With its combination of technology, technique and research, next month’s Global BedBug Summit is a can’t-miss event for pest professionals.
When bed bugs first re-emerged throughout much of the developed world in the late 1990s after being dormant for decades, it was difficult to predict what would become of them. Was their presence an anomaly that would be erased quickly and forgotten, or could they emerge as a legitimate, widespread pest? The answer is obvious, even to the most oblivious of laypeople. Not only are bed bugs entrenched in large urban areas, they’re finding their way to new locales regularly. They’re also overcoming some control strategies. Even though pest management professionals (PMPs) have gained more knowledge and developed better skills, bed bugs are still a pervasive and persistent threat throughout the world. Considerable work has yet to be done.
Bed bugs are an equal opportunity pest, infesting single-family homes, apartment buildings, hotels, homeless shelters and luxury condos without regard to socioeconomic status. The number of people affected by bed bugs annually is astronomical, and each infestation has the potential for significant financial and mental stress.
The bed bug narrative isn’t the only thing that’s changed dramatically throughout the years. The approaches taken by most PMPs in 2014 are quite different than what their intrepid counterparts were doing in 1998. The greater the number of infestations, the more unique challenges a PMP can expect to encounter. Among the most pressing challenges posed by bed bugs today, and likely into the future, are insecticide-resistance concerns, getting the most out of registered products, balancing chemical and nonchemical control strategies, and a host of multifamily housing and client cooperation issues. The upcoming National Pest Management Association (NPMA) Global Bed Bug Summit seeks to identify the issues and help outline successful paths.
Several of the top bed bug researchers in the world will be on hand at the Global Bed Bug Summit to share their latest research and ideas and answer questions. Research entomologists have an exceptional ability to combine basic research with practical, usable field applications. Not only do these scientists have a thorough understanding of bed bug biology and behavior, they also generate, stimulate and develop control strategies that give PMPs an upper hand in the bed bug battle. The next wave of exploitable behaviors and management concepts will be detailed and explained, from bed bug climbing ability to feeding and reproductive patterns to biological control.
The opening general session features Gary Curl, a well-known gatherer, compiler and analyzer of data in the pest management industry. Individually, small, medium and large companies don’t accumulate the kind of data Curl has access to and, as such, could be blinded to some of the trends and difficult-to-detect nuances he’s able to unearth. This session reviews the current status of the bed bug market and how it has changed throughout the years.
Health and Liability
The media has paid a tremendous amount of attention to bed bugs and raised the collective level of awareness to an impressive — and, in some ways, unprecedented — level for a single pest. Of course, an increased awareness isn’t necessarily tied to an associated increase of the level of knowledge. PMPs can be the source of reliable and trustworthy information about bed bugs and other pests, of which many homeowners are in dire need. Although there has yet to be a documented case of disease transmission by bed bugs, it’s important to recognize the public and mental health threat they can pose. People have strong reactions to this pest and will cause harm to themselves and their families in an attempt to rid themselves of, or get away from, bed bugs.
Considerations for accepting bed bug work extend beyond the front lines of control. Bed bug work can open up PMPs to legal liability. Bed bug litigation is piling up, and the lawsuits aren’t all small-claims matters. Earlier this year, for example, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against property owners and a pest management company on a four-year-old class action lawsuit with a $2.45-million settlement. In Friday’s opening general session, attorney Christian Hardigree will explore the complex world of bed bug litigation. In addition to providing an overview of the current state of affairs, Hardigree will provide the audience with thought-provoking ideas and concepts that could potentially save a business from legal (and financial) harm.
Why the Sole Pest Focus?
There has been a dramatic uptick in the amount of bed bug educational programming offered at meetings and workshops, but the demand for a dedicated conference won. Before last year, the NPMA and BedBug Central each held their own meetings. In 2011, the NPMA even had a traveling bed bug roadshow, holding one-day workshops in 16 cities throughout the country.
2014 marks the second year NPMA and BedBug Central have partnered for the Global BedBug Summit. The melding of the two meetings and collaboration between BedBug Central and NPMA has proven to be a successful venture. The Global BedBug Summit attracted 450 attendees to last year’s meeting, and a similar number is expected this year.
Attendees come from all fields touched by bed bugs: PMPs (technical and business minded) who are engaged in bed bug management; those involved in the development and distribution of bed bug control products; academics and researchers; extension officials; government agencies that manage housing, regulate pest management and protect public health; and those working in public health, property management and the hospitality industries.
Learn more about the Global BedBug Summit at www.npmapestworld.org/events/BedBugSummit.cfm.
Jordon is staff scientist and entomologist for the National Pest Management Association.