Mark Sheperdigian on what consumers should know about bed bugs; also, neonicotinoids, and why bed bugs came back

by nobugsonme on January 6, 2009

in bed bug monitors, bed bug research, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, entomologists, fun, pyrethroid resistance

Pest Management Professional’s articles are often so good, but in the past, you had to know to look for them. (Thank goodness they added an RSS feed so we can subscribe.)

Mark Sheperdigian brings the bed bug information in three “new to us” articles: the first is on what consumers need to know about bed bugs.

In short:

  • They’re not microscopic. (Lou Sorkin always helpfully reminds us, and the authors of run-of-the-mill newspaper stories that bed bugs come in a range of sizes and colors depending on life stage and whether they’ve eaten or not (lovely, yes?)
  • You can’t get an infestation from a single egg (though you can get one from a single pregnant female).
  • You can’t clean them away.
  • And you can’t prevent them.  (You can reduce the risk, but never 100%.)

You’ll want to read the rest of this article here.

The next article is about choosing pesticides, and is really for the bed bug pros among us, but is enlightening to us laypeople too.  In particular, the beginners’ guide to pyrethroids.  And neonicotinoids? New to me.

The choicest nugget here, though, was the suggestion that PCOs test a bed bug population as to its pyrethroid-resistance.  Simple, not foolproof by any means, but really smart:

If the bed bugs are resistant to pyrethroids, you should either know this going in or ensure that pyrethroids are not your main line of defense. How can you know if your bed bug population is resistant without having to send them to a researcher somewhere? You could try this procedure, which has been suggested from a number of sources:

At least a day before the treatment, collect some bed bugs and hold them overnight in a jar on a cloth or paper towel that has been treated (and dried) with your pyrethroid of choice. If all of the bed bugs are dead in the morning, you may fire when ready. If half the bed bugs are dead, be sure to incorporate other non-pyrethroid materials into your program. If the bed bugs are all alive, you should rethink your strategy — leaving pyrethroids out of the mix altogether.

This is not real science and will not lead to dramatic headlines that rock the pest management world, but it may help you avoid a follow-up treatment or two…or three.

Up until now, this might have only worked in large infestations, where “collecting a sample of bed bugs” is simple.  However, new bed bug monitors like the CDC 3000 will mean that even smaller infestations can be tested in this way.

Cool, huh?

(As always, I do not recommend you self-treat for bed bugs.  I am not a PCO but I think a good one is going to get rid of your problem more quickly and more fully than you ever will.  A good PCO will be able to do so safely and will know how to avoid making the problem worse.)

Finally, I found this PMP article enlightening.  In it, Sheperdigian pokes some holes in common theories about bed bug resurgence.

His point appears to be not so much that an end to baseboard spraying or the survival of bed bugs in chicken houses (for example) did not contribute to the resurgence of bed bugs, but that no one theory alone fully accounts for bed bugs’ reappearance, in such numbers, at this time, and their degree of pyrethroid resistance.

Read this one for the sub-headings alone.  (“Harlan hears a who?”  Priceless.

And know just how indebted we are to Dr. Harold Harlan, who kept his bed bug colony all those years before there seemed an obvious need for one.  And boy, do we ever need them as research subjects now.

Thanks to Renee for article suggestions!


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