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Should we learn to live with bed bugs?

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  1. billymac

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 13:14:10
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    bed bugsI write a blog about bed bugs where I ask the question of whether we should start to accept the fact that we may lose this battle of the bed bug unless something drastic changes. Sure, if you are rich and you travel to Italy and bring back bed bugs to your home, you can afford to fumigate the structure, but who among us can really afford to treat that way? Apartment complex? Forget about it. Row Homes? Good luck. I respect the pest control industry as I have been in it for the past 20 years, but no matter how thorough you are, if you miss just one bed bug, in six months, we are back up to thirty thousand. This is not a friendly statistic. So what has to be done. How can we win this battle? In Amercia...we are loosing the battle against a bug the size of an apple seed? GIve me a break! What are your thoughts?

  2. adets

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 13:59:11
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    Maybe we oughta bring back DDT!

  3. WGarrow

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 14:08:34
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    I am starting to think bed bugs are like mosquitoes. We can fight them and try to control them, but ultimately we will have to deal with them.

    We have my mom's tiny studio apartment sprayed and resprayed. We will then search and search for hours with a bright flashlight and not find any. Then a week later, half a dozen show up. They are not coming from the neighbors. These pests are highly resilient and just seem to come out of the woodwork.

    Maybe a scientist will come up with some kind of solution someday. That seems to be our only hope.

  4. Beth

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 14:14:54
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    Well in doing hours of cleaning a day I still get a bite or two a day so I can imagine if I didn't do it and just accepted they would never go I'd be eaten alive. I have mosquitos. You see them. You kill them. If I thought they'd never go, I wouldn't do this work, it takes up too much time and thought.

    These things can multiple into thousands without ever seeing them. They have to be destroyed.

    The government better come up with something quick-o. The other day I was driving down the street parallel to me and saw mattress after boxspring after bedframe on the side of the road for trash day, like on four different lawns. Nothing else. Not moving day. Just...bed bugs. In the back of my head I just thought "this country is f*cked". If we learn how to live with them we will no longer have furniture.

    peace-
    Amy

  5. DeedleBeetle

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 14:27:11
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    i keep saying this and i'm serious. I would take one less year of life if i could go back to living like i did in pre bed bug days.

    I say bring back DDT (and if that doesn't work, let's use something else that actually kills the bbs!)

    And since i'm willing to shorten my own life a little to be sure that when i'm old and bedridden or hospitalized that i won't be eaten up by bbs because i can't physically get out of the bed and move away from them, i'm not particularly worried about whether a few bird eggs are thin shelled or not.

    okay..i know i sound really horrible...not at all like a child of the 60's but there it is

  6. KillerQueen

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 14:49:49
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    Its not the products as much as you think folks. It's all about hard work ... techs willing to go the extra mile doing what is right with a multi level treatment.

    Seek and destroy .. as I have always said. When you find somebody that looks at your bed as if its their own... you will win with very little chemical .. and a lot of common sense.

    I walk into a room and think its mine, I have to sleep here, my kids room needs to be protected, and I have to bring the fight to the bug .. and not wait for a bug to fight my product.

  7. KillerQueen

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 15:09:03
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    I should also point out that a typical 2 bedroom apartment requires about 4 oz. of dust, 1/3 of an oz. of concentrated liquid residual mixed into a gallon of water. Maybe 6 oz. of another spray ready contact/light residual liquid,, and another 1 oz. of another type of dust.

    That is very little product and a lot of hard work doing it right.

  8. LVK9

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 15:42:42
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    Its not the products as much as you think folks. It's all about hard work ... techs willing to go the extra mile doing what is right with a multi level treatment.

    I agree KQ, I explain it to customers like this. Success has less to do with whats in the can than in the man/woman

  9. kirads09

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 17:42:56
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    I think killerqueen hit the nail on the head. Also education and awareness.

  10. loubugs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Aug 8 2010 20:05:20
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    These things can multiple into thousands without ever seeing them.

    Actually you can see them, but you have to know what to look for. You should know what nymphs and adults and eggs look like. Shed skins, egg shells, fecal staining and drops are all things to know about. If you are still searching for bed bugs that are reddish brown, around 1/4 inch long and resemble apple seeds, then you will always be infested. If you are looking for bugs that look like poppy seeds, black pepper flakes, and sesame seeds you will always be infested.

