Actively monitoring for bed bugs in public spaces

Problems Associated with Treating for Bed Bugs in Public Settings


The questions to ask are: If bed bugs have been spotted in an office, a school, or other public space, how does one know if and when areas are really free of any bed bugs? Is there anything that can done to ensure that all the bed bugs have in fact been eliminated?


According to Rutgers University Department of Entomology Professor Changlu Wang, “Treating public places are challenging in that there are no ‘typical’ bed bug hiding places in offices as there are in residences. It would need extra caution in deciding which method to use and where to apply treatment in offices.”


Wang, along with many other bed bug researchers, understand the difficulties with treating for bed bugs in public settings, however, this is becoming more and more common across the country. It isn’t uncommon for public offices, schools, hospitals or even movie theaters to find bed bugs in their environment. But what can they do to treat for bed bugs when those environments typically are limited to the use of pesticides and various chemicals that can be used in those settings?


“I actually suggest actively monitoring for bed bugs in any public space after a bed bug sighting has been reported,” said Dawn Gouge, Public Health Entomologist with the University of Arizona. Gouge recommends that the officials consider ongoing bed bug monitoring to ensure that all the bed bugs are gone.


“In this instance, deep cleaning and ongoing monitoring would definitely be recommended,” she said. “Interceptor traps or SenSci ActivVolcano traps could be placed in strategic locations, I personally would be inclined to monitor for bed bugs for longer than four weeks.”


Wang agrees with Gouge that in the case of bed bug sightings in public spaces bed bug monitoring should be considered. “Since bed bugs can easily live for a few weeks without feeding, it would be prudent to install some pitfall style bed bug monitors along the perimeters of the floor and beside the desks in the office where bed bugs were sighted,” he said. “Examine the monitors every 1-2 weeks for 4-6 weeks. Adding a chemical lure to the monitors would be more likely to detect bed bugs if they are present.”


Bed bugs in public spaces can be complicated but by using pitfall interceptors, pest control professionals can expect to detect any bed bug activity with an ongoing monitoring program and thus treat the issue before it becomes a larger problem.


Gouge said. “If bed bugs are sighted it is quite possible that multiple visitors  and perhaps some staff members are battling bed bugs at home and could be bringing them into the building accidentally which is why ongoing bed bug monitoring is so important in these instances.”