Potter on bed bugs: infestation is inevitable, unstoppable

by nobugsonme on January 6, 2011 · 3 comments

in bed bugs

The National Pest Management Association is holding a National Bed Bug Forum this week in Denver.

The press surrounding this event is a mixed bag, as usual. However, I found the following article from the Denver Post to be excellent, and a welcome respite from the tedious recirculation of the dubious “top ten bed bug infested cities” lists, which we first saw last summer, and which are based on Orkin’s and Terminex’s sales in the various cities. That such data is not sufficient for drawing conclusions is highlighted by the fact that New York tops one list, Cincinnati the other.

The Denver Post’s story quotes Dini Miller (Virginia Tech) and Michael Potter (University of Kentucky) heavily, which is always a good thing!

The main message the article provides is that bed bugs need to be taken very seriously, and that there are no easy solutions.

‘Yes, they’re coming back,’ Potter said. ‘Infestation is inevitable. Infestation is unstoppable.’

The bedbug problem is going to be more difficult to deal with this time around, Potter said.

People have completely forgotten about risky behavior, he said. When bedbugs last surged, in the early to mid-1900s, Americans trained themselves in ‘eternal vigilance,’ Potter said. They checked for bedbugs whenever they ventured away from home. Dedicated ‘search and destroy’ missions by parents and public servants virtually eradicated the pests by the late 1950s.

[Emphasis added, above and below.]

A particularly juicy soundbite was provided by Dini Miller:

The bloodthirsty bugs typically feed five to 10 minutes on a human, Virginia Tech researcher Dini Miller said, and then they leave their host.

‘It’s like a bad one-night stand,’ Miller said.

The article suggests bed bugs won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, and cites researchers on the need to learn to detect bed bugs, and how to kill them (for example, using dryer heat to treat clothing).

Another excellent Potter soundbite:

‘It’s insane to shut down a school or building because one bedbug was found,’ Potter said.

These are helpful words, since this has happened all over the country in 2010.

The article does well to lay out the implications for the already-troubled economy:

Potter and Miller expressed concerns that the costs of controlling bedbugs is going to seriously cut into the profitability of apartment complexes, hotels and other businesses when the country can least afford it.

However, that leaves out the costs to homeowners and to tenants required by law to pay for their own treatment, who may suffer severe financial hardships or have to forego professional treatment entirely — which may lead to dire consequences: ongoing infestations, or even dangerous situations caused by the misuse or overuse of pesticides.

The following statistic may be of some use for those trying to convince others to take bed bugs seriously, and skip the DIY treatment:

[A] survey of pest controllers found that 76 percent of respondents considered the bedbug hardest to eradicate, compared with the 13 percent that cited ants and the 9 percent fingering roaches. Termites finished a distant fourth.

I know you’ll want to read the rest of the article. Thanks to kirads09 for bringing it to our attention in the forums, and to researchers like Miller and Potter, who are doing so much to get the right message to the world about bed bugs.

1 Lou Sorkin January 6, 2011 at 11:31 am

Wrote this on the Denver Post site:

“Miller said people should learn how to watch for and identify the bugs, typically the size of an apple seed, and to keep an eye out for their eggs.”

Read more: Return of the bedbug may be worth losing sleep over – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17021598#ixzz1AGtyYC1V

People are still being told to look for only adult insects, why?

2 nobugsonme January 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

Thanks, Lou. I am so glad you caught that — I missed it.

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