MM Novato Reviews

There are tons of quality bed bug steamers available to homeowners and professionals alike. All are capable of killing bed bugs on contact, thanks to their 200+ degree steam tip temperature. However, there are a dizzying number of other features and specs that need to be considered when making a purchase decision. There are steamers […]

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Armato 9000 Steamer Review: The Ultimate Bed Bug Killer

Armato 9000 Steamer

There are tons of quality bed bug steamers available to homeowners and professionals alike. All are capable of killing bed bugs on contact, thanks to their 200+ degree steam tip temperature. However, there are a dizzying number of other features and specs that need to be considered when making a purchase decision. There are steamers with higher pressure, hotter temperatures, more water capacity, or more dials, knobs, or other gizmos than the rest. Choosing one steamer was a compromise between the features you care about versus the ones you don’t. Until now.

The all-new Armato 9000 aims to be a no-compromise commercial-grade bed bug steamer. It packs a powerful boiler, integrated heating element and super high capacity tank into an all-metal heavy-duty body. It even includes high-end features like continuous fill and CEME® solenoid control for an attractive price. Is the Armato the new end-all, be-all commercial bed bug killer? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Unboxing and First Impressions

Armato 9000 Steamer

Armato packs the 9000 into a spartan, no-frills white box. This isn’t a brand that’s trying to appeal to department store shoppers. Armato is an all-business brand that serves pest control professionals directly. This serious attitude continues through the unboxing; there are no stickers, pamphlets, or unnecessary attachments. The 9000 ships with exactly what you’ll need for pest control jobs and nothing more.

Armato 9000 Steamer

The minimalist set of attachments and accessories include only the bare necessities for a proper bed bug treatment: the Armato ships with two extension tubes, a smooth flat fabric tool (affectionately referred to as a bed bug tool by Armato), a jet tip tool for cracks and crevices, a large floor head with an adapter, and two cotton covers to help break up excess moisture and pressure.

The premium, heavy-duty build quality is apparent at first sight. Every part of the body design and components were taken into consideration. All of the body panels are made of powdered steel and reinforced with hard steel fixtures and rubber bumpers. While we wouldn’t test its durability by dropping it off any roofs, we feel confident that the steamer can withstand the occasional knock around the back of a truck or up and down a steep set of stairs.

Armato 9000 Steamer

Armato’s meticulous design can be seen in even the least conspicuous details. The hose is braided with Techflex® nylon to protect against crimping and tearing. The raceway casters feature double ball bearing assistance to keep them rolling and swiveling as smoothly as possible. The control console and carrying handle are reinforced to keep them secured to the body.

Under the Hood

With all of the thought put into the outside of the steamer, we knew we had to pop the covers open and take a look inside this beast. Note that we do this with permission from the manufacturer, and we absolutely do not recommend that you attempt to open your own steamer. Do not try this at home.

Armato 9000 Steamer

On one side of the steamer’s generously spaced interior, we find the enormous water tanks, one pressurized and one unpressurized. The polymer reservoir tank can hold over a gallon of water, and can continuously feed into the pressurized boiler. Out of the box, the boiler is wrapped with styrofoam for insulation. Unwrapping that present revealed a beautiful double-walled stainless steel unit. This boiler is as durable and well-made as they get, and is backed with confidence by a lifetime manufacturer warranty.

Armato 9000 Steamer

Flipping the steamer over gave us a chance to ogle the Italian electronics that make the Armato work. The microcomputer, responsible for things like steam control gauging and water level monitoring, is protected by a sturdy polymer enclosure. The Italian-made CEME® solenoid controller regulates steam flow into the hose. This reduces moisture and condensation buildup to ensure a consistently hot and dry steam.

Using the Armato 9000

A big advantage that the Armato has over its competitors is its seemingly endless water capacity. Even if we never took advantage of the continuous fill feature, we estimate that a full tank can steam non-stop for over two and a half hours. The reason that’s an estimate is because we think it’s silly to ignore the continuous fill feature, so we never tested the full extent of the tank’s runtime.

