Bed Bug Management in Low-Income, Multi-Unit Housing: An Evaluation of Resident Education and Cost-Effective, Minimally Toxic Suppression Methods
Stedfast, Molly Logan
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In the United States, we have been battling the bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) resurgence for over ten years. Current treatment methods are labor intensive, time consuming, and very expensive. Many studies have evaluated the efficacy of treatment methods, but few have focused on bed bug suppression in multi-unit housing. Low income, multi-unit housing residents lack basic bed bug knowledge and are particulary vulnerable to bed bug infestations because they are unable to afford conventional treatment. In this study, diatomaceous earth (D.E.), an inexpensive desiccant dust labeled for bed bug control, was evaluated for its efficacy in killing bed bugs, and determined to be successful. A proactive bed bug suppression program that included D.E. was implemented in a low-income housing facility in Harrisonburg, VA. The program consisted of inexpensive, low toxicity, integrated bed bug management methods, including a novel strategy for applying a perimeter barrier of D.E. in apartment units (n = 121). Over the course of one year, both the number of initial infestations and the costs associated with bed bug treatments were reduced. Low-income, multi-unit housing residents (n = 479) from three cities (Harrisonburg and Richmond, VA; New Orleans, LA) were surveyed before and after an educational seminar to assess their bed bug. After attending the seminar, residents (n = 112) significantly improved (P < 0.0001) their bed bug knowledge, and were able to correctly answer more bed bug-related questions than they had before the educational seminar.
- Masters Theses