degrees coming in and then 140 degrees coming out the bottom and then we have the fans that are blowing it all around," Stephen said.
The heaters push warm air evenly until every bed bug dies. Sensors inside the building let the BedBug Chasers know when they can go inside and flip mattresses and open drawers. Their goal is to make sure the heat touches every bit of the infested area. The magic number that the heater needs to reach is 122 degrees.
"The bed bugs have an exoskeleton and at that temperature they dry out so fast that they can no longer sustain life," Stephen said.
The new business owners say it'll cost about $1.25 to $2.00 a square foot, depending on the size of the space they need to heat.
While they are just getting started, the bed bug duo said the requests for help with the pests are already pouring in.