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Bed Bugs Require Education

I was reading Peter Grasso’s blog today on wordpress.com about the EPA Bedbug Summit. Not quite like being there, but probably close enough. Given the format where people only get 10 minutes to comment, it sounds like there was a lot of redundancy. “We need more research. The public needs more education.” I, along with others, have spoken to hundreds in the multi-housing industry all over the state, so we are making an effort.  But, yet then tonight, I read an article in the Star Tribune which stated:

“They’re Back! At bed bug conference, EPA seeks ways to stop biggest outbreak since WWII”

The article was fine, but reading the comments by the public really shows how education is needed. For example, someone suggested that we bring back DDT. Hold on, not so fast.  

Bedbugs, in private testing, for the past 40+ years have been easily killed by our modern insecticides, but many of the ones we encounter in the field are not so easily killed. These same field bedbugs aren’t so easily killed by DDT either – not that I’ve tested, but scientists report. So DDT is not the answer.

Someone else suggested that opening the windows in the midst of our MN winter and freezing them out; after taking precautions like putting RV antifreeze in the toilets and traps.  And then check into a hotel for a couple of nights. I’d like to see them try it watch their pipes freeze because they wouldn’t be protected with their insurance by this bed bug elimination plan. Even if you didn’t damage your house, bedbugs are more likely to survive than I think most people realize. It’d be an interesting test, but MN and WI have tons of pests that survive our cold winters outdoors for the whole winter. I doubt 2 or 3 days in a house with the windows open would kill them all, eggs through adults.

They do not tolerate heat very well though. If you can heat them to 120 degrees for a set period of time, they’ll die. The trick is to get the house to 120, and in Minnesota, you can’t just open the windows! Fortunately for Adam’s and our customers, we offer heat treatments.

Another person commented on how the market will address this and the government is not needed. I can agree with this in principal, but remember, the government controls how pesticides are labeled, how fast new products come to market, etc. They also provide budgets for a lot of public housing and government assisted housing.  So, right or wrong, they need education too.

Given this, and the fact we’ve seen apartment buildings with 26 of 28 units infested, and 36 of 39 units infested, it is clear that more and more people need to get up to speed. Oh, and for those that think this is a manufactured concern, I understand that sentiment. I’m skeptical too, but the problem is not small and it is growing.

The bed bug problem in the Twin Cities is significant and growing exponentially.  Only with more knowledge in the community, early detection, early reporting to property manager’s, use of professionals (self serving I know, but these aren’t simple pests), and better techniques, products, etc., will we stop the growth trend, and hopefully be able to reverse it.

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