A family of entomologists from Dorval, made up of a father and his two children, hope their invention will help Montrealers control bed bug infestations.
The Maloney family has developed a self-sterilizing bed that kills bed bugs with heat. Users can turn it on during waking hours and shut it off before bed. While sleeping, any remaining bed bugs are caught in small glue traps in the mattress.
The son, Tim Maloney, acted as the family's guinea pig. He released hundreds of bed bugs in a carefully insulated structure set up in the family's back yard. He then placed the bed inside, which heats to 50°C, killing the bugs and their eggs.
“Pesticides don't even penetrate and kill the eggs," he says. "So heat is really the ultimate weapon.”
The Maloneys say their backyard tests show the bed can drastically reduce the number of bugs in the room, by drawing them in and zapping them dead.
"What you're doing is following the biology of the insect to let them do what they naturally do, which is to seek you out at night,” says the father, Paul Maloney.
Over the course of nine days, Tim Maloney says he was able to bring the population of 400 bed bugs down to two.
The daughter in the family, Laurel Maloney, says she used one of the beds when she discovered her apartment building was infested with bed bugs.
“We were able to sleep. We were able to not worry that it would come to us,” she says.
Montreal bed bug exterminator Don Prashker also uses heat to kill bed bugs. He says the Maloney's invention should work but he says it's important to check for bed bugs hiding in walls and other furniture.
The family says the device has been approved by the Canadian Safety Association and a Canadian military base has already purchased 20 of them.