Bed bug management is especially challenging in public and subsidized housing environments, apartments, and other low-income, multi-unit housing (MUH) situations. In these environments, high rates of resident turnover, lack of economic and educational resources, ease of bed bug dispersal between units, and communication barriers such as literacy and language limitations may all contribute to chronic infestations. Researchers and policymakers recognize the need to address this challenging situation and to design valuable and timely extension and applied research programs in order to assist pest management professionals (PMPs) engaged in this work. Data on bed bug incidence and management approaches in the western United States are lacking as compared to those on the Eastern Seaboard and in the Midwest. To this end, several western urban entomologists and extension specialists have recently formed a work group with funding provided by the USDA’s Western Integrated Pest Management Center (WIPMC). The first task of the WIPMC Bed Bug Work Group was to assess the current prevailing bed bug management practices in use, the most challenging aspects associated with bed bug management in MUHs, and the self-reported needs of the industry that may improve bed bug management outcomes in these environments. An online survey was developed and distributed nationally (pctonline.com), regionally (via Work Group members’ websites and personal networks), and in California (Target Specialty Products client lists) to capture these desired data. A total of 114 individual PMPs completed this survey, with over 76% of these responses coming from the targeted western region (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY), mostly from California (60% of total responses). Data presented are from all 114 respondents. Most (64%) PMPs represented small businesses (less than 20 total employees), but some (15%) hailed from large pest control companies (100 or more total employees). Though considered a very experienced group of pest management professionals (average experience in pest control industry was 22.7 years), most had only started managing bed bugs during the past 10 years (mean duration of bed bug experience = 9.6 years), thus reflecting the recent resurgence of bed bugs as key urban pests in the United States. The number of PMPs responding to the survey was low compared to the total number of licensed individuals within the region. Therefore, we caution PCT’s readers to consider that our results and findings may differ from other and future surveys on PMP attitudes, behaviors, and practices involving bed bug detection and management. A summary of responses to the survey is as follows:
PMPs’ Attitudes, Beliefs, Observations.
Most respondents (73%) believed that bed bug infestations had increased in 2014 as compared to 2013 while some (22%) believed that the levels of infestation had not changed during this period. This trend was stable when considering responses from different regions and states, suggesting that bed bug incidence may be increasing throughout the nation. Virtually half (49%) of all respondents considered summer to be the season with the most calls for bed bug services, while another large proportion (44%) reported no differences between seasons. It is unclear whether summer incidence may be driven by increased human travel, increased ambient temperature, or some combination of these and perhaps unknown factors. Though resistance to insecticides within bed bug populations has been a concern for some time now, the majority (57%) of respondents in this survey did not believe they had encountered resistance in the field. This was true even when considering data only from the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard, where resistance in field populations has been reported as widespread. Furthermore, though insecticide resistance may be more easily recognized by those with the most years working in the field, the level of experience of respondents had no effect on this reported belief. MUHs, the focus of this survey, were considered by most respondents to harbor the worst (highest density) bed bug infestations, to be the most difficult locations in which to manage bed bugs, and to be the locations most often treated by their companies (96%, 65%, 74%, respectively) (Figure 1, above). Hotels/motels and shelters were also believed to harbor high-density infestations.
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In recent years, bed bugs are becoming the subject of a large amount of scientific inquiry due to their endemic proliferation. This is a fascinating study from Virginia Tech and New Mexico State University is testament to what kinds of conditions bed bugs can thrive in, without humans even realizing it.
One of the most of the most widely used commercial chemicals to kill bedbugs are not effective because the pesky insects have built up a tolerance to them, according to a team of researchers from Virginia Tech and New Mexico State University.
Millions of dollars have been spent on insecticides to kill the bugs that have wreaked havoc on everything from hotels in New York City to homes in Los Angeles. But this is the first study to show that overuse of certain insecticides has led to an increased resistance to the compounds, making them much less effective than advertised.
“While we all want a powerful tool to fight bed bug infestations, what we are using as a chemical intervention is not working as effectively it was designed and, in turn, people are spending a lot of money on products that aren’t working,” said Troy Anderson, an assistant professor of entomology in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Anderson and Alvaro Romero, an assistant professor of entomology at New Mexico State University, published their findings in the Journal of Medical Entomology on Thursday.
The two examined the class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics, which is often paired with pyrethroids in commercial applications to treat bedbugs.
“Companies need to be vigilant for hints of declining performance of products that contain neonicotinoids,” Romero said. “For example, bedbugs persisting on previously treated surfaces might be an indication of resistance.”
The researchers conducted their study by comparing bedbugs from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan that had been exposed to neonics with a colony that a researcher has kept isolated since before the insecticide was used. For the last 30 years, the colony has been in an isolated lab run by Harold Harlan with the Armed Forced Pest Management Board.
