How Did People Treat Bed Bugs In The 1940’s

The common bed bug has been an extermination problem since ancient times. In the 1940’s, many of the methods being used for bed bug control were only temporary deterrents, while more effective measures were as dangerous to humans as bugs.

  • Spring cleaning – With colder months limiting bed bug production, spring was the time to scrub bed frames, furniture and walls with boiling water. Bed sheets were washed regularly in boiling water.
  • Bug proofing – Wooden bed frames where bed bugs could hide were replaced with metal frames. Porous flooring and wallpapers were removed, and even doors and window frames were changed to metal.
  • Insecticides – Some fumigation techniques used blends of hydrogen cyanide or arsenic and mercury, and exterminators needed to wear gas masks. During World War II, the U.S. began using a chemical spray called dichloro-diphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) to protect soldiers from lice, flies and mosquitoes that carried disease. It was found to be very effective in killing bed bugs directly, with the added advantage of causing residual damage anywhere the dry agent was carried. As is the case with most insecticides, however, over time bed bugs developed a resistance to the product.

Extreme temperatures are the best bed bug control agent, but unless you can maintain an area at -110 F or +110 F over a period of time, it’s best to call Stern Environmental Group for professional assistance.