You can't see them, but they are there! Bed Bugs
What Are They?
Bed Bugs are parasitic insects of the Cimicid family that feed exclusively on human blood. They are mostly nocturnal. They can cause skin rashes, allergic symptoms and psychological effects. They have been with us for thousands of years, even though they were almost eradicated in the 1940’s in the developed world. However, they have become resistant to pesticides and have made a comeback. They are here to stay.
Where Do They Come From?
The Southwest, Southeast, Eastern US, Washington, and Alaska have a high concentration of Bed Bugs. This puts us at risk of an outbreak here in Oregon.
As business owners and managers it is crucial to train employees so they can spot Bed Bugs as soon as they arrive. You need to have policies in place to deal with guests or residents that have encountered Bed Bugs. You should also have protocols in place to get rid of the Bed Bugs.
Bed Bug Prevention (Early Detection)
There is no way to stop Bed Bugs from being brought into your facility. New folks are arriving every day from all over the world, and bringing their potentially infested personal items with them. You can be Bed Bug free one day and infested the next.
So, prevention relies on early detection. Bed Bugs must be detected very quickly after they are brought in, hopefully before they bite someone.
Employees in every department should receive Bed Bug identification training.
Why everyone? Because employees are located all over the facility and if everybody is looking for Bed Bugs there is a greater chance that they will be discovered quickly.
How to Get Rid Of Them
Some pest control firms utilize specialized heating equipment to de-infest furnishings, rooms, and entire dwellings. The procedure involves heating up the infested item or area to temperatures lethal to Bed Bugs. Portable heaters and fans are used to gradually heat the air to 120 - 130°F while monitoring with strategically placed sensors. When dealing with high temperatures remove all aerosol products and check with your fire suppression company to make sure that you DO NOT EXCEED THE WORKING TEMPERATURE OF THE SPRINKLERS!
While the former methods are helpful, insecticides are widely used by most pest control companies. A variety of EPA-registered materials are available formulated as liquids, dusts and aerosols. Baits used to control ants and cockroaches are ineffective in this case since Bed Bugs feed on blood. Professional-use insecticides such as Temprid®, Transport® and Phantom® tend to be more effective than Bed Bug sprays sold by retailers. Bleach, alcohol, cigarette lighters, etc. should NOT be used to control Bed Bugs.
It is extremely important that employees do not attempt to treat Bed Bugs themselves. Always have Bed Bug infestations treated by an experienced pest management company. If your current company does not have Bed Bug experience, call us for suggestions or an inspection.
Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Dini M. Miller, Ph.D., Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech
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