Armato 9000 Steamer

Generally, the rule of thumb is that larger tanks take longer to heat up to a boil. High-powered heating elements can help offset this extended heat-up time, and the Armato’s integrated heater is more than up for the task. The Armato’s indicator light changes from red to green in less than 9 minutes, indicating that the boiler is primed and ready to release its steam. This is noticeably faster than the 15-20 minutes that a less powerful boiler would need to heat up that amount of water.

Armato 9000 Steamer

When we pulled the trigger on the Armato’s ergonomic steam gun, the first thing we heard was the distinctive click of the CEME solenoid activating, followed by a torrential rush of hot, dry steam. The 9000 is named for its 90-PSI steam pressure capability, and this steamer lives up to its name without hesitation. This super high pressure is among the highest we have sampled, and will ensure that the steam adequately penetrates into cracks and crevices to hit bed bugs where they are hiding.

Armato 9000 Steamer

Steam pressure is only half of the equation, as steam is little more than a propulsion method to deliver heat where pests are hiding. Fortunately, the Armato won’t let anyone down thanks to its class-leading heating power. The 320-degree boiler can produce tip temperatures of up to 284 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than enough to kill bed bugs of any age on contact. Coupled with the high pressure rating, the 9000 should have no trouble killing pests even several inches away from the tip of the steam nozzle.

Wrapping Up

Armato 9000 Steamer

The Armato 9000 handily exceeds our expectations in all of the right places: it has more durability, more power, more capacity, and more control than any other steamer in its class or price range. The only steamers that come close to it are much more expensive, such as the ~$1,900 EnviroMate Pro EP1000.

We have no doubt that there are other commercial steamers out there that fit the needs of professionals considering the new Armato. There are some steamers with similar pressure ratings or boiler power; there are even a couple with similar tank capacity. However, all of the competitors compromise in places where the Armato does not. There is nothing out there that matches the Armato for its construction, power, capacity, features, and price. In a world full of compromise, the Armato stands out as an easy choice for professional pest control.

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MM Novato Reviews

Chances are that if you want to get rid of bed bugs in your home, you’re going to be using a bed bug steamer as part of your treatment method. However, once you’re done treating for bed bugs, you probably don’t plan to start killing bed bugs in other homes. For those not interested in starting a […]

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Gaia Steamer Review: The All-In-One Dream Cleaner?

Chances are that if you want to get rid of bed bugs in your home, you’re going to be using a bed bug steamer as part of your treatment method. However, once you’re done treating for bed bugs, you probably don’t plan to start killing bed bugs in other homes. For those not interested in starting a new pest control business, that means the steamer will likely be promoted to house cleaning duty after the bed bug ordeal is over. This prospect makes it a good idea to find a steamer that will kill bed bugs but also serve as an exceptional cleaning device down the road.

Most dry vapor steamers on the market are made for cleaning and sanitizing purposes — that’s why most of their attachments are brushes, carpet heads, and other parts for different surfaces you might find in your home. The best steam cleaners on the market usually combine steaming and vacuuming into one device. While they’re at it, these products also may come with direct injection and extraction of hot water or detergent. However, these models are often priced too high to be considered for most homes, or don’t meet the requirements of a bed bug steamer.

Gaia Steamer and Vacuum

The new Gaia aims to fit that role perfectly. Packed into this compact body is a dry vapor steamer, wet/dry vacuum, direct injection and extraction. A single device could be all you need to leave most floors and surfaces as clean as the day you moved in. However, this steamer is no slouch when it comes to bed bug treatments — the Gaia features a powerful stainless steel boiler that delivers steam as hot as 260 degrees, and with up to 58 PSI to ensure penetration into cracks, seams, and folds.

The Gaia might hit all the right marks on paper, but does it deliver in hand? Let’s find out.

Unboxing and First Impressions

Gaia Steamer Attachments

We’ve grown accustomed to steamers coming with a lot of attachments, but rarely do we see such a diversity of gear as we did when unpacking the Gaia. This beastly home cleaning kit comes with tools for everything from hard surfaces, carpets, upholstered fabric, and getting into any sort of crack or crevice that needs to be cleaned, degreased, or sanitized.

