In cases where bed bug insecticide resistance is an issue, Protect-A-Bed offers a new solution.
Insect resistance to pesticides has been a conversation pest management professionals, university extension, researchers and regulators have been kicking around at industry meetings for decades.
Resistance is widespread and can vary from insect population to population and from chemical to chemical.
Historically, cockroaches and rodents have most often been mentioned in regards to resistance. But more recently, bed bugs are often showing resistance to some pesticide formulations.
How does a technician treating for bed bugs in a multi-story apartment building know if the material he or she is ready to apply will actually work against these pests? The answer is simple — they won’t know until the application is made and follow-up inspections reveal whether or not the target infestation was eliminated.
To help pest professionals better determine a population’s resistance to pesticides, researchers at the University of Kentucky and bed bug product supplier Protect-A-Bed have introduced the Lights-Out Lab In A Bag, a portable testing kit PMPs can use in the field to determine a bed bug population’s — as well as other insect pests’ — resistance levels.
The University of Kentucky’s Dr. Michael Potter, one of the researchers behind the development of the product, says bed bugs are phenomenally well-equipped to quickly develop resistance to pesticides.
“Bed bugs are somewhat of an oddity in the insect world and research has been made more difficult due to the lack of readily available specimens,” says Potter. “No two bed bug colonies will react the same to an insecticide application — you can have a different result across the street.”
How It Works.
Potter says the explosion of bed bug management products entering the market has made it a challenge to get a read on which ones work and which ones don’t. And with that uncertainty, bed bugs have enjoyed free reign to infest homes, apartments and commercial establishments, and annoy and frustrate customers.
Further complicating the issue of determining resistance is the fact that bed bug product evaluation is often done using long-maintained laboratory bed bug colonies that become more susceptible to pesticides over time.
Protect-A-Bed says the advantage the LightsOut Lab In A Bag offers PMPs is that it tests for resistance on bed bugs from the actual infestation that will be treated. The key component in the kit is the three interchangeable testing substrate inserts.
The non-treated inserts are made of surfaces where bed bugs commonly are found — furniture fabric, Masonite and canvas. Protect-A-Bed says the availability of multiple substrate testing surfaces is important since different formulations have been proven to perform differently on each surface and PMPs can test multiple products.
Technicians or inspectors using the kit will collect bed bug specimens — ideally during the inspection or first service visit — and place the bed bugs on one of the three substrate testing surfaces that has been treated with the pesticide(s) the PMP plans on using.
The specimens are taken back to the office — the kit includes a special cooling pack for use in summer or warm climates — where they will be observed and it will be determined if the specific product(s) is effective. Potter says the observation period will vary by product and can range from two days up to a week.
“Using the testing kit is Integrated Pest Management at its core,” says Potter. “It stresses the importance of assessment, monitoring and the judicious selection and use of pesticides in a customer’s home or business.”
Potter says the product will be an eye opener to pest management professionals dealing with heavy bed bug infestations and will empower them to be independent evaluators of the products they are using.
What about companies that use heat treatments? Potter says companies can benefit in two ways: they can use the kit to affirm their recommendation of a heat treatment should a resistant infestation be found or it will provide them with the information that gives them another option — pesticides — in their bed bug toolbox.
“The kit allows pest professionals to arrive at the correct solution with a better degree of certainty,” says Potter. “And it makes their treatment offerings more fully integrated.”
Better for Business.
The LightsOut Lab In A Bag not only provides pest management professionals with more accurate data on resistance, but also gives them a marketing advantage, Protect-A-Bed says.
“By using the kit PMPs can be more selective and accurate in their chemical usage and in the long run that can reduce costs,” says Brian Hirsch, director of sales, industrial division for Protect-A-Bed, a global manufacturer of bed bug and allergy control mattress and box spring encasement products. “It also lowers costs associated with callbacks.”
Bed bug treatments are expensive and time consuming, and pest professionals need to have a tool box that provides them flexibility in terms of products, treatment methods and access to resistance information that would influence product selection.
The testing kit also provides PMPs an advantage during the sales process, demonstrating to the customer that sound science is at the basis of their decision on where and when to use pesticides, and that the company is committed to achieving the best results possible.
Hirsch echoes Potter’s comments that the kit gives PMPs a reliable assessment tool that can be incorporated into any IPM treatment strategy or protocol.
From an operational standpoint, the kit provides technicians and inspectors with everything they need to get the job done during both the collection and testing process. And for companies without a technical director on staff it helps fill that role.
“Using the kit steers PMPs on the right path to selecting products that will get the job done right from the start,” says Hirsch. “Bed bug jobs are labor intensive and knowing what products work will ultimately save a company time and money.”
The author is a partner of B Communications, an integrated communications/marketing firm. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.