They also examined a pyrethroid-resistant population from New Jersey that had not been exposed to neonics since they were collected in 2008.
The bedbugs from Harlan’s lab that never have been exposed to neonics died when they were exposed to a very small amount of the insecticide. The New Jersey bedbugs fared slightly better, showing moderate resistance to four different types of neonics.
But the bedbugs from Michigan and Cincinnati, which were collected after combinations of insecticides were introduced to the U.S., had much higher levels of resistance to neonics.
It only took 0.3 nanograms of a substance called acetamiprid to kill 50 percent of the nonresistant bedbugs from Harlan’s lab — but it took more than 10,000 nanograms to kill 50 percent of the Michigan and Cincinnati bedbugs.
Just 2.3 nanograms of another substance called imidacloprid was enough to kill 50 percent of Harlan’s bedbugs, but it took 1,064 nanograms to kill the Michigan bedbugs and 365 nanograms to kill the Cincinnati bedbugs.
Compared with the Harlan control group, the Michigan bedbugs were 462 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 198 times more resistant to dinotefuran, 546 times more resistant to thiamethoxam, and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.
The Cincinnati bedbugs were 163 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 226 times more resistant to thiamethoxam, 358 times more resistant to dinotefuran, and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.
The researchers believe that the detection of neonicotinoid resistance in the New Jersey bedbugs, which were collected before the widespread use of neonics, could be due to pre-existing resistance mechanisms.
When exposed to insecticides, bedbugs produce “detoxifying enzymes” to counter them, and the researchers found that the levels of detoxifying enzymes in the New Jersey bedbugs were higher than those of the susceptible Harlan population.
“Unfortunately, the insecticides we were hoping would help solve some of our bed bug problems are no longer as effective as they used to be, so we need to reevaluate some of our strategies for fighting them,” said Anderson, who is also a researcher at the Fralin Life Science Institute.
“If resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods,” said Romero.
We’ve all heard the age old rhyme about not letting the bed bugs bite when we head off to sleep but it doesn’t really go into what happens if you do get bit and what to do about it. Some things just aren’t meant to rhyme and that’s why you don’t find advice on how to relieve the itch of your bed bug problem.
Naturally the first thing you will need to do if you have been bitten by a bed bug is to start a program
to rid bed bugs from your home. These persistent little pests will only grow in number very quickly if you do not
learn how to get bed bugs out of your house.
We will all react very differently to the bite of a bed bug, for a lucky few there is very little or no reaction
and these people will hardly be aware of a pest problem in their home. Other individuals will react very badly and
can be covered from head to foot with large ugly, red welts that drive them mad with the itching.
The most important thing to keep in mind if you are the victim of bed bug bites is that you must not scratch
them. This may be very difficult for anyone who reacts badly to these bites, but to prevent possible further
infections from breaking the skin you must resist the urge to rub and scratch the bites.
This is a very popular cure to the itching of a bed bug bite. The procedure is very simple. Start by washing the
bites with soap and water, next make a thick and sticky mixture of baking soda and water that is not too thin a
mix, but thick enough to stay in place once applied to the bites. Allow this mixture to stay on the bite for about
an hour and then wash if off and pat the area dry.
Other Natural Treatments
Witch Hazel is a herb that acts as an astringent and has been used extensively to reduce the itching of insect
bites. St. John wort and lemon juice will also help to reduce the itch.
One excellent way to reduce the itch is by using the gel of the Aloe Vera Plant. This would be my favorite way
to reduce the itch from any bite, and even from sun burn. This is an incredible plant that has many medicinal
properties and is one plant that every family should have close at hand.
I would recommend this plant to everyone. You can read more information about this plant at the site Your Herbs Guide.
Add some peppermint oil to bath water and soak in this to get some relief from the itch.
The itch from bed bug rashes can also be treated with applications of Cortisone cream, calamine lotion,
hydrocortisone cream or you can try using aspirin and water mix the same way that baking soda is used.
What are the
bed bugs bites treatments that you have tried that work?
These tricky pests are developing resistance to different pesticides left and right. It is something that is almost impossible for a layperson to keep up with even if you wanted to. The chemicals that are available to your average citizens is also not the grade or strength that you would need even if you found the right chemicals. And this is just one aspect of the problem.
There are many reasons why bed bugs have made a comeback in recent decades, and their resistance to commonly used insecticides is one of the most widely accepted explanations.
In a new paper published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, scientists from the University of Sydney and NSW Health Pathology describe how bed bugs are able to resist pyrethroid insecticides via metabolic detoxification, the process by which bed bugs break down insecticides.
