Bed Bugs: Do It Yourself?

Bed Bug Bites

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs cause rash, irritation, mental trauma and the bites can become infected. In the United States, much of the response to the bed bug problem at the federal level has been led by EPA. Their role is primarily a clearing house for information. The issue of bed bugs has primarily been left to the private sector, with minimal involvement of government agencies, other than contracting services for eliminating bed bugs from government property.

Among the information available from EPA is a publication, “Do-it-yourself Bed Bug Control“. The money quote, “Treating bed bugs is complex.” The publication outlines the a 6 step plan to eliminate bed bugs:

1. Identify the problem
2. Develop a strategy
3. Keep the infestation from expanding
4. Prepare for treatment
5. Kill the bed bugs
6. Evaluate and prevent

Simply spraying insecticides is not enough. Eggs and harboring bed bugs may not be killed in an initial treatment. Eradication requires consistent monitoring and treating repeatedly when bed bugs are detected. Factors influencing likely success of a “Do-It-Yourself” strategy are:

Extent of the infestation.
Site-specific challenges: Clutter, Neighbors with infestations, Ability of all of the residents to participate.

A small local infestation is easier to eliminate than a large dispersed population. Site specific challenges can make a problem more difficult to eliminate. Multi-unit buildings are more challenging than stand alone units under control of a single person. Neighbors with infestation can be a source of re-infestation after bed bugs have been eliminated from one unit. Neighbors who are unwilling or unable to treat their bed bug population will leave a reservoir for re-infestation. Clutter can be an issue. Clutter can greatly increase the harborage for bed bugs. Severe clutter can create too many sites to be treated efficiently. Bed bug control may require coordination that is beyond the Do-It-Yourselfer. In these cases, professionals and coordination among multiple agents may be necessary.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Pest Management, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

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