FMC Professional Solutions
Knowing when a bed bug problem is about to begin beats discovering a large infestation late in the game.
With the bed bug epidemic so widely publicized, student renters are on high alert. So how do you know when a bed bug complaint is legitimate, or a false alarm? And how do you show renters, their parents, and their attorneys that you make bed bugs a top priority all the time, not just after an incident?
The answer is ongoing bed bug detection integrated into an overall pest management strategy. Sound complicated? It’s not, and the benefits are huge.
Traditionally, pest control professionals responded to calls about bed bugs, performed an inspection, and treated the room, if bed bugs were present. But typically an infestation must be rather large to be detected visually, and at that point, it’s very difficult to control. In addition, the pest professional may be spraying a room that does not require it.
Today, ongoing bed bug detection provides many advantages over this traditional “reactive” method of bed bug control by:
• Providing an accurate account of bed bug activity in suspect apartments;
• Alerting you to new infestations while they are small and easy to manage;
• Preventing unnecessary pesticide use;
• Helping confirm a treatment was successful;
• Allowing ongoing spot checks without added labor; and
• Providing a sales advantage over other properties
Today, there are many types of bed bug detection devices, all with pros and cons:
Visual inspections are performed by pest management professionals trained to look for bed bug nymphs and adults, fecal matter, and staining. A good pest management professional (PMP) can usually identify a medium to large infestation quickly but may miss small infestations. Plus, you are at the mercy of the pest professional’s service calendar—usually performing inspections every two to four weeks.
Glue and sticky traps are inexpensive and can be placed in a room suspected of bed bugs. However, most glue traps are“passive” lures that rely on bed bugs happening to walk on the trap. A better choice is an “active” detector that lures bed bugs to the device. Other passive devices include plastic devices placed beneath bed legs, using your renters as bait. These allow bed bugs to crawl up and fall into a cup where they can be detected.
Active detectors lure bed bugs to a device by either mimicking a food source (host) or mimicking a bed bug pheromone. They range from large complex machinery to bed bug sniffing dogs to simple devices with one or more lures. Active detectors are quickly becoming the industry standard, but they vary significantly in ease of use and price.
A new active detection device is the Verifi™ bed bug detector from FMC. Verifi is the first bed bug detection tool to provide continuous detection of bed bugs for up to 90 days in a small, easy-to-use device. This technology works via a patent-pending combination of three bed bug attractants: carbon dioxide, which mimics a living, breathing host (you!); a liquid kairomone that works to attract bed bugs seeking a meal; and a liquid pheromone lure that encourages bed bugs to aggregate.
Unlike canine and other detection methods, the self-adhering Verifi is discrete and unobtrusive, operates silently, and does not require occupants to vacate the room. FMC recommends that a pest management professional install and inspect the detectors to ensure proper placement and correct identification of bed bug nymphs and adults.
Canine detection is another option. Specially trained bed-bug-sniffing dogs can identify even small infestations of bed bugs. However, this option can be costly and the dogs only detect bugs while they are on premises. For infestations that may take multiple treatments and/or multiple inspections or to see if an infestation has spread from one apartment to the next, the one-two punch of canine inspection, coupled with Verifi detection, is a great option. Choose a pest management firm that has experience with both. The National Pest Management Association (www.pestworld.org) is a good place to start.
It is important to note that none of these detection devices are control methods. If the detectors indicate that bed bugs are present, a pest management professional should be contacted as soon as possible.
Whatever detection method you decide to employ, I encourage you to get started today. Understanding these methods and having experience with them will help should you receive a complaint, or should you need to prove to stakeholders that you do more than just react to tenant complaints.
— Dina Richman, Ph. D., is Pest Product Development Manager for FMC Professional Solutions, where she helps develop new tools to fight bed bugs including the Verifi bed bug detector. Visit www.fmcbedbug.com.