    Many professionals (you notice that I said many and not all) know what to look for and even certain reporters, newscasters and the people know what to look for. People who have had them almost always know what to look out for. Until everyone is aware...

    DDT is a persistent chemical, worked, was overused by the industry, agriculture, the general public, and was introduced into so many facets of human existence without understanding its impact on the environment. If it and other similar products were restricted in usage it may still be around in our society today, but then so would bed bugs and they never would have been "gone" for the past 50 years. It and other chemicals were cheap and used by many people to take care of household pests, so it worked but only temporarily. Being overused sparked resistance issues in many populations of insect species.

    Professional entomologist/arachnologist. I consult on all matters dealing with insects and arachnids, including those of natural history and biology to pest management and forensic entomology investigations.
  11. Jenn28

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Aug 9 2010 10:57:01
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    DeedleBeetle - 20 hours ago  » 
    i keep saying this and i'm serious. I would take one less year of life if i could go back to living like i did in pre bed bug days.

    I'm with you on that Deedle. You and me both!

  12. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Aug 9 2010 11:35:54
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    DDT is not the answer to solving the bed bug crisis.

    In fact, there is not now and will never be a single silver bullet that will solve the bed bug crisis.

    It's also not a simply matter of shaving a little bit of time off our life by bringing back banned pesticides in order to solve the bed bug problem.

    When we're in the throes of dealing with a bed bugs infestation, all we want is for this evil scourge to be gone. But if I'm reading Lou right, what he's saying is that in a weird way, DDT was part of the problem.

    When DDT was still available, it was widely used. Probably overused. It was used in large amounts to treat even the smallest bug problems. It was like bringing in an NFL linebacker to be a ringer on your local touch football team made up of middle-aged people with office jobs: overkill.

    (Doing so, weirdly, was so effective that people believed bed bugs were gone forever and stopped worrying about them or researching them. oops.)

    Even if we set aside the fact that DDT did, in fact, create significant, harmful effects to the environment, there is still the problem that if used improperly, DDT will simply become yet another chemical pesticide that bed bugs will become resistant to if it were allowed to be used unrestrictedly.

    Part of the reason that integrated pest management is so important is that it's about using appropriate amounts of pesticides in appropriate contexts to minimize the chances of developing another generation of pesticide resistant bugs.

    My guess, frankly, is that the reason that we're seeing the development of pyrethrin-resistant bugs in this country is that, basically? pyrethrins are the majority of chemical pesticides currently labeled for use. We don't have a second or third class of pesticides to go to. DDVP is the last organophosphate labeled for home use. (Part of the reason that DDVP/Nuvan is such an important part of bed bug control is that it is a completely different kind of pesticide than most of the ones currently used.) Most of the chemicals used on bed bugs are a kind of pyrethrin.

    (Incidentally, we have the same problem with antibiotics. Decades ago, penicillin was considered a miracle drug. Now, there are many strains of bacteria resistant to it, and some strains of bacteria that are resistant to everything. Part of the reason we have resistant strains is through over use and misuse of antibiotics for decades. It's as much the fault of docs who overprescribed them before as it is the fault of people who stopped taking them after 3 days when they felt better.)

    I'm all for the development of new chemical pesticides. I think that, as with antibiotics, this is a war in which escalation of technology is *part* of the solution.

    But it's also important to remember that it may not be new chemicals that will win the battle.

    Part of the problem is that bed bugs are a particularly difficult pest--because of their physiology and behavior--to get the chemical into. Ants can be baited; mix a chemical pesticide that gets them into their food, and voila! Delivery system effective. Roaches groom themselves, so if you can get the roaches to walk over a residual pesticide, the roaches will groom the chemical off and ingest it, and voila! Pesticide delivered. (I realize from my own long battle with the Argentine ant that it's not quite that easy, but compared with bed bugs, it's a heck of a lot easier.) I don't understand the mechanics of it, but the last time I went to my doc, she gave me a different formulation of my allergy med because she thought that the different formulation of that chemical might work better for me. I suspect that the same thing is true with bed bugs; it's less about needing completely new pesticides and more about finding a way to make the ones we have more effective at reaching the bugs and their eggs given their behavior and physiology. Or, at least, that's my layperson's idea of it.

