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Educational Outreach for the Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs

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Project Leader: Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann

Abstract
In the past 15 years, 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 thrive in places where people sleep. Since bed bugs were nearly absent for 40 years in the US, very little was known about their biology and current level of pesticide tolerance. In 2010 the news media focused great attention on bed bugs, which increased the public’s familiarity with this pest. However, educational needs for dealing with bed bugs are still 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. The people most vulnerable to bed bugs are those in multiple unit buildings, the elderly (often living alone), and those living in assisted or group homes. Elderly, disabled and disadvantaged individuals who have fewer resources and sometimes lack the capacity to recognize or deal with bed bugs are more commonly living with bed bugs.

The New York State IPM Program has approached the bed bug issue from a variety of angles. Staff members 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 provide outreach to cooperative extension educators and other trainers we maintain a Frequently Asked Questions about bed bugs page on the NYS IPM program website and have reworked the Traveler’s Cards for easy ID of bed bugs. Many training sessions were held in 2011, reaching trainers and audiences such as social workers and medical service providers.