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BED BUGS: FAIL TO PLAN? PLAN TO FAIL!

Chris Mills, Territory Business Development Manager for PPM at Bayer, shares his insights into why planning is key for performing successful bed bug treatments.

 

Bed bugs can be a major problem for homeowners and hoteliers. They are a source of great irritation and even disgust, and also have economic impacts and create privacy issues for your customers. Your client may expect a magic and quick solution to their bed bug woes, but you and your colleagues know that bed bugs are probably the most difficult pests to eradicate.

Some great reference and training tools on bed bug management are available to pest managers, including the AEPMA Bed Bug Code of Practice. One of the best and most comprehensive tools I continually call upon is the Bayer Amplify bed bug treatment and control training course. It continues to be one of the most popular training courses in the Amplify pest program.

In my role, I regularly find that pest managers have issues with bed bug management. The lion’s share of the problem comes back to the lack of follow through on a bed bug management plan, by either the pest manager or the customer. An initial inspection of the property will allow you to assess the extent of the infestation and formulate the appropriate plan. This plan acts as your guide for how to proceed with treatment and also serves as an informative document for your client. Your management plan should therefore be provided to your client and should specify all the actions you intend to take to achieve full eradication of the bed bug infestation. This plan can also serve as your service contract.

It should include the results of your initial inspection, such as where bed bugs were found, the extent of the infestation, any access issues encountered, and photographs. Also include information on past bed bug activity and treatments (including the insecticides used).

Next, outline your treatment process. This should mention the requirement to inspect adjacent areas – beside as well as above and below infested areas – with an acknowledgment that this inspection might not always be possible. The treatment process must include both the chemical and non-chemical measures to be taken.

In your plan, state your estimated treatment start date, locations of chemical application on the property, approximate timeframe and approximate end date. Identify times when the property needs to be vacated by the client and be clear about their role before and after treatment. Request that they sign authorisation forms if necessary, such as bedhead removal from a wall, etc.

Follow-up is important; state your realistic predictions for the treatment and the plan for subsequent inspections and treatments. Finish by outlining the restrictions and limitations of your plan, the length of time it covers, and the cost of the treatment.

So what does a good treatment process actually look like? Integrated pest management (IPM) is a multi-faceted approach to bed bug control, and means that many treatment options, both non-chemical and chemical, should be outlined in your treatment process.

Non-chemical methods are the physical measures by which you plan to attack and remove the bed bugs, such as vacuuming, removing soiled items and performing heat treatments. These measures are unlikely to eradicate an entire bed bug population and are usually a forerunner to chemical treatments. They form an important part of your overall IPM program and ensure that your chemical treatment has the best chance of success.

It is well documented that bed bugs have developed resistance to some insecticides. As such, you will need to plan for product rotation using insecticides with different modes of action to achieve total eradication of the bed bugs. Usually, one product is used to gain immediate control followed by another product for residual control to kill immature bed bugs after any remaining eggs have hatched. As always, carefully follow the application instructions on every product label when applying insecticides.

As most insecticides registered for bed bug control in Australia have little proven effect on bed bug eggs and many have little residual control, you should plan for additional direct application treatments after the eggs have hatched. The period for this treatment will vary depending on ambient conditions for egg hatching. One or several follow-up visits should be made to assess treated areas.

Success with bed bug work comes from having a plan – and sticking to it. Yes, retreatments are a pain, but do not rely on the residual action of insecticides; always follow up on your treatments. Bayer’s free online Amplify program provides a helpful checklist that you can use to ensure your bed bug management plans are up to scratch.

 

Chris Mills, Territory Business Development Manager – PPM (QLD/NT/NZ), Bayer