Pest conferees focus on bed bugs
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Bed bugs dominated talks and presentations at the
Carolinas/Mid-Atlantic Summer Conference for the National Pest
Management Association held recently at the Holiday Inn Resort in
Andrea Polanco of the University of Georgia reminded the crowd
on Friday, July 29, that the advent of DDT in 1942 eliminated bed
bugs from the United States. After DDT was banned in 1972, bed bugs
started to return. By 2011, they were back in every state.
Polanco shared research showing that insecticide-resistant
strains of bed bugs lived longer than more susceptible strains in
most circumstances, but died faster when deprived of food. The
longest it took one of her subjects to starve was 135 days, and she
disputed the common belief that bed bugs could live up to a year
Jim Fredericks, National Pest Management Association technical
director, discussed recent findings of the NPMA Blue Ribbon Bed Bug
Task Force. A survey showed 95 percent of pest professionals
treating for bed bugs in the last year, and 76 percent said bed
bugs were the most difficult pest to control.
On the bright side, Fredericks said, awareness had greatly
increased, with 97 percent of Americans recognizing that bed bugs
were real, not a nursery rhyme. Unfortunately, that was partly
because one in five Americans had come into direct or indirect
contact with them, in offices, stores, theaters and hospitals, as
well as houses and apartments.
An NPMA word picture showed people's perceptions about bed bugs,
with some of the most prominent words being dirty, disgusting,
gross, creepy and itchy. However, Fredericks refuted the assumption
that the pests were attracted to dirty environments, although dirt
and clutter did make them more difficult to eliminate.
He stated that 46 percent of Americans had changed behaviors in
some way to control bed bugs, with 29 percent washing new clothing,
27 percent inspecting clothing and luggage after taking trips, 25
percent checking hotel rooms and 16 percent inspecting second-hand
furniture. He added that it was a shame that six percent had
canceled travel plans, since people didn't need to be afraid of bed
bugs, just aware.
Margaret Pfiester-Lehnert of Clemson University discussed
research indicating that pregnant female bed bugs were more likely
to disperse instead of aggregating with other bed bugs, which
implied how single hitchhikers in luggage could spread
infestations. She added that spraying alarm pheromones made
chemical treatments more effective, although the pheromones were
not yet commercially available.
Vendor exhibits lined a corridor and filled a room at the
One exhibitor, Jeff Vannoy of BASF Pest Control Solutions,
talked about the natural products his company sold for pest
control, including diatomaceous earth and plant oil sprays. He said
orange oil was viscous enough to suffocate some insects, while
lemongrass oil was a natural insecticide.
The essential oils were environmentally friendly because they
didn't leave any significant residues; because of that, frequent
applications might be needed, or they could be mixed with
reduced-risk chemicals. Ultimately, he said it was important to
combine good training, equipment and products and apply
insecticides where bugs are found instead of spraying
Lee Smith of Rid-A-Pest in Morehead City said that the North
Carolina Pest Management Association conferences always included
new and interesting information.
"It's a prime time to get new research information," he said,
explaining that attendees took what they learned home and used it
to serve the public better.
Smith added that Wrightsville Beach was a very family-friendly
location. It also helped that it was a central site between
Virginia and South Carolina.
Kristin Dodd, past president of the NCPMA, explained that the
conference was a joint meeting including about 300 members of
NCPMA, the Virginia Pest Management Association and the South
Carolina Pest Control Association. Whenever the conference was held
at Wrightsville Beach, she said, it was very well attended.