Tips and Tricks: Be a bed bug detective


February 6, 2013

By Dr. Dina Richman
Product Development Manager, FMC Corp.

Bed bugs are still one of the biggest challenges for pest management professionals (PMPs). But the first step toward control is accurate detection.

Like a private investigator, a PMP must use all the tools and techniques at his or her disposal to ensure bed bugs are present before attempting control. Detecting the presence of bed bugs when their numbers are small is particularly challenging:

 1. Start with a detailed inspection. Focus on sleeping areas and places where occupants spend time resting, as well as furniture and objects directly near beds, couches and easy chairs. Don’t overlook the back of headboards, luggage and other personal bags. Rooms and/or apartments adjacent to the infested area should also be inspected.

2. Record what was found. Include live bugs, fecal staining, blood smears and cast skins. Documentation will help you design a treatment protocol, provide an ideal tool to use when describing your services to your client, and provide written confirmation of the pest condition that existed before your treatment.

3. Obtain a population estimate. Determine the size of the problem and the extent to which it has spread by placing detection devices under and adjacent to beds and suspected infested furniture. These detectors may also help in determining the origin or location of an infestation.

Using detectors may reduce the need for pesticide use. In situations where bed bugs are detected very early on, before newly introduced bugs have an opportunity to become established, PMPs can often minimize the use of control products.

Effective detectors not only detect whether bed bugs are in a room, they can be used to confirm that a treatment protocol has been successful. In addition, detectors that remain in place (using replaceable, serviceable components) can be checked periodically to ensure that bed bugs have not returned and that no new infestation has taken place.

New bed bug detectors are entering the market every day. But those that have been thoroughly researched at the university level and through trials in real-life situations have the best chance of maintaining accuracy. In addition, detectors that use multiple modes of action will be most likely to successfully detect the presence of bed bugs. Research the best detection options available to optimize your bed bug management strategy.

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