Bedbugs Still Major Problem: TV Campaign Teaches Ohioans Do's and Don'ts

Aug. 8, 2013

Ohio continues to be one of the states most affected by bedbug infestations in the U.S.

To remind Ohioans that they shouldn't let their guard down when it comes to preventing and dealing with this troublesome pest, Ohio State University has put together three public service announcements, funded by a grant from OSU Extension's Integrated Pest Management Program. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college. 
 
The PSAs try to bust some common myths about bedbugs, including who can be affected by infestations and whether over-the-counter insecticides work against these bloodsucking insects, said Susan Jones, Ohio State University Extension's household insect state specialist with the university's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

"Even though they haven't been in the news as much lately, bedbugs are growing in importance in Ohio and across the country," said Jones, who coordinated production of the PSAs. "Some of Ohio's cities have the highest levels of bedbug infestations in the country."

Jones hopes the PSAs will help drive three key messages home.

"The first message is that that anybody can get bedbugs," she said. "If you are a living, breathing human being, it can happen to you. We need to talk about the realities of bedbugs and eliminate the stigma associated with them."

The second PSA educates Ohioans about readily available methods that are useful to help eliminate bedbugs.

"The best way to get rid of a bedbug infestation is to contact a licensed, qualified pest management professional who has experience dealing with this pest," Jones said. "Exterminators will use either heat treatment or a combination of effective pest control measures, including insecticides."

However, if a pest management professional is beyond someone’s budgets, there are alternatives that can help minimize an infestation.

"One good method is to wash clothing, bedding and other items in hot water, dry them completely at the highest dryer setting, and then dry them for an additional 30 minutes to kill the bedbugs," Jones said.

"Simply placing dry items into a dryer for 30 minutes on moderate-to-high heat is sufficient to kill all bedbug stages, eggs, nymphs and adults."

The third PSA warns people not to use over-the-counter foggers or "bug bombs" to try to get rid of bedbugs.

study published last year by Jones showed that "bug bombs" are not effective at killing hidden bedbugs and may even worsen the situation, making the insects scatter to places where they weren't before.

Despite this scientific evidence, "bug bombs" are still labeled against bedbugs and are readily available at stores.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has not taken any measures to limit the availability of over-the-counter products for treatment of bedbugs," Jones said. "The public needs to be aware that these products don’t work in eliminating a bedbug infestation."

The PSAs, tips for preventing and getting rid of bedbugs, information on how to choose a pest management professional, and more can be found athttp://www.centralohiobedbugs.org.