Gaia Steamer Tubes

Of particular interest to us were the steam gun, hose, and extension tubes. These were all carefully designed to handle the task of delivering steam and suction power at the same time. The larger tubes and hose are for the vacuum and extraction duties, while the smaller port underneath is for high pressure steaming and direct injection. The gun itself omits the usual trigger that you hold down to steam — instead, you’ll find a toggle switch for the steamer with another switch on top of the handle for the vacuum.

The overall build and construction is about what we expected for this price range. It’s not feasible to pack all of these features into a durable, sturdy body for the price that the Gaia is available for. With that in mind, we’re not overly concerned by the generally thin, consumer-grade plastics that the Gaia is built with. If you need something that can handle being knocked around more, you’ll want to pay more for a commercial-grade model.

Gaia Steamer Controls

The control console on top of the body is the most user-friendly design I’ve ever seen on a steam cleaner. Instead of a steam adjustment knob, where you’re not always sure how close to minimum or maximum power you’re at now, the Gaia’s steam control is a simple three-level toggle. Just choose between low, medium, or high steam pressure and get back to work.

Similar set-and-forget controls are in place for vacuum suction power, and toggled power buttons are present for the steamer, vacuum, and injection/extraction functions. This layout is very quick and easy to learn, and the simple indicators for boiler status and water level make it easy to know when it’s time to start steaming or when it’s time to refill.

Using the Gaia

Steaming with the Gaia

The Gaia has everything you need for a bed bug treatment. To kill bed bugs hiding in the seams and folds of your mattress, box spring, couch, or other upholstered furniture, you want to use low pressure and a flat upholstery fabric attachment. For other hiding places, like baseboards, floorboards, bed frames, and the edges of the carpet, you should use a thin detail nozzle and higher pressure. Either attachment should usually be wrapped by a cloth to break up excess pressure and moisture. The Gaia provides all of this, and allows you to hit each hiding place with ease and efficiency.

Gaia Steamer Trigger

Ditching the steam adjustment knob and traditional trigger can be big usability improvements, if they’re your cup of tea. Choosing between three steam power levels and not having to hold down a trigger while you work makes the chores of cleaning or treating for bed bugs a little easier on you. It’s always nice when a product design can reduce the things you have to worry about without reducing functionality.

Where the Gaia really shines is in the versatility of its cleaning ability. Need to clean up a dirty hard floor? You can either steam first and vacuum after, or you can flip both switches and do both at once. What about rugs and carpet floors, which conventional steamers tend to struggle with? No problem — just dilute a non-foam cleaning agent with water in the injection tank, vacuum the carpet to clear out surface-level debris, then activate the injection and extraction functions to pump steam and detergent to the very roots of the carpet fiber.

Wrapping Up

Gaia Bed Bug Steamer

The Gaia doesn’t do anything new. There are other steamers, other wet/dry vacuum cleaners, and other combination units. Some even have direct injection and extraction. However, none of the other models out there manage to combine all of these features in such a portable and easy-to-use integration, and the attractive price is a cherry on top that makes this device hard to pass on. The Gaia makes cleaning feel like less of a chore, and that’s pretty impressive.

Gaia Steamer with Vacuum and Injection

The Gaia is the first all-in-one home steam cleaner. With its combination of direct-injected steam and a wet/dry vacuum, you can clean and treat most surfaces in your home in no time.
Our Price: $895.00
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MM Novato News

There is no question that bed bugs are a nuisance. They seem to come from nowhere, multiply in no time, and can wreak havoc on their host’s sleep and sanity. Thankfully, they aren’t known to spread disease when they bite people. At least not yet. However, researchers at Penn Medicine are concerned that bed bugs […]

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Can Bed Bugs Transmit the Chagas Disease?

There is no question that bed bugs are a nuisance. They seem to come from nowhere, multiply in no time, and can wreak havoc on their host’s sleep and sanity. Thankfully, they aren’t known to spread disease when they bite people. At least not yet.

