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Bed Bug Control Workshops for County Agents and the Pest Control Industry

Project description and objectives:

Bed bug control is usually accomplished with the extensive use of pesticides in infested rooms, often treating mattresses and furniture with residual products.  Typical treatments often result in excessive human exposure to pesticides when the residents sleep and sit in treated furniture.  Wayne Walker and Ken Glover at UF have developed a green program of fumigating furniture and household belongings with sulfuryl fluoride (a fumigant that breaks down in sunlight) and treatment with subsequent elimination of harborages using silica gel and pyrethrins.

The objectives of this program were to demonstrate bed bug control using this green approach to county extension faculty and the pest control industry.  We held workshops, one in North Florida (Jacksonville) and one in Central Florida (Tampa/St. Petersburg) to demonstrate this bed bug control approach.  The programs were coordinated with county faculty.  We also conducted the training so homeless shelters with bed bug problems would benefit.  We planned to use their furniture for the presentations.

By presenting these programs we hoped to encourage responsible pesticide use for the control of bed bugs, and bring county faculty together with the pest control industry to learn about this novel bed bug control program.

Project activities:

The proposed workshops were completed on September 9 and 11, 2008 (Jacksonville and Tampa/St. Petersburg areas). Workshops consisted of daylong programs with both technical presentations and hands-on demonstration on both containerized fumigation and limited heat treatment. Other bed bug control techniques and bed bug biology were also discussed during the workshops.

The list of speakers for the workshops included pesticide manufacturer and distributor representatives, both commercial and public sector pest control operators, and university personnel. Presentations covered a varied range of topics related to bed bugs, and provided participants continuous education credits (CEU’s) in 3 areas (2 for Core, 2 for GHP and 3 for Fumigation). Participants received hands-on demonstrations on 2 techniques for bed bug control.  The first involved the used of a rental truck filled with furniture, which was used as a container for fumigation with the gas sulfuryl fluoride (Vikane®). The second demonstration involved the containment of room furniture within an insulation box and use of a household heater to produce enough heat to cause thermal death of insects in the treated furniture.  In both demonstrations, participants had the opportunity to follow and take part in all phases of the process, and discuss pros, cons, and applications of each procedure.

Workshop participants were provided with a manual containing a summary of the slide shows presented during the workshops along with other information and material used during the demonstrations. Click here for a complete copy of the Bed Bugs Manual (5.6MB pdf).

Project accomplishments:

The audience size for the two workshops was 49 participants at the Tampa/St. Petersburg area workshop, and 24 participants at the Jacksonville area workshop. Some of the extension agents and other county extension office personnel that Bed Bug Manualattended the workshops were not included as registered participants if they did not sign attendance lists. Attendees were mostly certified pest control operators and senior personnel in pest management industry.

Several of the attendees to the workshops expressed their appreciation for the presentations and stated that they would try some of the new techniques in the future.  Since the presentations, several of the participants have contacted the workshop organizers or other speakers requesting additional information on the material presented.  These actions also point toward adoption of the procedures described in the workshops.  Overall, the material presented in the workshops seems to have been well accepted and understood by the attendees. 

After the workshops were presented, two small regional meetings with pest control operators were conducted and also included a short version of the heat-treatment portion of the workshops, using a small version of the heat-treatment chamber. Also, due to the interest detected in the attendees in all these presentations, the organizers are considering new daylong workshops in the south Florida area, possibly in Ft. Lauderdale and Ft. Myers areas. 

Click here for a complete copy of the Bed Bugs Manual (5.6MB pdf).


Project leaders:


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