The following post was penned by an entomologist known around here as Winston O’Buggy. We have recently heard that there is currently no funding in the New York State budget for the Cornell Community IPM program. Founded in the late 1990’s, the program has traditionally been funded with $400,000 a year in the Department of Environmental Conservation Budget; that budget covered a staff of five who served the entire State of New York. Without funding in the 2010 budget, the program may cease to exist, and its staff, including Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann — who is a fabulous resource and who has provided advice to many of us about bed bugs — jobless.
Please read Winston’s message below, which links to some of the amazing products of the Cornell Community IPM program (also linked from our Resources page), and please join me in taking a moment to write a letter to representatives in the Assembly and Senate, asking them to make sure this program gets funded so it can continue to serve the people of New York State, who need assistance with domestic pests as much in the present economic circumstances as they ever did. The addresses and talking points in this PDF make it really easy.
I am writing to you, those who have benefited significantly from the work of the Cornell Community IPM Program (whether you are aware of that fact or not) and the trained professionals, entomologists like myself, and bed bug victims past, present and unfortunately future. In our endeavors we have all learned to appreciate the value of well balanced, accurate, scientific information in regard to pests in general but specifically Cimex lectularius (a.k.a. bed bugs). The biological and behavioral information we continue to gain about bed bugs only illustrates how much more there is to know in achieving the goal of quality, cost-effective, reduced-risk bed bug control.
In 1999, I joined with a member of the Cornell Community IPM team to conduct a survey of pest control practitioners across the state to gain a perspective of bed bugs at that early date when most were only familiar with the phrase “sleep tight don’t let the bed bugs bite,” as opposed to the actual bite which has become the reality of way too many.
In 2003, again at the forefront, Cornell IPM produced “Bed Bugs are Back! An IPM Answer” (PDF) perhaps the first factual modern informational piece on bed bugs in New York State.
In 2008, Cornell produced “Guidelines for Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in shelters and Group Living Facilities” (PDF). How many of you have called the folks at Cornell for information or sent them samples? Have you used their bed bug cards developed for travelers? (PDF) How many have benefited by the outreach of Cornell and various associations to train those who provide treatment for bed bug infestations. In fact one the five members of the NYC Bed Bug Advisory Board — Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann — is a Cornell Community IPM Program employee who is among all the other excellent IPM staff at Cornell scheduled to be gone and unemployed as of June, 2010.
But this penny wise, pound foolish move by our Governor and new legislature is destined to affect not only bed bugs but all the good work the IPM program does — which quite simply put is “to develop sustainable ways to manage pests and help people to use methods that minimize environmental, health, and economic risks.” What dollar value can you place on so noble a mission?
The program involves itself in all aspects of best practices in pest management through the use of various strategies which include biological, cultural, chemical and non-chemical approaches. They are the balance between too much and not enough. In my experience the entire Cornell Program has improved the quality of pest management and the quality of life for all New Yorkers and especially schools. If you would care to learn more about the program you may want to check out their web site and follow the link to buildings. (Editor’s note, you may also be interested in the Publications page.)
And more importantly follow the letter writing link and take action to help maintain this singular vital resource for all New Yorkers and those engaged in IPM and bed bug warfare. (Editor’s note: this PDF outlines the impact of the Community IPM program, and this PDF of a letter from Don Rutz, the program’s director — the link Winston is referring to — offers guidelines and talking points, and tells you where to write a letter of support for the IPM Community Program and its fabulous staff; please note the correction to Sheldon Silver’s information in the comments below).
Please act on this before it is too late and this valuable resource is no more. Don’t let the Cimex cheer!