By Doug Van Gundy
Director of Technical Services, Central Life Sciences
As the number of people traveling increases significantly during the summer months, so does the possibility of bed bug infestations — not only in hotels, but restaurants, schools and residential accounts. Education is key for pest management professionals (PMPs) and their customers to effectively control bed bug infestations and avoid reinfestations.
Bed bugs are reddish-brown, flat oval insects that grow to be only a quarter of an inch long. They feed on human blood, and are most active during the nighttime hours. PMPs must implement a broad-spectrum approach when working with customers to minimize the potential damage and emotional stress that results from a bed bug infestation.
A variety of methods and products can be used to treat bed bug infestations, including low-odor sprays, fogging agents and aerosols. Insect growth regulators (IGRs) are also effective by disrupting bed bugs’ normal growth pattern, not allowing the pests to reach full maturity and reproduce.
A successful treatment requires both the PMP and the customer to take a proactive approach to the infestation. Always provide customers with a pre-treatment checklist to ensure that the solutions work correctly and effectively. Some proactive considerations for preventing infestations include:
• Vacuuming, steam cleaning and hot-water laundering of infected bedding items are essential.
• Reducing clutter is a necessity because items strewn about rooms afford many places for bed bugs to hide, and impede inspection and treatment.
• Customers should caulk cracks and crevices where the bugs can thrive, such as around floorboards and moldings.
• Newer strategies, such as using mattress liners treated with permethrin, are additional tools to combat the pests.