UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Bed bugs are making a comeback in apartment buildings, dorm rooms, hotels, hospitals and homes across the country due to people traveling more frequently, resistance to pesticides and lack of public awareness.
To address the issue, the Centre Region Bed Bug Coalition was formed to educate the Centre Region community about preventing the spread of bed bugs. The coalition is a joint effort by Centre Region property owners and managers, the Borough of State College, the Pennsylvania IPM Program, Penn State Entomology Extension, Penn State Housing, and commercial pest management operators to provide education about treatment and prevention of bed bug infestations.
The Coalition will bring awareness to the community about bed bugs, educate property managers, residents, local officials, students and others about bed bug detection and management, recognize that all parts of the community have a role to play in bed bug management, and share information and protocols about bed bug management.
The coalition recently hosted a free bed bug awareness seminar at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. Workshop topics included bed bug entomology and history, treatment and costs, and information on recent litigation and legislation regarding bed bug infestations in rental properties. "Anyone can get bed bugs; infestations are not limited to any one group, and they can be found in single family houses, apartments, or dorms. Because of this, the bed bug problem is a community problem," said Ed Rajotte, PA IPM Coordinator and professor of entomology at Penn State.
David Manos, assistant director of housing at Penn State, agrees. He says that in just over two years there have been about two dozen documented bed bug cases in student resident halls, so they are taking a proactive approach. "Bed bugs are a community-wide issue and it will take community-wide cooperation to develop an effective bed bug management strategy. Our goal is to educate the public and give them tools to manage these pests effectively."
Bed bugs are not a serious health concern, but they can be psychologically draining. Check for bed bugs by examining the entire bed, especially the folds of sheets and seams of the mattress, said Rajotte. "Look for dark blood spots about the size of a pencil point. If you suspect you've already been bitten, check your skin for itchy red bumps."
To treat bed bugs, Rajotte recommends an integrated pest management (IPM) approach using multiple tactics. IPM is a safe, effective, and scientific approach to managing pests that uses knowledge of pests' habits and needs to help implement pest prevention tactics as a first line of defense. Avoid over-the-counter pesticides, Rajotte said. Bed bugs are resistant to most commonly used pesticides. "If you have an infestation, you should seek assistance from a professional, licensed pest control company trained to deal with bed bugs," he explained.
The resident has responsibilities in the treatment process also. "Once the bugs have been identified, quarantine the infected rooms. Wash and dry all soft objects, such as clothing and blankets, using hot water. Bed bugs and their eggs are killed by heat over 113 degrees. Follow the instructions of the pest management professional," said Rajotte.
In the future, the coalition plans on hosting more informational seminars to raise awareness and educate and share information about bed bug management. For more information on the coalition, contact Kevin Kassab, Borough of State College, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-234-7191.
The Pennsylvania IPM program is a collaboration between the Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture aimed at promoting integrated pest management in both agricultural and urban settings. For more information, contact the program at (814) 865-2839, or Web site http://www.paipm.org. To view our archived news releases, see Web site http://paipm.cas.psu.edu/10.htm.