Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Seminar on Bed Bugs: Dr. Michael F. Porter shares the latest

Bed Bugs are the hottest new topic in the pest control industry today. If you've failed to notice the bed bug news articles popping up like wildfire all over the country, then let me just say that Bed Bugs are coming back with a vengeance. They're infesting New York City, and the little devils have managed to hitchhike around the entire country, even the world as the latest article about Bed Bugs in Australia makes plain! Furthermore, every dwelling place is a target--from apartments to single-family homes to five star hotels.

It wasn't surprising that Bed Bugs were the focal point of the most recent Georgia Pest Control Association Conference held this past January in Athens, Georgia. Among the guest speakers was world-renowned etymologist Dr. Michael Porter from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Dr. Porter's research on Bed Bugs is perhaps the most extensive and thorough on the Internet. It's no wonder that he was introduced to us as one of the top 25 most influential people in pest control!


Dr. Porter
told us that before blood meals bed bugs are as flat as a pancake. They are very small in size. In fact, if you don't see them on a black background you may not see them at all. During the nymph stage a bed bug is so small that it is the height of the word Liberty on a US penny! s are much larger and much more visible, and the bed bug will appear larger in size when it is engorged with blood after a meal. However, I'm writing this here to emphasize the fact that careful inspection is a must. A typical Bed Bug will molt five times before becoming an , and therefore shed skins and eggs may be the only evidence you can find of their existence. The bed bug life cycle is egg-->nymph-->adult.


Bed Bugs normally congregate around the bed areas, particularly the mattress. This is where infestations usually begin, and from there they can spread from the bed to the bed frame and eventually to other parts of the dwelling space including tables, chairs, couches, etc. It is sometimes possible that an infestation could begin in a couch or spread from an infested couch brought into a home and then to the bedroom.

Bed Bugs have a tendency to aggregate in small areas along the tufts, folds and seams of a mattress. However, this behavior is not always consistent. In one inspection Dr. Porter discovered one or two bed bugs on the carpet, some in the ceiling of the room, and one on a picture frame! This is why we stress to be thorough in bed bug control, especially when you tackle the bed bug treatment on your own. You need to invest in a good magnifying glass and be very meticulous in your treatment. The scary fact that "they could be hiding anywhere" is never truer then in bed bug control.

Dr. Porter's team found that in many hotel infestations the Bed Bugs were found on the bed frame (especially the head board) because the bed sheets are jostled daily by the housekeeping staff. Spraying down only the mattress with insecticide and neglecting other harborage areas of the hotel room just won't solve the problem in this situation.


Bed bugs are very resilient, which possibly explains how they are able to hitchhike all over the country in people's clothing, luggage, old couches and furniture etc. and go days and days without a blood meal. In fact, Dr. Porter suggests that they can live up to a year without a meal! While both very hot and very cold temperatures kill bed bugs, lowering the temperature of a home to solve your bed bug problem just won't do. Dr. Porter found bed bugs alive and well in a discarded mattress on the side of a road that had been there for days in very cold temperatures. Bed Bugs are certainly resilient creatures, but they are slow moving insects and contrary to some claims, they don't jump from place to place.


If you failed to notice a theme in this article than let me say it again: The KEY to Bed Bug control is thoroughness. If you miss just one small area on a mattress, then your chances of reinfestation are very high. Our customers may think we are pushing some marketing gimmick when we insist that they buy enough bed bug products to do a complete treatment with at least 1-2 full follow-up treatments, but that's simply the only way to solve the problem. Here are some of Dr. Porter's Bed Bug treatment suggestions:

1. Don't rely on odors. Some people claim that bed bug infestations have a distinct smelly sweet odor, but this is not always the case.
2. Get a magnifying lens - at least 16x and wear gloves. It's better to search for the bed bugs in pairs (2 technicians). Be careful not to get the bed bugs on your clothing and accidentally carry them to other locations!
3. Placing glue boards around the room won't do much in testing for bed bug activity.
4. Check the box spring--the box spring is bed bug heaven. Check it and treat it well. If the box spring looks bad just throw it out, including the mattress. Wrap the boxspring and mattress in plastic before transporting them so bed bugs don't fall off in the house.
5. Vacuum up bed bugs, but know that they can be hard to dislodge from the mattress and furniture. Scraping them with some type of tool while sucking with the vacuum will help.
6. Using a Steamer is useful as the heat will kill the bugs. A lot of bed bugs will die when they come in contact with the steam, however steam cleaning furniture and mattresses with a wand attachment may blow some bed bugs away without killing them, complicating the infestation.
7. Inspect the bed frames and headboards carefully. This is ground zero for bed bugs.
8. Treat all infested areas including the mattress (especially the tufts, fold and seams), headboards, under furniture etc, along the baseboards of the room, behind switch plates on the walls etc.
8. Plan for 2-5 subsequent services/treatments.


Insecticides with pyrethrins are effective against bed bugs. Specific laboratory tests have found that Demand CS, Drione Dust, Suspend SC, D-Force and Delta Dust all work well. Demand CS was found to kill the bugs faster than the other products (in about 30 minutes or less), but Suspend SC kills almost as fast as Demand and it is the only insecticide labeled for spraying directly on the mattress. That's why we recommend Suspend SC on our web site. Demand CS may be necessary in tougher commercial and hotel applications.


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