    A number of very smart pest management professionals have pointed out that we don't need stronger chemicals as much as we need chemicals that work on bed bugs. I'm not a scientist. We all know I'm better at life sciences than chemical ones, but it seems to me that a focus on delivering or formulating the current pesticides is more likely to be effective on bed bugs than bringing old chemicals back so the bugs can become resistant to those too. After all in places that they are still used, there's good evidence that that happened.

    (I'm personally pretty cranky about DDT, since Monsanto, the company that manufactured it, was pretty blase about dumping it about 20 miles off the coast where I live. Even though that chemical plant closed almost 30 years ago, we're still dealing with the environmental fall out from it.

    As a result, while my experience with bed bugs has made me much more aware of just how dependent we all are on the chemical companies, I'm also still a staunch supporter of regulation of them. If they hadn't done such a banner job of screwing up before--you know, dumping DDT into the ocean for nearly 40 years--they wouldn't need to work quite to hard to earn our trust now.

    I do think that a lot of environmentalists go too far and become alarmist over issues that are unlikely to affect the health of most people, and clearly, as in the case of the limited selection of chemical pesticides we have to treat bed bugs, that can create its own kind of damage. But at the same time, chemical companies that have operated with impunity have made segments of the general public skeptical, and I can't blame us for that given some of the industry's history.

    And even if that weren't the case, we can't forget that part of the reason we were caught flat footed when it comes to bed bugs is that for decades there were only a handful of people like Lou Sorkin who continued to research these pests because everyone declared the bugs vanquished. I'm sure some people thought Lou was crazy to worry about pest that would never bother the United States every again in those decades when he continued to sustain his colony and do research on them.

    Losing decades of large scale research in a field puts that field behind the curve. We're damned lucky that folks like Lou persisted in their research that whole time. (I will spare you all another rant about why this is a classic example of the ways in which demanding that all research have an immediate and obvious practical application is bad for society. )

    Anyway, my point is that bigger runs as far as pesticides go isn't the only possible answer. I'm all for research into new chemical pesticides. I just don't think that that's going to be a silver bullet. New formulations of current chemicals, better delivery systems, more monitoring devices, education to get people to be aware and proactive in making their homes and travel habits more bed bug resistant, legislation to deal with slum lords who don't treat effectively, and technological inventions like the Packtite (which, remember, wasn't even available when I fought my infestation a few years ago) that take the techniques we already have and make them more effective are all going to have to be part of the fight against bed bugs.

    I know that's not the reassuring answer. I know it doesn't make a good story. We'd all like the person to come in wearing a cape and announce that once and for all he or she has created the chemical that will singlehandedly eliminate bed bugs.

    But life and science don't work that way. Reality is that problems are complicated and require multi-faceted, ever changing approaches to solve.

    I also don't want to watch our society fail to learn from history. We relied on chemical big guns before to eliminate the pest. Even if another breakthrough chemical pesticide comes along tomorrow that is death to most bed bugs, if we rely too much on that, once the populations we knock down in most spots become resistant to that, bed bugs will surge back decades from now, and if we haven't been working on studying them that whole time except for a few people, we'll be right back here again.

    I, for one, would really like to avoid that.

  13. DeedleBeetle

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Aug 9 2010 19:03:29
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    Dear Lord.. Will you pleeeeeeeease do something about these awful bbs? Or let me die before i'm being sucked dry of blood and covered with itchy welts that i can't see because my vision is almost gone and that i can't reach or scratch or soothe because i'm too feeble to move.. Please let me die before i can't move out of the way of the bbs who will no doubt be infesting every freakin' hospital and nursing home bed by the time i'm defenseless and ready to croak. Amen.

  14. Beth

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Aug 9 2010 19:28:21
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    Amen Deedle.

  15. bushbugg

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Aug 9 2010 23:11:16
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    DeedleBeetle - 4 hours ago Amen.

    YOu still got em deedle :(((

  16. DeedleBeetle

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Aug 10 2010 6:57:06
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    No BushBugg..

