Global Bed Bug Summit Goes Virtual

Global Bed Bug Summit Goes Virtual

A mix of research findings and hands-on shared experiences from presenters highlighted this year's Global Bed Bug Summit, which was held virtually last week.

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December 7, 2020

Editor's note: Like most pest control industry events in 2020, the Global Bed Bug Summit 2020 was moved to a virtual event, and held last week. UK-based freelance journalist Frances McKim filed the following report for PCT.

FAIRFAX, Va.— Organized by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and premier sponsor BedBug Central, the Global Bed Bug Summit 2020 provided an educational mix of live presentations, pre-recorded talks available on demand, networking sessions, round table discussions and a Bugs, Beer and Bad Decisions virtual reception. To support all this was an exhibition, EXPO Central, displaying the goods and services offered to this specific market. In total there were 280 participants, roughly half the number that would regularly attend this event when held face-to-face.

NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf greeted delegates. She then passed the mic to Robert DiJoseph, president of BedBug Central, who explained how this event started back in 2010 and ran for two years as the BedBug University: North American Summit before they linked up with NPMA and the event became the Global BedBug Summit. He said, “NPMA added their signature polish to the event but this is the very first time it has been held virtually.” DiJoseph announced that the company was about to expand beyond bed bugs and that in January 2021 a new company name would be announced.

Opening the technical presentations was Dr. Chow-Yang Lee, University of California, Riverside, who spoke about the rise and development of resistance in bed bugs and how to utilize the variety of insecticides available for maximum effect. He identified insecticide resistance as the primary cause of the global resurgence of this pest.

What followed was a much more practical presentation from Joey Hoke, American Pest Management, Manhattan, Kan., and Jen Fox, Terminix International, Temecula, Calif., who provided a lively double act. They said the locating of the right person to make a bed bug technician was key, one who is “intelligent and prepared to think outside the box.” 

Fox warned of the perils of customers looking up bed bugs on Google, which isn't always correct. This requires customers’ expectations to be professionally, and consistently, managed throughout their experience with the company. Hoke implored anyone uncertain as to what to do to ask him, or other experts, for advice.

Dr. Karen Vail, University of Tennessee, discussed her work in multi-unit housing where infestations can develop to quite extraordinary severity. She stressed the importance of catching infestations early and not to rely on infestation reports from either residents or housing managers. Her work explored the number and types of monitors required to detect an infestation, but sadly reported that although housing managers were prepared to spend budgets on ineffective treatments they were reluctant to pay much for monitors.”

Practical problems caused by COVID-19
The problems caused by the COVID-19 situation were discussed in a three-way presentation from Darren Van Steenwyk of Clark Pest Control, Lodi, Calif. (who was kept company by his pet dog), Mike Panichi of Platinum Pest Solutions, Lansing, Ill., and Galvin Murphy of Yankee Pest Control, Malden, Mass., who delegates were able to hear, but unfortunately not see, due to the failure of his camera (the perils of virtual events!).

All three of these professionals reported an overall decrease in bed bug treatments, anything up to one-third. However, COVID-19 had thrown up its own specific issues, first and most important was the safety of their own employees and, understandably, there was a reluctance of homeowners willing to welcome technicians into their homes. Van Steenwyk explained how fumigation was their prime treatment method, but this also caused problems as homeowners need to vacate their property for some days, but in the current situation had nowhere to relocate to.

Heat and the use of canines was Murphy’s main line of attack, but Panichi said he had experienced treatments being cancelled due to the use of dogs. This was countered by Murphy who had also experienced this, but said after he explained to clients that the use of scent detection dogs was not only quicker but also less items were touched by hand, so not only quicker but safer.

The networking and beer event proved very sociable and popular, illustrating once again the need for social contact. 

In addition to premier sponsor BedBug Central, this year's Global Bed Bug Summit was sponsored by Allergy Technologies, MGK and Conidiotec.