‘Old-time’ insect pest reappears

New publication aimed at helping the public cope with bedbugs

Writer: Steve Byrns, 325-653-4576, s-byrns@tamu.edu

Contact: Dr. Mike Merchant, 972-952-9204, m-merchant@tamu.edu

 (Editor’s Note: The insect in this story is spelled as one word, bedbug, as per the Associated Press Stylebook, rather than the two-word bed bug, as is the preference of entomologists, and the Chicago Manual of Style. The publication’s title, however, follows the latter.)

DALLAS – The old children’s bedtime rhyme “good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite,” is unfortunately relevant once more as bedbugs are again among us, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Whether one prefers bedbug or bed bug, the pest is the same. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Mike Merchant.

Whether one prefers bedbug or bed bug, the pest is the same. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Mike Merchant)

Dr. Mike Merchant, an AgriLife Extension urban entomologist at Dallas, said bedbugs have become increasingly common in today’s world due to stepped-up immigration, international travel and the loss of effective insecticides. He said this combination of factors has helped bedbugs spread faster than any other urban insect pest in recent times.

To help the public cope with the annoying onslaught, Merchant and Wizzie Brown, AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist for Travis County, have recently released Extension publication Ento-033, “How to Select a Bed Bug Control Provider.”  The publication can be found at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Bookstore website at https://agrilifebookstore.org/publications_details.cfm?whichpublication=3206.

“The publication offers practical advice on how to seek professional help in dealing with these tenacious pests,” Merchant said. “When it comes to bedbug control, not just any pest control company will do. We describe in this publication how best to interview a company and compare the different firms to ensure you are getting the best service for your particular situation.”

The seven-page publication explains the different control approaches available, helping clients know what to ask a prospective exterminator. The approaches range from the unusual, including heat treatments, steam, solar heating of bagged items, spot freezing and bedpost barriers; to the more common pest controls such as sprays, dusts and fumigation.

The publication also includes information on preparing for treatment, warranties, follow-up visits and costs associated with control.

“We’ve even provided tips for handling personal items such as clothes, books and electronics that can’t be treated,” he said. “There’s also a special section for apartment managers and a handy interview page to help you compare the different companies.”

In the publication, Merchant and Brown note that the small, wingless 1/32- to 3/16-inch blood-sucking insects can be tough to eliminate, since home remedies and consumer-strength pesticides are largely ineffective.

“We hope you never need this publication,” said Merchant. “But if you ever do, it will provide you the best information quickly so you can get a good night’s sleep again.”

For more information on a variety of urban pest-related topics, see Merchant’s website: http://citybugs.tamu.edu/ For links to more bedbug information, see http://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/biting-stinging/bed-bugs/ .

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