    Thank goodness i don't still have them. I've been bb free almost 90 days but i'm still traumatized about what i dealt with which was an extremely light infestation. I am still afraid i will get them again. I am afraid about other people getting them and suffering from them and spreading them. I am afraid that we won't be able to do anything to make them go away and most of all i'm afraid of being old, infirmed and helpless and having to deal (or simply submit) to bbs and dying that way. My heart actually ACHES when i think of those in hospitals and nursing homes who may not be in clean and pest-free conditions, who may be practically abandoned and who may be suffering from bbs at this very moment. I feel helpless that i can't do something for them...but maybe i can if i can find out where these people were concentrated.

  17. Beth

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Aug 10 2010 8:54:40
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    Deedle,

    When I was coming off of benzos, I was in a shelter, infested. I brought them home with me. I struggled in withdrawal, getting dwon to 84 lbs., the entire time being eaten alive. It was horrific and, as you said, I cannot fathom being in this situation again. Honestly, what I did? Denial. When you are that ill, you cannot face a reality like bed bugs. You just take your sleeping pill and try not to think about the bug that just crawled into your ear and the five bugs and twenty eggs nesting in plain view on your sheets. To be honest, at the height of the infestation, I was getting less bites than now. I think because they were not being attacked and pretty content to just feed every once in awhile. I also believe the drugs in my system made my blood pretty yucky to them and my small size unattractive---they may have been mostly targeting my dog at that time. I also possibly just wasn't reacting. I did, after all, become anemic at that time.

    Sad stuff. You're right. I don't know how I didn't jump off a bridge. It was two weeks after getting off the sleeping pills that reality smacked me in the face and I ran to a hotel and began freaking out.

    Yes, these shelters and group homes and nursing homes need to be Vikaned.

    Amy

  18. DeedleBeetle

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Aug 10 2010 12:38:08
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    Ah yesss..thanks Amy...let me revise my prayer..

    Hi Lord, it's me again. So Lord can you please make sure that i get googobs of extremely high quality pharmaceuticals so that if i won't be aware of any really icky, painful, itchy, dirty, disgusting or lonely condition in which i may be stewing until You finally turn the lights out on my current existence? Please God, i'm begging You. Thank You. Amen.

  19. Beth

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Aug 10 2010 13:02:39
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    lol

