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An ounce of precaution prevents a pound of resistance

|  January 22, 2021

It’s vital that pest management professionals educate themselves to stay a step ahead of bed bug behavior. PHOTO: JASONONDREICKA/ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS/GETTY IMAGES


Dear Judy, I feel like I’m pretty successful with my residential bed bug treatments. But how worried do I need to be about pesticide resistance? How do I know whether I’m dealing with resistance?


Dear W4, You probably don’t need to be “worried,” but you do need to be aware that bed bug resistance is out there. You should have a plan for not being part of the problem.

The first thing you can do to help yourself is become educated on the topic. Attending industry conferences, webinars and other training sessions really can help expose you to the research that is out there. Many of these events, in-person and even online, offer great networking opportunities to find out what other industry professionals are seeing out in the field.

Regarding how you can tell whether you are dealing with resistance, here’s my advice (with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy and his “You Might be a Redneck” comedy routine, although I mean these in all seriousness):

  • If you are doing what you have always done successfully, and it starts failing, you may have resistance.
  • If you treat the inside of a vial with a product, let it dry, put bed bugs in there and observe them for however long that product advertises it takes to kill bed bugs, and they live, you may have resistance.
  • If you put bed bugs in a vial and treat them directly with a product, and they don’t die in the amount of time the product advertises it takes to kill bed bugs, you may have resistance.
  • If you are not using multiple classes of pesticides and rotating these products, you may have resistance.

Last but not least, you can help reduce your resistance risk by incorporating non-chemical methods like heat and vacuuming into your bed bug treatment protocols.

Email your questions about insect identification and pest management technologies to Your questions most likely will be printed and answered in one of Pest Management Professional’s upcoming columns.

BLACK is a PMP Hall of Fame member (Class of 2019) and VP of quality assurance and technical service for Rollins Inc. She may be reached at

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