Certainly there has been lots of talk about bed bugs nationally. But what’s happening in Oregon? The other day I learned that Multnomah County Health Department has been getting an increase in calls. Many of these calls are informational, asking about what bed bugs are and what one can do if they are discovered. Others are frustration calls, such as “my landlord won’t respond” and “I can’t afford treatment.” Some of the most commonly asked questions are about how to treat the problem and if there are free resources. What is difficult, of course, is that in shared living and working environments, one generally doesn’t have control over the migration of bed bugs from adjacent areas.
Multnomah County has an informative webpage with answers to many of the commonly asked questions. Particularly useful is their page on Tips for Selecting a Pest Professional. Our colleagues at the National Pesticide Information Center, NPIC, have developed a terrific webpage, Understanding and Controlling Bed Bugs. A critical warning on this page is that “bug bombs” or total release foggers do not appear to be effective against bed bugs. Instead, integrated pest management strategies are recommended. This might include common sense practices (such as encasing mattresses and box springs with specific “bug proof” covers, with vacuuming and steaming) along with prudent use of effective insecticides. As frustrating as it is to deal with bed bugs, we all need to be careful not to make the solution worse than the problem, by creating acute exposures to insecticides through improper application.