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Educational Outreach for the Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs 2008

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Project Leaders: J. Gangloff-Kaufmann, A. Taisey, NYS IPM

Cooperators: M. Woodsen, NYS IPM; C. Klass, Entomology Dept., Cornell University; K. English

Abstract: In the past decade, bed bugs have made an astounding comeback all across the United States. Bed bugs are small blood-feeding insects that invade human habitats, specifically the home, and where people sleep. Since bed bugs were nearly absent for 40 years in the US, very little is currently known about them, both in terms of their biology and the public's familiarity with their appearance and control. Educational needs for dealing with this pest are overwhelming, and include outreach to cooperative extension educators, Master Gardeners, pest control professionals, facilities managers, social workers, medical professionals, travelers, college students and their families, landlords, tenants of rented properties, and just about everyone else. Those who seem to be most vulnerable to bed bugs include those in multiple unit buildings, the elderly (living alone), and those living in assisted or group homes. Elderly and disabled individuals tend to have fewer resources and may lack the ability to recognize or deal with bed bugs.

The New York State IPM Program has approached the bed bug issue from a variety of angles. Staff are frequently called upon to help individuals, organizations and agencies deal with bed bugs in homes, facilities, and schools. Through phone calls, presentations, sample identification, development of educational materials and other outreach, the NYS IPM Program is working hard on raising public awareness about this pest and means of controlling it.

In a broad effort to bring cooperative extension educators and other trainers up to speed with bed bugs, we have created a Frequently Asked Questions page on bed bugs, traveler's cards (and college student cards) for easy ID of bed bugs, and a guide for Master Gardeners on how to answer the questions from bed bug callers. Additionally, guidelines for shelters and group homes were developed. Many training sessions have been held in 2008, reaching trainers as well as new audiences such as social workers and medical service providers.