Bed Bugs: Beyond the Nuisance
Dr. Dale Stephenson
Public health fears and economic concerns surround bed bug (Cimex lectularius) infestations. A resurgence of bed bug infestations was seen nationwide beginning in the early 2000s, and anecdotal reports from pesticide applicators and health districts in Idaho suggest a similar upward trend; however, the magnitude of the Idaho problem, the geographic distribution, pesticide application practices, costs, and client education practices is unclear. Web-based, electronic, and phone surveys were developed for three groups with a stake in bed bug response and/or control including Idaho Health Districts, licensed pest control operations (PCO), and members of the Idaho lodging and restaurant association in order to assess the bed bug problem in Idaho. Preliminary PCO responses suggest a statewide distribution of bed bugs, with an apparent increase in call volume over the last 12 months suggests this is an increasing burden. Preliminary survey results suggest that complaints were received from all lodging types; however, hotels, shelters, and high-density housing were most frequently reported as problematic settings for infestation. Bed bugs were found extensively throughout these facilities, especially near beds. The inspection and pesticide application process is timely, often requiring repeat application, and costly to achieve elimination. There is a need for Idaho-specific educational materials by both public health and PCO professionals regarding bed bug public health risks and safe elimination practices.