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Blight of the Bed Bugs

April 01, 2011

Pest Management Professionals Fight Back as Numbers Continue to Rise

Raised, red bite marks on people and dark stains on the mattress leftover from last night’s feeding are signs that point to one thing - bed bugs. This is a common experience of bed bug sufferers everywhere.

Now the pests are crawling into less expected settings. Recent headlines about the infestation of Manhattan clothing stores and hotels have shed light on a problem that prefers the dark.  

Bed bugs are rapidly spreading across the country – just ask pest management professionals (PMPs). According to a survey by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky, 95% of PMPs said they responded to a bed bug infestation in the past year. Prior to 2000, only 25 percent had encountered a bed bug infestation. The number of infestations has grown so high that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held its first-ever National Bed Bug Summit in Washington, DC last year.

As the bed bug onslaught continues, PMPs are ramping up treatment options. For instance, BASF has created a series of powerful tools to address the pests: Phantom® termiticide-insecticide, Prescription Treatment® brand Phantom® pressurized insecticide, and Prescription Treatment® brand AlpineTM dust insecticide.  

Jay Bruesch, Technical Director at Plunkett’s Pest Control in Fridley, MN is one of the PMPs who stand up to bed bugs for a living. With 28 years of experience, Bruesch is a veteran of pest wars. “If you had asked people about bed bugs five years ago, they would have thought you were talking about mythical creatures,” he explained.

The reasons for the bed bug resurgence are unknown, but some experts have pointed to more people travelling internationally, limited knowledge on how to control the pests, and the bugs’ resistance to pyrethroid insecticides.

The pros at Plunkett’s follow an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) model. First, they identify the insect and the severity of the infestation. They then apply multiple control approaches. Employees first remove excess clutter, reducing the bugs’ chances for hiding and surviving treatment. Plunkett’s then uses pesticides and heat treatments to finish the IPM treatment approach.

“We chose Phantom and Alpine because of their reputation as effective materials against bed bugs, and because these are not pyrethroids,” Bruesch said. “Our technicians have reported excellent success with both Phantom and Alpine since we began using these products this spring.”

Bed bugs can’t detect Phantom, so they repeatedly cross through treated areas. Prescription Treatment brand Alpine dust insecticide and pressurized insecticide from BASF feature dinotefuran, which has been granted Reduced Risk status for public health use by the EPA.  

“We do a pre-application of pesticides along the carpet edge because bed bugs love to hide there. This will kill any bed bugs under the carpet pad, where heat can’t reach them,” Bruesch explained.

After pesticide applications, Plunkett’s turns up the heat– up to 140 degrees to be exact. They bring in heaters to raise the room’s temperature for four to five hours, while employees “stir” the rooms – moving everything from clothing to furniture to ensure the heat is evenly distributed. With a degradation temperature of 183 degrees, Phantom can stand up to the heat.

The heat treatment is followed by a second application of pesticide to ensure no bugs are missed.

For Bruesch, it’s just another day in the office. And for the bed bugs, it’s the end of the road. Because, at the end of the day, the only things Plunkett’s leaves behind are dead bugs.

To locate a BASF sales representative, visit

Always read and follow label directions.

What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

"IPM is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks," according to the National IPM Network.

BASF Pest Control Solutions believes a sound Integrated Pest Management strategy is the cornerstone of successful pest control and good stewardship. Our five-step Prescription Treatment® approach includes the core IPM practices you should always employ in conjunction with any BASF product application.

  1. Inspect to gather information that leads to good decisions.
  2. Prescribe a treatment strategy to achieve specific goals in the account.
  3. Communicate with the client to promote cooperation, establish expectations and convey value.
  4. Treat using effective techniques and materials that support the strategy.
  5. Follow up to assess results.

For more information on IPM, call your local pest management professional or visit

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