News and Insights from the 2016 Bed Bug Summit
Bed bugs have plagued humans for literally millions of years. Now, every two years, the pest management industry holds an event focused on the current status of bed bug infestation and the emerging science and methodology for dealing with them. ATCO Pest Control’s branch manager, our bed bug treatment supervisor, and I recently attended this year’s two-day global summit in Indianapolis, hosted by the National Pest Management Association. As has been the case in the past, there was a great turnout for an impressive array of speakers and exhibitors.
BedBug Central’s Jeff White opened the event with a synopsis of current knowledge of bed bugs and methodology for successful identification and management. While mysterious bites are often the reason clients first contact a pest management professional, White discouraged attendees from attempting identification of such bites. There is a wide spectrum of reaction to bed bug bites, he noted, and some people do not react at all. A couple sharing a bed might display different symptoms.
Instead, White emphasized inspection of sleeping areas as key to determining the presence of bed bugs. He reminded us to include the couch where a client may have been sleeping after discovering a problem in the bedroom. He also advised examination of books, stuffed animals, electrical outlets and baseboards—all places a bug might hide. In reviewing treatment options, White noted, “It’s not what you’re using, it’s how you’re using it.” Improperly applied, no method is foolproof.
Other Speakers and Topics
In addition to Jeff White, there were a number of other speakers who shared useful and important insights with attendees.
- Dr. Michael Siva-Jothy, University of Sheffield, whose research focuses on bed bug behavior, the effects of heat and how females cope during procreation, and Dr. Ameya Gondhalekar, Purdue University, who also discussed heat treatments and remarked, “Achieving and holding the temperature in the room and in the harborage site are critical. Otherwise, the bed bugs will survive.”
- Dr. Gerhard Gries, Simon Fraser University, who stressed the need for early detection in preventing and eradicating bed bug infestations.
- Dr. Susan Jones, The Ohio State University, who said, “Education is key, and we have to make sure we are informing the public about how to prevent bed bugs.”
- Dr. Mark Feldlaufer, U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose work focuses on the socioeconomics of bed bug infestation.
Our Take Aways
The summit gave us lots to think about, as well as confirmation of many of the practices and treatments that we at ATCO already have in place. Here are a few of the things that we especially appreciated learning.
- CimeXa®, a descant dust we use in wall voids and cracks and crevices in the control and prevention of bed bugs, moves laterally. That is, a bed bug who has come into contact with CimeXa® and later comes into contact with another bed bug will expose that bug to the dust. That makes it a very effective treatment, as we have discovered.
- We were glad to learn that scientists have completed mapping the genome of the bed bug. This may lead to further breakthroughs in the control of this pest.
- We are also looking forward to the development of a bait that will work in the control of bed bugs. Currently, we rely on baits for the control of ants, roaches and other insects. A bait that is specifically designed for bed bugs would be a significant step forward.
On the negative side, we heard confirmation that strands of bed bugs in the Bay Area have developed resistance to pyrethroids, something we’ve been predicting for some time. Pyrethroids are a very common active ingredient used by PMPs to control a variety of insects. Research also reveals that bed bugs are developing resistance to neonicotinoids, another commonly used classification of pesticides. So volumetric heat—our preferred treatment— appears to be the best solution.
Finally, we heard an affirmation of another ATCO practice. Most pest management professionals require a lot of prep from occupants before treatment, generally because they only use chemical sprays. But we have developed “minimal prep” procedures. Of course, occupants have to remove products and materials that would melt during heat treatment. But for the most part, we discourage occupants from disturbing their space, which can actually spread an infestation. Instead they are instructed to leave as much as possible in its place.
At ATCO Pest Control, we consider it our responsibility to our clients and our community to keep pace with the latest science and products available for any pest management procedure. Professional development of this sort is tied to ATCO’s Diamond Certified status and EcoWise certification. This year’s bed bug summit was a great resource for ATCO Pest Control, and ultimately for our clients.