Because bed bugs are quickly becoming the leading public health pest of the 21st Century, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) recently developed a Bed Bug Outreach and Education Project and hosted a series of Bed Bug Forums across the state. The project was funded through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Forums, which were held in Alexandria, Dulles, Norfolk, Richmond and Roanoke, provided attendees with basic information regarding the biology of bed bugs, the health significance of the pest, inspection and current treatment methods and challenges of bed bug management, and also suggested best management practices.
More than 340 people attended the Forums, representing pest management professionals, housing services including management associations for multifamily housing, members of the hospitality industry, public agencies and other individuals and groups interested in bed bug biology and management. “The resurgence of bed bugs in recent years has brought the pest from the shadows to the limelight,” said Matthew J. Lohr, VDACS Commissioner. “A few years ago, no one admitted to having an infestation, but now there is a growing, collective effort to prevent, control and eradicate the pest.”
Lohr said he was interested to learn of new treatment methods, ranging from beagles that can sniff out the pest to heat treatments. “As a frequent traveler, I was especially interested in some of the tips for consumers,” he said. “These include simple things such as laundering clothing and drying them in a hot dryer. Some have even suggested that leaving your suitcase in a car parked in the hot sun is sufficient to kill bed bugs.” Experts believe that the thermal death point for bed bugs is around 114-115 ° F and that the bugs cannot live in temperatures higher than that.
Bed bugs were a common pest in the U.S. up to the 1950s but declined dramatically in subsequent decades. Their resurgence after a long absence created a desire for information on the bugs themselves, as well as treatment options. The workshops included presentations from Dr. Dini Miller, a Virginia Tech researcher and professor of entomology; a demonstration of canine bed bug scent detection and heat treatment units, along with a discussion of a variety of other chemical and non-chemical treatment options. Speakers also included the Virginia Department of Health’s Bedding and Upholstered Furniture Inspection Unit and the Virginia Apartment Management Association. Finally, VDACS’ Office of Pesticide Services presented a regulatory overview.
All attendees received outreach materials including a series of bed bug fact sheets. The sheets encourage and help facilitate additional training and outreach to coworkers, peers and tenants covering the following topic areas: Bed Bug Biology and Behavior, How to Identify a Bed Bug Infestation, Bed Bug Prevention Methods, Bed Bug Treatment Using Insecticides, Non-Chemical Bed Bug Management, Bed Bug Action Plan for Apartments and Bed Bug Action Plan for Hotels. The Bed Bug Fact Sheets as well as the Forum presentations are here. Fact sheets are available in both English and Spanish. The EPA’s website at has additional information.
Any pesticides used in bed bug treatment must be registered with VDACS and used according to the label directions. In addition, all pest control companies must have a Virginia pesticide business license and all commercial pesticide applicators must be certified. Click here for more information regarding certification and business license requirements.
For more information, please contact Dr. Dini M. Miller, Department of Entomology, 216A Price Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061; call 540.231.4045; or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.