A technical guide entitled, “Bed Bugs – Importance, Biology, and Control Strategies”, was published earlier this year as Technical Guide No. 44 by the Armed Forces Pest Management Board.

The 22-page guide describes the characteristics of bed bugs and how they behave; which provides insights on the best ways to avoid and control infestations, now common even in developed countries and especially in group housing situations. Infestations continue to center around sleeping areas; beds, bedding, and other soft furnishings, or objects like moulding/trim work or luggage that provide good hiding spaces for the tiny bugs, which seem to prefer humans. Because of their ability to adapt and survive in any environment suitable for human habitation, bed bugs can infest shelters such as tents, as well as more permanent military housing, and can be transported from one to another quite easily. They can also survive for months in vacant housing units.

In living spaces, detection usually occurs within 5-20 feet of sleeping areas, so eliminating beds that have cracks and crevices (wood furniture joints, box spring units), or are difficult to examine is a key measure. Steel beds have been particularly popular in managing bed bug risk. Click here to view more appropriate bedroom furniture options by Norix.

The guide describes prevention and detection methods as well as chemical and non-chemical treatment methods – and the pros and cons of each. It seems that no single approach is 100% effective for every instance, and that each facility should develop a spectrum of measures best suited for their particular situation.

Below is an excerpt from the Guide:

Importance as pests. Because they are nocturnal, are very small and elusive, and can detect and avoid many chemicals, including cleaning agents, bed bugs are often difficult to control. Complete elimination of an established bedbug population is nearly impossible to accomplish in a single service visit by pest management professionals.

Because the general public is not very knowledgeable about bed bugs, their bites nearly always lead to visits to a clinical medical facility or expert (often a primary care physician). There are usually additional costs for diagnosis, or for symptomatic treatment. In 2004 alone, 17 of 65 homeless shelters in Toronto spent [on average] $3,085 to address bed bug problems. Lawsuits have produced awards of $20,000 – $383,000, plus expenses…

Please share this information with anyone involved in the management of military housing, shelters, dormitories, and group homes.