However, researchers at Penn Medicine are concerned that bed bugs may be bringing more than itches and sleepless nights with them. A recent study carried out at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics suggests that bed bugs may be able to transmit the parasite that causes Chagas Disease, a tropical disease that kills thousands of people each year.

Chagas Disease

Distribution of Chagas disease

Distribution of Chagas disease. Photo credit: Tomato356 (Wikimedia)

Chagas disease, named after the scientist who discovered it, is a parasitic disease spread mostly by insects related to bed bugs. The symptoms are often minor at first and can go unnoticed for months or years. It’s estimated that millions of people in Central and South America have been infected for several years without knowing. However, chagas disease can lead to permanent organ damage, and can be fatal if left untreated.

Chagas disease is relatively unknown in Europe and North America, but that’s starting to change as some small outbreaks have started occurring farther north than usual. At the moment, infections in the United States is likely the result of immigration or blood transfusions using contaminated blood. The US has begun actively screening donated blood to minimize the risk of transfusions causing the disease to spread further.

 

The Kissing Bug

Panstrongylus geniculatus, the kissing bug

Panstrongylus geniculatus, AKA the kissing bug (Photo credit: Fernando Otálora-Luna)

Chagas disease is most commonly spread by the subfamily of insects known as Triatominae, also known as kissing bugs or assassin bugs. A kissing bug is nowhere near as pleasant as its name implies — it got that name due to its tendency to bite human faces to feed on their blood. These little vampires share a lot of similarities with bed bugs, such as their feeding anatomy and their tendency to feed while their host is asleep.

Kissing bugs are predominantly found in South America, though they can sometimes appear as far north as the United States in states like Texas and Louisiana. The doctor who discovered Chagas disease also discovered that kissing bugs were the ones infecting his patients in Brazil.

What About Bed Bugs?

Now that you’re lightly familiar with kissing bugs and the disease they often bring with them, it’s time to get back to the matter at hand: can bed bugs transmit Chagas disease the same way their distant cousins do?

The answer to this isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” just yet, and that’s why research like the Penn Medicine study is being done. In that study, researchers experimented with exposing bed bugs to mice infected with Chagas. After a month of regular feeding, most of the bed bugs used acquired the T. cruzi parasite that carries the disease. A second study confirmed that the infected bed bugs were able to transmit the disease back to mice that didn’t have it after living with them for a month.

Dr. Michael Z. Levy, Penn Medicine

Dr. Michael Z. Levy, the senior author of the study. Photo credit: Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

However, these experiments do not determine whether or not bed bugs can transmit the disease to humans. The study can’t even conclude that what happened to the mice in the lab is likely to occur out in the wild. It’s very common for lab results to not reflect real-world events due to the different environment that testing is done in. What the study was definitely able to confirm was that bed bugs are capable of carrying the disease by drinking infected blood. This is true of many diseases that humans are susceptible to — bed bugs are known to carry agents of HIV, hepatitis, and Q fever, though they are not known to pass those agents on to other humans.

The likelihood of bed bugs transmitting Chagas disease to humans is uncertain due to how Chagas is usually transmitted. Kissing bugs generally don’t transmit the disease simply by biting humans; the infection is observed when the bug defecates near the bite wound after it’s done feeding, and the feces contaminates the bite wound. Basically, kissing bugs bite your face and then poop on it. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Bed bugs, on the other hand, are not known to be habitual people-poopers. They prefer to do their business after they’ve run away and tucked themselves into a hiding place. This makes it unlikely that feces rich in T. cruzi will have the opportunity to infect a fresh bed bug bite.

 

If you’re still concerned about Chagas or other diseases that your friendly neighborhood bed bugs might be carrying, why take the risk? Read up on how to prevent bed bugs at home and on the go so they don’t have the opportunity to make an experiment out of you.