  20. infestedwbb

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Aug 10 2010 14:56:39
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    buggyinsocal - 1 day ago  » 
    DDT is not the answer to solving the bed bug crisis.
    In fact, there is not now and will never be a single silver bullet that will solve the bed bug crisis.
    It's also not a simply matter of shaving a little bit of time off our life by bringing back banned pesticides in order to solve the bed bug problem.
    When we're in the throes of dealing with a bed bugs infestation, all we want is for this evil scourge to be gone. But if I'm reading Lou right, what he's saying is that in a weird way, DDT was part of the problem.
    When DDT was still available, it was widely used. Probably overused. It was used in large amounts to treat even the smallest bug problems. It was like bringing in an NFL linebacker to be a ringer on your local touch football team made up of middle-aged people with office jobs: overkill.
    (Doing so, weirdly, was so effective that people believed bed bugs were gone forever and stopped worrying about them or researching them. oops.)
    Even if we set aside the fact that DDT did, in fact, create significant, harmful effects to the environment, there is still the problem that if used improperly, DDT will simply become yet another chemical pesticide that bed bugs will become resistant to if it were allowed to be used unrestrictedly.
    Part of the reason that integrated pest management is so important is that it's about using appropriate amounts of pesticides in appropriate contexts to minimize the chances of developing another generation of pesticide resistant bugs.
    My guess, frankly, is that the reason that we're seeing the development of pyrethrin-resistant bugs in this country is that, basically? pyrethrins are the majority of chemical pesticides currently labeled for use. We don't have a second or third class of pesticides to go to. DDVP is the last organophosphate labeled for home use. (Part of the reason that DDVP/Nuvan is such an important part of bed bug control is that it is a completely different kind of pesticide than most of the ones currently used.) Most of the chemicals used on bed bugs are a kind of pyrethrin.
    (Incidentally, we have the same problem with antibiotics. Decades ago, penicillin was considered a miracle drug. Now, there are many strains of bacteria resistant to it, and some strains of bacteria that are resistant to everything. Part of the reason we have resistant strains is through over use and misuse of antibiotics for decades. It's as much the fault of docs who overprescribed them before as it is the fault of people who stopped taking them after 3 days when they felt better.)
    I'm all for the development of new chemical pesticides. I think that, as with antibiotics, this is a war in which escalation of technology is *part* of the solution.
    But it's also important to remember that it may not be new chemicals that will win the battle.
    Part of the problem is that bed bugs are a particularly difficult pest--because of their physiology and behavior--to get the chemical into. Ants can be baited; mix a chemical pesticide that gets them into their food, and voila! Delivery system effective. Roaches groom themselves, so if you can get the roaches to walk over a residual pesticide, the roaches will groom the chemical off and ingest it, and voila! Pesticide delivered. (I realize from my own long battle with the Argentine ant that it's not quite that easy, but compared with bed bugs, it's a heck of a lot easier.) I don't understand the mechanics of it, but the last time I went to my doc, she gave me a different formulation of my allergy med because she thought that the different formulation of that chemical might work better for me. I suspect that the same thing is true with bed bugs; it's less about needing completely new pesticides and more about finding a way to make the ones we have more effective at reaching the bugs and their eggs given their behavior and physiology. Or, at least, that's my layperson's idea of it.
    A number of very smart pest management professionals have pointed out that we don't need stronger chemicals as much as we need chemicals that work on bed bugs. I'm not a scientist. We all know I'm better at life sciences than chemical ones, but it seems to me that a focus on delivering or formulating the current pesticides is more likely to be effective on bed bugs than bringing old chemicals back so the bugs can become resistant to those too. After all in places that they are still used, there's good evidence that that happened.
    (I'm personally pretty cranky about DDT, since Monsanto, the company that manufactured it, was pretty blase about dumping it about 20 miles off the coast where I live. Even though that chemical plant closed almost 30 years ago, we're still dealing with the environmental fall out from it.
    As a result, while my experience with bed bugs has made me much more aware of just how dependent we all are on the chemical companies, I'm also still a staunch supporter of regulation of them. If they hadn't done such a banner job of screwing up before--you know, dumping DDT into the ocean for nearly 40 years--they wouldn't need to work quite to hard to earn our trust now.
    I do think that a lot of environmentalists go too far and become alarmist over issues that are unlikely to affect the health of most people, and clearly, as in the case of the limited selection of chemical pesticides we have to treat bed bugs, that can create its own kind of damage. But at the same time, chemical companies that have operated with impunity have made segments of the general public skeptical, and I can't blame us for that given some of the industry's history.
    And even if that weren't the case, we can't forget that part of the reason we were caught flat footed when it comes to bed bugs is that for decades there were only a handful of people like Lou Sorkin who continued to research these pests because everyone declared the bugs vanquished. I'm sure some people thought Lou was crazy to worry about pest that would never bother the United States every again in those decades when he continued to sustain his colony and do research on them.
    Losing decades of large scale research in a field puts that field behind the curve. We're damned lucky that folks like Lou persisted in their research that whole time. (I will spare you all another rant about why this is a classic example of the ways in which demanding that all research have an immediate and obvious practical application is bad for society. )
    Anyway, my point is that bigger runs as far as pesticides go isn't the only possible answer. I'm all for research into new chemical pesticides. I just don't think that that's going to be a silver bullet. New formulations of current chemicals, better delivery systems, more monitoring devices, education to get people to be aware and proactive in making their homes and travel habits more bed bug resistant, legislation to deal with slum lords who don't treat effectively, and technological inventions like the Packtite (which, remember, wasn't even available when I fought my infestation a few years ago) that take the techniques we already have and make them more effective are all going to have to be part of the fight against bed bugs.
    I know that's not the reassuring answer. I know it doesn't make a good story. We'd all like the person to come in wearing a cape and announce that once and for all he or she has created the chemical that will singlehandedly eliminate bed bugs.
    But life and science don't work that way. Reality is that problems are complicated and require multi-faceted, ever changing approaches to solve.
    I also don't want to watch our society fail to learn from history. We relied on chemical big guns before to eliminate the pest. Even if another breakthrough chemical pesticide comes along tomorrow that is death to most bed bugs, if we rely too much on that, once the populations we knock down in most spots become resistant to that, bed bugs will surge back decades from now, and if we haven't been working on studying them that whole time except for a few people, we'll be right back here again.
    I, for one, would really like to avoid that.

    I agree with you ! Chemicals can't be a long term solution. I'm sure some alternative can be found !!!


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