From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published December 10, 2010 04:16 PM

EPA and Bed Bugs

Bedbugs or bed bugs are small parasitic insects of the family Cimicidae. The term usually refers to species that prefer to feed on human blood. All insects in this family live by feeding exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals. The name bedbug is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep. Bedbugs, though not strictly nocturnal, are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts. Bedbugs have been around as long as humankind had beds. Recently there has been an upsurge in their nocturnal attacks in the US. To help find solutions to the nation’s bed bug problem, the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup is convening a second national summit set for February 1-2, 2011, in Washington, D.C. The summit is open to the public and will focus on ways the federal government and others can continue to work together on management and control of these pests. The first federal bed bug summit was held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April 2009. Since then, EPA has helped organize the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup, which consists of EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health.


Bedbugs are developing resistance to various pesticides including DDT, and organophosphates.

Some populations have developed a resistance to pyrethroid insecticides. Although now often ineffective, the resistance of pyrethroid allows for new chemicals that work in different ways to be investigated so that the chemical management can continue to be one part in the resolving of bed bug infestations. There is a growing interest in both synthetic pyrethroid and the pyrrole insecticide chlorfenapyr. Insect growth regulators such as hydroprene (Gentrol) are also sometimes used.

The EPA summit’s agenda will feature discussions on progress since the last summit from various perspectives, including federal, state, and local governments; research; housing industry; and pest management industry. The agenda also includes identifying knowledge gaps and barriers to effective community-wide bed bug control, proposals for next steps in addressing knowledge gaps and eliminating barriers, and developing a framework for addressing the highest priority needs.

As a reminder, these are some common steps people can take to prevent bed bugs:

Remove clutter where bed bugs can hide

Seal cracks and crevices

Vacuum rugs and upholstered furniture thoroughly and frequently, as well as vacuuming under beds (take the vacuum bag outside immediately and dispose in a sealed trash bag)

Wash and dry clothing and bed sheets at high temperatures (heat can kill bed bugs)

Be alert and monitor for bed bugs so they can be treated before a major infestation occurs

Before the summit, the federal workgroup will meet with researchers to evaluate and develop a research agenda related to bed bugs. The summit will be held at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center at 3800 Reservoir Road, N.W., Washington, D.C. The agenda and information on attending the meeting via webinar will be available on the EPA’s website.

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