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MM Novato FAQ

So you found a bug on your mattress, or perhaps somewhere else in your home. You’ve seen bed bugs on the news, heard horror stories from your friends or family, and the sight of a little brown bug sounds the alarms in your head. You have bed bugs! Hold on, though — before you torch […]

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Bed Bug Imposters: How to Identify Bed Bugs

So you found a bug on your mattress, or perhaps somewhere else in your home. You’ve seen bed bugs on the news, heard horror stories from your friends or family, and the sight of a little brown bug sounds the alarms in your head. You have bed bugs!

Hold on, though — before you torch the apartment and begin life anew, it’s a good idea to confirm your suspicions. Some pest control companies estimate that up to 80% of their bed bug calls are from people who don’t actually have bed bugs. Every type of pest requires a different type of treatment, so rushed efforts against the wrong species may just be a waste of time and money. You’ll want to learn how to identify bed bugs (and how to tell them apart from similar pests) so that you know whether or not to treat for bed bugs.

Common Imposter Bugs

Brown carpet beetle

A brown carpet beetle. Photo credit: gbohne (Flickr user)

Arguably the common pest most visually like a bed bug is the brown carpet beetle. These aren’t common in the US, but they are widespread in Europe. They are also called “vodka beetles” as a reference to their scientific name, Attagenus Smirnovi.

Unlike bed bugs, carpet beetles do not feed on blood. Instead, their meal of choice is – you guessed it – carpet. They are also known to dine on skin, fur, and wool, all of which contain the fibers and other nutrients they are looking for. They are only about half the size of an adult bed bug, and have thicker antennae.

Drugstore beetle

A drugstore beetle. Photo source: Kamran Iftikhar.

Another tiny lookalike beetle is the drugstore beetle, also known as the bread beetle or biscuit beetle. These are a bit larger than the brown carpet beetle, but still not as large as the average adult bed bug. They also do not bite people — drugstore beetles got their names by infesting stocking room bags of grains, bread, and other food. They may be found feeding on hair or leather in your bedroom or living room.

Cigarette Beetle

A cigarette beetle. Photo credit: CSIRO.

Similar to the drugstore beetle in appearance and stature is the cigarette beetle, also known as the cigar beetle or tobacco beetle. These little brown pests can be found feeding in cigarette packets, as well as loose tobacco or stored bales. Even if you don’t smoke, you might still find them hunting for cereal, dried fruit, or flour.

German cockroach

A German cockroach.

The bed bug look-alike you are most likely to find in the US is probably the German cockroach. While the adults look almost nothing like bed bugs, their smaller and rounder nymph form is a bit closer to the suspect. In either case, they are so common throughout the country that their appearance near a bed raises a lot of false alarms. This is why it’s so important to learn what bed bugs look like, and how to tell them apart from other common bugs.

Identifying Bed Bugs

Adult bed bug

An adult bed bug. Photo credit: Gilles San Martin.

An adult bed bug is tan or brown, but can appear more red after they’ve fed. They average about 5 mm long as an adult — a little larger than the beetles shown above, but smaller than a German roach. They are flat-bodied and are unable to jump or fly, a dead giveaway of many common imposters.

You aren’t likely to find bed bugs in your kitchen, bathroom, or garage, since they aren’t as interested in pet food, wood, or hair as many other household pests are. Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood, and will prefer human hosts over any others. That means you will almost never find them outside of a bedroom or living room, unless they are in the process of travelling from one host to another.

Still not sure if the bug you spotted is a bed bug or not? Try taking a clear picture of the bug and posting it on our forum. Our resident bed bug experts or local pest control operators can help you identify the species you’re dealing with. That way, you are one step closer to starting the right treatment process.

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MM Novato Treatments

Bed bugs have been with us for a long time. They’re not exactly an old friend, but they have been with our species through thick and thin. Bed bugs have been described in writing for thousands of years, and the science surrounding them has been bizarre throughout the years. Some of the earliest references of […]

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The Future of Bed Bug Treatments

A 15th century guide on bed bug sanitation

A 15th century guide on bed bug sanitation. Credit: Wellcome Images

Bed bugs have been with us for a long time. They’re not exactly an old friend, but they have been with our species through thick and thin. Bed bugs have been described in writing for thousands of years, and the science surrounding them has been bizarre throughout the years. Some of the earliest references of bed bugs included medicinal properties for treating ailments like snake bites, ear infections, and hysteria.

