ESA Members Discuss Bed Bug Issues at National Summit

Fifteen members of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) gave presentations at the second annual National Bed Bug Summit: Advancing Towards Solutions to the Bed Bug Problem, held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C. today, Feb. 2, 2011. The meeting focused on what is being done to combat bed bugs, the importance of educating consumers, improvements in prevention and control techniques, controlling bed bugs in schools and public housing, and on the state of bed bug knowledge and futue research needs.

"Many health departments are overwhelmed by bed bug complaints," says Susan Jennings, public health coordinator for the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. "Training is greatly needed to educate people about this pest."

Dr. Jody L. Gangloff-Kaufmann, IPM specialist/urban entomologist with the New York State IPM Program at Cornell University, stressed the importance of having bilingual team members on bed bug task forces in urban areas. "We're seeing more reservoirs of bedbugs appearing more often and intensely in poor communities, where people do not have resources to care for themselves," she said. "The key to bed bug control is the involvement and awareness of members of the community."

Dr. Dini Miller, associate professo and urban pest management specialist with the Department of Entomology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, spoke about some methods of bed bug control using integrated pest management (IPM), such as using dessicant dust, mattress encasements, removing clutter, using a vacuum cleaner, chemical treatments when applied correctly, and heat. "The clothes dryer is the number-one line of defense. Clutter removal also helps by revoving bed bug hiding places," she said, noting however that some of these methods can be expenisve. "IPM using prevention and non-chemical methods take time, as do heat treatments, and time is money, especially when repeated treatments are necessary," she said.

Dr. Harold Harlan, of the Information Services Division at the Armed Forces Pest Management Board, who has maintained a bed bug colony for nearly four decades, gave some reasons why bed bug control is so difficult. "Control efforts most often fail because it is nearly impossible to find every bed bug in a room, insects are often identified as bed bugs incorrectly, treatments are often ineffective because the bugs are inaccessible, and bed bugs have developed resistance to certain insecticides," he said.

The need for more bed bug research was emphasized by Dr. Coby Schal of North Carolina State University. To illustrate, he noted that "although bed bug research has been increasing, we have about 50 times as much research on mosquitoes than on bed bugs."

Suggestions were also made to launch a new website such as bedbug.gov, to create an online clearinghouse for educational materials, to explore the use of new media, and to find new ways to reach out to multicultural communities.

The ESA entomologists, representing universities, state and federal agencies, and private pest-control companies, gave the following presentations:

Anyone who would like to submit further information or comments related to any of the topics discussed at the summit are invited to visit www.regulations.gov and enter docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0190. Shortly after the close of the summit, the EPA will update the docket with presentation materials from the first days plenary session and the outcomes from the breakout groups. The docket will be open for public comment until Feb. 25, 2011.

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