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The numbers of the pest are increasing, especially in apartment complexes and public housing units.
Bristol Herald Courier
Dini Miller, a pest management specialist and associate professor at Virginia Tech, speaks Wednesday in Bristol. “We’re into bed bugs now and forever,” Miller said. “We need to start adjusting our minds to, how are we going to live with this insect?”
Bristol Herald Courier
A container holding live bed bugs was part of Wednesday’s informational discussion.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
BRISTOL — Don’t “freak out” about bed bugs.
That was the advice Wednesday from Dini Miller, Virginia’s urban pest management specialist and an associate professor at Virginia Tech. Miller shared her extensive knowledge of the pests with a group of about 80 teachers, social service and health care workers, law enforcement personnel and others at the school system’s administrative building.
“We’re into bed bugs now and forever,” Miller said. “Because of the regulations dealing with new pesticides, we’re not going to have a miracle product. We need to start adjusting our minds to, how are we going to live with this insect? We’ve got to get past the freaking out so we can start dealing with it intelligently. We don’t have a good answer, so we’re working on a program with a combination of ways to keep these pests suppressed.”
The numbers of bed bugs are increasing, Miller said, with the greatest impact in multiunit housing.
“We can get them out of specific locations, but overall it’s really hard. We can get them out of an apartment, but can we get them out of an apartment complex? That’s really, really hard. Most pest control companies will tell you they’re 97 [percent] or 98 percent effective, but there’s not a lot of going back and looking; they’re waiting for new complaints.”
Small infestations are easily treated, but larger infestations can take much longer to resolve.
“We can get rid of 97 percent, but those last few are harder. The habits of the people, the amount of clutter they have in their house really protect the bed bugs,” Miller said.
Public housing units like those operated by the Bristol Virginia Housing and Redevelopment Authority seem especially vulnerable.
“We have regular, ongoing problems with bed bugs,” housing authority Executive Director Dave Baldwin said. “Every week, we are in some stage of the process of inspecting someone’s apartment, getting a complaint, arranging for a pest control guy to confirm or actually doing the treatments.”
Since April, the authority has spent $23,000 on bed bug eradication.
“We’re using the heat treatment method. We used to do chemical treatment and transitioned both heat and insecticides, and we found the heat treatment was a lot more effective,” Baldwin said.
Heat treatment involves sealing the apartment, bringing in machines to raise the temperature and fans to circulate the hot air.
“We’ve gone back and done some apartments multiple times. It’s not just treating the problem, but its educating people about changing behaviors to not bring the problem back,” Baldwin said. “It’s an ongoing problem and we don’t have a solution. We don’t see the end of it.”
Earlier this year, the Bristol Public Library closed briefly because of a bed bug infestation, threw out some furniture and brought in a pest control firm. Executive Director Jud Barry said a recent inspection revealed no new problems.
“We’ll probably do that [inspection] at least annually unless something turns up and we have to take other measures,” Barry said.
School officials organized the seminar to try and “get in front” of the problem, Superintendent Mark Lineburg said.
“We have not had bed bugs in the schools, but we’ve had reports of families with issues related to bed bugs. We’re trying to take some preventative measures. With urban areas across the commonwealth, you’re hearing about this problem more and more.”
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