In recent years, our relationship with bed bugs has changed. Home infestations rose to universal prominence in the 19th and early 20th century, and they’re coming back again at the turn of the 21st. We are now much more interested in bed bug treatments that are against bed bugs, not using them. But what does the future of these treatment methods look like, now that bed bugs are threatening to take over our daily lives yet again?

A History of Bed Bug Treatments

For as long as people have been plagued by bed bug infestations, they have desperately experimented with ways to stop the biting. Traditional bed bug treatments include using bean leaves — which have tiny barbs that pierce the bug’s shell — as well as bowls of oil under beds, smoke from burning decayed leaves as a method of home fumigation, and plant ash applied much like diatomaceous earth is often used today.

As electricity became common in the early 20th century, bed bugs had an easier time surviving the winters, and were able to become even more prominent than before. New methods of treatment were needed to curb this growing world threat. When US military bases began reporting bed bug infestations during World War II, the weapon of choice was fumigation with Zyklon B (which is infamous for its use in Nazi extermination camps).

DDT spraying during World War II

DDT spraying during World War II. Credit: National Museum of Health and Medicine

After the war, Zyklon’s use decreased and was largely replaced as an insecticide by DDT. DDT was so effective against bed bugs that the species was nearly wiped out in many parts of the world. However, its adverse effects on many wildlife species made DDT the target of widespread criticism, and its use was mostly banned by the end of the 20th century.

Today’s Challenges

No one knows exactly why bed bugs are coming back with such prevalence. While many are quick to point the blame at the banning of DDT in 2001, experts doubt that DDT would have prevented this new epidemic. With their uncanny ability to rapidly build resistance to many pesticide chemicals, bed bugs found today are believed to be widely immune to DDT. To make matters worse, most pesticide sprays found at local grocery and hardware stores still use outdated ingredients that are no longer effective against today’s strains of bed bugs.

There are a few common theories explaining how bed bugs have been able to return so dramatically. After the end of the Cold War, airline deregulation made air travel much more affordable and available across the globe. It’s likely that bed bugs took advantage of these new travel routes to spread from where they had managed to survive the scourge of DDT. Other factors include the growing prominence of year-round climate control, making it easier for bed bugs to survive and thrive year-round.

Looking Forward

It’s almost certain, at this point, that bed bugs will be here to stay for a long time. If we want to keep our collective sanity, we’ll need to educate the world on new and effective ways to deal with bed bug infestations as they become even more common in the coming years. Fortunately, bed bug treatments can be done effectively and affordably, whether by a professional or in a do-it-yourself fashion.

Holistic treatment methods are quickly gaining preference by pest control professionals and homeowners alike. Recognizing that many techniques are not effective by themselves, but can be part of a very effective combined process, a number of common holistic procedures have started to make their way into the public spotlight. Bed Bug Supply’s own 4-step solution is built on a combination of chemical and nonchemical treatment methods, and includes defensive tools to help prevent future infestations.

Due to the spread of bed bug infestations across the country, manufacturers of insecticides and other products have begun designing and producing treatment tools aimed specifically at bed bug treatment. Even today, new products like the Cimex Eradicator, Thermalstrike Ranger, and CimeXa dust specialize exclusively in killing bed bugs. What used to be a loose portfolio of general-purpose tools is quickly evolving into a whole market aimed solely at making bed bug treatments more effective.

Modern bed bug research

Modern bed bug research. Credit: US Navy

In the coming years, we may begin to see even more unique and innovative bed bug fighting tools enter this growing market. Researchers are hard at work discovering and studying new and unusual techniques that may be viable for consumer use in the near future. Concepts on display at recent conferences include fungal spores that sprout and strangle bed bugs or antibiotics in human blood that may weaken bugs that ingest them. The war on bed bugs is just getting started, and humanity is going to go in guns blazing.

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