The researchers focused on two types of detoxification enzymes, which are broadly known as esterases and oxidases. These two types of enzymes change the chemical composition of insecticides so that they’re less harmful to the insect.
To understand which enzyme type might be responsible for resistance to commonly used insecticides, chemicals called synergists can be used. Synergists can inhibit or lower the levels of detoxifying enzymes, thereby increasing the toxicity of the insecticide. By using different types of synergists, it is possible to determine which enzymes may be present.
One of the most widely used synergists is a chemical called piperonyl butoxide (or PBO), which can inhibit both esterases and oxidases, but that ability in turn makes it hard to determine which enzyme type is contributing to the resistance.
However, a new synergist known as EN16/5-1 only inhibits oxidases, and not esterases, so it provides an opportunity to investigate the role of metabolic resistance and to determine which enzyme type may be responsible for resistance.
“What we set out to do was to determine the biological processes by which bed bugs were becoming resistant to insecticides,” said David Lilly, a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney and lead author on the study. “We knew our bed bugs were highly resistant and that metabolic detoxification was almost certainly involved, but in using PBO we didn’t know which type of enzymes might be involved. The development of EN16/5-1 was the solution we were looking for.”
The researchers exposed bed bugs to six different treatment categories. These categories included a combination of insecticide and synergist, as well as controls without insecticides. The mortality of more than 200 individual bed bugs that were exposed to these treatment categories was observed and recorded.
Analysis demonstrated that the presence of both PBO and EN16/5-1 greatly improved the effectiveness of the insecticide for many bed bug strains. However, for some strains, the addition of EN16/5-1 resulted in little improved mortality compared with the PBO, demonstrating for the first time that different strains have different metabolic enzymes — some have oxidases, some esterases, and some both.
The results of this study may have important implications for bed bug control in the future, according to co-author Stephen Doggett.
“The findings of this research are particularly important, as metabolic resistance is often known to confer ‘cross resistance,’ whereby resistance to one chemical group can result in resistance to a whole range of different insecticides, which limits what we can use now and even in the future for controlling bed bugs,” he said. “This emphasizes the need for an integrated approach to bed bug control using all of the available tools, both chemical and non-chemical.
Entomological Society of America
We all know that bed bugs are here and they seem to be here to stay but their mysterious origin has actually become a huge contributing factor responsible for their incredible ability to survive. The best way for us to truly eliminate the bed bug epidemic is to understand more about the nature of these pests.
Bed bugs have now spread to just about every corner of the world. After world war 2 there was a real reduction
in the bed bug population due to the use of powerful chemicals such as DDT. Once this was banned the numbers of bed
bugs have started to explode and they are once again becoming a major problem.
There are many ways that these tiny pests can enter your home and being aware of them may
help you to stop the invasion into your property.
One of the most common causes is the fact that the world’s population can now move from one side of the world to
the other in a day. If anyone has bed bugs in their home, and then pack their suit case to travel, there is a very
real chance that some of these pests will stow-a-way in their luggage and travel with them to their
So once these travellers have reached their destination, the stow-a ways find a new home maybe in a hotel room
just waiting for you to arrive so they can then hitch hike in your luggage to your home.
This is a very real possibility and is why you need to be very careful when you are on vacation or on business
trips. Learn how to stop these unwanted guests from travelling in your luggage.
Another way that they spread is through the sale and purchasing of second hand furniture or clothes that have
come from an infested home. You only need to bring one home and you can soon have a major problem.
Once you have bed bugs in your home it is very difficult to get rid of them, so the first thing you need to do
is to stop them from entering your home in the first place.
If you live in an apartment block then the problem is going to be even greater as your neighbours may be the
transporters of these pests who will spread quickly through any building that has a large population of people. You
cannot control what your neighbours do so you will need to be very proactive in checking your apartment and keeping
it bed bug free.
If your apartment block has concrete walls then the spread could be contained better but remember that they will
enter through the utilities that you share such as plumbing and electrical wiring.
Keeping your home clean and clear of clutter will not help to prevent an infestation of bed bugs, but it will at
least help you to locate and kill them if your are invaded.
If you live in an apartment or a rental property and discover that you have a bed bug problem you should
immediately report it to the Land Lord. Do not use “bug Bombs” or pesticides to try to control them yourself as you
will only succeed in spreading them to other apartments.
The most common way to have your home infested with these pests is by bringing them home in your luggage after
you have been away either for a holiday or on a business trip. Therefore it is vital that you learn what to do to
prevent these unwanted guests from traveling home with you.
A female bed bug can lay as many as 500 eggs during her life time given good conditions. She will normally lay
between 4 and 5 eggs per day and can live for up to 9 months.