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No Real Surprises in the Latest Bed Bug Survey of Exterminators

By Chris Williams on February 17, 2016.

For the fourth time, the National Pest Management Association has conducted a nation-wide poll of member pest control companies about their experiences in treating for bed bugs.

The 2015 survey of 236 companies confirmed that bed bugs are still a very real problem. We sometimes forget that bed bugs are a relatively new pest, at least at this level and in a wide range of sites. Bed bugs have always been around, but just ten years ago many exterminators didn’t know how to address the problem. Only about 10% of the survey respondents recalled getting a bed bug call before the year 2000. Today, more than 99% of the companies say they have treated or been asked to treat for bed bugs.

Bed Bugs Aren’t Going Away Any Time Soon

Sixty-four percent of the pest control companies felt that the incidence of bed bugs in their region was increasing, 29% felt things were about the same, and 7% felt that bed bug issues were decreasing.

Bed bug infestations are a year-round occurrence, but 61% of the exterminators polled felt that there was definitely a seasonal difference with bed bug complaints peaking in the summer months. This can be attributed, in part, to travel and vacations where bed bugs are picked up at travel destinations and transported to new locations. Also, higher summertime temperatures mean that bed bug development time and reproduction rates increase.

Bed Bugs Can Truly Be Found Anywhere!

While bed bugs are most common by far in residences, they can infest virtually any site, including nursing homes, schools, hospitals, libraries, retail stores, offices, and movie theaters. Some of the more unusual places where the respondents reported treating for bed bugs in 2015 are: Laundromats, restaurants, ambulances, police cars, dance clubs, oil rigs, fishing boats, a casket with the deceased inside (the bugs were in his old clothing), and a prosthetic leg!

How Do Exterminators Treat for Bed Bugs?

Among those companies polled, the time needed for an initial bed bug treatment of a residence ranged from less than one hour to more than five, with a median of 3.2 hours. Most (75%) of the companies said that two or three service visits were usually needed to control an infestation using primarily insecticides. Most (66%) of the companies that used a heat-based control method felt that control could be achieved with just one visit.

While 95% of the pest control companies polled said they use insecticides to control bed bugs, most also use other nonchemical methods. More than half (56%) use pitfall traps placed under the legs of beds, 84% use mattress encasements, 62% employ vacuuming, 40% use heat treatment of buildings, and 38% use steamers for localized treatments, to name just a few techniques.

 

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