Rollins Inc., University of Kentucky Collaborate on Bed Bug Study

Rollins will donate approximately $200,000 for a multi-year study on bed bug biology, behavior and control aspects, which researchers hope will result in enhanced treatment and prevention methods.

May 11, 2011

ATLANTA – Rollins Inc. announced a major partnership with the University of Kentucky to conduct extensive bed bug research. Through the collaboration, Rollins will donate approximately $200,000 for a multi-year study on bed bug biology, behavior and control aspects, which researchers hope will result in enhanced treatment and prevention methods. Rollins’ support is the first programmatic funding for bed bugs research of its kind by any business, government agency or institution.

According to the National Pest Management Association and researchers at the University of Kentucky, bed bugs have made a remarkable comeback in recent years, with roughly 95 percent of pest management firms in the U.S. encountering infestations in 2010. Orkin, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rollins, is now treating bed bugs in all 50 states.

Last year, Orkin released a list of the top 50 bed bug cities in the U.S. based on the company’s treatment data from January 2008 to July 2010. In 2011, the top 10 cities through April remain the same with shifts in the second and third positions and the eighth and ninth spots. Chicago moved from third to second and Dayton, Ohio, moved from ninth to eighth. Two cities that fall outside of Orkin’s top 10 list, but where bed bug treatments have more than doubled in 2011, are Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Orkin’s current top 10 bed bug hot spots rank as follows:

1. Cincinnati
2. Chicago
3. Columbus, Ohio
4. Denver
5. Detroit
6. Washington, D.C.
7. New York
8. Dayton, Ohio
9. Philadelphia
10. Baltimore

According to Orkin entomologist and Director of Technical Services Ron Harrison, Ph.D., the resurgence of bed bugs can be attributed to increased international travel and a more targeted approach to pest control. However, because bed bugs aren’t known to transmit diseases, like ticks or mosquitoes, federal funding has yet to support extensive research on them.

“While there are government funds being appropriated for bed bug education and outreach, there has been little, if any, programmatic support for fundamental research aimed at helping to eradicate infestations,” said University of Kentucky entomologist Michael Potter, Ph.D., a leading collaborator on the study. “We applaud Rollins for their generous support and hope that it mobilizes other entities to do the same. Bed bugs are everyone’s problem, and we need to take swift steps, in education and in research, to combat the problem.”

Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in color and are about the size of an apple seed. These blood-sucking pests feed on humans and can survive for multiple months without a blood meal. Because of their hitchhiking abilities, bed bugs can easily travel on personal belongings and throughout buildings, leading to infestations in residential and commercial settings.

“Rollins’ support allows us to pursue bed bug research with an immediate impact on helping to control infestations, and also opens up the possibility of exploring fundamental questions about what makes bed bugs tick – a first step toward uncovering vulnerabilities and devising applications for the future,” said University of Kentucky entomologist Kenneth Haynes, Ph.D., the other leading researcher of this study.

In addition to funding the research, Rollins’ experts will collaborate with the researchers to find solutions for this challenging pest problem. “This research will delve into new aspects of bed bugs to help us better understand their behaviors and ultimately help us better control them,” said Harrison.

For the full list of Orkin’s 2011 top 50 bed bug cities based on treatments, visit