Ask the Expert: Springtails, Woodborers, OSHA Bed Bugs and Fluorescent Bulbs

|  September 10, 2013

Q: I’m finding springtails on the 40th floor — the top floor — of a new high-rise building. There are no complaints on lower floors. Where could they be coming from? N.M., Pa.

A: If the top floor is the only floor with the problem, I suspect the roof. If only one unit is affected, make sure there’s not a moisture problem in the unit. If the roof is the source, see if the drainage can be improved to prevent standing water. If it can’t, use a residual. Unfortunately, most insecticides aren’t effective on springtails. Try one of the new chemistries to see which one works best, but don’t expect miracles.

Q: I have a customer who lives in a log home. It appears he has borer holes in the exterior logs with small bees coming in and out of them. The bees are using the holes for nesting, so he probably has a woodborer problem as well. The holes are too small for carpenter bees. The bees look like sweat bees. What should I do? J.H., Va.

A: You might have a woodborer problem, but it’s more likely you have a leafcutter or sweat bee problem. The females bore holes and stuff them with plant material and lay eggs. Each bee makes several holes. They’re easy to control by spraying the exterior surface of the logs in the area of activity. The bees usually are gone overnight. If more holes appear after the bees leave, then you also have a wood-boring beetle problem. This is more difficult to solve, but I suspect you have only a bee problem.

Q: A client received a letter from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about bed bugs. His facility is a distribution center that employs 700 people, and thousands of packages go through it daily. A few bed bugs were found in an office in the facility. Is OSHA overstepping its authority? How should I handle this? J.B., Ky.

A: If bed bugs were found in an office, it should be treated. I don’t believe the working areas of the facility would be bed-bug-breeding sites. If employees have lockers, inspect the lockers, and treat them if necessary twice a year. Document everything, so your client can address OSHA. Also, determine how many employees are complaining. If many have “bites,” there might be an environmental contamination problem as a result of paper dust or other contaminants. This type of problem should be explored by an industrial hygienist. It’s easy for employees to think there are bed bugs present if they have “bites.”

Q: Is there a special way to dispose of fluorescent bulbs? We generate many each year from insect light traps. W.O., Minn.

A: Contact your local waste authority or the waste hauler you use for your office. Regulations vary. Your local people will have the answer.

You can reach Dr. Mampe, an industry consultant, at

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